Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Deciding Where to Move

After one has decided to pursue an agrarian lifestyle, the next question becomes, "Where?" For us, we knew that this would necessitate a move. We wanted more land and to retire our mortgage debt. Since Bucks County, Pennsylvania is fairly expensive (remember that 28 acre farm that sold for 2.2 million dollars?), we knew that we would have to move to a new area.

We have been looking now for several years, and I'd like to share the different priorities we've used to help us decide where. Perhaps this will help others as they also look to the Lord for land to fulfill their agrarian dreams.

Good Church
This was one of our first considerations. I am surprised how often Christians consider this as an afterthought when they are making a decision about moving. God doesn't want us to be isolated from the Body of Christ, and since the change from suburban to rural was going to be enough of a change, I did not think it would be spiritually healthy to try and add starting a church plant as well. I will save for a future post my measures of a good church. I used a combination of Internet searching, emails, and phone calls to pastors to help check out potential areas. The bottom line is that we are looking in the Grove City and Harrisville areas of western Pennsylvania, over an hour north of Pittsburgh. This area has four Reformed churches, at least one like-minded pastor, and several like-minded families.

Good, Affordable Farm Land
This priority probably goes without saying. However, it's important to keep these first two priorities in their proper place. We often hear of inexpensive land available in different areas, but unfortunately, it is often the case that while the land may be cheap and plentiful, if there is no good church in the area, we're not interested.

There was one time we were visiting a prospective church in the Lancaster, PA area, which is known for having the most fertile, productive, non-irrigated land in the country. A friend we had met at this church told us about a farm auction he had just attended. It was for a small, 15-acre, Amish farm. The house needed work, and would need to be upgraded for electricity. At the auction, our friend and another man bid back and forth until the price got up to about $400,000. At that point our friend dropped out of the bidding, letting the other man think he had won. That's when a lone Amish man, who hadn't bid yet, began bidding. The other man just gave up. That little, 15-acre farm sold for $410,000. That’s over $20,000/acre! That's when we decided to stop looking in the Lancaster area!

The area we are looking in has land in the $1,500-4,000/acre range.

Closer to Family
Another priority for us was to be near family. My wife's family (except for us) all lives within 2 miles of each other in western PA. Her sister lives next door to her parents, who live next door to one brother and his family. A second brother lives a little over a mile away. Several nephews and nieces live less than a mile away. My family, on the other hand, is scattered between Seattle, New York, and Connecticut. It would be impossible for us to be near them all, so we opted to look in western PA. We then started looking for a good Reformed church near family, and kept expanding our circle of search until we came upon a good church.

We are now looking about an hour from family. This will be a lot better than our current six-hour distance, and will allow us to take day trips to participate in family get-togethers and such.

Access to Good Markets
Even if one is planning to homestead, it will still be worthwhile to consider your accessibility to local markets for selling your produce. For us, we would be in close proximity to Grove City and Slippery Rock—two college towns, less than a half hour from two county seats, and a little over an hour from Pittsburgh and Erie.

Good Employment
This is usually the first consideration for families considering a move, and I think that has caused much heartache for many families. It is not without reason that God’s Word contains many warnings against making money our goal. “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9).

Now I’m not saying that supporting our families is unimportant. After all, we are told that “if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). However, I am cautioning those who would uproot their families (especially if they are already part of a solid church family) simply for the sake of a promotion or a “better job.”

Fortunately, this has turned out not to be a consideration for us. I work as a software developer, and most of the work I do—from designing software, administrating our company databases, to web application design—can be done from anywhere with a high-speed Internet connection. Several months ago, I was given the official OK to work remotely.

At the Present
And this brings us to where we are in the present, looking for a farm. In a future post, I’ll have to share our various experiences with our Realtor involving ex-cons, pit-bulls, and why realtors prefer the owner not be around during a showing!


At July 12, 2007 2:50 PM , Blogger Ron and Ginny said...

Well, after that little teaser, I am looking forward to your next post with bated breath. :-D

At July 12, 2007 3:09 PM , Blogger tc said...

I guess my subtle attempt at a cliff-hanger was a little too obvious! :-)

At July 20, 2007 1:55 AM , Blogger Ron and Ginny said...

So, when is this exciting post going to happen? =8-/ (said with great anticipation...) ;-)

At July 29, 2007 12:35 PM , Blogger tc said...

Now, now, Ginny. Patience, patience...

At July 29, 2007 12:37 PM , Blogger tc said...



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