Modern Homesteading, Rural Living, Off-Grid, Generators
We’d always liked country life…growing things…open space around us. We wanted to stay active in our senior years. Life in a condo or golf course community just didn’t appeal to us.
What tips would you give someone thinking about moving to a rural area? Make sure you really want the life—not just to visit, but to live it day after day. You may have to go cut up a windfall tree when you’d rather be watching a football game. Or you might need to check on a sick animal when you’d really love to stay in bed another couple of hours. You may miss shopping, takeout or restaurant dining, city entertainment, or big league sports events.
How much change can you comfortably make? This goes for yourself, your family and anyone else that will be moving with you.
Around 50km or a 45-minute drive from the great city of Toronto, Lake Simcoe is a place to be when you think about water-related activities.
Known for its beautiful shores, clear water, and abundant fish, this lake needs to be on your must-see and visit list.
The lake covers about 52km of shoreline, perfect for swimming, boat riding, watersports, and fishing.
It is the perfect spot for anglers, from Canada even in the United States, due to its close proximity to nearby main cities and richness in variety of fish.
Only a handful of lakes in Canada have the same amount of abundance of fish species so remember to bring your trusty fishing gear if you want to encounter some trout, whitefish, smallmouth and largemouth bass, bowfin, northern pike and many more.
If you think experiencing a winter wonderland is all about visiting malls with white winter decorations or visiting a skating ring in downtown, then you need to know about Banff.
Banff National Park is the oldest national park in Canada, located in the province of Alberta.
It offers the most surreal winter wonderland experience anyone can wish for.
Its known for its icy landscape, breathtaking lakes, picturesque pine forest.
This national park has the best of the best the winter season can provide.
You can chill in the backcountry lodges and indulge yourself with some magnificent snowy mountain views or experience adrenaline in the chilling weather by playing activities such as hockey, skiing, ice skating or even dogsledding.
Remember to book your accommodation early because this park is considered one of the most visited national parks in North America with around three million visitors every year.
It should be no surprise that the Niagara Falls fall into this list.
With its majestic height, powerful might and beautifully epic plunge, failing to miss this spot is like failing to see Canada at all.
Niagara Falls is actually composed of three falls and divides the border between Canada and USA.
One of the falls and its biggest and most renowned is called Horseshoes Falls, also known as Canadian falls.
Majority of this fall is located in the Canadian border.
Seeing, living and breathing from a distance to appreciate this God-given nature may be enough but you can actually explore it a little bit more intimately by hopping in on a boat tour that will take you underneath its plunging waters.
In addition to that thrilling experience, there are many nearby child-friendly activities around and some impressive light show at night.
Victoria and Vancouver Island
You will probably be tired by the time you are done with Lake Simcoe, Banff and Niagara Falls.
Now it’s time for you to chill, relax and get your piece of mind.
Thankfully, there is a place in Canada called the Garden City, the city of Victoria in Vancouver Island.
Around 76 miles in the southwest of the bustling city of Vancouver, Victoria and Vancouver island is a getaway from all the noise, hustle and stress of modern life.
Going to the island leaves you with a number of good options, you can take a 4-hour trip by car or bus and ferry; or a 35-minute flight.
This place is filled with colonial architecture, glorious heritage buildings, mesmerizing gardens, and scenic harbor.
The streets in this city are teeming with street vendors, cafes, and restaurants.
Perfect for a relaxing but interesting walk.
The best way to get around and do sightseeing on the island is by bicycle.
The city of Victoria prides itself with plenty of cycle routes that any city in the country.
Canada is a charming country no matter the season.
They have great population diversity, friendly and warm people, amazing nature and exhilarating outdoor activities.
Lively vibrant cities, kind people, breathtaking scenic beauty, and advanced quality of education are some of the main reasons why people from all over the world travel to Canada, at least once in their lifetime.
Here are some tips that will ensure you have a great time in Canada.
It Is a Huge Country
Canada comes under Russia on the list of world’s largest countries and covers an area of 9.9 million square kilometers.
The fact that it is surrounded by three oceans i.e. the Atlantic, Arctic, and Pacific means that you will require more time and money to travel around the country.
While flying might be an easier and faster option, it is expensive.
Hence, the best way to enjoy your time in Canada without breaking your bank is to choose a region or two to explore in advance and spend your time there.
Due Diligence Worksheet is so important When you are considering the purchase of a ranch, farm or rural land, it is important to have answers to some very important questions before you actually close the deal.
This list can save you a lot of headaches and also help you prioritize what you will need to do to make your new “slice of heaven” livable!
I would encourage you to examine and answer to the best of your ability each issue contained here plus others that might be applicable to the land parcel.
If you don’t have an answer, give it your best shot and then note it as a “potential risk” item.
When you have completed with your due diligence process, you should have two results.
One is a very clear understanding of the potential risks associated with the property purchase.
The other is an idea of the added costs required–in addition to the purchase price–to make the parcel livable or ready for construction.
If there is a question, take soil samples and have them analyzed.
This is not a costly procedure.
PLANNING – city, county and state issues
Some parcels may appear to have no issues until you apply for a permit or pursue a development project, and then all sorts of things might pop up.
Before your purchase, go to the county planning office and meet with a planner.
Ask the planner to take a look at the parcel(s) you are considering and ask if there are any concerns about the properties.
Are there any apparent issues that would prevent you from using the land the way you intend?
Most of this deals with zoning.
Find out what is required for development and building.
This may involve some form of master planning or site planning.
This is actually a good thing, as it causes you to objectively think out what you plan to ultimately do.
Find out about the process for obtaining a building permit (if buying land only and you intend to build).
Review that with a person knowledgeable in construction who can point out anything unusual.
If there are any issues, get an understanding of what it might cost you. Also, find out how long it usually takes for the county to issue required permits or perform inspections.
Are there any red flags that should be investigated?
If so, find out what they are and who you need to contact to get specific resolutions.
Are there any designated wetlands on the property?
If there are, you will have some specific building setback requirements for anything you want to do.
Are taxes paid up to date?
LEGAL ISSUES When Purchasing Rural Land, Farm or Ranch
This is a very important yet often overlooked area of due diligence, as it can be hard to understand.
Because it might require professional help at a cost prior to the actual purchase, many people fail to do this part of due diligence.
Sometimes it is a judgment call as to what is really important.
The following items should be examined legally.
This issue isn’t about whether there is water in the well, but rather, whether or not you have the legal right to drill a well or use water on the property for activities above and beyond personal use.
What rights do you have for irrigation?
Water for personal consumption is not usually an issue, but make sure you can irrigate a field if you intend to do that.
Is there a recorded survey?
If so, get a copy from the county and verify it with boundary markers that you see.
Talk to adjacent neighbors with existing fences and ask them if the fence lines match their understanding of the true property lines.
Walk the property and see if there are any other fences that might infringe on future use.
If they have been there a while, they could pose a legal boundary issue in the future.
If there are any potential issues or critical boundaries to be verified, have a property survey done and put in the property corners.
This is another step often omitted by prospective buyers.
Evaluate your level of comfort and security vs. the cost of the survey, which will run many $1000’s.
Take a look at an aerial map by Google Earth.
This can really be an eye opener.
The county assessor maps also can be a great resource.
The point is for you to have a clear sense of the property lines.
One note here: Rural property lines, while very important, are not exact.
Obviously, a small discrepancy on a 20 acre parcel is not nearly as important as one on a standard city lot.
Easements on the property
Are there any recorded easements on the property?
There could be an easement for the electrical company to put a future 25,000 volt power line through the center of your property.
Or it could be access for a new natural gas line or any other kind of utility.
It could be one for a power line leading to a neighbor’s property or an access road for a neighbor to reach his property.
If there is an easement, is there a maintenance agreement in place?
You don’t need to contest easements; you just need to determine if there is something planned that YOU ARE NOT AWARE OF.
Again, know this before you buy.
Legal Access to Your Property
If directly from a county public road, you have clear access.
If from a private access road or if it crosses over a private parcel you must
Determine that the access use is recorded.
Determine that the county recognizes this as the legal access for the parcel.
Determine whether additional work is needed to upgrade the road to required county standards.
Talk to the owner of the property the road crosses and see what the owner’s understanding is.
If it is a road used by multiple parcels, determine if there is a ROAD MAINTENANCE AGREEMENT.
This will determine responsibility for routine and special maintenance of the road.
More gravel is needed– who pays?
Winter plowing is required–who does it?
Rural Property UTILITIES
Power to rural property.
What power is onsite or nearby?
What is the power company’s estimate to bring power to where you potentially want to put your structures?
One big question you need to answer–and it is a cost issue–should the power be buried or run overhead on poles?
Remember that buried power is less likely to be affected by wind, snow, and ice.
Determine if you need or want three-phase power.
Some utility companies provide it and some don’t.
It is really needed only for heavy duty shop applications such as welding equipment.
Rural Telephone Service
Sometimes this can be run with the power line but is a different utility from the power company.
How close is telephone to the parcel?
Again, relatively accurate costs should be quoted by the telephone utility.
Is DSL or broadband internet available?
If not, your only potential is satellite internet.
Rural Cable Access
This usually is not an issue, as it isn’t usually available for rural properties.
Is there a public water connection?
If not, what water is available onsite?
A strategy for obtaining water is vital prior to your closing.
This may be one of your biggest risks.
If you are buying a developed property, test and inspect any existing well(s).
There are many companies that can quickly and inexpensively test well capacity and water quality.
This will give you a clear understanding of existing water sources.
If there is no acceptable source of water, a well must be drilled or dug.
Drilled wells are very common.
Neighbors or a local well drilling company can give you an idea of what /where/how much/ water might be obtained by drilling.
There is no guarantee though.
Some sites CLEARLY will have water and some CLEARLY will not (stay away from these).
Many will fall in-between.
Costs of wells/pumps could be from $3000 to over @$25,000.
Surface wells are also called dug wells.
If there is water near the surface this could be one of your options.
Sewer Septic Systems
Is public sewer available?
Is there an existing system of septic tank and drain field?
If so, these should be tested and inspected so you know their condition.
If none exist, a new septic system must be installed.
The local health department can most likely help you with designers or installers.
A couple of phone calls can probably provide you some initial answers.
However, the design is fully based on the kind of soil that is used for the drain field.
Beware of wet ground!!
This could cause significant added costs for the system.
DUE DILIGENCE of EXISTING HOME AND STRUCTURES
Have inspections completed on a home and any other usable structures so that you will have a clear understanding of the condition of each one.
This will provide you the basis to estimate any additional work you may have to do to make it livable for your purposes.
Examine any abandoned structures on the property.
If they are condemned, the county may require you to either repair or remove them.
One example of this is a mobile home that stood on a piece of property.
Inside the mobile home was extremely bad mold and mildew that rendered the mobile home useless for any form of habitation.
In a case like this, you may decide to have the seller remove it from the site prior to closing on the property so you are not responsible for it.
After taking care of due diligence, you will be able to sleep better knowing that you have examined this major purchase reasonably and you are now ready for the next steps!
Tips when buying rental properties focusing on ROI
Invest in rental properties in areas that you’re familiar with.
Gain a competitive advantage by drawing insights from your previous experiences. For instance, if you’re a doctor, you can buy a rental property for interns near your hospital. If you’re a young professional, you can buy a rental apartment for bachelors or young professionals near a business district.
Check the cap rates or single-family houses, apartments, and multi-family residences using online tools, such as Zillow and Bisnow. Doing so will help you assess if the prospective rental property you want to buy is within a reasonable price.
Take note that in Chicago, well-maintained suburban real estate properties are in demand.
Cap rates in this place are higher than that of San Francisco and New York City.
Weigh Your Financing Options
When using a mortgage for your first rental property, you have to weigh your financing options, such as borrowing from the bank or a lending institution.
Remember that investment properties may require higher down payments than regular buildings with strict approval requirements.
Also, consider the renovation expenses before paying the down payment.
You can check the cost of your financing options by filling out a form available on lending sites so that you can compare rates.
Choosing a financing option for your first rental property investment
Do you prefer a 15-year or a 30-year mortgage?
How about an adjustable or fixed rate?
Can you handle more than a 20% down payment?
Invest in Low-Cost or Single-Family Homes First
As a new investor, it’s a good idea to purchase properties in the low or mid-range price brackets.
Since you’ll need to spend money on the repairs and renovation before renting or selling the house, you need to buy a rental property that you can keep up, and you can always find maintenance tips online to help you.
Advantages of investing in single-family homes:
Single-family homes are easier to manage than multifamily residences or commercial properties.
With a single tenant, there’s less wear and tear on the property.
The risks are low even if you don’t meet your expected profits.
The first rental property serves as your training ground to test your actual real estate management expertise.
Screening Prospective Tenants
One of the things that a first-time investor overlooks is screening potential tenants.
Bad tenants can kill the ROI on your first rental property.
On the other hand, you’ll have peace of mind with a good tenant, knowing that the rent will be paid on time and your property will be kept clean and undamaged.
Tips when screening potential tenants:
You can try using MyRental, a monthly subscription for investors or landlords to verify criminal backgrounds, eviction history, and previous addresses.
Microsoft office templates, like OnSite or Tenant Data, also serve as free online applications for people looking for rental properties.
Contact previous landlords and neighbors.
It also helps to contact the employer to verify if a tenant has a steady and reliable source of income.
Run a credit check by ordering a credit report through Equifax Identity Report.
Run a background check through companies like ScreeningWorks or StarPoint.
In the future, you can hire a property manager if you’ve acquired several rental properties and can’t handle the tasks and responsibilities of a landlord anymore.
It will make your real estate management a lot easier so you can focus on the most important aspects of your real estate business.
Understanding the Mortgage Market
Investing in real estate rental property is a major investment.
There are many factors you need to consider, such as the location, current mortgage market value, financing, type of property, and return of investment.
The factors that favor investors include increasing in single-family home permits, tightening vacancies, and rising rental prices.
As a new real estate investor, you need to understand the current mortgage market.
Having the right mortgage could keep the costs low. It also reduces the uncertainties about the cash flow of the property.
The mortgage leverage can save you some cash for repairs or other potential investments.
Basic mortgage terms you need to know as a first-time investor:
Meets the standards of different government-affiliated enterprises.
Generally cheaper than non-conforming loans.
Conforming loans have guidelines including down payments, credit scores, income verification, and debt-to-income levels.
This type of loan is more expensive compared to a conforming loan because it doesn’t meet the requirements of a traditional loan provider or bank criteria.
Not all small towns are dying as the population of remote workers or remote employees continues to increase to about 20 to 23 percent of the entire global workforce.
As more remote employees relocate to small towns and companies shift their labor force requirements to include a large number of remote employees, it has become critical that such businesses find ways of keeping the remote worker productive and connected.
For a mid-sized company, it is critical you integrate solutions and tools that foster good communication.
Tech Solutions For Remote Employees Feel less Remote
With the right technological solution, managing your remote team will become so easy – it is as if they are literally next door!
Here are a few toolkit solutions that will help your remote workers feel less remote while promoting teamwork.
Voice over IP (VoIP) and Video Conferencing
When working with remote teams, you need to find creative things such as reinventing the typical conference room meeting. VoIP and video conferencing allow you to connect with your remote worker in the remotest of small towns.
These solutions offer you a unified means of communication over the Internet through local connections.
When using VoIP, your remote workers may have one office number that automatically routes calls to cell phones and delivers voicemails through email.
This way, it is easy for the remote worker to stay connected at all times – and they are available to you anytime you need to call them.
Instant Messaging, also known as IM, has become one of the best and least intrusive means of conferring or getting a simple answer.
For instance, IM is perfect for getting answers to logistical questions or for one-off requests like asking for links to specific files.
IM involves any form of communication that offers you a chat function integrated with mobility capabilities.
Extra features in the best IM software include GPS functionality via a user’s mobile device.
This functionality allows a manager to easily identify where the remote team is at and relay critical information immediately; for example, companies like Executiveautoshippers.com can use the technology to find out where exactly a driver is.
In fact, some messaging applications allow you to connect to your employee’s calendar, automatically changing the status to ‘in a meeting’ if a meeting is scheduled or when making a presentation to someone.
Some of the most powerful collaborative features you will find in IM programs include group chat and screen sharing.
‘Pinging’ someone and getting feedback as if the remote worker was standing next to you will help him or her feel more connected to your company and other teams.
Cloud-based solutions provide you a means of sharing real-time data in a format that is easily accessible.
In many businesses, the number of applications employees can access via the cloud usually defines their mobility and flexibility.
Organizations make it easy for employees to log into critical systems from any location, store files, and quickly tap into company critical information.