Advice wanted: How & when to make the move?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Jo73, Dec 5, 2003.

  1. Jo73

    Jo73 Active Member

    Jun 9, 2003
    Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    Hi all,

    As I've mentioned on a couple of other threads, I'm about to move from the UK (where I've been living for the past 6 years) back to Montreal, Canada. My situation seems a little complicated (to me), or maybe I just have too many options. I'd really appreciate some input:

    Due to sheer LUCK, I've made a decent amount of profit on the house I bought in the UK (the housing market went nuts right after I bought, and it's worth over twice what I paid for it). I *could* buy a some land (20 acres would be plenty for what I'd like to do) with a house in an area suitable for homesteading (which is what I ultimately want to do) as soon as I move back, BUT:

    1. My parents are elderly, and my father has Parkinson's disease. They both have serious heart conditions. I feel I should be nearby - this is a huge part of the reason I've decided to move back to Canada now. I also feel quite strongly that I want to be in a position to help them out financially if they need it; which they might if my Dad ends up needing full-time nursing care.

    2. I am a computer programmer, and my current company has agreed to keep me on as a contractor after I move to Canada. That means that for (minimum) 6 months to (maximum) 2 years, I'll have a good salary as long as I'm living somewhere with a reliable highspeed internet connection. After that I don't know what my job situation is going to be like. I'm not a 'top expert' in my field, just competant at what I do.

    My original plan was to buy a 'duplex' in Montreal, fairly close to my parent's house. Due to the oddities of the Montreal housing and rental markets, a duplex (two apartments one on top of the other, you own the whole building, live in half and rent the other half) is actually a lot cheaper that a 'single family house'. I can (just barely) afford a duplex with a decent sized yard/garden. The idea behind this plan is that if my contract ends sooner rather than later, I have the rental income to pay the bills while i'm looking for another job. And it gives me enough more time & space to grow a nice big garden and learn all the homesteading skills I haven't had much practice at yet.

    BUT; I've spent a *huge* amount of time lately lookng at the various options of property for sale in the outlying/farming areas around Montreal. I could buy 20 acres (no house) for about $20,00; or 3-5 acres with a mobile home/trailer on it for $35,000. This would have to come out ot the money I have to spend on a house in town...

    Does it make more sense to get a decent sized chunk of land that I will need to commute (about 1-2 hour's drive) to on weekends, and a (much) smaller place in the city? Should I buy the land I eventually plan to build on right away, and grow a garden on that instead, until my family situation stabilises and I can homestead full time?

    I would really love to hear from people who have 'commuted' to their homestead (either raw land or land with a house/mobile); and how it worked out for them.

  2. goatlady

    goatlady Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 31, 2002
    No. Cent. AR
    The duplex makes sense financially especially if the rental unit makes enough to pay the mortgage and taxes. An alternative is move your folks into the duplex, sell their place, and use those proceeds to invest in rural property of some type. No mention of siblings so I assume you are the only child - in which case you would eventually inherit anyway. It may get difficult trying to manage 3 properties i.e. the duplex, your parent's home, and the potential rural property. Another thought is to try to buy the duplex AND the 3-5 with the mobile and rent the mobile to make the mtg. payments. It's always smart to "use other peoples' money". Try to use your proceeds with as much leverage as you can and not get snowed under. It's not practicle to buy rural land and put in a garden only to be able to get there on the week-ends. Too much can happen i.e. deer eat the whole thing in one night, neighbors "borrow" stuff, it need water every other day in a drought. Better to garden where you can check every day for bugs, disease, moisture, etc.

  3. ed/IL

    ed/IL Well-Known Member

    May 11, 2002
    Move in with your parents. Bank all you can. Take your time and find a great deal on some land.
  4. chickflick

    chickflick Well-Known Member

    Oct 20, 2003
    YES, ed!! Take time... good advice.

    You can actually pocket your cash (REMEMBER: "Cash is King"), move in w/parents or rent nearby... work your 6 months.. which will give you TIME to look, decide, see what happens.... ONLY DON"T blow your money!!:):)

    I know as a real estate investor (tiny one) that renting seems like a waste, but if your job is covering it.. for a short time it could SAVE you soooo much in the way of a MISTAKEN long term decision before you've had ample time to make it.. Understand what I'm saying? (Not that you're stupid... I just don't always make my point clear! :eek: )

    My daughter is in UK now... 30 min. from London.. Portsmouth.. do you know it?
  5. poultryprincess

    poultryprincess Well-Known Member

    Aug 9, 2002
    Ontariariario Canada
    :) Hi Jo73, If I were You....I would buy the duplex. Pay it off if possible, or have a small mortgage. I know you are anxious to get your hands in the dirt / but you don't want to be sooooo stressed that you can't enjoy it. If you get the duplex, you will assure your job position,have income from the apt. to help with the bills & be close to your parents. If & when your father needs extra home care, you would be in a position to move them into your house Or help with the finances from the Most cities offer plots of land you can rent for cheap. Get yourself one, which will bring you in touch with other gardeners/farmers etc. The main thing i would look for is a way to reduce my overhead & stress. You may get so tied up with your family, that a long comute is more strain. As you stated the extra time could be used to learn homesteading for the future.....that's a good thing.(ps. I practice what I preach. I have wanted chickens for almost 15 years. I read,planned,& went on a short amortized mortgage to pay off my home.I am now living my dream, with no stress....except the problem of how to get DH to let me have more animals!) :haha:
  6. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    Aug 10, 2003
    Alberta, Canada
    The very first thing you have to do before you get dug in too deep is to have a long hard look at Canadian internet service, especially since your livelihood depends on it. Canada is a bit behind in the area of fiber optics and when I called my phone company I was told that the chance of us out in rural areas being upgraded from copper lines to fiber optic lines was about the same as a snowball surviving in hell. You're going to have to stay with your parents for a while at least so do some research and find out what areas will give you what you need and what will leave you wanting. If I were you, I'd spend enough time with your folks to get a really good feel for the area again, find out what land prices look like and if the areas you thought were full of good honest people, still are. Don't forget when you're looking at property to do your homework on maple syrup. What a tap will produce and what it's worth now and all that good stuff, it's another form of income. I know very little about it but I do know I had a friend moving down east and he was so very excited because the property had 40 taps but he couldn't tell me what that actually meant. The duplex sounds like a good idea but you'll need to find out if your parents are interested in something like that. Good luck with the move and I do hope it goes nice and smooth for you. I'm out west but if there's anything that I can help with, feel free to send a pm.
  7. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

    Oct 29, 2002

    A couple thoughts:

    1) It is possible to commute. DW and I own a place about an hour and a half from our home. It can be troublesome sometimes and we don't always get out there as often as we would like but it has worked out for us so far. We do have a small cabin and we are putting in a barn and electricity this winter. This should make things a bit easier. It also helps that we have a good neighbor who keeps an eye on things (we let him ride his horses on the trails through our place). We also have a fellow down the road who does custom work for us an dis pretty reliable. We don't leave much down there that we would be too upset if it were stolen or destroyed.

    2) It's nice that you want to help your parents out financially but I wouldn't count on the contract work. A close friend of ours bought a 92 acre farm in the boonies because his employer said he could telecommute. He had been with the company for quite a few years as a techie. After a relatively short period he was laid off. It's been almost a year now and he still hasn't found a job that is anything near comparable. Fortunately he didn't have much of a mortgage so it wasn't as bad as it might have been (still not good though).

    3) Make a plan. For the short term I agree that staying with your parents might be worth considering. You should consider any issues carefully though (you may love em but can you live with em?). Think carefully about the realestate market you are looking at. Is it in a bubble? Lots of economists and publications (look at this weeks Economist magazine and last weeks Barrons for warnings about housing bubbles. If you are selling in the UK I would do it quick. By all accounts it sounds like there is a real housing bubble over there and the risk of a sudden downdraft is real.

    Personally I would go with the 20 acres rather than the smaller property with a mobile home. Depending on the property you get you might be able to lease it to a local farmer for the time being. You can always find an inexpensive trailer or mobile home (check zoning issues before you buy).

    As usual, just my 2 cents.