this book in my last Amazon purchase. I needed a knife and had a few bucks leftover so picked up some books. I started this one first because I really enjoyed his book on the Underground Economy and since this book is short it would be a quick read. Read about half of it last night.
To be honest last night I felt like the book was a complete waste of my time and money. Guess in fairness it is designed as a guide for people who have a completely urban or suburban background. The book goes into great detail talking about gravel roads and there is literally an entire chapter on firewood. I am glad that I didn't stay up and finish this book last night and write a scathing review.
I have only really trashed one book in a review. In hindsight I regretted that. Not to say that I changed my opinion on the book but I could have gone about it another way. Saying "this book sucks" doesn't have much value and is just negative. Most of the books I read are fairly popular and probably have value to some readers. Just maybe I can help folks know if a book would be entertaining or useful for them, or if their time and resources are better spent elsewhere. Reviews have been done in this manner for some time and likely will continue to be done this way.
Today I finished this book and upon reflection I definitely see some value in it. It didn't knock my socks off like the last one did but I certainly don't think my time or money was wasted. Well worth $10ish and a couple hours of my time. The latter part of the book had some parts that were more useful to me and a bit less obvious.
Anyway to the review:
I suggest this book for people who have spent their whole life in an urban or suburban setting and seek to move to a more rural environment. I would also suggest it to people who plan to purchase and build on rural land, regardless of any previous rural domicile. Growing up on Daddy's farm teaches ton about country life but there are still some considerations of developing raw rural land you might have missed.
For the first group you will get a whole lot out of this book. Vastly out of proportion to its minimal costs (a bit more than $10) you will learn a lot about the everyday practicalities and considerations of rural life. For the second group (or really anyone who is used to wood stoves and gravel roads and combining tasks and errands for the long drive into town, etc) this book might give well help you avoid some pitfalls if you want to buy rurally or especially if you want to develop raw rural land.
I fall into the second group. This reminded me about some of the eccentricities of rural zoning and property rights. Often parcels were originally based on a hilltop and a fence or in the worst case a river or creek. Those parcels were divided and sold and redivided and sold again and often never really properly surveyed. If you are buying a piece of land getting it surveyed might well be worth the money, particularly if the parcel is on the smaller side or important features are near boundaries. A couple feet of land this way or that isn't a big deal unless it is that pond you love or the barn or in the absolute worst case your access to the county road.
A quick hint here. If the sign says 25.85 acres it has probably been surveyed. If it says 25 +/- acres it probably hasn't been surveyed. If all the key features are in the middle that likely isn't an issue but still it might be worth knowing for sure. If you are going to spend 100k for the land and then build a house on top of it getting it surveyed would be very prudent.
Going along with this it is worth noting that rural and very small town people try to deal with problems personally before getting lawyers involved. It might be a disagreement or an issue of property lines or whatever but it is worth at least trying to settle it in a friendly way. Rural people dislike lawyers more than anyone except maybe IRS accountants. While big city people see lawyers as their neighbors who work for some obscure business for rural folk every time a lawyer is involved it costs a ton of money and someone gets a raw deal.
Case in point, My father bought a house on a little piece of land about a decade ago. In the process of his house being built the land was surveyed and it became apparent that the neighbor lady had inadvertently built her shed about a foot and a half over the property line. I remember the conversation distinctly. She walked over to us one day and said she didn't know her shed was over the line and would move it in the next couple weeks. Dad said that she did not need to bother and to just leave it where it was. Later he commented that in a few years it would become hers but he didn't care about a foot and a half of land in the field anyway. She was a great neighbor and always willing to help out with with the odd neighborly stuff. This brings us to an interesting point. Knowing who has legal access or has otherwise been accessing the land you want to buy for years is a good thing. It might keep you out of a situation you don't want to be in.
When it comes to developing raw land the issues of water, power, and phone connections were brought up. These considerations need to be factored into your decision making. Numerous cases of people jumping in with both feet and ending up way over their heads were given. It is also worth mentioning that just about any problems can be overcome with enough money. A properly funded and motivated individual could have a venerable oasis in the Mojave desert or run phone and power lines 25 miles to their new rural home. That being said most of us don't have that sort of money and many folks try to move into a rural area on a shoestring budget. Due diligence and the considerations mentioned in this book will help a person be able to figure out if they can afford to develop a certain lot into what they want it to be. This information could well allow you to either choose a situation in which you can afford to build what you want or otherwise temper your expectations to your pocket book.
One big thing that kept coming up towards the back half of the book is that people move to rural areas with unrealistic expectations. Even worse they move to a rural area and want to change things. This reminds me of Mexicans (some other groups do this too but this seems to be the predominant group) who move to America and all of a sudden want to change it. You are leaving wherever it is you are used to living for a reason. Also you are moving to where they live, not visa verse. If they wanted to live in a big city or the burbs they probably would and you used to and no longer want to so stop trying to change the country into there. For example it is really stupid to buy a piece of land next to a dairy or a cattle lot or a hog farm and then get upset if it doesn't smell nice come summer.
I am going to put this book on the shelf and read it again in a few years when we are looking to purchase a rural home. In any case it was well worth the $10 or whatever it cost.