The Small Home, Big Decisions series follows Jennifer and her husband, Tyler, as they build a self-reliant homestead on a piece of country property in northeastern Kansas. The series will delve into questions that arise during their building process and the decisions they make along the way. The posts are a work in progress, written as their home-building adventure unfolds.
My husband and I sealed the deal on a piece of property – a beautiful, 42-acre rectangle of northeastern Kansas – that met all of our land requirements. It has a nice wooded area from which we could cut wood for our wood-burning stove; plenty of open space on which we could build a house, put in a large food garden, start an orchard and graze animals; and more than plenty of space to roam, build running, biking and hiking trails, and even create numerous campsites. The land was located close enough to bike into town if we wanted – less than 7 miles from the local downtown brewery (important detail), and near the local running trails I love to frequent. We’d been watching the land for more than a year as we also searched high and low for country homes and other pieces of land. The price dropped enough for us to make it work, and we jumped on the property. It wasn’t until we were celebrating with an impromptu picnic after signing the official papers with the bank and the title company that we realized we didn’t really know anything about what else stood between us and the future we’d been hoping for and working toward.
We figured that our needs and wants were simple enough that we’d be able to make it all work out. We had a vague idea of how much a small, energy-efficient home would cost to build in our area. Although we knew our bank would extend our land loan to cover building a new home, the full loan was contingent upon us selling our current home and figuring out all of the building permit details. We didn’t know then, but we soon discovered – and are still discovering – how many big, important, difficult decisions we have to make in order to build our simple, small country home and, later, farm.
As the Managing Editor for MOTHER EARTH NEWS, I have access to a lot of great content (you do, too — it’s all at available on the MOTHER EARTH NEWS website or in a print and/or digital subscriptions) and great people who have experience with a lot of the topics my husband and I are working through as we build. By documenting our journey, we hope to help other future homesteaders know more than we did when we dove in. We also hope some of you out there have walked a similar path before, and have answers for all of us young modern homesteaders looking to move to the country and make a go of the self-reliant, DIY lifestyle. We welcome comments, questions and advice in the comments section on any post in the series — my experience is only one approach, after all.
Next in the series: Should We Go into Debt?
Photo by Jennifer Kongs of our black lab, Jackson, wandering, sniffing, romping and ultimately approving of his future rural home.
Jennifer Kongs is the Managing Editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine. When she’s not working at the magazine, she’s likely in her garden, on the local running trails or in her kitchen instead. You can connect directly with Jennifer by leaving a comment below.