Rural Properties in Nanaimo
As someone who grew up on a relatively small, 5 acre hobby farm, I have a certain affinity with rural properties. Unlike most neighbourhoods rural properties generally allow you to make as much noise as you want and indulge in whatever crazy hobby you have without annoying neighbours. The trade off is that you end up being a bit farther away from amenities.
Nanaimo isn’t really all that big. You can get a rural property without having to drive insane distances to get to work, friends places or shopping like you would living in a rural area outside a city. I’ve yet to find one part of town that is more than twenty minutes from any other part of the broader Nanaimo area. If, for example, I am coming from somewhere in Cedar and need to go to the north end of town it’s still going to fit in that time frame because the parkway lets me bypass enough lights and traffic so that it’s doable. Shopping is dispersed throughout the area so even ten minutes would be a long drive for groceries. One can generally expect closer to five.
Although there are varying densities of neighbourhoods within the ‘sub areas’ on the Nanaimo MLS map there are certainly sub areas which are my go to if I have a client looking for rural properties. Cedar, Extension, Chase River, and Upper Lantzville are first to check but I may also look at lot sized and other factors. It’s not cut and dried where they are. This is why although the computer is a great tool for searching, a human mind that knows the ins and outs (like this Realtor guy named Ryan Coffey) can help you hone in on what you are looking for.
A house on a rural lot is in most ways the same as a house that is located in town. Some differences are obvious like the location and lot size. There’s also the more subtle things that you probably won’t notice right away because they don’t affect how you go about your daily life. Those things being wells and septic. They are worth considering because they do affect how you maintain the property and plan your finances. Rural properties will typically be on a septic system and might also be on a well. Both should be inspected and need specialized inspectors in addition to the home inspector you will want to have inspecting any home you buy. Septic systems have a long life of about 25 years but they are an expensive replacement at $20-30k. (There are cheaper quotes sometimes but I like to work with slightly pessimistic numbers.) They also need to be pumped out/maintained every three years or so. My observation has been that taxes on properties that don’t have the public sewage service is lower and to the point that if someone is forward thinking they can put the money they save on taxes away and save up for that new septic system that will need to be replaced someday. Wells are cheaper to maintain but need to have an eye kept on them for water quality/sanitation and to make sure there is adequate supply.
Rural areas have very different building codes/zoning bylaws from in the city. You’ll have to of course abide by whatever bylaws are in place but from what I have seen there is typically more freedom than within city limits in terms of what sort of home/buildings you want to erect.
If you want a big hunk of land for less, a good trick is to look for ALR land (Agricultural
Land Reserve). This is because it cannot be subdivided as it is set aside by the provincial government so that if needed it can be used for farming someday. This is the result of a program that was set up in the 70’s when there were big scares about world food supply. There aren’t many at a time but once in a while I see big acreages at prices that are unobtainable without the ALR restriction.