Searching for the perfect piece of property for our future homestead took more than a year. We knew that we wanted land in Wisconsin and close to both of our families. Additionally, we wanted the property to contain the following features:
- Enough acreage that would allow us to hunt on our own land
- Over half the acreage to be wooded (for hunting and to ensure a constant supply of firewood)
- A natural water source (river, pond, stream, etc.)
- Privacy, both from neighbors and main roads
- The property had to be accessible from a public road and not landlocked (to avoid having to share a private road or driveway with an adjacent property)
- There needed to be a buildable site on the property that we could foresee our future home on
It was not often that this type of land became available, so when it did we would make the trip north from Illinois and try to look at two properties in one day. I quickly learned that buying land consumes more time than buying a house. We (kids and dog included) often spent an entire day with our realtor, driving around each property, hiking each property, and trying to envision our future on each property. Some properties the decision was easy as there were not enough woods, wasn’t private enough, etc. Others were closer to what we were looking for, but still not 100% what we really wanted.
Because we knew we wanted to build our own home, we only considered looking at vacant land with no existing house on the property. However, after spending lots of time looking at vacant land and zero of them meeting our criteria we decided to start searching for land with existing houses that would be considered a “tear down”. This new strategy resulted in a few more available properties that had the right amount of acreage, woods, privacy, etc. However, the houses on them were in good shape and not tear down worthy. Trace and I tried to envision our future in some of these homes since we liked the land that came with them, but deep down we knew that we would end up regretting not building the house we had designed way back in 2008.
So, we waited and waited for new properties to become available…
Finally, after more than a year of searching our realtor contacted us about a property located in the Kettle Moraine State Forest of Wisconsin, which fit the criteria of being close to our families. The property had 65 acres, 45 of which were woods, a 1 acre pond, an existing house, and a shed. I remember driving to the property for the first time and loving the view out the car window on every road we turned on. So far so good I thought to myself…once we started driving up the driveway…even better. It was a long, uphill, curving driveway surrounded by trees and I could not see the house from the main road. Perfect!
Once we arrived to the top of the driveway and pulled in, we both had a good feeling about the property immediately. The woods and ridges surrounding the existing house and yard, due to the glacial landscape, were breathtaking.
The first thing we looked at was the existing house. It was clear the house had been neglected. The entire inside smelled of mildew, the cupboards in the kitchen had mold growing on them and I found a dead mouse in one of the bathroom toilets. Awesome. We would not feel bad tearing down this house.
The living room of the house and the outside deck overlooked the 1 acre pond down below. We knew that if we bought this property that our future home would have the same magnificent view.
I opted to not walk the property with Trace and our realtor because it was July (2014) and the woods were super thick. Besides, that’s a lot of woods and mosquitos, and I trust my husband’s judgement. I was happy with what I had seen already.
In the end, we ended up deciding to buy the property.
Once fall arrived that year we spent our first day as a family on the land, pruning trees along the driveway (which was also overgrown) and posting “No Trespassing” signs around the perimeter of our lot lines. We were finally land owners and the dream of building our own home and starting a homestead was getting REAL…
- Figure out how to tear down existing house while still living in Illinois
- Need to sell home in Illinois and find a place to rent close to land
Here are some pictures of our property…enjoy!
The following pictures were taken of our yard a year after owning the property. If you look closely you can see that the siding from the existing house is missing. More info. on that in the next post 🙂