In the spring of 2013, we landed back in Massachusetts on a little one-acre parcel in the suburbs. We were so excited to have so much space and quickly acquired chickens, bees, fruit trees, and a large garden.
Almost immediately after settling back into New England, we decided to stay, and our property search began. New York has generous tax programs for veterans, so we started searching along the Vermont border. At one point, Joe applied for and was offered a civilian job near the Canadian border, up near Potsdam NY, and then turned it down. It didn't feel right and we were trying hard not to jump ship at the first sight of land.
I just need a tiny little farm town with a food co-op and a cafe and a book store, I told him, reminiscing of my beloved little Alaskan towns.
I don't know if that exists in our price range, he said.
For whatever reason, and I wish I remember the why more clearly, we stopped in Cambridge, NY on our way to or from visiting Joe's family.
We wandered around a bit, bought coffee at the cafe, snacks at the co-op, looked into the windows of the book store.
I think we died, I told him. This can't be real.
Here we were, an hour from Joe's parents and siblings, in a little farm town with everything I had asked for. We drew a 30-minute radius on a map and started looking for our farm. Over the next year, we looked at a lot of sad old houses that needed far more work than we wanted to put into them or where located too close to a busy road. (back to that it has to feel right thing).
We crossed old farm house off the list and started looking for land.
I should stop here and let you know our criteria was $120k and 10+ acres. Needle in a haystack, we knew it. At one point a cabin in the woods came up in our property search and we read the listing, but at only 6 acres it wasn't right, so we never pursued it.
The land search was almost as hard with the budget heavily slashed to ensure we could afford to build. We wanted part woods and part pasture. Most of what we found was one or the other. Much of it was located on a 50+ mph county road.
We kept looking.
Two years in, we found 29 acres, 5+ acres of rolling pasture, the rest woods. The parcel was located close to the main county highway but on a less traveled dirt road. We visited the land often from spring that year into fall, looking at a few other houses in between, but we kept coming back to it. In November, we settled on an offer and bought it. Closing in December.
On our first big walk around after it was ours, we recognized the cabin I mentioned above as our new neighbors.....
We had landed about 25 minutes from our much loved little Cambridge, 45 minutes from Joe's family, and walking distance to the Vermont border. It felt perfect.
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Part one of this story can be found here.
Part three (the final part) of this story can be found here.