Want to Buy a Cabin? Consider These 6 Things

My unfiltered opinion and the questions you HAVE to ask yourself!
6 Things To Keep In Mind If You're Considering Buying a Cabin such as utilities, weather, insurance, and more!

Whenever someone reaches out and says that we’ve inspired them to consider buying a cabin, I always feel so incredibly honored. We definitely went out on a limb by choosing this massive life change. So to know that it’s inspired others to do the same is both humbling and exciting. While I won’t say that owning and living in a cabin full-time doesn’t come with it’s own issues (which you’ve seen a lot of here on the blog!), it is definitely awesome. We’re both so glad we did it. So in case you’re curious about what we considered while making this decision, I wanted to share that thought process and key questions with you today.

6 Things To Keep In Mind If You’re Considering Buying a Cabin

Please note, these recommendations are meant to be in addition to your typical home buying questions, not instead of. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that cabin life typically happens in an area that is rural, remote, and loosely governed. We’ve learned a TON since moving out here, but are constantly learning more and more. It’s an ongoing process and we’re just grateful to be here.

You might also enjoy reading another recent blog post: What It’s Really Like to Live in The Mountains Full-Time

Are you ok with keeping to yourself and/or neighbors with differing beliefs?

This is a major question to ask yourself when considering a move to a rural area. Where we live, pretty much everyone keeps to themselves and minds their own business. I believe that’s the case because a lot of people live out here to get away from the rules associated with city life.

In our specific area, the vast majority of the community is conservative and some even embrace some wild conspiracy theories. If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know that isn’t exactly my jam… but I keep that all to myself while interacting in the community. I believe that my neighbors don’t need to know how I vote, especially if a difference of opinion could put me or my household at risk.

Utilities and community services are different

Some of the more established areas have HOAs, for example if you’re looking in a community where the cabins are peoples’ second homes. Based on our property search, that isn’t always the case. For example, we live on a road with a few other homes, but there is no home owners association and we barely know the other households.

Because of this, our utilities are very different from when we lived in the city. For one, we rely on a well for water and sewage goes into a septic tank. We maintain both ourselves. Our electricity comes through Seattle City Light, but we also use propane that is delivered and restocked in a tank on our property. We don’t have trash pick up or snow removal and sometimes mail service is spotty. Each of those things requires additional attention and planning, more so than when we lived in a city.

Research the weather patterns

The weather plays a huge factor in our life out here. For example, last November, our area had major flooding and many people lost nearly everything. Thankfully we were safe. A large part of that is because we looked into the 10 year (and beyond) flood records for the area before going under contract. We did the same for annual snowfall totals, rain totals, and even number of sunny days.

Get the proper insurance coverage

While I have a lot of opinions about the insurance industry, the fact is that if you’re going to own a home in America you need to have the right types of insurance. For us here in the Pacific Northwest, that includes fire insurance, flood insurance, and earthquake insurance on top of our standard home owners insurance package.

Of course, it all depends on where you ultimately decide to buy a cabin. But I cannot stress the need for insurance enough — especially when you consider that climate change is only going to impact rural communities more and more.

How comfortable are you with being inconvenienced?

This is another MAJOR thing to consider when contemplating a remote move. A prime example is that we frequently lose power. Because of this, we’ve invested in a generator, as well as extensive emergency preparations. While it’s frustrating to lose power randomly, it’s a fact of life out here.

Another example of the inconvenience is that if I want to buy groceries or run errands, I have to drive at least an hour each way. While we were considering this move, that was a factor. While I don’t love that I spend 2 hours in the car every time I need to go to town, I do enjoy the days when it’s a gorgeous drive. Plus, there are ways to pass the time like singing to Taylor Swift or listening to an e-book.

Similarly, there is no food delivery out here. So if I have a craving for Pad Thai, either I’m driving an hour to get it or I’m rummaging in my well-stocked pantry for the ingredients to make my own! So I definitely encourage you to make sure you’re ok with cooking literally every meal — even when it’s the last thing you want to do in the moment.

Hiring contractors can be difficult and costly

Depending on how remote the cabin is, it could be hard to convince contractors to come out to even offer a bid or estimate. This is a large reason why we have had to get even more hands-on with our renovations and the updates we’re making to the cabin. I’ve also found that some professionals add travel rates to their quotes because they’d be driving at least an hour each way. As a business owner, I understand. But as a homeowner, the added expense is challenging!

When it comes to finding local contractors, that can be tricky. Most don’t have websites so they don’t come up in a casual Google search. Also, there are usually lots of handy people out here who can do the job… but then they are often not licensed, insured and bonded. Depending on the scale of the project, that can be ok. But our preference is to be careful and by the book whenever possible (or do the work ourselves as much as we can).

6 Things To Keep In Mind If You're Considering Buying a Cabin such as utilities, weather, insurance, and more!

I hope you found these tips eye opening and educational, especially if you’re considering what is involved with buying a cabin and living in a rural community full-time!

Photography by Jojotastic.

Behind The Blog

Joanna Hawley-McBride is a Pacific Northwest-based social media strategist, content creator, and former textile designer. Joanna is the founder and editor-in-chief of Jojotastic, a lifestyle blog focused on Joanna’s work-in-progress cabin, finding the best pair of underwear through #UnderwearThesis, and empowering women to explore nature — all in her signature unfiltered style. Her work has been featured in Domino, CNBC, and Eating Well.

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