Q & A


The following advice is of a general nature only and intended as a broad guide. The advice should not be regarded as legal, financial or real estate advice. You should make your own inquiries and obtain independent professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances before making any legal, financial or real estate decisions. Click here for full Terms of Use.

How can I be sure moving to the country is right for me?

We all worry whether our ‘dream location’ will actually deliver the dream retirement lifestyle we imagined and not everybody is suited to country living. Once you’ve settled on your top likely locations, take the following steps…
  • Plan a long weekend or short sabbatical and spend it in your dream town
  • Visit cafes and local businesses and talk to the locals. This is where you’ll quickly find out what type of people live in your potential new community and whether they’re like-minded
  • Pick up local tourism leaflets and magazines and check out the options
  • Take a walk through shopping centres and decide if they offer what you need
  • Ask locals about the climate, lifestyle and local attitudes
  • Have a real estate agent show you some different types of properties
  • Use Google to check reviews of the area and its services

I want to buy a ‘Lifestyle’ or ‘Hobby Farm’. What are the things I need to think about from the outset?

It’s vital that you develop a clear idea of how you want your lifestyle farm to enhance your life.
  • Make sure you have the right expectations of a move to a rural area. Understand what it means for your lifestyle in terms of general infrastructure i.e. communications, roads, agricultural supplies, and general support services.
  • Make sure that you’re realistic about your ability to manage the land you intend to purchase
  • Good communication with your real estate agent is vital. Hobby farms can be located a long distance from where you live, so you need someone who can provide detailed information about the area as well as the type of property that will suit your needs. As ‘Lifestyle Specialists’, First National members are well placed to give you good advice.
  • Understand the legal obligations of running a small farm and elements such as caring for animals, identification, tracking / tagging systems, and local Council and State Government planning restrictions and building codes. There are also laws for things like controlling weeds and pests.

I want to buy a weekender rural property. What costs should I keep in mind?

Naturally, there are costs associated with buying that dream weekender, starting with the normal conveyancing, stamp duty and general costs of purchase (building & pest inspections). Don’t forget there’s also…
  • Council rates
  • Water rates, if the property is connected to a town water supply
  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Garden and general maintenance
  • Rental management fees (if you intend renting for short holiday stays)
  • Land tax, if the property is not your principal place of residence
  • Capital gains tax
  • Insurance
  •  Weeding and abatement of acreage as part of the Country Fire Authorities across Australia
  • Fence replacement to keep out foxes, kangaroos, wild goats and pigs from your rural property
  • Insecticides and fertilizers for your farm acreage

What’s important when buying larger farms?

If you’re thinking about buying a full-scale working farm, consider these factors…
  • You’ll need to understand local planning guidelines concerning zoning, permitted uses, animals, land care (controlling noxious weeds & pests). The local council will be able to clarify your questions
  • Check fences, sheds, water pumps, dams, drains, bores, irrigation, water supply, tanks, house and general infrastructure meets your needs and ascertain whether they have council approval
  • Soil and water – do they meet your required standard or need further tests?
  • Markets – will you need to transport livestock or produce to markets? Consider the distance and costs involved
  • Be realistic about your knowledge and skill set
  • Weeds and pest infestations can be expensive to eradicate. Check neighbouring properties, access roads, adjoining state forests and water sources. Ask an agronomist if you have concerns before buying a rural real estate or a farm.

How can I be sure moving from the city to the country is right for me?

We all worry whether our ‘dream location’ will actually deliver the dream lifestyle we imagined and not everybody is suited to country living. Once you’ve settled on your top likely locations, take the following steps…
 
  • Plan a long weekend or short sabbatical and spend it in your dream town
  • Visit cafes and local businesses and talk to the locals. This is where you’ll quickly find out what type of people live in your potential new community and whether they’re like-minded
  • Pick up local tourism leaflets and magazines and check out the options
  • Take a walk through shopping centres and decide if they offer what you need
  • Ask locals about the climate, lifestyle and local attitudes
  • Have a real estate agent show you some different types of properties
  • Use Google to check reviews of the area and its services
 
For many, the biggest surprise is that contrary to stereotypes, country people are generally welcoming and enthusiastic about newcomers and want you to feel like you fit in.

What do I need to know when buying rural land for a farm?

Rural land means land that is used for grazing of livestock, dairying, poultry farming, viticulture, orchards, beekeeping, horticulture, the growing of crops of any kind, and vegetable growing. When buying rural land, important issues are…
  • The economic climate of the area. Is the land to be used for agriculture, commercial purposes or private use?
  • Check that the property has appropriate council approvals and council zoning for any external buildings, and any future development.
  • What about your health and age? (Do you expect to have need for services that are found in cities and regional centres?)
  • What are the applicable property taxes?
  • Does the contract include any licenses such as water usage etc.?
  • What about accessibility of service utilities such as power and phone?
  • Check for flood plains, areas with access problems, water problems.
  • Particularly check for any easements or rights of way that may be through the property. Even though they may have not been used for some time, their use by others can affect your rights as well.
  • Check that effective controls are in place and work has been maintained to control noxious pests on the land, such as rabbits and noxious weeds. Eradication of these can be expensive.

How do I choose the most appropriate weekender location?

Of course, this is the BIG question. Make a list of what’s important. Ask questions like…
  • What’s important? List the things that inspire, motivate and compel your thinking
  • What you want less of in life i.e. crowds, heat/cold, high prices etc.
  • What you’d do more of when you have more time
  • Where would you feel invigorated? Describe the climate.
  • What’s within your financial reach?
  • What convenience stores and supermarkets are nearby?
  • How far away are neighbours from your rural property?
Once you’ve written your list, research the alternatives that tick most of your boxes. Choosing a local First National rural real estate agent and just ringing for a chat can be the most informative time you’ll spend.

Use our ‘find an office search’ for the nearest rural real estate agent to your area of interest.

What sorts of questions should I ask myself when buying a Lifestyle Farm?

Before you buy a rural Lifestyle Retreat or Hobby Farm, ask yourself…
  • Is it located a reasonable, short distance from a town and services?
  • Are you ready to learn more about your chosen farming activity?
  • Do you have the necessary disposable income to support the wellbeing of livestock?
  • Are there successful similar small or hobby farm enterprises nearby?
  • Are you and your family fit, committed and ready to meet its demands?
  • What financial benefits do you expect, or need, to make the farm economically viable?
  • Are you able to deal with Mother Nature’s challenges?
  • Is the activity you plan suited to the landscape and capability of the land?
  • Is there enough water to carry out the activity that you have in mind and is it of suitable quality?
  • Are all required services provided to the property? If not, can they be provided economically? Or is it an area that will always have limited services? Services include phone, gas, water, sewer and electricity.
  • Is there soil erosion on the property that will be time consuming and expensive to fix?

Does retirement living in the country take time to adapt to?

Not if you’ve considered all the factors carefully. If you’re clear about what you want to achieve with your lifestyle change, you should be able to establish well in advance whether a tree change will unlock the retirement lifestyle change you seek.

However…
  • Your expectations must be realistic. It may take some time for you to fully exploit the benefits of your relocation
  • Living in retirement in itself is a major adjustment. Adding a change of location can invigorate but it also adds challenges
  • It’s important to extend yourself to meet the members of your new community
  • Joining a volunteers group like Rotary can be a great way to make new acquaintances and start building new networks
  • Adapting will take a little time so some patience is necessary
  • You need to be flexible and prepared to make changes in your normal routines. In most cases, this is what you’ll have been seeking anyway so it’s all good news
  • Don’t assume the country is always more quiet than the city

Are there any guidelines for choosing a country property?

Naturally, people seek a wide variety of different types of country property. Depending on your ultimate end goal, consider things like…
  • Zoning – will the local council permit your intended use
  • Size of land – farm, horses, agriculture or simple lifestyle pursuits
  • Taxes applicable based on land size – could land tax be applicable?
  • Neighbours – their land use, animals, recreational pursuits etc.
  • Type and size of house – classic homestead or modern home
  • Soil types – if you’ll be farming, soil types are vital to success. Seek areas where others have already demonstrated success
  • Water availability and quality – bore water is often available but will it be potable?
  • Fences – want livestock or pets? Fencing is costly so bear that in mind. Rabbit proof fences are necessary to protect vegetable patches and young plantings
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