We recently purchased a 1965 (major) fixer upper home on 1-acre in the country! Below is Our Journey Home – back to country living & homesteading.
Our Journey Home | Back To Country Living & Homesteading
To help you understand where I am coming from, I will give a summary of the housing situations throughout my life. The “major city” I reference here is always the SAME city since I have lived in the area my entire life.
- I grew up on a 30-odd acre commercial raspberry farm and when I was ten, my parents also bought their “dream ranch” of 160-acres (expanded to 200-acres later). I lived my entire childhood in the country, split between farm life in western Washington state and ranch life in eastern Oregon.
How blessed and amazing does that sound, right?? It was pretty much the best childhood and I am SO thankful for it.
Then I Grew Up
When I married at 17, I moved with my husband to a tiny (600sqft) trailer in the country – just minutes from my childhood home – for about 1 year while we built a custom 1700sqft (+ unfinished basement) home on 5-acres WAY out in the boondocks/woods (over 45-minutes to the nearest major city, 1-hour from my childhood home). While we definitely had a beautiful home there and our oldest son was born while we lived there, it was not our “forever home”. (circa 2002-2006)
So, after about 2 years we sold so that we could buy some land “closer in” – a 20-acre tree farm about 20-minutes from the major city. We rented a “studio apartment” in the country for several months while we built a simple 1400sqft home on our tree farm – we had some good years there. (circa 2006-2011)
*It is worth noting that my second child, Abigail, was born just weeks after we moved into the above home and was soon diagnosed with failure to thrive, microcephaly, global developmental delays, and ultimately with a mitochondrial disorder. My precious mother died in 2007 after a long battle with cancer. My 5th child was born and died in 2011. Whew!*
When The Recession hit in 2008, my husband’s construction business did not survive it. He worked for others when he could, but ultimately spent months laid-off and eventually we foreclosed on what we thought was our “forever home”, and moved within city limits for the first time in my life! (circa 2011-2019)
We rented a 1000sqft house on a small city lot. It was a blessed time at the rental and we are thankful for that home & the memories made there.
We are a family of nine and our children are ages 5-14. They are quickly growing up and our plan to raise them on some acreage, on a small farm, in the country needed to happen before they were all grown up.
- Our oldest has faint memories of living in the country with chickens, goats, kittens, and even a mini horse – but otherwise, our kids had only ever known city life.
It was the best “city life” we could hope for, though… we were on the very edge of the city with a fenced backyard and garden, private driveway, big *enough* house, large garage, and all within the “major city” our families live near.
- I focused on counting our blessings, seeking joy, and finding strength in Jesus while living there, trusting in the Lord with all of my heart, leaning not on my own understanding, acknowledging Him in all ways, and praying He would direct our path … back to the country! (actually, I prayed “thy will be done” more often than not!)
Country Living & Homesteading Book List
The Elliott Homestead: From Scratch: Traditional, whole-foods dishes for easy, everyday meals
Welcome to the Farm: How-to Wisdom from The Elliott Homestead
Seasons at the Farm: Year-Round Celebrations at the Elliott Homestead
Family Table: Farm Cooking from the Elliott Homestead
From France to the Farm: Blending Generational Favorites with French Flair
The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 40th Anniversary Edition: The Original Manual for Living off the Land & Doing It Yourself
So, the search began …
Once our foreclosure was behind us in early 2018, we started searching for our “dream farm”. We were in a crazy seller’s market with housing super expensive, we knew that our chances of finding a place we could afford would be a mini-miracle.
We put in offers on a few places (1 that we really wanted, others that we figured were “good enough”) and none of them worked out. It was a test of our faith and patience, for sure!
We wondered how God would show His glory in our lives. We wondered how our story would unfold.
Enter The 1965 Fixer-Upper We Didn’t Want
In the first week of January 2019, we heard the news that our last offer had fallen through (after getting SO close). I was looking online at a place that had gone on the market – while we were tied up with that house.
It was still available and the price was within our range. It fit our criteria of being on at least 1 acre in the country with a 3-bedroom house, was 22-minutes from the nearest traffic light and major city of about 20K pop, 2-minutes from a rural community with about 2k pop (a few rural amenities like a small grocery/general store, gas station, restaurant, post office).
Things Started Happening …
- I mentioned it to my husband and he told me to let our real estate agent know that we’d like to look at it. We were able to do a showing right away.
- We were not impressed! It was a MAJOR fixer and we left the house without ANY desire to put in an offer.
- However, God apparently had other plans! Within days, both my husband and I shared that we felt like we should put in a low(ish) offer and “see what happened”.
- That was a Friday or Saturday, our agent came over on Sunday afternoon (January 6th, if I remember correctly) for us to sign the paperwork and submit our offer … the seller accepted within hours! What?!
It was NOT going to be a simple process, though. Nope, we had to work for this place and some days/nights we wondered WHY we were moving forward each step of the way instead of backing out (we had several opportunities to). Sigh.
We Ran Into Issues …
- The inspection, appraisal, etc. all pointed towards the house being a MAJOR fixer upper (I can’t stress the “major” part enough, lol). The bank did not want to loan on it in its condition and after a lot of waiting, discussing, and working together – the bank gave a list of repairs that would make the house loanable.
- So, once the renters moved out of the home, the work began on February 11th! SO many people came together in the days going forward on our behalf to “whip that place in shape” so that the bank could send their appraiser back out and give their approval.
Just to quickly outline the scope of repairs completed …
- ALL windows were replaced
- a couple of interior/exterior doors were replaced
- ALL of the very old carpet and flooring were replaced
- all new exterior/interior trim put on
- a makeshift “laundry room” was removed and the exterior wall repaired
- a very old and unsafe fireplace removed and the exterior wall repaired
- electrical was fixed and lights were installed
- plumbing problems were addressed
- kitchen cabinets and sink replaced
- the place was cleaned up (a few huge trailer loads of garbage were brought to the dump)
- and so much more was done within about 10 days of work.
The appraiser went to the house on February 23rd and we heard on the 25th that he noted all repairs were done satisfactorily, but it was not until Wednesday, February 27th that we officially became homeowners of the #1965fixerupper house!
And the work only continued!
- we remodeled the (1) bathroom
- painted the entire interior of the 1056sqft house
- insulated & sheetrocked the vaulted tongue&groove cedar ceilings in two bedrooms
- and I don’t even know what else — all before we moved in March 23rd!
There were a lot of very long days & nights for us (usually with my husband working at the “new” house and me working at our rental packing, etc.).
We had some emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion, but moved forward and pushed through the transition with mixed feelings … trying to trust that the LORD knew exactly what HE was doing through it all.
So, here we are!
We ARE excited to own a home and have the opportunity to build a mini farm/homestead. I know that eventually, we will be settled into our new home and life will start to feel “normal” again.
- We love our butcherblock-top island in the kitchen with 9 drawers & 1 cabinet that my brother-in-law built from used materials + new birch wood countertop.
- We LOVE the beautiful 1-acre that is just so GREEN – from the field with the fruit trees in the corner of it, to the scattered trees around the front yard and the old-growth forest that has ferns and other greenery.
- We are thankful for kind neighbors (we can only see ONE house from any of our windows, compared to 10 at our city rental).
- We are thankful for our view of trees & meadows (with the neighbor’s goats).
- We are thankful for FRESH AIR and cool breezes coming up from the creek (that borders our property).
- We are thankful for the wildflowers throughout our property and Lilacs that grow just outside of our property and provide a beautiful view from our front windows (I grew up with lilacs and my mom loved them).
- We are thankful for our tin roof, wood stove, covered porch, gravel driveway, and other things that were on our dream farm “wish list”!
- And we are thankful God answered our prayers … in HIS time and in HIS way!
We still have a lot of work to do – our weekends are busy as we slowly tackle our to-do list. But, this at-home family life & country living – where we live, learn, and work on projects together – is what we’ve always wanted!
It’s not paradise but it’s home.