Going Country: How to Find and Buy the Perfect Farm in Retirement

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While many retirees choose to downsize later in life, others look at retirement as an opportunity to go bigger, buying a larger property for homesteading and sustenance farming. There are a number of things to think about before you start looking for ways to “go big” in retirement. That’s why HomeBest Garden Sites has put together the following helpful tips and resources.

Your Finances

Your finances are really the starting point for purchasing a new property, particularly if you need to sell a property or get a new mortgage in advance of looking for a new home. If you have good credit, there are a number of different types of loans available, including conventional, FHA, and VA loans. Conventional loans allow you to secure the best rates, and you won't have to pay as many costs. VA loans allow qualifying veterans to purchase a home with no money down.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, you can check your credit score for free and make sure you don't have any irregularities or errors on your report. Then, you can work with a reputable mortgage lender to get the most advantageous deal for you. Also, don’t forget to invest in a bookkeeping system that’s fast, secure, and will help you save a lot of headaches down the road by facilitating precise recordkeeping.

Desired Amenities

In addition to deciding how much money you can spend, you'll also want to narrow your focus by thinking about how you want your new property to operate. For example, if you're planning to farm, acreage will be important; if you want to have livestock or horses, you’ll need to ensure the property is zoned appropriately for animals.

If you're buying a new home with the intention of taking up a particular hobby or launching a business, you might want a large workspace or workshop. For those who like to entertain family and friends, a big playroom, deck, or swimming pool might be on your “must-have” list. And if one of your intentions is to pass the farm down through the generations, you could consider a family approach to the venture. Multi-generational living, of course, goes into considering the size of the house as well.

Things to Think About

According to Life Storage, one of the reasons so many seniors chose to downsize is because they don't want to have the upkeep that typically comes with a larger or older home. Keep your own personal health and abilities in mind when you're looking at properties. If you have mobility issues or concerns about maintaining a property, you’ll want to get a place that's in relatively good repair and ensure you have a good handyman, housekeeper, and landscaper on your speed dial.

Also, think about the potential downside of moving too far away from an established network and community. If you have great friends and support nearby, you may want to look for a property in close proximity.

Starting a Business

Buying and running a farm as a business requires forming a legal operational structure, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability company (LLC). An LLC has several benefits (e.g., limited liability, tax advantages, less paperwork, flexibility).

If you’re starting a business, you’ll also need to come up with a marketing and sales strategy, choose a name, register your business with the state you reside in, and determine how much funding you need.

Working With a Realtor

If you have very specific needs, it can be beneficial to work with a knowledgeable real estate agent. You can describe all of the particulars you’re looking for and let your agent do the legwork. Keep in mind, if you're looking for a horse property, you may have to be in a somewhat rural area. As such, it could put you some distance from amenities such as shopping, healthcare providers, and even easy highway access. Consider all of these factors when narrowing your focus. You'll also want to decide if you're comfortable with a fixer-upper home, or if you want something that's turnkey ready.

Timing the Move

If you need to sell an existing property to finance a new home, you’ll want to time it well so you can avoid having to find transitional housing and storage in-between homes. While moving is a good time to purge and get rid of household items you no longer want or need, if you’re going big, you may actually need to buy new furniture to fill your larger home. You don’t have to break the bank to make this happen. Consider shopping estate sales, consignment centers, auctions, and discount and liquidation furniture warehouses to get everything you need.

Upsizing in retirement can have a lot of benefits, whether that's growing your own produce, having entertainment space to accommodate family whenever you'd like, or even starting a business. Do your due diligence in advance to make sure you find the perfect property.