Thinking of Buying Land Upstate-Western NY

katwillny Posted By katwillny, Oct 22, 2017 at 10:01 PM

  1. katwillny

    katwillny
    New Member 2.
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    Feb 12, 2016
    3
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    Loc:
    NY
    Hi all,
    We are currently living approximately 60 miles northwest of NYC and both commute into the city. Once our youngest graduates HS he is either going to college out west or joining the Navy. Our 2000 sq -ft house will be much too big for just the two of us, not too mention that our mortgage and taxes are higher than what we want to be paying. we have 19.5 years to go on a 30 year mortgage. We would like to stay in NY however not in the NYC metro and are thinking of buying some land near Rochester-Buffalo area. Ideally we would want to buy a property 5-10 acres and build a small 2 bedroom cabin. We both grew up in NYC and are looking for a change of pace. She is a nurse and will not have a hard time finding a job, as for me, I wouldnt mind taking some time off. We have both worked very hard and have been fortunate enough to put some money aside. Our home equity will also help with the transition.
    Would love to hear stories of those who have downsized.

    Kat.
     
  2. begreen

    begreen
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    Nov 18, 2005
    68,106
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    South Puget Sound, WA
    You'll have to like snow and a lot of it. There is nice property starting 60+ miles north of NYC in the Hudson River valley. Also on the backside of the Catskills.
     
  3. katwillny

    katwillny
    New Member 2.
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    Feb 12, 2016
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    Loc:
    NY
    I actually dont mind snow, as long as I dont have to drive great distance in it.
     
  4. begreen

    begreen
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    Nov 18, 2005
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    South Puget Sound, WA
    In the Rochester & Buffalo areas there have been times in the past several years where the only way one is going to drive is to tunnel first.
     
  5. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart
    Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division 2.
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    Nov 18, 2005
    33,080
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    Northern Virginia
    Went up to Canada for the first time in the Summer of 1995. Came back through Buffalo to visit an old friend. Driving back between a couple of finger lakes I remarked to my wife that I didn't know why people bad mouth the area. It was beautiful and I could live there. About that time we passed a facility with the biggest snow handling equipment I have ever seen in my life.

    I pressed down on the accelerator and kept going South.
     
  6. peakbagger

    peakbagger
    Minister of Fire 2.
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    Jul 11, 2008
    3,267
    782
    Loc:
    Northern NH
    I dont have western NY experience but would strongly suggest renting for at least a year and consider doing it for a couple of years in different areas. Rural living is different from city living with its pluses and minuses and every rural area has a different "vibe". It also comes down to your personality, in my area there are a couple different sorts of folks. There are the ones that grew up here and probably arent going anywhere. There are ones that moved from "away" who dont get involved with the community and the ones that do. The ones that dont get involved with the community are generally left alone by the locals and they rarely hang around long term. The ones "from away"that do get involved usually fit in but it doesnt happen right away.

    The only way you are going to see how you like the area year round is to live there year round. There is a local joke about folks "from away" that buy in the spring, have a great summer and then the real estate sign goes up after New Years. It s not that much of joke and on occasion it takes a couple of years as the local real estate market means folks may be stuck with a house they dont want for a year or so. The other thing to consider is if you have a winter sport you like to do. If you just sit in the house and watch TV the walls start closing in soon after New Years.

    The other observation in my area is there are two distinct real estate markets. The realtors will market certain properties to out of towners based on the generally more expensive market the potential buyers came from. The out of towners will offer considerably below the asking price but they dont realize the realtor has overpriced the property considerably anticipating a low ball offer. There will be a separate market for locals for less desirable properties without this margin.

    Everyone wants to build their dream home in a rural area, but realize good contractors are hard to find and the good ones are usually very busy. The ones that advertise usually are the ones that the locals wont hire. They can be good talkers and usually know how to make places look good but they rely on that out of towners will not have heard about their inevitable short cuts and broken promises. Many rural towns have minimal if any building inspection and even if they do the inspectors are usually poorly paid folks who are more concerned with the potential bump in tax rate than actually making sure code is followed. Rent for a year or two, get involved in the community and start asking around and you will slowly find out the right folks to talk to.
     
  7. blades

    blades
    Minister of Fire 2.
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    Nov 23, 2008
    2,623
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    Loc:
    WI, Milw
    in any area you think you might like I would look up the local ordinances and not just the building ones - it can be a real eye opener at times- also check to see what the property is zoned as or what it might be rezoned as after the purchase- affects taxes and a few other things as well. Then there is likely your need for a well and of course septic system- again things to be checked out in advance of anything else. These last 2 can consume a significant amount of change- if allowed in the first place. You will have local and county boards to deal with every step of the way- either or both can be a royal pia.
     
    vinny11950 likes this.
  8. sportbikerider78

    sportbikerider78
    Minister of Fire 2.
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    Jun 23, 2014
    1,915
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    Loc:
    Syracuse, NY
    I have lived all over the place and have been in the Syracuse area for about 4-5 yrs. Living in the country (i'm on 8 acres) is great, but it can be quite a bit of extra work. That having been said, you seem to have the finances to tackle the unexpected, which is great.

    In this area, land is pretty cheap, but taxes are not. You can easily buy 15-30 acres 1500 sqft house for $250k. You will also pay 400-600/month in taxes on it...if you are in a decent area. Maybe less if you are in the sticks and 40 mins outside a big city.

    Since this would be your first major experience outside of the city, get a newer home that you will not have to work on. Small lawn. Not a ton of trees to rake up leaves and a paved driveway for easy snow removal.
     
  9. peakbagger

    peakbagger
    Minister of Fire 2.
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    Jul 11, 2008
    3,267
    782
    Loc:
    Northern NH
    One nice thing with NH is large blocks of woodland and agricultural can be put in "current use" status. The taxes are dirt cheap. I pay arounnd $160 a year for my 83 acre woodlot. Of course if I build a house on it then I have to pay full taxes on part of the lot and that may be $4000 a year. There are a couple of unorganized townships near my place, no services but the tree growth tax pays all the county bills so the few home or camp owners dont pay any property taxes. NH doesnt have sales or income taxes so those folks make out quite well.

    Plenty of nursing jobs in rural areas, the retired population is the only population segment that is growing and someone has to take care of them.
     
  10. Knots

    Knots
    Minister of Fire 2.
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    Mar 13, 2013
    947
    420
    Loc:
    Alfred, Maine
    I'll just offer this experience since it is somewhat similar to what you're thinking.

    I grew up in Fairfield County, CT. My last house was on 1.3 acres and now I live in SW Maine on 80+ acres. There's pluses and minuses.

    Pluses:

    All of my insurance costs went at least in half.

    Maine is not exactly a low-tax state but compared to CT, where Bridgeport was #1 in the nation one year for combined taxes, my property tax for 1400 sq. ft house/80+ acres is slightly less than 880 sq. ft. house/1.3 acres in the cheapest town in Fairfield County.

    No more scrounging for wood, although I never had to work too hard in CT to get wood.

    Less restrictive laws. My town in CT would not allow an unregistered vehicle stored inside a garage to not be taxed. Clothes lines were starting to become a topic.

    Less corruption. The zoning board meetings in CT would leave me physically ill. There's much less hanky-panky here.

    Less class-consciousness/keeping up with the Joneses. If you live near NYC you know what I'm talking about.

    Cleaner air. CT was having more and more air quality alerts. Yuck.

    Minuses (actually these should just be called considerations):

    Traffic. There's much less traffic here but you have to drive farther for things. The driving, however, is way less stressful, it's scenic, and it's not hard on the car.

    Winter. Winter is more severe (most of the time, with 2010 being a big exception), but having a well-insulated house, wood stove, back-up generator, good snow removal equipment, and garages to park in make it very livable. Buy snow shoes and head out in the woods.

    Anonymity. Really. In CT I was a face in the crowd at the bank, town hall, the grocery store. Here, people know you and everybody knows everybody. Not necessarily a bad thing, but something I wasn't used to and didn't think about when I moved.

    And now for the real minus. Italian food. There's very little good Italian food in SW Maine. Sorry Mainers, I'm calling it like I'm seeing it.
     
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  11. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake
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    Jul 22, 2008
    17,990
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    Loc:
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    I'm not offended . . . one of the highlights for me to do when I visit my brother-in-law and his girlfriend in CT is to get some pizza since it is pretty darned close to being true NY style pizza (unlike one place in Bangor who advertises NY style pizza . . . and is anything, but NY style.)

    I especially like the places where you get pizza not cut into triangular slices!

    My wife (who comes from CT) meanwhile likes to get a grinder (the bread is different, not to mention the meats are better) and State Line potato chips.
     
  12. Knots

    Knots
    Minister of Fire 2.
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    Mar 13, 2013
    947
    420
    Loc:
    Alfred, Maine
    Phew! I mostly miss two things from CT - some people I knew and the Italian food.
     
  13. begreen

    begreen
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    Nov 18, 2005
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    LOL, moved out west from Cornwall, CT. Back then it was really hard to get find Italian food in the Seattle area. Fortunately that has changed dramatically, but unfortunately so have the traffic, prices and taxes. I worked a summer in Maine in 1980 in Rockport and loved it. The winter stuff, not so much though. Taxes may be cheaper, but all the stuff one needs to have and do to keep up with winter back east is actually pretty expensive, especially when your car rots out after 5 yrs of road salt. I don't miss that at all.
     
  14. kennyp2339

    kennyp2339
    Minister of Fire 2.
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    Feb 16, 2014
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    My uncle had property and a colonial type home in Hamilton NY, it was very a very nice area with that Norman Rockwell small town charm. The big draw back in my opinion and looking at pictures of us kids visiting my cousins were the "grey days" up there. Winters set in in the beginning of November and last until the end of April. Due to the proximity of the great lakes and finger lakes there are a lot of cloudy days, snow days are great but perpetual grey days get depressing after a while. Also the price of day to day living is a little expensive, there's not a whole lot of industry up there so employment is a little more depressed then the NYC metro area.
    Would it be nice to wind down? Yes, but after a couple years you may be starving to some excitement due to the groundhog day effect as my uncle says, he actually packed up and moved to Las Vegas a couple years back.
     
  15. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak
    Minister of Fire 2.
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    Oct 17, 2008
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    Taxes are high in lancaster ,near buffalo. Friend of mine back a few years was paying 5k on a small ranch house. I thought that was insane as i paid less on 16 properties combined at the time. But nice country anyway. Take peatbaggers advice rent for a year or 2 ,much easier to relocate if you have a mind to
     
  16. peakbagger

    peakbagger
    Minister of Fire 2.
    NULL
    

    Jul 11, 2008
    3,267
    782
    Loc:
    Northern NH
    I was watching a Vermont new station (WCAX) this AM and saw a report on Vermont towns that can apply to a lot of rural towns. Vermont apparently has no building codes for detached residential structures (private homes). Even if there are regulations most towns would not enforce the rules as they couldn't afford to hire a qualified inspector. The report was on someone unhappy with a log home they purchased. Some of her complaints were probably to be expected with log home but others were no so.

    I have run into this in rural NH Me and VT over the years. Anyone can hang up a shingle and build homes and no one is out there to inspect their work. I ran into a high end timber frame builder in VT several years ago that obviously were making it up as they went along. They were getting into affordable timber frame hybrids and the one that I saw had some fundamental flaws in the design. Most folks assume when they buy a home some third party has made sure that what is hidden in the walls is done right. VT requires heating, electrical and plumbing licenses but no one checks for the licenses or inspects the work. In my town, the builder does have to pull a permit but they also have to sign a document that they will self certify that the home meets all applicable codes. They are all LLCs so even if they do get caught, they just cut and run if they do get caught making shortcuts. These aren't minor, in my town the ground snow load is close to 100 psf, many contractors are building to 40 psf as its lot cheaper. They know how to make a house look good but what is hidden in the walls is another story.

    If someone thinks a 100 dollar home inspection done prior to closing is going to protect them, think again. The inspectors typically get referred by real estate agents and if they screw up a sale, that the last time they get a referral. At best they only will identify glaring issues or issues that they know a contractor can fix it.

    It all comes done to caveat emptor. Another reason to rent to get to know the locals and who you can trust.
     
  17. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak
    Minister of Fire 2.
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    Oct 17, 2008
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    Most of the houses around here are 100 years old ,i have one about 150Ys old. Constructed fairly well until the plumbing people came in with their indoor plumbing and hacked up all the floor joists running pipes under the floors. Floorboards can only hold em together for so long. Iv corrected quite a few like that. We have a code officer who collects permit money but i havnt seen him on a job in 30 yrs. Just for show i guess. Im lucky though,just up the road its permit country nightmares. Just installing a water heater can cost $1000 in permits,a bathroom ,a few thousand ,a kitchen,forget it!
     
  18. Knots

    Knots
    Minister of Fire 2.
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    Mar 13, 2013
    947
    420
    Loc:
    Alfred, Maine
    People in NYC think route 7 in western CT is "the country". In actuality it is a traffic nightmare on weekends and anything but a rural experience.

    I have a lift in my garage, in part to keep up with rust early on. I suppose that's a significant expense, but the amount of money I've saved over the years just doing my own brake jobs bought the lift a couple of times over. Yeah - I sometimes look at all I own to battle winter here and imagine that there's places where I wouldn't have own any of it, but winter has some benefits and I really only get really sick of it around the end of February.

    This is a good point. In SW Maine there's a wide variety of zoning laws in different towns. I considered building in one town that no zoning laws but then asked myself what I'd do if someone put a pork rendering plant in next door.

    My town has 5-acre zoning and an active building inspector. It seems to be working out well.

    Down nearer the coast the zoning laws are extensive.

    Yep - Maine has the oldest housing stock in the country. Frankly, I can't imagine myself going through winter after winter in those old houses. Having a newer, heavily-insulated house goes a long way towards making winter bearable for me.
     
  19. sportbikerider78

    sportbikerider78
    Minister of Fire 2.
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    Jun 23, 2014
    1,915
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    Loc:
    Syracuse, NY
    I lived in Farmington, CT for 6 years and it was WAYYYYYY to congested for me. I met some great people, but for the most part, people are grumpy and have a "get out of my way" attitude.
    The pace here in central NY is great for raising a family and people really never stop talking about their families...which I love. :)
    The taxes suck and the winter sucks, but you just go overboard in your preparation for bad weather. The taxes...well you're used to them already.
     
  20. sportbikerider78

    sportbikerider78
    Minister of Fire 2.
    NULL
    

    Jun 23, 2014
    1,915
    750
    Loc:
    Syracuse, NY
    I used to rip 7 and 8 all the time on my sportbike. I used it as a way to get to better roads. I did A LOT of passing. :)
     
  21. Knots

    Knots
    Minister of Fire 2.
    NULL
    

    Mar 13, 2013
    947
    420
    Loc:
    Alfred, Maine
    I hear you. To ride anything good in CT (and there are good roads) you have to get off anything that looks like a secondary road.
     
  22. mcdougy

    mcdougy
    Burning Hunk 2.
    NULL
    

    Apr 15, 2014
    167
    33
    Loc:
    ontario
    Try Canada.....your dollar may go even further. Kids love CanadaCanada
     
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  23. xman23

    xman23
    Minister of Fire 2.
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    Oct 7, 2008
    1,572
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    Loc:
    Lackawaxen PA
    And now for the real minus. Italian food. There's very little good Italian food in SW Maine. Sorry Mainers, I'm calling it like I'm seeing it.And now for the real minus. Italian food. There's very little good Italian food in SW Maine. Sorry Mainers, I'm calling it like I'm seeing it.


    But you have all the lobster you can eat.
     
  24. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake
    Minister of Fire 2.
    NULL
    

    Jul 22, 2008
    17,990
    4,170
    Loc:
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    Lobster? Meh ... give me scallops and clams.
     
  25. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake
    Minister of Fire 2.
    NULL
    

    Jul 22, 2008
    17,990
    4,170
    Loc:
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    So Olive Garden doesn't count as Italian food? ;) :)
     

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