2020 and 2021 were both years of great change. One of the most notable changes was how we began to look at, and use, our own personal residences. Things that were once important, became much less important – like our commutes to work. On the other hand, things that once weren’t that important, became much more important – home offices, home gyms, green space, etc.
With these changes in lifestyle, we saw an increase in the amount of people looking for bigger spaces, perhaps further out of the city core. Living within a 20-minute commute from work was no longer such a driver in motivation. Now having functional space was. Naturally, the tendency was for people to move further and further out of the city – many electing for suburbs near the perimeter, some electing for more rural properties.
Now rural living is fabulous, and if you dream of owning acreage, or seclusion and privacy, or just a space for the kiddos to run, then this is an avenue definitely worth exploring. However, it is not a decision that one would want to take lightly. There are many challenges that come with that sprawling land. Here are some considerations that often come up when we have clients considering these homes:
1. Winter Accessibility
We live in a province known for some harsh winters. If you are considering homes on private roads, you are going to want to talk to the neighbours, see if there are agreements in place to provide for the clearing of snow and maintenance of the road. When it comes to your own personal driveway, an investment in a snowblower or even a quad with a plough are popular decisions. Keep in mind too, that we live in the prairies, and snow drifts can be quite substantial. It is not uncommon to have to shovel yourself out just to go somewhere in the winter.
If you are beyond municipal lines, you are going to be dealing with a well. Sometimes shared with another neighbour, depending on your location, or a private well for your residence only. These wells can have high levels of contaminants, some more notable being E.coli, arsenic, or even radon. When considering a home with its own well system, be sure your Realtor takes a water sample to be tested for water potability. Well water can be less than appealing to drink, even with a satisfactory test result. I have found that most people elect to purchase a water cooler and purchase their drinking water. It is still important to know that the water you are using when brushing your teeth, having a shower, etc. is safe.
3. Septic Systems
There is a lifespan on any system within a home, and the septic system is not excluded from that. There are two components to a septic system, and I’ll try to be as brief about it. There is a tank component that is buried underground to collect sewage and wastewater. This tank then connects to a septic field that eliminates the grey water and allows it to disburse safely into the ground. Even with this removal of grey water, you will still have waste that collects in the septic tank. For this, you will need to have a septic company come and pump out your tank every so often. The frequency of which will really depend on your family size and water usage. I would say the average pump-out for a family with a well-functioning system, is every 1-2 years. It is worth noting though, that there are still some properties out there in which there is just a tank and no field – with nowhere for the grey water to escape, those tanks need to be pumped much more frequently. There are also some communities in Manitoba in which there is no field, but the tank connects to municipal services, so the grey water is removed that way. One more thing worth noting are ejector systems. If you see a listing that notes there is an ejector system as part of the septic system, please talk to your Realtor about what that could mean for your potential purchase, as it could be a real crap shoot for you (sorry, had to).
4. Planning Ahead
Did we all have that friend growing up that lived far away, and once they would get home for the night their parents would say “we are not going back into town!”? I know I did. It is of utmost importance to make those lists and check them twice – you don’t want to make a second trip to the grocery store! Also, it is worthwhile investing in a backup generator. Rural properties do experience power bumps like the rest of Manitoba when a nasty storm hits. However, rural communities are often the last to have their power restored as MB Hydro prioritizes based on population density. Having a generator ready to go with some electric heaters would be ideal. Or better yet, your home has a wood stove and you have stockpiled a huge pile of wood! But either way, it is important to plan for the worst, and hope for the best when it comes to rural living.
5. Trash and Recycling
Depending on the community, perhaps setting your garbage and recycling bin at the end of your driveway may or may not be an option. In the event it isn’t, your next option is going to be transporting your waste to the dump on a regular basis. Composting is another great option for rural living though as it results in nutrient-rich soil and will reduce the amount of the trash you are schlepping to the dump!
With a great amount of land comes a great amount of responsibility. This might be obvious, but I will say it anyways. The bigger the yard, the more responsibility. Fence repairs, lawn maintenance, driveway maintenance, etc. can take a lot more time and money when in the country. Consider investing in a riding lawnmower to cut down on some time. However, that riding lawnmower will also need its own maintenance.
Even within city limits, we experience a fair bit of critters – rabbits, foxes, deer, raccoons, skunks, squirrels, mice, coyotes to name a few. The same can be said for country living – but perhaps with greater frequency. Sometimes, these animals can become quite a nuisance, if they are chewing their way into your outbuildings to seek warmth in the fall and winter months. It is not uncommon to have a mouse in the house when it comes to rural living, and proper mitigation and monitoring is incredibly important to make sure nothing ever arises to the level of an infestation.
8. Property Lines
It can be next to impossible to know the lot lines when you are touring a rural property. Oftentimes, many assumptions are made, like “you own to that tree line to the north, the ditch to the south, etc.”. However, it would be a great shame to purchase a rural property only to discover there is a discrepancy between expectations and reality. Getting a copy of the land survey is a great way to tell where the lot lines are and whether or not there are any encroachments, easements, or potential issues. It is also important to have on hand to avoid any possible land disputes. Sometimes a survey can be obtained through the previous owner should they have a copy of one. However, the most accurate and up-to-date can be obtained by hiring a reputable surveying company to do a fresh survey for you.
I have shown many a rural property in which my cell service did not work. This can sometimes be fixed by switching carriers. Or, another option might be to purchase a cell phone range extender and have it installed on your home. However, it may not be a perfect solution. I have had clients that could only commute via text if they were within their home in Wi-Fi range. Which brings me to my next point – Internet. If you are planning to work remotely, then internet is going to be a HUGE deal. Not all rural communities have the best internet options, although most are getting better (thank you, Elon Musk). However, it is important to discuss with the local providers exactly what your options are, and what kind of internet speeds you can expect.
I sincerely hope I have not deterred you, especially if country living is the dream. Country living is hard work, but very rewarding too. There is a relaxing peacefulness to being away from it all. I have had many clients over my career move to the country and swear that they will never move back – and I totally understand why!
Phone: (204) 797-7945