Moving to a rural area is a decision that encompasses many factors. If you are thinking about living in rural areas of Flathead County, you will need to consider purchasing decisions, access issues, service delivery, agriculture and the right to farm, mother nature and wildlife. The first two posts can be accessed by clicking the links above. This third post about rural living in Flathead County covers potential service delivery issues.
Flathead County Planning and Zoning prepared an excellent document for both natives and newcomers to the area. They’ve given me their thumbs up to share here. The third chapter deals with service delivery to your property. Also, just a note, this chapter refers to DVDs by mail – it was written a few years ago!
And I quote:
Living in a rural area requires willingness to do without services city dwellers take for granted, like pizza delivery or a quick run to the video store. If you’re seriously interested in rural living, this is likely no big deal. What’s more important to remember are the vital things, like rapid emergency response or utility outages on a cold winter night. It’s easy to take that 24-hour plumber for granted in the city. And while you may be able to get DVDs by mail, a backed up toilet waits for no one (or visa versa as the case may be):
- No matter how well you maintain the road, it’s a simple fact that if you live 25 miles from medical services, treatment will be delayed. This goes for you, your children, and your pets and livestock. You may have to go for help instead of waiting for it to come to you. This is an important consideration if any member of your family requires emergency treatment or ongoing care.
- Mail, newspaper, standard parcel, and overnight package delivery is not available in all areas of the county. Confirm with service providers sooner rather than later.
- Telephone communication may be an issue as many rural areas do not provide reliable cellular service.
- You will likely be drilling a water well. The cost for drilling and pumping can be considerable.
- Some portions of the county do not have sufficient water available for domestic purposes, no matter how deep you have the well drilled.
- It is strongly advised you research the issue of water quantity and quality very carefully when considering the purchase or rural land. The Montana Department of Natural Resources Conservation is a good place to start.
- Not all wells can be used for watering landscaping, pastures, or livestock. Water use may be restricted to domestic use, requiring you to locate an alternate source to maintain your property.
- Public sewer service is generally available only in highly developed areas. Your septic system must be approved by Environmental Health Services. Soil type will be critical in determining the location, cost and function of this system.
- Electric service is not available to all locations in Flathead County. It is important to determine proximity to electrical power, unless you intend to live off the grid. Extension of power lines can quickly turn that great deal into a cost-prohibitive undertaking.
- It may be necessary to cross land owned by others to extend electrical service to your property in the most cost efficient manner. It is important to make sure proper easements are in place to ensure service to your property.
- Power outages can occur in outlying areas with more frequency than in developed areas. A loss of electrical power also interrupts your well pressure tank, which means no water. It’s important to be able to survive for a week in severe cold without utilities if you live in a rural area.
- Solid waste management usually means taking your garbage to the closest “green box” site, which may be miles from your home. Creating your own dump is prohibited. Improper storage of solid waste will find you waking up to bears in your garbage cans. This is not considered a positive human-wildlife interaction.
As indicated by Flathead County Planning and Zoning, the above are important service factors to take into consideration if you are thinking of moving to any area outside of a town or city. As mentioned previously, my personal home is only a 15 minute drive from the center of the city of Kalispell. Here’s how I am impacted by the above. Your situation may be different!
Cell service is available in my area, with a caveat. If we had built our home in our valley, we would not have been able to get service. Because we put our home on top of our mountain, the service is great. There is also capability to get regular phone service to our home, if we chose to do that. And most important to me, Internet is available to my home. If you require good Internet service, you’ll need to check availability before you buy that parcel! Not all areas have access.
We also do get mail, newspaper and package delivery with another caveat. During the winter months, our deliveries are left with a neighbor. So if your driveway will not be easily accessible to USPS, UPS, Fedex and other delivery people, you’ll need to make backup arrangements. We did have some trouble when getting a furniture delivery in the bad weather. After returning to their shop to get chains, the company was able to deliver our furniture, but it took quite a while. (We would definitely recommend this furniture company to everyone! They were amazing!)
Regarding water, septic and electric, we were able to drill a well, hit water with a good flow rate, install electricity and have a septic built with little trouble. That is not to say those items were inexpensive since our home is a distance from the public road, but they were all doable.
So if you are interested in purchasing land or an existing home in rural areas of the Flathead Valley, I’d be happy to make sure you have the information you need to select the property or home that works for you. The same is true if you want to move into a city or town. I’m available to assist with those properties as well. Just call me at 406-270-3667 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Part four of this series will address agriculture and the right to farm. Until then, enjoy!