Is 5 acres enough??

Started by onjicamnden, May 28, 2011, 03:57:13 PM

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  Hello, I have been a member here for a while, but until now have only lurked. I decided it is time to start talking, so I'll start with a question.

My husband and I have been looking for some property here in mid-Missouri and we think we have finally found something that we can work with. We have a choice of a 15 acre parcel or a 5 acre parcel in a subdivision of parcels (all 5 acre tracts). All the properties come with well, septic and electric along the road. Well we have pretty much made up our minds that the 5 acres would be a better choice for us financially (With the low monthly payment it would leave us more money to be able to build quicker). However, we are not sure that 5 acres will be enough room for all the things we would eventually like to do. So I was hoping that you all would be so kind as to offer some advice.

So..of course there will be our house, approx. 1700sf for us and our four children after we are done adding on, a barn, a fairly large garden, a small orchard, eventually we want chickens, maybe a couple goats and a milk cow. I would also like to eventually get into a bit of bee keeping. So do you think that five acres could handle all of this without being super crowded?

  I know that eventually we are going to get built around as the other parcels are bought up, and that isn't exactly idea for us, but with any luck maybe our neighbors will be nice and helpful.
Thanks in advance for your input.


5 acres should be plenty. We have 3 acres and we don't even use 1/4 of it.


My opinion is that 5 acres is probably enough for what most folks would be doing on their land.

On the other hand having a 5 acre parcel on both sides of your own will afford a larger buffer zone between neighbors. In some places even that would not be enough if it was flat and there were no trees.
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.


I was dead set obsessed with 10 acres when I was first shopping for land.  Then I went and kicked around on a 5 acre piece.  Walking 600 ft x 400 ft was work enough.  I can't see most of my property from either end and it is densely wooded.  That is good enough for me.  Also clearing 5 acres by hand is more work than I could have imagined.  More land = more work.  It does partly depend on how the parcels are divided for privacy and setup if that is a concern.  There is a great book of self sufficiency by John Seymore.  He lays out how to set up a 5 acre piece for a completely self sufficient farm, which he ran for 30 years.  It had everything you want and more.  If you want more land you can always buy it later.  You will have built substantial equity and saved a significant amount of money in interest.  In most rural areas you can buy a few acres that are unbuildable but are good for ruminant animals, trees, or raised beds for very cheap and usually within a mile or two.

BTW with recent subdivisions be mindful of HOA's, covenants, ROWs, and easements.


Given what you're describing for future use of the land I'd say 5 acres is minimum.  But you're forced to find a 5 acre lot that has 5 usable acres on it. 

In the end you'll need to walk it and get a feel for it.

Good luck with the beekeeping.  My wife and I have been doing it as a hobby for about 5 years now and love it.  Right now I have 2 strong hives on my 100'x100' lot in RI!  It can get a bit scary mowing the grass around them though! d*


If you could swing the payments, I would go with more land. Privacy is priceless.
"You will find the key to success under the alarm Glock"  Ben Franklin
Forget it Ben, just remember, the check comes at the first of the month and it's not your fault, your a victim.

Pray while there is still time


 Oh wow, thank you all so much for your help! You are all so kind!

I completely agree with the idea of buying at least one other parcel for privacy reasons, that is actually very important to me. In fact I can totally relate to the obsession you had Squirl! I feel so worried that it would be a big mistake just to settle with less and end up disappointed in the long run, but then again, I am very thankful for the opportunity to buy any property at all. Also, I don't know much about acreage and land size, so I am thinking that quite possibly I am obsessing over nothing and we will be perfectly content with a little 5 acre mini-farm. Either way, we figure that with being a one income family and all (I stay home and home-school our four children), it would be a safer bet to know, without a doubt, that we will be able to see this through and build at the same time.  It is a sort of deal where, we know we can afford the payments now (and probably more) , but how will things be for us in 10 years.. We plan to invest way to much into this just to end up loosing it as so many have unfortunately done.

Thank you Squirl for the book suggestion and I will definitely look for that! This may be a very silly question but, if you don't mind explaining a bit, what exactly are these HOA's and ROW's that you mentioned?

 RIjake,  we will absolutely be sure to make a good day of walking the property and getting a feel for the size and terrain. As far as we can tell right now, the land is all pretty well level and is very wooded. Thank you for the wishes of good luck. I will definitely need it because I know nothing about beekeeping aside from the bit I have learned from the internet, but I do know this, I LOVE honey!! LOL Also, beekeeping seems to be a nice, relaxing hobby and I am so ready to learn!

Just to show what we are considering, I posted a map of the property below. We are considering parcel 20 beings that it looks to be wider and more squared off. We were considering parcel 15 as it has a VERY old spring house on it and we thought we might make use of it, but have since changes our minds.


An HOA is a Home Owners Association.  A ROW is a Right of Way.

The HOA might have something to say about raising chickens and goats.  You definately want to check out the bylaws.

If you don't mind me asking,   what do the get for a 5 acre parcel around there?
Give me a place to stand and a lever long enough,  and I will move the world.


HOAs are home owner associations.  They can be written into the title of a property.  They are quasi governmental organizations that can have the power of law.  Just be mindful if this an "option" written into a title.  I have seen people surprised by this later.

 ROWs are rights of way.  This would be by the looks on the county road side and on the other side of the property with a turn around.  ROWs are usually formed during subdivisions for access and the language on them can be tricky.  Things that can come up can be who has access, everyone in the public or just land owners?  How big are they?  Who has the rights or obligations to maintain and improve?  Maintainance can be expensive, especially if you are the only land owner that builds Many land owners on my subdivision might be surprised that I have the legal right to come in and cut down and grade the first 30 ft of their property for improvements.  It popped up in a chain of title search and covenants run with the land.  

This brings me to the other topic of covenants.  Many popped up in the title search of my property such as no mobile homes and no junk cars.  I didn't have any problems with this, but some may.  Many times they may not be properly recorded when titles change hands or are subdivided, but as I wrote earlier covenants run with the land, and it is the buyers obligation to research it.  Say if there was a gas lease on part of the larger property that was subdivided, just because it wasn't recorded in the title, doesn't mean it isn't there.

On the subject of easements be careful of the language.  Suppose the language was as general as saying a person has the right to put utilities across you property.  This would be assumed to bring a power line up the ROW for lots 1-13.  But that may be expensive for lot #4 if they are the first person to want power.  It may be a shorter run for them to run power from county road 380 across lot 20. Would they have the right? It depends on the writing in the titles and the local laws.  

If you have been a frequent lurker then you might have read my usual adamant suggestion of a lawyer, a title search, and title insurance as part of almost all land deals.  Your lawyer should be able to walk you through all of this.
  BTW  w*


archimedes, thank you for that info.

The prices of land that we are looking at varies from parcel to parcel, but I believe one of them was $27,000.
That is of course with owner financing, I imagine that land can be had for much less through back financing. We have found however that Missouri land is much more reasonable in parts than it was in other states we have lived in, like Tennessee, Texas and Colorado.

Texas Tornado

I would go for the 15 acre...With kids you want more room! Plus I hate HOA's!!! To me they are just bad news..Where we live we have one and they have attempted to make me cut down my Wind break trees so they could see onto my property!! We have had to go legal and post as well as send a letter to the sheriff to let them know we are posted against anyone from the HOA setting foot on our property.. And the wording was in the deed saying that it may have a future HOA but it could be voted out...Which we tried but the developer had deeper pockets than we did.. :(


Some areas the covenants and local laws pretty much kill the use of five acre parcels for much of anything.  I would very carefully explore everything in a subdivision tract.  But mostly I would never go there -- NOT!!  Too much chance of conflict and hard feelings and out and out war when trying to 'homestead'...  Neighbors dog kills your chickens, your chickens go over and scratch up neighbors new seeding.  Goats get out and eat neighbors trees and landscape and you have to replace or theirs get out and do the same.  Your neighbor decides to start raising pigs.  You notice he has set up the pens next to your house, next there is strange aroma.  Your neighbor tells you mind your own business it is his land Thank You!!     

As far as livestock on small acreages it is hard to judge because areas differ.  Here in Idaho near Boise there is irrigation starting in the spring till late fall.  So I can pasture a pair - one cow and one calf and figure one acre per pair and they do well.  However in areas there is no irrigation and depend on rain I really do not have a clue.  Or our mountain ranch property figure 30 to 40 acres per pair, spring to late fall and are depending on what is there when the winter / spring storms leave.  Because here in the summer and early fall we can and do go months without a rain.  When they do happen they are more just a brief sort of monsoonal down pour, lighting flashing and forest fire causing ... 

As far as an orchard they require about five gallons of water per week per tree to keep then going.  Then as the trees get larger they need some what more water but they are also reaching down and drinking if the conditions are right.  Again if your are in an area that has good rains you are okay.  We have a young orchard going.  The older trees have been in three years.  This year was our last 25 trees.  This was our last and final planting baring mortality.  Orchards if there are deer or elk around need an eight foot fence.  Side bar last year we planted about 50 blue berries and 50 more this year.  They are in a plot with a six foot fence.  I did not know deer have tape measures but the blue berries have deer tracks in them.


But do not be alarmed as the cow might have jumped over the moon but just a good old cow fence will keep her out.  Using semi dwarf trees you actually can plant 100 trees in a acre plot so the publications have told us.  We are not bothered with having to spray partly because we are at 5000 ft where we are with our ranch property.  We have intentions of selling organically grown apples, pears and peaches to fruit stands in Boise, as well as to the rafters, hunters and fisherman.  We might barter fruit and eggs with the locals.  We have found our orchard to be very labor intensive.  We spend huge blocks of time there.  Pruning, trunk protectors on in the fall off in the late spring, training branches.  Watering - each tree gets five gallons at least once a week during the summer and fall.  We till around the bases and making a shallow or hollow to hold the water several times a year and fertilize with a mixed organic liquid when we do that.   We have found the company we get this from also sells bulk to large orchards and has a tank truck that delivers to the apple orchards up in Washington.  Our orchard gets mowed several times a year usually when it becomes hard to pull a hose in the grass.             

In trying to get the most out of our orchard and it eight foot fence we now have planted raspberries and blackberries around the perimeter fence, using it as a berry trellis.  If we move up there next year we are planing on running a few chickens and turkeys in the orchard as well.  They will free range there very well and help keep the grasshoppers down!

Gardens using the square foot approach will produce huge and if you use some of the different gurus ideas you will actually build up the soil and use hugely less water and very little soil displacement.

So the long short of it five acres is a lot of land if you can use it.  Squirl has some very good advise as well as most of us that have been stung lately.  Me I say do not sign anything without a real estate attorney that understands what I want to do with the property.  Also make sure he goes over the loan papers and agrees to how it is written.  Our daughter and son in law have a horror story that has spilled over in us as they are living with us.  I talked to my banker and she says it sure is not the first that she has heard of this happening in our location. 

Good luck and stay away from subdivisions   
Proverbs 24:3-5 Through wisdom is an house builded; an by understanding it is established.  4 And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.  5 A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.


 Thanks again Squirl!  Wow, buying property is beginning to sound more scary than fun! LOL

That is some wonderful advice and I will talk it over with my hubby. Fortunately, as far as the electricity goes, it is ran all along the subdivision road as well as along the county roads. Access to the county road is one reason we decided on a parcel on that side, and it will also be nice to have electricity at both ends of the property as well. :)

I do hope this all works out well. The property is only six miles north of the town of Bolivar, so the conveniency will be nice. The people that own the land said that they have been selling property this way for thirty five years! They seem to have their ducks in order, but like you said, we don't want to end up disappointed.  They told us that the only restrictions on the property are theirs, which are no mobile homes over 15 years old and no storing junk cars as you stated.  We have no problem with that either. Oh, we are also allowed only one residence per parcel. I did ask about zoning and the lady told me that there is no zoning and that we are allowed to have any animals we want just no feed lots, whatever that is. LOL!  

Thank you Texas Tornado for your suggestion. You are right, my kids do love to run and explore and I don't want them getting bored and running the chickens to Would the 15 acres clear us of any HOA's?? I am so sorry to hear of your experience, it seems that no one can get any peace or privacy anymore with the government and their agencies wanting all control of everything these days!  >:(

rick91351 thank you also for all the info, and for the picture of your beautiful land! Yes I would say that you have your hands full! lol  I did not realize that an orchard can require SO much water! We do get quite a bit of rain, especially this spring, but still, I can see this will take a ton of planning.


Just be sure you see all of the rules in writing before you buy. That includes state, county, local, and any kind of HOA. We spent a lot of time searching for property in rural SC, and were surprised at the rules that cropped up. Many places had a minimum house size- one was 2500 sq ft, which is twice what we want, or can afford. Also, do your due diligence on things like flood zones, mineral rights, and possible neighboring nuisances. A friend of mine build a nice custom home, only to find out after the fact that he is very close to a local race track. Saturday evenings on the porch are out of the question during the lengthy stock car season. GoogleEarth and GIS are very good tools to ferret out this information. You should also check with the various governments to make sure they are not planning an Interstate, sewage treatment plant, or airport near-by. Make SURE you have a valid septic permit and recent survey in hand before you buy. Do NOT trust a realtor to be completely forthcoming about property issues. We had one try to sell us a house across the street from a sewage treatment plant once. Don't be put off by all this; just do your homework. Property and housing is the biggest single expense you'll likely ever have, and once you've sunk your money into it, it's your, for better or for worse.

For your 'Gee-whiz' file: Many states now have laws on the books concerning junk cars. In SC, it is illegal to have an unregistered vehicle on you property unless it is inside a building. They even run ads on TV suggesting you report junk cars to the authorities. After many visits, I've concluded that they would have to lock up 3/4's of the residents, though!

I'm not poor- I'm financially underpowered.


Thank you for the tips MushCreek! Wow, 2500 sf??  ??? That's ridiculous!! Apparently they are trying to attract upscale builders I guess. The owner told us that the minimum square footage on the 5 acre parcels is 800 sf, we are planning to first build a small 2 bedroom cabin (just to get it dried in quicker) then add on latter, but..I'm am beginning to get really leery about subdivisions all

Thank you for the idea of using Google Earth, we actually did that, and in that way we found out that there is a OLD, closed limestone quarry directly across the county road from the properties. It would be located across the road, and behind parcel 20 (the parcel we were interested in). You can't really tell that that's what it is beings that it is so well hidden by thick tree coverage along the road. Still, I'm sure that there is some kind of down side to that. I know I wouldn't want my boys wandering over there when they're older!


Quote from: onjicamnden on May 29, 2011, 05:28:40 PM
Would the 15 acres clear us of any HOA's??

Not necessarily.  I have seen it while land shopping. It was a subdivision of 10-20 acre parcels.  Most minimum sf requirements that I had seen were through HOAs more than covenants, but not always.  I would check very closely.  You are right, HOA's are basically to control property values and be more exclusive as to who can afford to live in an area.  Homesteading and HOA's don't always mix well.


If you do buy one of those five-acre parcels, you might want to consider one that doesn't have road on both ends.  The road right of way is taken out of your acreage, so you'll end up with more useable land if you get a property with less road frontage. 

If you skip the cow, five acres should do everything else that you want it to.  But are you planning on wood heat?  (It's a good idea, if only for a back-up when the power is out.)  The larger parcel would give you a bigger woodlot, and it would give you room for the cow you want.  If you can buy your own lumber maker (a bandsaw mill, or even just a chainsaw mill) you can use those trees that you have to cut to clear land for the house, garden, orchard, and pasture, and save quite a bit of money by using the lumber you make to put up your house and outbuildings.  Might even have some lumber to sell, which could help make the land payments.



Depends on where and the land itself however my brother and his wife managed both a 3 acre farm and a 5 acre farm without issue.  Their 5 acre farm they raised two beef cattle a year, rabbits, chickens, fruit trees, berry bushes, a horse (or two) and more.

Later they made 2.5acres into a trailer park to help with retirement and continued to have a horse and how on the 2.5acres.

It can be done.

I once saw an article on a family with a city lot home that raised all their own food and sold the excess at farmers markets....they had livestock even (chickens and rabbits, maybe a goat).


I think trees make all the difference.  5 acres of forest can seem like 100 acres.  100 acres of prairie can look like 10, well maybe not quite.  We always ask ourselves, what is the worst thing someone could do on a piece of land next to us and us still be okay with it, and increase acreage by that.
"Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple."
― Woody Guthrie


Quote from: redbird on November 11, 2011, 03:09:06 PM
I think trees make all the difference.  5 acres of forest can seem like 100 acres.  100 acres of prairie can look like 10, well maybe not quite.  We always ask ourselves, what is the worst thing someone could do on a piece of land next to us and us still be okay with it, and increase acreage by that.

It is so true what you say about the trees.  It applies to the flat land and hill country as well.  It does not require a lot of trees either. 
Proverbs 24:3-5 Through wisdom is an house builded; an by understanding it is established.  4 And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.  5 A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.


Surveys, as mentioned, are crucial.  Don't expect the realtor to know or care where rural property lines are.  And don't expect an existing neighbor's fence to be on the line.  If there is a recent survey, use it to look for the corner markers. If there is no recent survey, some negotiating can get one done. Nothing more disappointing than to find out the lines are not where you thought, or were told, after the fact.

Covenants, I agree with all being said here.  My sister's house is in a subdivision that prohibits clotheslines, for heaven's sake.

Lost arrow 333

I was in the same situation as you folks but after I really looked at 5 acres i deciede it was plenty.
Having all the utilities available will save you a ton of upfront money but you need to learn the rules of the HOA before you buy. We considered a 5 acre parcel in a hoa until we learned that they didnt allow shooting or four wheelers which are two of my favorite past times so we passed.
We were able to get city power but having a well dug is gonna cost from 3 to 10 thousand.