Living on acreage is a privilege that I have enjoyed for some time. My desire to live on acreage began when I first saw an area in Spokane County, affectionately referred to as “The Palouse.” This area is known for its rolling hills covered with wheat fields as long as the eye can see. It is a stark yet beautiful scene that I can enjoy from my window. Living on acreage is not for everyone, but those who choose it, appreciate the ambience and quiet that it affords.
If you currently live in a city setting or in a residential neighborhood and have been thinking of moving to acreage, there are a few things that you should know. For starters, those quick trips to the grocery store are harder to do, but moreover, living on acreage is more work than living in most other settings except for perhaps a working farm or ranch. Why is there more work you might ask? For starters, the land that you are responsible for maintaining is typically much larger than a city lot. There is your traditional landscaping and then there is your field or wooded area or combination of both to maintain. Some counties have ordinances that require that fields be free of weeds and enforce this through a weed board. And, if you own a wooded area, you may want to thin the trees at various times to lower the risk of fire. Tools needed to maintain your land can be a bit more expensive as well when you live on acreage. You may need to purchase a tractor or, at a minimum a riding lawn mower to cut the grass or field and you may need to purchase additional attachments such as a mulcher, leave catcher, or trailer to haul debris. It is not uncommon to maintain a burning pile and to burn during allowed burn days or to build a shop to store your tractor and toys. Trash is not typically collected at curbside on acreage homesites either. It is not uncommon to have to haul your trash to a main road and to recycle your own glass, plastic and paper. City water and sewer service is also not available on acreage properties. Most home sites will have a private well and septic system. There is a pump for the well and if it fails, it will need to be replaced. The water should also be tested from time to time for purity. If contaminates are present a special filter should be installed. Septic systems vary depending upon the soil type with some costing thousands more than the traditional gravity systems. Septic systems do fail and if a system is in need of replacement a new system will need to be designed equal to the “number of bedrooms the home currently has”, but not less. The system must be designed by a county approved engineering firm and plans approved by the county before installation.
Homes on acreage are more exposed to the elements than homes on city lots. Wind can be fierce and can take its toll on the roof and siding and rain can come at the house sideways creating leaks. Snow drifts are common and driveways can be uneven. Most acreage driveways are long and require a snowplow or snow blower to dig out after a snowfall. Some homes also sit on private roads and these roads need to be maintained. Our road is a third of a mile long and we have a road maintenance agreement with the neighbors. We are lucky to share this cost between seven other homeowners, but many homes are on their own road and the homeowner bears the full cost of road maintenance and replacement.
The presence of wildlife is also to be expected when living on acreage. Wildlife uses both private and public lands to maintain its habitat. Rodents are common and often seek warm shelter for the winter. That warm shelter could be your attic space, garage, shop or accessible cracks in your siding. You may need to set traps to prevent rodents from infiltrating your home. Bugs of all types are more prevalent on acreage, I recommend a monthly service contract with a pest control company to address this issue. Wildlife can also be big enough to attack your pets, so you may want to consider putting up a fence. Coyotes, deer, and moose are frequent visitors to my home, I enjoy seeing them from a distance, but it is not uncommon to wake up in the morning and have a visitor right outside my window. Coyotes are known for attacking pets, so keep your pets close by. Moose may seem tame, but they can trample you.
Besides the extra work involved and the distance from shopping centers, schools and hospitals, the joys of living on acreage far out way the inconveniences. I enjoy running, cross country skiing and snow shoeing right from my front door. In my view, it may just come down how you want to live. We live in a beautiful world, how you live in it, is pretty much up to you.