The following article ran in the summer 2014 issue of Saskatoon Home magazine, and quoted Sarilia’s developer, Gwen Lepage.
Developers outside Saskatoon are redefining what it means to live in the country. With easy access to amenities and a focus on community building, they’re finding a new set of buyers looking to trade in their slice of the city for wide-open spaces and starry nights. If you’re considering such a move, there are several questions you should ask yourself before placing a deposit on that pastoral piece of property.
What can you afford?
Aside from the lot price itself, there are often upfront and recurring costs to consider. Depending on the location, these can include fees for garbage and recycling pick up, septic services and water delivery. You may also need to factor in infrastructure costs such as holding tank installation and/or digging a well. Some developments have community association fees and some do not. You’ll want to consider what RM (rural municipality) it’s located in, what the tax base is, and if there are any development fees.
What kind of lifestyle are you looking for?
Gwen Lepage, developer of Sarilia Country Estates, says buyers should start with why.“Why do you want to change where you live? What is going to be different after you make this move?” She adds, “My clients aren’t just shopping for a new house. They want a lifestyle change and that doesn’t mean hopping around the city from one neighbourhood to another. They want something else: a view, space and a sense of community. Quite often my clients have a rural background and have a strong desire to go back to a place that feels like home.”
What nearby amenities do you need?
A family with school-aged children will want to know the proximity to the nearest schools, and if school bus service is provided. Darren Hagen, developer of Grasswood Estates, says that Grasswood’s location is what appeals most to his property buyers. “We offer country living with modern city amenities just minutes away,” he says. “There’s a school within walking distance and the shops and services of Stonebridge are just five minutes north.” Aside from typical amenities like grocery stores and pharmacies, many buyers will want to know if there are nearby recreation facilities, trails or water access. Both Grasswood and Sarilia offer trails and water access, so they tend to attract nature lovers and outdoor adventurers with their opportunities for snowshoeing, hiking, biking and canoeing.
What are the local bylaws?
If your big move involves raising chickens, buying a horse, a boat, or taking up snowmobiling, you’ll want to look up the local bylaws of the RM the development is located in to ensure your plans are all above board. Zoning bylaws are set out by each municipality, which divides the land into zoning districts. Each district may have its own regulations specifying the size, location, dimension and types of buildings allowed, the provision of parking spaces, outdoor storage and landscaping.
What kind of house do you want to build?
Gwen recommends that property buyers avoid finalizing house plans until after they’ve settled on a property. “Maximizing an incredible view and ensuring privacy may well dictate the size and style of your house and will become a more important consideration than the actual floor plan or style,” she says.
If you have a style and size of house in mind, you’ll want to ask the developer about any architectural design standards that might be in place. Such standards are created to protect the value of the development and the homes within it. The standards may regulate factors such as the size, design, height and footprint of the home, landscaping, outdoor storage, setbacks, lighting, and whether pools or hot tubs are permitted.
What compromises are you willing to make?
Often when we think of the country, we picture a bucolic, peaceful retreat from fast-paced urban living. Rural life can be idyllic, but just like living in the city, there are certain realities you’ll need to carefully consider.
If moving from an urban area, one of the biggest changes may be the amount of yard work involved. Some developments keep the landscaping all natural, while others will require frequent maintenance. You’ll need to ask yourself if you’re willing to invest in a ride-on mower and devote the time to maintain those wide-open spaces.
If the move involves a longer drive to work, it’s a good idea to get in your car and test out the commute during peak and non-peak hours. Once you’ve tested it, you’ll have a better idea if it’s an acceptable, comfortable commute. If so, here’s hoping those country roads will soon take you home to the place you belong. – Saskatoon Home
© 2014 Saskatoon Home magazine
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