Getting Settled On Our Homestead


revised Getting Settled On Our Homestead

Getting Settled On Our Homestead…and Loving Our Mortgage-Free Mobile Home!!!

By Jennifer Spears

I feel a little silly saying this, but after four and a half years here…I think we are finally getting settled on our homestead! I’ve spent the last few days unpacking and sorting totes that we moved in with. We’ve also organized and rearranged a few rooms here in the house to make our days run a bit smoother. 

Getting settled…what was the hold up? 

I’m not completely sure…but if I had to give an answer, I’d say that it was probably because after spending 16 years living in town, we were so excited about finally being back in the country, that we spent the first few years playing outside! 

We prepared garden plots…built a garage…built chicken coops…learned to care for chickens…and cleared trees. We learned how to plow snow, split wood and start a wood stove. 

Our adventures continue as our homestead grows…bees…rabbit hutches…each day brings us a little closer to self-reliance and the lifestyle that we dreamed of all those years in town.

Or maybe…

…getting settled took longer because I was just sad about leaving our house in town.

I’ve never really talked about that before…but selling our house in town was extremely hard for me. It was our first home…and although I hated the location, I loved that little house. 

We had been there so long, I had every single inch exactly how I wanted it. Even now, I can still tell you where something was kept at the old house…but I have no idea where it is now. 

When we started getting really serious about looking for country property, we noticed this place right away. The price got our attention, but it was listed as a gutted mobile home…and being that we had 5 children at the time, all still living at home, we didn’t think that it was even a possibility for us. 

Something kept nagging at us though. So after awhile, we contacted the realtor who had listed it…only to be told that it wasn’t worth looking at! The low price made us pretty persistent though, so we contacted another realtor who gained access to the key, so we could look at the property. 

I remember that day…

…we drove and drove…past an Amish community…deeper and deeper into the country. The drive was beautiful and relaxing…and before we even got here, I felt as if I was going home…for the first time in 16 years. 

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We arrived before the realtor, and as we drove up the long, secluded driveway, we were amazed by the privacy and beauty of the property. 

Then we saw it…a single wide mobile home with what was once a screened in front porch. Someone had lived here…but you could tell that it had been vacant for a very long time. 

We decided that we wanted to explore the yard and surrounding woods before we even ventured into the trailer. This property was in our price range…below our price range actually, offering more land than we could afford…but less house. 

There were three outbuildings…two rather small, and one fairly large, but not in very good shape. 

The lawn was huge, much larger than what we were used to in town…but it was unkempt and overgrown. Even the backyard was bigger than our lawn in town, and that only went a few yards behind the trailer before it was met with dense forest. 

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At one end of the trailer, as we were making our way around the property, we discovered that there were two very large black walnut trees. There were walnuts all over the ground! I let myself imagine all of the yummy things I could make with them.

I also let myself imagine…

…garden plots, and chickens scratching around the yard. I saw new barns and animals. I saw a tire swing hanging from a big oak tree in the side yard, and picnic blankets spread out in the shade.

Our kids hardly knew what to make of the yard…they wanted to run and play. 

My husband and I looked at each other…silently agreeing that it was okay for them to go and run around…to play…they were home…we were home. 

At that point, we knew that it didn’t even matter what the trailer looked like on the inside. The property was a foreclosure, and was selling cheap. We could buy it and build something new if we had to.

We were finally ready to go inside the trailer…

…and see what we were dealing with. 

The realtor opened the door, and we went inside. 

It felt dead in there. Houses tend to do that when they are not lived in…we later felt that same feeling in our little house in town before it sold. 

Very hesitantly, we started to look around. 

It wasn’t bad! 

All of the carpets had been ripped out, but the floors and walls were intact and in good shape. 

There were no kitchen appliances, but the hookups looked okay and we probably would have bought new ones anyway.

The windows were the typical trailer windows…cheap and plain…but we’re pretty handy people, so we knew that we could replace them.

It was obvious that small animals had gotten in somehow, getting settled into the vacant building. Their messes didn’t look like anything that couldn’t easily be cleaned up though.

The biggest problem…

…was the space issue. We had five kids, four cats and a large dog. We were purchasing a home with only three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen and a living room. 

How were all of us…with our clothes, toys, books, homeschool supplies and home business inventory going to fit into this little place? Getting settled would be a challenge for sure!

That however…didn’t seem like a problem for that day. We told the realtor that we wanted to put in an offer.

That day was the beginning of this great homesteading adventure!

It took a few months to close on the property…and by then, it was winter. We needed to do a lot of work on it before we could move in. 

Most of it we did ourselves. We replaced windows, laid flooring, painted walls and scrubbed every inch of every room. The biggest project was that old screened in porch that was attached to the front of the trailer. We turned that into our dining room, and installed a modern wood/coal stove that heats the entire house. Our high elevation makes our winters extremely cold and windy, so the trailer furnace just couldn’t keep up. We were able to remove it, and turned that space into a nice closet to store our board games! 

Right away, we started to love the idea of two bathrooms…a luxury that our little house in town didn’t offer us. We also loved all of the closets and cabinets…our new home had a lot more storage space than the house we were leaving.

It took us about three months…

…to move in from the time we closed on the property. We were exhausted…and pretty broke, our savings account was definitely below our comfort level. It had needed a lot more work than we had anticipated. A huge expense was completely new water lines. All of the old pipes had frozen and cracked, making them useless.

Overall though, we were, and still are, very happy with our choice to purchase this “gutted” mobile home and relocate our family. 

Yes, leaving our little sticks and bricks home had been hard…and I struggled with moving from a house into a trailer. On some level, it felt like a step backwards.

I wanted to move into the country and homestead so bad though! But rarely had I seen a homestead trailer photographed or mentioned in any of the homesteading magazines that I read…or online. Most times, a quaint little country home was featured…or a newly constructed cabin…or a huge old farmhouse. 

Where are all of the trailers, darn it?!?! They have to be out there! We can’t be the only people who have found the perfect piece of property that had an existing mobile home on it…or had a mobile home put on property that was purchased. 

Yes, we could have had this home pulled out of here (the wheels are still on it…we saw them when we replaced the skirting). We could have built a home big enough for our family. But by the time that space would have been paid off, we wouldn’t have needed it! 

I’m glad that we made due…and this little trailer… mobile home… home came alive as we fixed it up and fell in love with it, getting settled slowly, but surely!

My Advice

It cost a lot to move here, but not so much that we didn’t recover financially in less than a year. 

We are still making improvements to our home and to the property, but we are able to do that because we have no mortgage!

Hopefully, our story will help put you at ease if you are looking for country property. Don’t hesitate to look at properties with mobile homes on them. It was the best decision that we could have possibly made. I can’t image my family on any other piece of property now…and I love our little home. We’re finally getting settled.

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