Find Your Dream Property with Lessons from Our Nova Scotian Homestead

Reader Contribution by Manuela And Frank Mueller
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Vintage Photo Man With Binoculars On Lake Photo by Manuela Mueller

We’ve lived in three different countries, renovated and built our own houses, and have started our latest project at the end of 2016 here in Nova Scotia, Canada.

We could have repeated the steps we have followed many times before: bought a piece of land and built or purchased a house. But that wasn’t what we wanted to do this time, despite the real estate market being full of properties. At the time, Nova Scotia was a secret little gem.

We decided to start from scratch, buying a property in the middle of the woods where we could clear the land and build our own log home on a nice little lake about 5 kilometers from the next neighbour. We’d be completely off-grid as getting power to the location wasn’t feasible.

Although our build is still a work in progress, everybody who visits sees the beauty of our surroundings and the log home and conclude that living like this would be a dream come true for them.


Cabin by lake with solar panels. Photo by Manuela Mueller

Real Estate Shifts in Nova Scotia

Especially during the pandemic, it seems people have been tired and frustrated, hoping that moving somewhere where things are “better” really will make their lives better. Here in Nova Scotia, it’s lead to a shift in the real estate market like never before!

Prices for properties have skyrocketed, and due to the travel restrictions, houses are bought sight unseen from outside our province — with buyers as far away as Europe.

We understand that people are looking for someplace where they hope to find some peace and quie,t and freedom for themselves and their families, but from our own vast experience moving and starting over so many times, we’ve learned that there are a lot of things to consider!

It’s not just about finding a beautiful spot, but rather that it’s about what you’re looking for, what you need and can handle. Have you asked yourself the right questions before you can sit down by the campfire?

Ask the Right Questions Before Buying a Rural Homestead Property

Let me give you a couple of examples from real-life experience where we’ve met people who haven’t done an honest evaluation of themselves. They just didn’t think about these things:

What kind of land are you looking for? Is it a retreat, a farm, a cabin?

Are you looking for yourself, your partner, or a full family?

Are you all on the same page in what you want? This is sometimes the biggest misunderstanding! A couple is looking for a “house on a lake” and both agree on it. But in his opinion that “house on the lake” is a rustic old cabin off the grid and in the middle of the woods, where he can hang out and fish. In her mind, they’re talking about a nice little house on a lake with power where they can spend time with the kids and her parents! (Yes, I’ve been to a viewing where exactly this happened, and the discussion between that couple wasn’t pleasant.)

Are you familiar with the area you’re searching in? If you’re allergic to insect bites you might not want to live in Nova Scotia during black fly season!

Are you going to be too far or maybe not far enough from neighbours? For instance, if you have dogs and your new neighbour doesn’t have a fence and his kids are scared of dogs, consider this.

Or considerations include:

  • How much of my land is actually usable? Is the waterfront more on the swampy side?
  • Is there access to water, hunting, fishing and hiking, snowmobile or ATV trails? (And will you need to cross other people’s property to have a right of way?)
  • How is the lay of the land — flat, sloped, rocky, flood zone?
  • Is the property accessible all year round, and would snow removal, road maintenance, private or public road building be required?
  • Would I be allowed to keep livestock on the property?
  • Or what about, if you want to build:
  • What kind of septic system and field will be required?
  • Can I get a building permit for the kind of dwelling I want?
  • Is the property accessible for heavy equipment and trucks?
  • How much will a driveway cost?
  • Power: on-grid or off-grid?
  • Water: Dug or drilled well, and how’s the quality? Will I need a filtration system?


Cutting Ice Blocks With A Chainsaw. Photo by Manuela Mueller

I could go on and on and these are only a few of things that we’ve seen “go south” when hopeful homesteaders are so caught up with the idea of finally trying to make their dream come true that they forget to ask the essential questions.

Because we’ve made a ton of these mistakes ourselves, we created a two-hour webinar about how to find the perfect piece of land in Nova Scotia. We can only encourage everybody who’s out there wanting to finally live their dream to do their due diligence!

And it really doesn’t matter if you’re looking to go into the urban areas, rural, on- or off-grid, or whether you’re alone or want to do it as a family or community project. In all cases, take your time, do your homework, be open for changes, be honest to yourself and situation and prepared for challenges.

It’s never easy to pursue your dream, but believe me, it’s worth it and don’t forget: Life’s too short to waste a minute.

Manuela and Frank Muellerlive off the grid in Nova Scotia, where they built their own log home and furniture. Now, they’re ready to teach you in their webinar,Find Your Perfect Piece of Land in Nova Scotia & Live Your Dream. Connect with Manuela and Frank on their website, Restless Roots, and onFacebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Read all of their MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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