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Considerations for Buying a Sustainable Property

Posted by abreitenbach on May 11, 2021

The past year has created a seeming exodus of people from more populated areas to more rural ones. There are many reasons for this trend, from companies allowing employees to work remotely to many people wanting to escape the bustling cities for a more quiet life in the country.

Regardless of the reason, every individual looking to make such a move has the same starting questions — especially when considering sustainable properties, or those defined as being “off-the-grid.”

Perhaps the current lifestyle conditions individuals in many populated areas have had to adopt has given them pause; and that has given them time to listen to that yearning to ‘reconnect’ with the land that has been in their hearts for a while.

Regardless of each individual’s reasons, the same starting questions come up for those looking for sustainable property or property off-the-grid:

How do I begin? Do I just buy land and build later, or is it better to start with a house? Where should I search, and what are the “must haves” for my property? Should this be a permanent move, or a purchase as a vacation spot or part-time residence? Below, we dive deeper on two important questions.

Is this the best decision for you? Take a step back and look at a smaller locale relocation with a checklist of items. It could be helpful to identify where your wants and needs, future plans and wishes, and current and desired skill sets and activities are. Some possible topics to consider:

  • Investment benefits of buying rural property. At the very least, you would have a rural lot or piece of land. Referred to as a “passive investment,” the only upkeep and expense once the initial purchase price is paid are annual property taxes. Over time, land prices increase. It’s a solid strategy!
  • Leaving the Rat Race. Smaller populations, more space, slower pace of living, and greater accessibility to nature are some of the most common reasons people seek out rural land.
  • More affordability. Despite the temporary surge in property prices and with more people making rural investments, a suburban or rural property will typically not cost you as much as an urban property.
  • Get more bang for your buck. This dovetails with the previous point; the affordability factor could allow you to purchase multiple properties or more acreage … thus, your investment could go a lot further.

Where is the ‘Right’ Place? There are a couple of important factors you need to consider before looking at beauty and convenience.

  • Look at the local and regional economy. If the area is supported by one industry only, the risk of your investment is higher. Diversity of employment is just as (if not more) important in smaller communities as it is in large urban centers. You may have been able to get a ‘steal of a deal’ on a piece of property and pay very low holding costs for years on it, but if you can’t sell the property when you need to… is it really a good investment?
  • Get a feel for the surrounding community. Some rural areas have strong and active communities, event centers, and a spirit of sharing; others are more reserved and may be quieter than what you are accustomed to.

All this can seem overwhelming, but reaching out to a knowledgeable United Country Real Estate agent with ‘boots on the ground’ knowledge of the area can be a lifeline to buyers. Share with your agent your wants, needs, desires, budget and timeline. Having your own ‘trailblazer’ will make a world of difference in your decision making and purchasing experience.

About the author:

Theresa Lunn is the owner/broker of United Country | Western Montana Group and the Director for Sustainable and Off-the-Grid Properties for all of United Country Real Estate. She has an extensive and diverse background in business management, managing farm land, livestock and more. She even teaches classes on survival and EMT skills. She also personally lives on a sustainable farm outside of Missoula, where she raises her own organic garden and livestock. Learn more about Theresa and view her available properties for sale at

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