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Whether you’re dreaming of raising a flock of chickens or want to cut back and live a simpler live, a hobby farm or homestead property may be just the thing for you. A small amount of acreage, a water source and an existing home — or the desire to build your own home — are all you need to get started.

Lot size

When you do a property search for a homestead or a hobby farm, consider what size lot you are most comfortable with. Most hobby farms are under 5 acres, a manageable size for homeowners to deal with and not be overwhelmed. A lot size of even an acre or two can allow you plenty of room to garden and raise small farm animals.

Animal laws

If you are dreaming of owning sheep, horses, goats, or even chickens, check with the municipality before you buy. some areas allow you to have whatever livestock you want, while others have specific rules about the pets you can — and can’t — keep. Roosters make noise, goats wander and pigs smell bad, so some neighborhoods don’t allow these critters at all. Make sure the animals on your list are allowed by your county before you buy to avoid shocks later.

Water

In some cases, you’ll find a property that comes complete with a well and septic system. If you are looking at land for sale, you’ll likely have to dig these items on your own, so be sure you include them in your plans. If the property has a stream, you may or may not have the right to use the water; water rights are different from land ownership, so make sure you know exactly what you are buying.

Home and out buildings

If the property already has a home and barn or other structure, check to see where the water, electricity and phone come from. Is there a propane tank? How is the home heated? If you’re used to having a heater come on at the touch of a button, a wood burning stove can be a shock. Technology may be different in the country as well. Some rural areas do not have cable or phone service, so you’ll need to pay for satellite service and cell phones to stay connected or watch television.