As most of you already know, Stu and I met later in life after losing our spouses. We were both living the full-time lifestyle and had/have no intentions of giving it up anytime soon. That said, we also know that things happen unexpectedly that can change your life dramatically.
We have both been able to travel the country enough that we had a good idea where we didn't want to eventually live as well as where we did. Having both been raised in the north, we knew we didn't want to end up there permanently. Having both spent enough time in the south, we knew that the summers were not our cup of tea. Factor in that most of our extended family is in the east, that narrowed our search.
If we had unlimited funds we'd own land in Arizona and Montana where we would split the seasons and fly our family to visit us. But we don't....LOL! We both loved Tennessee, Stu loved the Smokies and I loved middle TN where I spent spent three years before going RVing. The moderate climate, lack of income tax, beautiful scenery and wonderful people called to both of us.
We felt that when the day came that we wanted to slow down, we would be comfortable being snowbirds from Tennessee. Worst case, when the day came that we had to stop RVing, the winters weren't so harsh that we couldn't deal with them. So, Tennessee became the state of choice!
Some RVers start out full-timing thinking that they will RV until the wheels fall off...the rig AND them. We knew that wasn't realistic for us (and we're seeing others come to the same realization). Someday we would slow down and eventually we would park ourselves.
We talked a lot about our plans for the eventual land. We wanted to put an RV lot on the land first, a place where we could park in fall and spring. Worst case, a place we could park for a longer period of time if the need ever arose...financial or medical, for example.
We had other things that we both wanted and we listed them.
- A minimum of 5 acres, a maximum of 20 acres.
- Wooded and fairly level.
- Small town but close to larger city for shopping and medical convenience.
- A reasonably sized hospital.
- Enough shopping for everyday items
- A nice plus would be a creek on the land
- Paved road access, preferably county/city maintained
- No restrictions
We were in no hurry to find or buy land but when the opportunity presented itself to browse around, we did. Most of our looking was done online. We found real estate companies in areas we liked and started watching their listings. The more we looked in our original target area, around the Smokies, the more we realized that the acreage in our price range was either too small or too steep.
So we move our search area more to the west into middle Tennessee. Because I had lived in that area, I knew some of it and where we might be interested. I had also worked for First Realty for a year and had several friends to call on to help out. We ended up working with my good friend, Joanne Landrum, at Upper Cumberland Real Estate.
We were on a motorcycle trip back from Florida and decided to spend a couple days in the Cookeville area. Joanne took us around looking at land in about a four county area. We ended up staying a little longer and looked at more land. Wouldn't you know it....the last piece of property we looked at was the one we ended up putting an offer on (and eventually buying).
It was five acres, all wooded, a creek along one side, on a county maintained paved dead end road. Power and water were at the edge of the land and there was already a septic system partially installed. Oh, and the only restrictions were 1) no junkyards, 2) no swine and 3) no outhouses. We could deal with that!
The price was right and the land became ours. Our plans for it consist of first putting in a single RV site with power, water and sewer. That will let us park here whenever we want or need. In another 4-5 years we will build a pole barn (aka Stu's Playpen) and 2-3 years after that we'll add a cabin. We eventually want to have a couple of guest RV sites and possible a small cabin for grandkids (or visitors without an RV). We also are thinking about adding a shed for the motorcycles now and "whatever" later. LOL!
So, that's how it all came about and how we approached it. Figure out where you would be happy living year round, decide your priorities for your land/lot, set your budget and then keep your eyes and ears open! Remember to take into account taxes, family, medical and insurance issue.
Stu and Donna