Hello and welcome to The Vernacular Life Podcast, where we talk about anything and everything that goes on in our 1906 vernacular farmhouse. Now, this farmhouse is actually located on a bit of land. And as far as I know, the man who built it originally was a farmer. So today we’re going to talk about moving to the country. I guess that’s not really a segue from saying that he was a farmer, but you know, country farm, work with me here. [inaudible] I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how do you move to the country? What’s different? Do you miss anything about city life? And so, I wanted to talk about kind of what happens when you go from an apartment to the country or from suburbia to the country. Now there is a full blog post about this and some YouTube videos that will all be linked in the show notes for your additional reference.
But the first thing to know is that I am a country mouse by nature. I grew up with access to a lot of land. I was outside the lot. I had a lot of adventures with my stuffed animals outside, building time machines, and all sorts of things. And I got used to the solitude, and the peace, and the calm that comes from living in the country, so that is kind of my background. I’ve known people who have lived in the city their whole life, or in suburbs their whole life, and I’ve brought them to the country, and they get very weirded out by it because it’s quiet and there’s a lot of space. And they’re not used to there being space and land with just nobody on it. So I’m not really coming at it from that direction. I grew up on land. I left for college, spent five years in a city, moved to suburbia, and then pretty much couldn’t get out of suburbia fast enough to get to land.
Now there is a previous episode where I talk about how we got this house specifically on land. So it makes sure to listen to that if you haven’t already. But this is just about the differences in the country. So the very first thing I want to establish is that there are different types of country. There are a couple of different distinctions that I make. Because which one of these you go for is very much dependent on what kind of person you are. What kind of life you’re looking for. How much access you want. How much privacy you want. And so I think it’s good to put these in different buckets because each of them have different requirements. You’re going to have different financial responsibilities for each of them. So I want to talk about it. The first one that I would consider living in the quote-unquote country. I call sub rural.
This is three to maybe 10 acres of land. You might be able to get up to 20, but that’s pushing it a little bit. I essentially define this by how quickly you can get to most of the major things that you need. I’m not talking about a corner grocery store or a little mom-and-pop hardware store. How far away is it to get to your typical doctors, to get to a lot of restaurants, to get to a major metropolitan area? If it’s less than 20 minutes to get to a lot of stuff and you’re under 20 acres, I consider that sub rural. And these properties are great for people who have never lived in the country before, who have no idea what taking care of land entails, who might want to homestead a little bit, but don’t want the responsibility of a hundred or 200 acres.
15 or 20 acres, I mean, you could have a pretty good time on 15 or 20 acres. So some rural properties, they do tend to be more expensive acre per acre than the larger properties just because they’re more desirable. It’s a little bit less daunting to go from a 0.2-acre plot to a 10-acre plot than to go from 0.2 acres to 120. So sub rural is kind of the smallest that I would consider still living in the country. The second one, which is where I consider us to live is rural, and this, I would say, is less than 45 minutes away from your major things, sports stadiums, specialty doctors, big hospitals. If you’re under 45 minutes away from a lot of those things, then I would say you’re probably in the rural area. As far as acreage, it can be hard to tell because it really depends on how things have been split up.
But generally, rural properties are going to have a little bit more acreage to them. Because if they’re farther out, if they’re farther away from developed areas, it’s just going to not have been as divided as places closer to urban areas. So I would say this is somewhere between 20 and a hundred acres. Again, it can vary greatly depending on what the property is. But in general, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, that’s the kind of acreage that you’re going to get in what I consider a rural area where you’re less than 45 minutes away from a lot of conveniences. The next one and this is how Brandon grew up, I consider remote, which means you are more than an hour away from a lot of specialists and sporting events and a lot of schools. And I mean, it’s a commitment to live out in a remote area.
You may or may not have internet. You may or may not have cell service. You probably don’t have city water. You probably are on a well or a cistern, and this is definitely a bigger commitment. So typically, you get more land, 50, 100, 200, 500 acres. Just because it’s so far away, that land hasn’t been divided up yet. And then, after remote, you have the off-gridders. Now, I am not an off-gridder. I don’t know anything about it. I know there are people who live relatively close to amenities who are completely off-grid. But usually, when you think about people living [inaudible] off-grid in an off-grid way, you think of Alaska. You think of Montana. You think of three hours one way to the grocery store. And again, if that is something that appeals to you, do it, go do it. I have never regretted moving to the country.
And I say this as a very introverted extrovert. I need people, but in very small doses, and then I need to go be away by myself. So if the country calls to you, if the peace calls to you, if the solitude calls to you, find a way to get yourself some land because as far as I can tell you won’t regret it. That’s pretty much the first thing I wanted to get out of the way is my background and then where I set these different parameters on different types of rural living. The second thing I want to talk about moving to the country is the financing of it. And I’m not talking specifically about financing the purchase of the property. We’ll talk about that first, but I’m also talking about all of the pop-up expenses that come with owning property. So firstly, about getting lending on land. If you go to a big bank that does a lot of your suburban loans, a lot of your townhome loans, and I know this because when we bought this land, I tried calling them to see if someone would lend for us.
They had these clauses in their loans that the house had to be worth 80% the sale price of the property. Well, anyone who has any amount of land knows that, in general, your land is going to be worth more per acre than the house is. So you can’t always get a lot of those conventional loans because they just won’t lend on them. It’s not their thing. The company that we went through is currently called Rural 1st. And I think they’re all over the place. I will leave a link for them in the show notes. This is not sponsored. This is just who we found to lend with us. They specialize in lending on properties where there’s a lot of land. So either raw land with no house or a ton of land with a house that isn’t worth very much. Like when we bought this place, the house appraised for something like $60,000.
So the house was not the bulk of the price of this property. You just need to think about lending a little bit differently because the land and house ratio is somewhat abnormal. We still ended up with a conventional loan. We still had to put a down payment down. But because of that land, we had to go through a different lender. Now, after you’ve bought the property, living out here takes money. And I don’t mean buying a seventy-five thousand dollar truck and a giant horse trailer. That is a hobby if you want to put your money into it. What I mean is that out here, people tend to do things for themselves. And we’re going to talk about this in a minute. But in order to do things for yourself, in order to be independent, you have to have tools. You have to have a chainsaw. You have to have a wheelbarrow.
You might have to have a quad with a trailer. You might need to have a trailer for your truck. You might need to get a beater truck. You have to be able to buy and do most of the things yourself. Now, it’s not saying that neighbors won’t help you. We have very good neighbors that have a ton of tractors. They hay our fields. They bring us hay bales when we need to. If we ever had a massive issue where we had a giant tree down, I know they would show up and help us. But in general, you don’t want to move from the city to the country and be that person who needs something all the time. Most people out here live out here because we want to be left alone. So there are a lot of pop-up expenses that show up when you’re in the country because of that.
You need a weed eater. You need a new mower. Just, things happen. It consumes money to live out here. So if you’re looking at a place and it’s going to take your entire budget to just buy it. You may want to either figure out how to make a little bit more income or look at a different place because you need that extra income on hand just to make sure that you can take care of your property and take care of everything going on around your house. Now, the third thing I mentioned is doing things for yourself. And part of this is just the desire to live in the country. It’s we want to be left alone. We don’t really want to be bothered by neighbors at five in the morning. We don’t want to be changing the brakes in our car and have someone wandering into the garage to talk to us.
We like the freedom and the peace that comes from having your own property out here. But one of the downsides is that if you don’t know how to do things and you have to call people, there are just fewer options out here. There’s fewer people, so there’s fewer options. So if you’re looking for things like electricians, plumbers, tree trimmers, yard mowing, snowplowing, all of that stuff is just not as frequent and not as available. So you might have to wait a little bit to get in with someone when something does go wrong. And because of that, you have to learn how to do things for yourself. It’s pretty much a non-negotiable, or you’re going to be sitting with a lot of broken things waiting for someone to get out to you to fix it. And this is why it helps to have that extra money so that if you need a specialty tool if you need parts if you need something, you can buy it and get on YouTube and figure out how to do it yourself without having to wait for a repairman to come out.
I have to tell you a funny story about when we moved here. We knew the first thing we had to do in this house was help the foundation. The front two corners were sunk in very badly. One was about three inches. The other one was about six inches, and the foundation wasn’t in great shape. We knew that we weren’t going to report it because it’s a very shallow foundation. It would have been an unreasonable amount of money to fix all of that, and it was fairly stable, so we decided that we were just going to have a little bit of foundation work done on these two front corners pretty much right after we moved in. The problem was that we had a buried oil tank in the front corner of the yard. This was a common practice, I guess, back in the fifties. It was a big round 250-gallon tank, and they just buried it right in the ground.
And it was right where they were going to have to dig to do this foundation work. Now we had just moved here. I was still kind of in the college students, suburban mindset of clearly I can’t just do this myself. I have to have somebody come help me do this because, in my mind, it’s like, it’s an oil tank. That seems like something that somebody is going to yell at me if I try to take it out like that seems regulated. So I called no less than 10 companies who, according to their website, specialized in oil tank removal. Well, all 10 of these companies, when I told them it was a residential 250-gallon tank, they said, “That’s too small. We don’t work on that. We don’t do that kind of thing.”
And I’m like, “What do you mean you don’t do this kind of thing. You say you move underground oil tanks. I have an oil tank underground. Can you please remove it?” And eventually, I got a hold of this guy, and he was very amused with me. And he said, “So why are you trying to have us remove it?” I was like, “Well, it’s an oil tank underground. And I feel like the EPA or somebody who’s going to come yell at me if I take it out myself.” And he literally starts laughing at me. He’s like, “The EPA does not care what you do with your oil tank.” I’m like, “Are you kidding? Surely I need like an adult’s permission to do this or something right.” He’s like, “No, no, something that’s small. Nobody cares about it.” So I ended up doing a little bit more digging and finding out that Kentucky actually has an abandoned-in-place law with oil tanks where you can pump them out, clean them out, fill them with sand or gravel and then just leave them in the ground.
So I figured, “Well if they have an abandoned in place law, why the heck would they care if I took it out?” So that was kind of our first adventure in understanding, “Oh no, you kind of… you’re on your own out here.” We ended up digging up that oil tank. It was a huge endeavor because we dug it up by hand. We pulled it out with our car, and that was pretty much off to the races for us. And since then, we have just been DIYing everything we can get our hands on. So even though there are our neighbors, and even though a lot of neighbors are pretty friendly and pretty helpful, you want to get into the mindset of knowing how to do things yourself, without interference from other people. It will serve you well in general. And it will serve you very well in the country.
Now, number four, and this is something that… I have a friend who’s moving to the country very soon, and they’ve lived in a suburban area for quite some time. And I can just see the difference in country expectations versus suburban expectations. 99% of the time in the country, we don’t care what you’re doing. We don’t care what’s on your property. We don’t care how many animals you have. We don’t care. We just don’t care if you leave us alone and you’re not causing the racket. We don’t really care. So the idea of having to maintain your property the way that you do with suburban properties it’s not a thing. It’s just not a thing out here in the country. For example, I grew up pretty rural. [inaudible] probably between rural and sub rural, depending on how you asked. Probably between rural and sub rural, depending on which direction you drove.
But it took me until about 12 years old to realize that decaying husks of cars in the front yard was not a normal thing. I drove by so many of them that it just… It was just like, “Oh yeah, people just have these cars, and they put them in their yard, and then they just kind of stay there.” It didn’t occur to me that wasn’t a normal thing until I got around some people from suburbia who were like, “Is this what everybody does out here?” I’m like, “Yeah, yeah, it’s fun, right.” So if you are respectful. If you are not playing music at 10 o’clock at night. If you are not shining giant bright lights into people’s windows. If you are not littering all over their property. Whether or not your flower beds are mulched or your grass is perfectly trimmed, it doesn’t matter.
We’re out here to be respectful. We’re out here to be calm. We’re out here to be independent. We’re not out here to yell at you because your driveway isn’t pressure-washed. Most of our driveway’s out here are gravel. So if you’re worried about not fitting in in the country, there’s probably going to be some adjustment right after you move. But as long as you kind of just keep to yourself and don’t impose too much, be friendly, you should be good. Now, this last one is specific because I’ve gotten this question multiple times. And as a very introverted, slightly extroverted individual, I have a hard time answering this because the question is, does it get lonely? And it depends on how your social bucket is recharged. I spend a lot of my day talking to a microphone, talking to a camera, DMing people online, answering emails, talking with the Vernacular Society, which tiny plug that’s our awesome grandma group.
We hang out. We do projects. We knit. We crochet. We can. We do all sorts of stuff. If you want to hang out with a bunch of other people who think that stuff is awesome, you can check out the link in the show notes. But I do spend a lot of time interacting with people on a day-to-day basis. So do I feel the need to go out to a bar after I’ve been talking to people for six hours? Not really. I wasn’t really much of a bar person to begin with actually. As of right now, this recording date, I have never been to a bar. I just could not see paying that much for fancy drinks that I could make at home for 10% of the price. I didn’t really go to parties. I didn’t really go to sporting events. I didn’t really go out and socialize to begin with.
So living in a place where it’s objectively harder for me to go out and meet people and do things that just seems like a perk in my book. I think if you are moving to the country, you need to just start paying attention to how much you see people when you actually want to see people. And it can be hard to judge because if you are seeing people all the time and your social battery is in a constant state of burnout, it can be really hard to figure out when you want to see people when you want to be alone. Because it can just be like, “I don’t want to see anybody. I want to be alone all the time.” But if you have a job or if you go to the grocery store, or there’s all sorts of knitting clubs and crochet clubs at the local library, you can get your socialization fix if you need it.
However, I do think there is a certain point where if you are a heavily extroverted person who needs to see people every day for multiple hours and you don’t work outside the home, this is probably not going to be the happiest place that you could live. For me, I do need people, but I need people in very small pleasant interactions. So if I go to my local thrift store and I find a silly painting and I chat with the ladies behind the counter, as I pay for it, that’s enough for me for a week. Or I see family, or I FaceTime a friend of mine. I don’t need that much interaction one-on-one with people. So I don’t really find it lonely. But also, my standard of peace and calm is living in a place like this. So I think I have a little bit of a skewed perception about what it is to actually be lonely.
I did have some weeks where Brandon was out of town for multiple weeks on end. And at that point, I did go a little stir crazy. But I see him at the end of the day. I talk to people online. I talk to some of my friends. I talk to my amazing assistant. I talk to people all day, so I don’t really feel the loneliness. The bottom line of moving to the country is people move to the country because they want a specific way of life. Whether they want the ability to grow a three-acre garden, or they want the ability to raise meat chickens, or they want a hobby farm with goats and ponies and sheep, or they just want to be able to go outside in their birthday suit and have nobody see them. They just want to be able to paddle around in their pool and have nobody see them.
They want to be able to sit on their back porch and watch the sunrise and hear the birds and hear coyotes and see deer and get cows and get pigs and get chickens. And it’s kind of strange because if we look at social media, social media likes to romanticize things, and they’d like to paint this idyllic picture of living a certain way or wearing these beautiful dresses while you’re tending the farm and all of this kind of stuff. But you have to kind of romanticize life for yourself without social media in order to have the experience that everyone on social media thinks they’re having. Oh boy, we’re getting philosophical. But I think that’s a lot easier in the country because there’s always something to do. There’s always a tree that needs to be cut up, or a bush that keeps growing that needs to be beaten back, or the cows need new hay or the chicken coop needs to be washed or there’s always something to do.
And I can say this, having lived in suburbia, where we went out of our minds with boredom, because there was nothing to do. Out here, there are so many things that you can do. And so many things to look at and so many places to go without ever leaving your property. That it’s very easy to just leave your phone inside for 20 minutes and go out and see the chickens, or leave your phone inside and go walk down to the pond or just sit outside and look at the garden. And so if that kind of freedom, if that kind of peace, if that kind of adventure, if that kind of back to nature life is appealing to you, then all of the other worries about moving to the country kind of fade away. Because if you define the life that you want and you see the life you want, [inaudible] means that you should live in the country, you’ll figure everything else out.
It’s really something to be able to go outside and walk on property that’s not a park. It’s like, “This is mine. This is my property. I maintain it. I can look at it. I watch the seasons change. I watch the animals come and go.” Clearly you can probably tell I absolutely love living in the country and I wouldn’t change it for anything because it’s just so peaceful and so magical. And it’s the best. That’s all I can say. As far as commuting. Again, you just kind of deal with it. You just deal with driving a little bit farther. You plan your trips. You stockpile more on hand. You make it an event when you want to go out to dinner to your favorite restaurant or something. You have campfire parties with mixed drinks instead of going out to a bar. You just find other ways to have the same kind of fun without leaving your property.
And it’s even better because then you’re basically at home. So I will stop waxing poetic about this because clearly, I could talk for absolute hours. But if you have any specific questions, leave them in comments on the blog post, send us an email, leave a review about the podcast, which would be very helpful. Little five-star reviews would always be very nice. I hope you enjoyed that. I hope you’re a little more clear about what it takes to move to the country. Thank you so much for listening. I’m so glad you were here, and I will see you next time. Bye.