Living a simple life in the countryside can be a dream come true for many people, and if you’re considering buying a rural home in Santa Cruz, there are some important factors to take into account. Moving away from the city to a rural area has its unique set of challenges, but with proper planning and research, you can make an informed decision. In this article, we will discuss the top things you should consider before buying a rural home in Santa Cruz.
1. Define Your Needs and Wants
Before you start searching for a rural home in Santa Cruz, it’s essential to specify your needs and wants. Consider your reasons for buying the property. Will it be your primary residence or a vacation home? Do you plan to use the land for agricultural purposes? Determine what you need and want in terms of living conditions and create a list. Include non-negotiable conditions and nice-to-haves. This list will help you narrow down the rural areas and properties that suit your requirements and will also be useful information for your real estate agent.
2. Familiarize Yourself with the Area
If you’re moving to an unfamiliar location like Santa Cruz, it’s ideal to rent in the area first to get a feel for the surroundings. However, if that’s not possible, do thorough research on the area. While your real estate agent can provide some information, it’s essential to do your own homework. Consider the following aspects:
- Climate and Weather: Understand the local climate and weather patterns in Santa Cruz to prepare for any seasonal variations.
- Prevalence of Natural Disasters: Research the history of natural disasters in the area, such as earthquakes, wildfires, or floods, to assess the potential risks.
- Accessibility to Essential Services: Check the proximity of hospitals, fire stations, police stations, and veterinary clinics to ensure easy access to emergency services.
- Proximity to Urban Centers: Consider the distance from the rural area to the town center or urban areas for convenience.
- Local Food Resources: Learn about the availability of local food resources and farmers’ markets in Santa Cruz to support sustainable living.
- Local Customs: Familiarize yourself with the local customs and traditions of the people in the area to integrate into the community.
3. Evaluate the Cost of Property Maintenance
Maintaining a rural property in Santa Cruz can come with significant costs, depending on the size of the house and land. Consider the expenses associated with upkeep, including tools and equipment required for maintenance. For instance, you may need a 4-wheeler truck or a tractor instead of the typical city tools. Additionally, factor in the costs of labor, such as waste disposal and lawn maintenance. In some cases, you may need to hire additional help for property maintenance. Evaluate your budget and determine if you can afford the expenses for at least the next five years.
4. Review Utilities
Utilities in rural areas differ from those in suburban areas. It’s crucial to understand the unique utility systems in Santa Cruz’s rural areas. Consider the following utilities and their implications:
- Septic Systems: Rural areas in Santa Cruz often rely on septic systems for waste disposal. While it can lower your taxes, septic systems require regular maintenance and may incur significant costs if repairs are needed. Include a contingency in your contract with the seller for septic system inspections.
- Power Supply: Rural areas may experience fluctuations in power supply due to weather disturbances. Understand the reliability of the power lines in the area and prepare for potential outages.
- Well Water Systems: Some rural homes in Santa Cruz rely on well water systems instead of a public water source. While it can reduce water bills, well water requires regular testing and maintenance to ensure its safety for use.
- Heating Systems: Rural homes may use heating systems fueled by oil or propane instead of natural gas. Consider the costs and maintenance requirements associated with these alternative heating systems.
5. Clarify What’s Included in the Sale
When purchasing a rural home in Santa Cruz, it’s crucial to specify what features, buildings, and structures are included in the sale. Some items may be taken down or removed by the seller unless explicitly mentioned in the contract. Ensure that the following are included, if applicable:
- Existing Leases: Determine if there are any existing farm or hunting leases that grant or restrict access to your property.
- Fencing and Structures: Clarify if fencing, fence posts, benches, bridges, feeders, livestock panels, sheds, or miscellaneous equipment are included in the sale.
6. Acquaint Yourself with Local Resources
Local resources in Santa Cruz can provide valuable assistance and information for rural homeowners. Reach out to the following offices for specific needs:
- County USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Office: Register your property and learn about conservation programs, erosion control, wildlife habitat, and other relevant topics.
- Southern States: Consult this farm co-operative for guidance on agriculture-related concerns, such as feeds and fertilizers.
- Local Rural Lender: Seek advice from local lenders who can connect you with lawyers, farming managers, and other service providers with essential local knowledge.
7. Know Your Boundary Lines
To ensure accuracy in land ownership, visit the county’s surveyor’s office in Santa Cruz. They can provide information on the property’s boundaries and any discrepancies between the original listing and the official records.
8. Check the Title Insurance
Inspect the title insurance to uncover any hidden issues associated with the property. The county’s recorder can provide public access to this document, revealing any undisclosed problems or unresolved liens.
By considering these top things before buying a rural home in Santa Cruz, you can make an informed decision and ensure a smooth transition to your new countryside lifestyle. Embrace the simplicity and beauty of rural living while being prepared for the unique challenges it may present. Good luck with your rural home search in Santa Cruz!