The Costs of Country Living

Farm house

For most of my life, I lived outside of city limits and to this day my parents still live out in the country. I’ve found there are some money saving benefits to living outside the limits, plus you get to experience the beauty of nature every day. Living in the country is great, but like anything in this world, it has its downsides. If you are thinking about shucking city life to live on three acres on a dirt road, just keep these pros and cons in mind when you go looking for your dream home.

Advantages

  • You always have to pay county and state tax, but if you live outside city limits you do not have to pay city taxes. That doesn’t mean you don’t pay any property tax, it just means you pay less than what city people pay.
  • The further away you are from the city, the cheaper the acreage and the cheaper the houses. Land within a city has more demand than acreage outside limits, which makes prices skyrocket. In the ’80s, my parents bought their three bedroom house and acreage for $70,000. If they had found that same house on a small lot in the city, it would have cost them upward of $100,000.
  • Most people outside limits are not subject to water usage restrictions, which is nice if you live in states like Texas and California that are known for water restrictions.

Disadvantages

  • Since you don’t pay city taxes, you don’t receive subsidized trash collection, so you have to pay more for a private municipal waste company to collect your trash.
  • You have to depend on the county or state, rather than the city/town, for road and electrical maintenance. There is no extra cost, but the county or state often takes longer to finish maintenance, which can leave you in the dark for a couple of days.
  • You will not have access to city water or sewage so you will have to manage your own well and septic tank. The biggest expense for country dwellers is digging a new well if the old one dries up. That’s $8,000 or more! If you are planning to buy a home with a well, hire an expert on water tables and have them survey your land before you buy the home. Also, home mortgage companies are usually required to provide a recent water quality test of the home’s well, checking for any toxins or other contaminants, but if they don’t, ask them to do so or hire someone to check it for you.
  • Depending on your location, your cell reception may be poor because there are fewer cell towers past city limits and high speed internet can be a hassle or impossible to get in your area. My family struggled with dial up and poor dish network for years. The only reason my parents have access to cable now is because the CEO of a cable company moved to their area and wanted fast internet access.
  • You will spend more money on gas because public transportation is rarely accessible outside city limits and stores are not within walking distance. Just to drive into town and go to a grocery store, my parents have a fifteen minute commute on country roads. The extra miles, and the fact that they live on a dirt road with potholes, puts extra wear and tear on their cars. They end up spending more money annually on car maintenance than the average city dweller.

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