How to Read Real Estate Ads to Find a Country Home

How to read real estate ads to find a country home, including how to investigate and discover the perfect house in an optimal location at a price you can afford.

| August/September 1996

In pursuit of the good life: Finding that perfect country place. (See the real estate information diagrams in the image gallery.)

Here is what real estate ads don't tell you, trendy books don't feature and what brokers don't want you to know: advice on how to read real estate ads to find a country home. 

How to Read Real Estate Ads to Find a Country Home

For most of us, a move to the country means declaring our freedom from an office or a plant or lifelong local roots. But freedom has a cost. Do you worry that six-figure real estate prices, high property taxes, and rising bank interest rates will just have you swapping the urban rat race for a country-mouse version of the "Good Life"? Let's see if I can't convince you that the major purchase in your life — a home and a little land — needn't be nearly so expensive and constraining as . . . what is the going price for a home and lot today in one of the "prime" areas . . . $140,000 or something equally ridiculous. To get control of your own life, all you need do is throw off the view that all the nice people live in a city or suburb, surrounded by automated appliances, new cars, and debt.

Begging for the moment the cheapest and most rewarding way to establish a homeplace (building it yourself on $400/acre "unimproved" land), the property descriptions you see above include not one word of fiction, but are taken from ads clipped from country periodicals and rural real estate flyers from the eastern and midwestern parts of the country I know personally over the past year or so (1995-'96).

These places aren't hovels either ... or lost and forgotten in some backwater. Backwater hovels don't get advertised. The homes are all solidly-built, livable, and located in or near fine little country communities. You can buy most of these places (if you can't avoid taking a conventional mortgage) for from $250/month to perhaps twice that. With one or another system of "creative-financing" you can usually tailor payments to your income. I'll get to that in a moment.

A 150-acre-plus farm for $400/acre? 

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