Selecting a Homestead Location – Choosing a Region

Identifying a region can narrow our focus
Choosing a region can narrow our focus

This episode, Choosing a Region, is the fourth installment of the Selecting a Homestead Location series.

In the previous episode, Counting the Costs, I talked about using an Excel spreadsheet to project your homestead costs. You can simplify the spreadsheet building process by downloading this Free Construction Project Management Templet. It may also give you additional items you hadn’t considered.

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As the business adage goes: It’s all about location, location, location. This is especially true for choosing a region for our homestead.

There is no perfect region for all homesteaders. Or even a perfect area for you. There are pros and cons to all states. You have to find the region that works for you.

A big welcome to our Australian listener.

International vs Domestic

Most people aren’t even going to consider moving to a foreign country for their homestead. But if you are one of the few, there are a number of things you may want to consider:

  • Language
  • Culture
  • Time
  • Expense
  • Currency & banking
  • Product & services availability
  • Passport, visas, residency, retirement, citizenship, etc

Choosing a Region – Climate

Climate will be a major factor when choosing a region for your homestead. But keep in mind that it can be a double-edged sword. When choosing your region, think carefully about the following:

  • Growing season
  • Humidity
  • Rainfall
  • Elevation
  • Micro-climates
  • Wind

One important note on climate: Without electricity and air conditioning, it is easier to keep warm in a cold climate than to stay cool in a hot climate. Collecting firewood for a wood stove is a simple way to stay cozy and warm during the winter. But staying cool during the summer without air conditioning can be much more challenging.

Choosing a Region – Regulations

Regulations can greatly limit what we can do with our homestead and increase the costs and time to complete. Many homesteads have failed primarily due to government rules. Some states have regulations that will curtail your homestead efforts, but most restrictions are imposed at the county and municipal levels. Be on the lookout for:

  • Zoning
  • Building restrictions
  • Building permits
  • Approvals
  • Livestock limitations
  • Water rights
  • Inspections
  • Certifications
  • HOA’s

If you have children, is quality education available? Or, if schooling yourself, are there regulations that will negatively impact a homeschooling family?

Also be on the lookout for possible annexations. It can be a little more than frustrating to purchase a property which started with total freedom, only to have that freedom denied with a municipal annexation.

Remoteness & Isolation

Some people seem to thrive in isolation, but this is more the exception than the rule. Others will have family or friends joining them on the homestead. Maybe this will provide enough human interaction to sustain them.  There could be conveniences we don’t realize may actually be important to us until we are without them. Some things, from the frivolous to the life-saving, may be more significant to us than we give them credit. Seriously contemplate how a remote homestead will impact you and your family. Can you do without conveniently located:

  • Job opportunities
  • Shopping – groceries, building supplies, farm supplies, etc
  • Family & friends
  • Airport
  • Hospital
  • Culture, restaurants & entertainment

What else may you miss? How much will you miss it?

Relocation

Distant relocations can be costly, in both time and money. Even to carefully evaluate various regions can be expensive. Often, there are many unknowns that only become apparent after we have invested much time and money. We may find that we miss our friends and family. We miss the climate. We miss our culture. We just miss the familiar.

Staying “closer to home” may save a lot of time, money and frustration. But sometimes we have done our due diligence or just have an itch that needs to be scratched. It’s tough to evaluate a region from a distance. Even tougher to select the right homestead. Renting or some other temporary housing may be a great solution. This approach will assist with:

  1. Giving you the opportunity to become familiar enough with the area to narrow down where you would like to permanently put down roots.
  2. Gain an understanding of the local real estate market in order to avoid overpaying for your new homestead.
  3. The flexibility to recognize the region isn’t a good fit and moving back home without much loss of time and money.

Snow-Birds

I really like the idea of the snow-bird lifestyle. For those who can afford it, it may be a great way to go. But it has its challenges:

  • Doubles costs
  • Travel
  • Security
  • Maintenance
  • Livestock/garden care

Coming Up

Continuing the series on Selecting a Homestead Location, we’ll cover Finding Your Property.