For the past year or so, Dan's sister, her husband, Dan and I have half-jokingly tossed around the idea of eventually buying a hobby farm together. Our plans usually involved at least one of us inheriting enough money to make everything easy financially. Every once in a while I check a local realty's website to see what's available in commuting distance of Dan's school with 5 - 10 acres for less than an obscene amount of money. In December, a property came on the market with 10 acres for about the same amount as our current house is worth. I was intrigued enough to put it on a list of saved properties. Last week, I got a notice that the asking price had dropped 30K and when I mentioned it to Dan, instead of blowing me off he said he'd be curious to check it out. My SIL and BIL were equally interested and our past realtor was willing to indulge us on Sunday and set up a showing. We loved the house's character and layout but were nervous about what it might take to make it livable, especially for two families. A few days later we realized that most of the plumbing and electric has been stripped and we were pretty well scared off. But that got us wondering what else is out there and we found two more places, for more money but probably immediately livable, that we're going to check out tomorrow.
In the meantime, I've been looking up city codes on animal regulations and minimum parcel size and hunting down school district and bike path maps while my BIL and SIL got pre-approved for a mortgage on their own. Then today we went together to a loan officer to see what might be involved when two households buy together. The plan would be to find a house that's big enough for all of us but probably building a second small house that they can move into in the next few years. It sounds like building a second property might have tricky city code implications. But both these places are surrounded by farmland and at least one says off the bat that they're willing to sell additional acreage. It seems like everyone we talk to tells us to go find more people with answers and we're hoping to learn what we need without paying any lawyers.
Our grand, idealistic plan would be that Dan and my SIL keep their jobs while my BIL and I stay home with the kids for the most part. With two of us there, we'd be able to put more effort into a big garden, an orchard, lots of berries, maybe bees, his beer-making, my sewing, canning by all, expanding the chicken flock, maybe get a couple turkeys, and whatever else is easier done with more hands to help. We've already been planning to swap kids one day a week (my niece is two months old). We could put their baby and my new baby in one bedroom and make a baby-safe zone there. The four of us have very compatible approaches to budgeting and finance and trust each other in that regard. We think we'd have to set up some sort of family trust to make the finances of a shared place work. But if we're sharing a home that each of us can technically afford on our own, we ought to be able to save a lot of money or potentially pay it off quickly.
We're not entirely sure that what we want to do is even possible, but it's been a lot of fun playing around with the possibility. Once we see these next two places this weekend, we'll know whether we want to move forward now or wait until something else comes on the market. I really, really like the idea of being able to move out of this house before putting it on the market. I didn't mind moving somewhere new, but constantly cleaning for showings was pretty hideous.
We're getting interesting reactions as we mention it to people. Some people say it's their idea of the perfect way for a kid to grow up and others (including my parents, I think) think it's crazy. We'll see what happens.