My DH and I took a look at a couple of properties over the past month or so. There are a few that are within our price range and have decent acreage. There are two in particular that he is especially interested in purchasing. We are trying to stick local because the county schools are not very good and we would like to keep my daughter in her current school. Her dad lives near our current house so using his address will keep her where she’s at in a magnet school. Both of the locations my DH really likes are approximately 35 miles away (and half hour by highway).
The first location is an abandoned motel/assisted living center. It was built as a motel (I believe looking through tax records). It has approximately 18 acres, mostly wooded. There is about 5 acres cleared out around the house. I like this idea and I like the picture my DH paints of what it can look like. HOWEVER, what we would be buying is basically a concrete garage. There is no wiring for lights, no plumbing for water (and the septic system is out of compliance according to the DOH), no air conditioning (in FLORIDA!!!), and the roof leaks. It is a steel roof and cement block foundation. It will cost A LOT (in time and money) to get the place livable; even if we just focus on fixing the apartment we would live in and leave the other 14 rooms for later. This place is not my preference, but my DH says that we can retire here and keep an income coming in regularly. We have planned to operate it as a bed and breakfast and offer sustainability classes (we can use some ourselves right now), paint-ball, horse-back riding, etc. as well as an event location. There is no fencing though, there is plenty of space and the place is layout nicely for large functions. The goal is to have as many streams of income possible so that should any stop producing, it won’t put us in the bind that losing our jobs did last year.
The second location does not have the same opportunities as the first. There are no rooms to rent. There is almost 20 acres of ‘cleared’ land though. The land had pine trees on it and about 3-4 years ago the pine was harvested. Most of 15 acres is dead wood under overgrown weeds. It’s not useable now, but a few weeks of burning and cutting, it will be – and it’s fenced. The house is close to being ready to live in. The floors all need replaced, but the place is solid and can be move-ready quickly. There is plenty of fencing and the neighbor is already keeping two cows and a dozen goats on it. Of course, I prefer this place. I can see what my husband sees at the other place, but the second location offers much of the same (without rooms to rent) and we can be self-sufficient quickly. The first place would need a ton of work.
I guess it comes down to how we are defining self-sufficiency. Does it only mean providing our own food or does it mean something larger – working for ourselves and providing for our future with trade or income based on what we or our property offers. My DH travels for a living. He drives as far as 12 hours to provide specialized service for a large commercial company. It pays well, but we both get nervous when he is so far from home. He could do his construction related job closer to home, but not at that pay level. I work from home and due to circumstances largely outside of my control; I may find myself unemployed again soon. I will need another job, and it is unlikely I will find one that allows me to telecommute. The good thing is, that even if I lose my job, this new property will cost us so much less that I will have less trouble making ends meet.
This is trying times for me. I don’t like to have unknowns in my future. Life provides too many of them as it is… but to voluntarily sign up for more unknowns??? It goes against my grain. How long will it take and how much will it cost to renovate Homestead #1? I don’t know, but it will likely be more than I can bear. I know that this is my husband’s dream though and I also get my dream of a large garden and a horse. SO… Homestead! Here we come!