Dreaming of Life on Minnesota Acreage? 14 Important Considerations When Moving to an Acreage Home

By
Real Estate Agent with Boardman Realty Minnesota License#90858
https://activerain.com/droplet/sKV

Moving to Minnesota Acreage or Hobby Farm

 
Remember the story of the country mouse and his city cousin that switched places? Rural life was so slow and different that the city mouse couldn’t stand it. And likewise the country mouse was so out of place in the city that he scurried home as fast as his little mouse feet could carry him.
 
Moving to Minnesota acreagedoesn’t have to make you feel like a fish-out-of-water, or a mouse in the wrong part of town for that matter! Planning before you make the move can ease the transition from
Ham Lake Acreage Home by Teri Eckholm REALTOR
life in the city so your family will love your new life on Minnesota acreage!
 
As a REALTOR® who works throughout the north and east Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area, I show homes to other families looking for the same escape from the city my own family made several years ago. We first felt like that crazed city mouse and wanted to sell our new Anoka County home and move back to North St. Paul where we had lived for years. But we soon found out, you cannot go back….the yards looked too small. Acreage has its appeal.
 
Since that first fateful year, we embraced our life on our small acreage in Ham Lake. In fact, over the past decade, as a REALTOR® , I have assisted several old friends and neighbors make similar moves to Anoka and Chisago County hobby farms and acreage homes. In each of these transactions, I notice that the same questions continue to come up whether considering a hobby farm in Forest Lake, an acreage lakeshore home in Linwood, a horse property in Columbus or an executive estate in Ham Lake. Though the properties that are being considered are only 15-20 miles from the bustling city life of downtown Minneapolis and the Mall of America, there are significant differences in the way of life out in the country.
 
Here are 14 important questions and considerations homebuyers should ask before they move from the city to acreage in Anoka, Chisago or Washingtion County
 
**What is a Septic or Private Sewer system?
Most rural homes have a private septic system. Not all systems are created equal. They are designed for the specific property and size of the home. Even a new septic system can fail if not properly maintained. How do you know if the septic system is working? Since not all communities require point-of-sale inspection, have your REALTOR® require the seller to supply certification of compliance from a certified septic inspector in your purchase agreement. This certification should be no more than three years old. Also, if you have never lived on a home with a septic system, it is important to educate yourself on how to best maintain and protect your private sewer system.  Additional information on Septic Systems.
 
**Is there a city water utility or a private well?  Will I need a water softener or other water treatment system?
Families new to the concept of well water have many questions regarding its safety. Most buyers will request the water be tested for bacteria and nitrates in the purchase agreement. This is usually paid for by the seller. If you want the well test for your property to include tests for other contaminants, like lead, it must be specified in the purchase agreement. Annual water testing is recommended for all home owners with wells. Locate your MN Unique Well Number.
 
One question often asked by home buyers considering a property with a private well is about water treatment options available. Many homes with private wells have water softeners to treat the water in the home. Some will go one step further and have a reverse osmosis water treatment system in the kitchens as a drinking water supply. Additional information on Water Softeners and Reverse Osmosis Drinking Systems.
 
**Is there a natural gas supply to the home or will a propane tank be located on the property?    
Often people looking at acreage will have questions about the huge propane fuel tank located near the home. People from the city usually only see these tanks outside of the gas stations where they pick up the small refills for their gas grills. In the country, the large propane tanks are in many backyards as the source of fuel to heat the home and run appliances. As a fuel source the differences are not noticeable. Propane is the least expensive cleanest fuel if a home does not have access to natural gas. Additional information on the differences between natural gas and propane.
 
Sprint Airave by Teri Eckholm REALTOR**Does the home have access to cable or high speed internet or will a satellite connection be required?  Which cable services are available to the home? What are the alternatives if DSL is not available through the phone or cable lines? Do I have to have cable or a dish to get television reception? Will I have cell phone reception?
A decade ago, these were not questions that people worried about in the rural communities. Today our interconnected world brings these questions to the forefront but no worries; there are tons of alternatives today to keep you connected. From hot spots to internet cards there are options to keep your family connected even out in the woods. However, there are many homes in Lino Lakes, Ham Lake, Forest Lake and East Bethel that do not have cable lines or high speed internet available through the phone lines. And there are cell phone dead zones no matter how numerous or close those towers seem to be. We have one less than a mile from our house and still have to have a Sprint Airave to get continuous cell phone reception. So if your family lives on the internet and could not live without a high-speed connection, it is essential ask questions to figure out how to get the best access and reception.
 
**If the road is gravel or unpaved, how often is it maintained by the city/county?
Our road was not paved when we first moved to Ham Lake. We were nearly a mile down a soft, gravel/sand road. When we moved it was late fall and were very surprised when the spring rains and snow melt left the road extremely poor condition. It was treacherous at times. The re-grading was done by the city on a periodic schedule so we had to negotiate the pot-holed road for days. Our road is now paved but the memories still remain.
 
If you are considering acreage, remember many rural roads are not paved. If the acreage property you are considering is on a gravel or dirt road, try to visit the property on several occasions and under differing conditions. It might be a good idea to talk to the city and county to understand how the road is maintained. Also be sure to ask if there are any plans to pave the road in the future and what would be assessed per property owner for the project.
 
**Is there wildlife?
Anoka County Minnesota Wildlife by Teri Eckholm REALTOR
Well maybe not lions and tigers, but we have had bears and cougars seen near our home in Anoka County. We also have pheasant, hawks, bald eagles, raccoons, foxes, several varieties of squirrels and deer. A flock of wild turkeys have made their home in our neighborhood and continue to nest year after year. And an owl and a hawk have nested in trees in on our property. I rarely saw blue jays, cardinals or hummingbirds in the city, but in our Anoka County acreage home, we see them on a daily basis. While exciting, the downside is sometimes the wildlife comes in. I don't know anyone on Ham Lake acreage that hasn’t had an occasional field mouse enter their home.
 
**Can I have horses?
If your move to acreage is for having horses or other farm animals in your backyard, keep in mind that most communities have restrictions on how many, if any, animals are allowed. Whether you can have horses, pigs, cows, chickens, ducks, sheep or goats will be determined by the local city regulations. Even the amount of domesticated dogs and cats can be restricted on acreage property, just as it was in most urban communities. So if you plan to run a dog kennel, breed cats or train horses, for business or pleasure, make sure it is allowed in your new rural community prior to writing an offer.
 
**Is hunting allowed?
In some rural areas hunting is still allowed depending on the amount of acreage, the development restrictions and city and county rules. It was a rude awakening for us to discover our neighbors were allowed to hunt….and it seemed right outside our door too! Imagine our shock that first deer opener when the hunters came out in blaze orange to hunt in the woods next to our home. The property owner, at our request, posted the land and the hunters left. The land has since been developed but it is something everyone moving should understand before buying any acreage home. Check with the city and county for all ordinances regarding firearms.
 
**Where are the schools?
The public school districts in rural communities can be vast. In the Forest Lake School District 831, students come from communities as far west as Ham Lake, as far south as Lino Lakes, as far east as Scandia and as far north as Stacy! It you drive from the western border to the eastern border of the district, it takes almost 45 minutes, one way! There is only one high school in the district, so your children's best friend from school could literally live almost an hour from your home. But the opportunities to get to know kids from all areas can outweigh any negatives. The bottom line here is, it pays to research the school district prior to any housing decisions.
 
Also school alternatives can be limited. Communities in the city have dozens of private and charter school options. These options are much lower in rural areas due to the smaller population.  Additional information on Educational Alternatives in the North Metro.
 
**Can we have a bonfire and burn all this debris?
There are strict state and local restrictions regarding burning of construction debris and yard waste. There are restrictions on the size of the fire and what can be burned. Many construction materials cannot be burned because they release chemicals into the air that pose an environmental hazard. There are times of the year where burning is only allowed by permit and sometimes not at all. Before burning it is best to check the local restrictions as well as the DNR. More information on MN Fire Restrictions.
 
**Where do we shop? How far to the nearest corner store, gas station, shopping center and mall?
Depending on how often you like to shop, this may or may not be a big concern. But it is always nice to know how far you will have to go for a gallon of milk for breakfast, a propane refill for the BBQ or gas for the lawn tractor.
 
**How long does it take to cut the grass?Oak Wilt in Ham Lake by Teri Eckholm REALTOR
If your yard is over an acre with few trees, you might consider a lawn tractor. Many people on acreage only cut certain areas leaving the rest to grow to a natural prairie. Another consideration would be whether or not to install an irrigation system for the sod near the home.
 
**Wow! There are a lot of trees! Do I have to worry about oak wilt and emerald Ash Borers?
Oak wilt is a big concern in Anoka and Chisago counties. Many of the communities have information and programs to help protect and save the oak trees from this disease. And Additional information regarding oak wilt. Recently people have been extremely concerned with the emerald ash borer that has been found in Ramsey County communities including St. Paul and Shoreview. These insects bored into ash trees and tunnel under the bark eventually killing the tree. There are programs to control the spread of the insects. Additional information on the Emerald Ash Borer
 
**What about emergencies? How far to the nearest hospital? Where is the nearest fire station? Who provides police protection?
No one wants to think about these things when moving but accidents and illnesses do happen. It was a long hour drive to Children's Hospital in St. Paul when my young son fell and needed stitches. If the nearest fire station is staffed with volunteers and over five miles away, it will seem like a lifetime during those 5-10 minutes while you wait for the fire truck to show up to YOUR home. And big fires in dry areas will need the water trucked in due to limited water hydrants, if any, like in the city. Many rural communities do not have police officers but are patrolled by the county sheriff's department. Understand your options before an emergency occurs because it will likely take a bit longer if you are in a rural area.
 
With a little planning your move to a home on acreage can be a great one! If you are considering purchasing an acreage foreclosure, there are additional things to consider. Please read Buying a Foreclosed Home on Minnesota Acreage
Posted by

Teri Eckholm. REALTOR with Boardman Realty, is a native Minnesotan who has lived and worked in the Minneapolis St Paul metro all of her life. She specializes in lakeshore homes, acreage properties and first time home buyers but assists anyone making a move in the north and east Twin Cities metro.

If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give Teri , a call or visit her website for a FREE Home Buyer Success Guide or FREE Home Value Report She specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

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Rainmaker
269,563
Jean Hedren, CRS ABR SRES RSPS
Edina Realty, Inc. - Gordon, WI
Your Northwest Wisconsin Realtor

Teri, as usual, your posts were thorough and knowledgeable. Excellent information.

Feb 11, 2012 01:34 AM #3
Rainmaker
720,712
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Jean--Thank you...there is a ton of information here for people who are looking to buy and acreage home...or cabin!

Feb 11, 2012 08:38 AM #4
Rainmaker
925,849
Ron Marshall
Marshall Enterprises - Saint Michael, MN
Birdhouse Builder Extraordinaire

Great post.  We have some land for sale.  And, these are nearly all the questions we have been asked. 

Feb 11, 2012 08:39 AM #5
Rainmaker
720,712
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Ron--Certain questions come up over and over again when people look at acreage....And if it is raw land, there is a whole slew of additional questions too!

Feb 11, 2012 08:43 AM #6
Ambassador
1,887,156
Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth

Teri, those access and services and schools questions are so on target to get the acreage person thinking about what goes along with the land. Excellent post....

Feb 11, 2012 09:22 AM #7
Rainmaker
637,957
Don Sabinske
Don Sabinske, Sabinske & Associates Inc. - Zimmerman, MN
Sabinske & Associates Inc.

Suggested because this was so well-written and covers nearly every base.  Thanks, Teri.

Feb 11, 2012 09:54 AM #8
Rainmaker
1,948,385
Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459
Coldwell Banker - Oconomowoc, WI
Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent. SOLD!

Teri

I would think that would be heaven to have a farm in the beautiful state of Minnesota

Feb 11, 2012 02:23 PM #9
Rainmaker
1,069,469
Bill Gassett
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Hopkinton, MA
Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate

Wow what a resource Teri! You have done an outstanding job putting this together. It should be featured!

Feb 11, 2012 11:22 PM #10
Rainmaker
1,107,151
Al Raymondi
Ocean View Realty Group in Ormond By The Sea Florida - Ormond Beach, FL
Ormond By The Sea Florida - Home and Condo Sales

Excellent post Teri, buying acreage has many considerations that many other residential properties do not have.  You have nicely covered what a buyer needs to consider in buying acreage in your area.

Feb 12, 2012 12:39 AM #11
Rainmaker
2,533,559
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

This post demonstrates the importance of using a local experienced agent to protect and maximize a purchase

Feb 12, 2012 02:49 AM #12
Rainer
249,249
Mike Dobbins
Realty ONE Group - Cave Creek, AZ
Scottsdale, Cave Creek, Carefree

Some great info there, will pass this along to some relatives in MN. Thanks!

Feb 12, 2012 05:08 AM #13
Rainmaker
720,712
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Gary--Thanks so much...people making a move from the city really do have most of these questions on their mind at some point.

Feb 13, 2012 06:18 AM #14
Rainmaker
720,712
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Don--Appreciate that you sugggested. Thanks!

Feb 13, 2012 06:18 AM #15
Rainmaker
720,712
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Tom--It doesn't have to be a farm...these questions apply to any acreage large or small. :)

Feb 13, 2012 06:19 AM #16
Rainmaker
720,712
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Bill--Thanks I appreciate that! :)

Feb 13, 2012 06:19 AM #17
Rainmaker
720,712
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Al--Some of these tips apply to acreage anywhere...not just MN. Thank you!

Feb 13, 2012 06:20 AM #18
Rainmaker
720,712
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Richie--When an agent knows the area and what you are buying, many times we can provide answers to questions buyers and seller may not have even considered.

Feb 13, 2012 06:22 AM #19
Rainmaker
720,712
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

Mike--It applies to many other areas other than just MN but please pass the info along. :)

Feb 13, 2012 06:23 AM #20
Ambassador
1,543,028
William Johnson
Retired - La Jolla, CA
Retired Real Estate Professional

Hi Teri, I came back to see if this got featured. I see where at least one other suggested as well. Sadly it has not been featured as yet. I hope they do because this is excellent.

Feb 13, 2012 01:57 PM #21
Rainmaker
720,712
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro

William--I was kind of hoping it would get featured as well as that seems to make it stand out to readers as well...oh well, I guess timing was wrong...thanks for checking.

Feb 13, 2012 03:38 PM #22
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