You’re tired of your annoying neighbor that gets up at 6AM on a Saturday morning to mow his lawn. Or maybe it’s the neighbor that mows his grass once a month and seems to cultivate all those weeds that find their way to your yard. Or maybe you don’t like the home owners association telling you that you can’t paint your house red, white and blue. Sooner or later you will turn to your spouse and say, “Let’s move to the country.”
After living in rural Texas for almost twenty years I sometimes forget how life in the city was. I’m slowly getting the hang of country life but it’s certainly not for everyone nor was I prepared for it when my wife and I moved out here. Before you decide to sell your home, I have some advice that might save you a lot of aggravation.
Internet: Internet connection options are very limited in the country. Cable providers seldom make it into the country and the phone office is usually too far from you for high speed DSL. My wife and I have individual ADSL lines for our computers. That gives us each a dedicated 1.2 MBPS download. Time averaged it comes closer to 0.6 MBPS because AT&T can’t manage a consistent connection. Streaming is painful at best.
On a personal basis, I have to laugh every time I see the AT&T ad claiming 99% up time. It’s obvious they weren’t gathering their metrics at my house. The one bar on my cellphone is more reliable and faster.
Wireless Internet is often your only choice, unless like me you’re surrounded by trees and in a valley. If you’re considering all those nice ads on TV about Satellite Internet, take the time to Google some of the reviews. And I was thinking I had it bad with AT&T. A move to the country will definitely change your Internet expectations.
Water: If you’re buying an existing place, make sure you take good notes and make sure you get a map of existing water lines, electric lines, phone lines and the sewer system, especially where the septic tank is located. After twenty years, I’ve had to repair almost every water line on my property. Several of them because I was digging there. Personal note, you can do a lot of damage if you’re using your tractor to dig.
The deeper you move into the country, the more likely you are to have a well. Often it’s cheaper than attaching to the rural water supply, assuming you have that option. Make sure you pay attention to all the details of your well. I have a deep well system with a submerged pump, a pressure pump, a holding tank and a pressure tank. Sure, I understood everything he said.
I remembered the owner showing me the air fitting on the pressure tank but who puts air in their water? Apparently you do that to prevent burning out the electrical contacts on the pressure pump. After paying $300 for a new pressure pump, I understood why I wanted to add air.
In case you’re interested, the air is compressible and provides a buffer for your pump. If the pump comes on the moment you turn on water and goes off the moment you turn off the water, it’s time to put some air in your tank.
Septic System: Equally important is how you handle all that waste water. Living in the country almost guarantees you will have a septic system. Proper care and feeding of your septic system is a necessity. When they work, they work well but there a few things to remember.
Your septic system is very sensitive to what you put in it. Kill of all the bacteria in your septic tank and it stops working. Trust me you don’t want that happening.
Make sure you have it pumped out annually or semi-annually. The previous owner showed me where the septic tank was and where the access line was but he never said anything about having it pumped out on a regular basis. I was raised in the city and thought you only needed to pump it out when it got clogged up. What I found out was that you need to pump it out on a regular basis or it will clog up.
Critters: Despite what Disney has led you to believe, raccoons are not nice cuddly animals. They will happily dine on chickens, domestic cats and small dogs. Don’t even think about trying to handle one. They can seriously hurt you.
When I built my first chicken pen, I thought the intent was to keep the chickens in the pen. I never realized how much effort I needed to put into keeping other critters out. Raccoons, stray dogs, coyotes, cats, my own dogs, hawks and even owls have all put serious effort into dining on my chickens.
I hope you’re not squeamish about snakes, spiders or scorpions because if you live in rural Texas you will get to know them. I absolutely hate scorpions. I’ve killed them in every room in the house. I’ve been stung by scorpions more times than I’ve been stung by bees. If you pick something up, always watch for them. I once picked up a dog bowl with a small convention of scorpions under it.
Speaking of bees reminds me of my number one nemesis, mud daubers. I’ve never been stung by one but they’ve caused me more trouble than almost anything else. They like to build their nests in existing holes. Specifically, the holes manufacturers create when they recess screws. This usually ends up corroding the screw head, making it impossible to remove the screw. Save yourself some trouble, cover the holes before the bees find them.
Then there’s the snakes. Fortunately, most of the snakes we encounter are non-venomous but that doesn’t mean they’re not aggressive. My wife once opened our front door and was attacked by a bull snake. He chose his fight poorly and my wife’s rapier acquired a title. My post on the Snake Slayer IV was an acknowledgement that Mother Nature doesn’t ascribe to live and let live.
Neighbors: For the most part your neighbors will be the people you always expected rural life to be but there will still be the others. The ones that inspired you to move to the country to avoid. Except now they party a lot louder and longer because they moved out here to get away from you.
Supplies: You moved to the country to get away from everything. That includes fast food, all night convenience stores and shopping centers. A simple trip into the city for supplies or hardware takes an hour. Amazon is probably losing money on my Prime subscription because that’s often the easiest way to shop. After the first time you blow a fuse in your wellhouse and find one of those round fuses they stopped using fifty years ago, you will learn to plan ahead.