Colorado makes it easy to romanticize a self-sufficient lifestyle. Who doesn't want to work under the beautiful sky every day, experience the changing seasons, and live off your land?
One of the biggest misconceptions about owning farmland in Colorado is that you have to make farming your primary source of income. I recently spoke to a buyer who loved the idea of owning land and starting a small farm, but he didn't know if he'd have the time or expertise to turn a profit, especially outside of his day job. That's where understanding the concept of a hobby farm comes in.
A hobby farm is exactly what it sounds like: a farm you operate for fun, not for profit. The owner or owners of a hobby farm typically have a full-time job or source of income outside of farming. If a hobby farm makes money, that's a bonus.
Also, while not entirely necessary to fit the definition, many hobby farm owners want to create a certain level of self-sufficiency. This might involve raising chickens for farm-fresh eggs or growing a vegetable garden, so you always have organic produce in the fridge. Hobby farming is not to be confused with homesteading, which means having a fully self-sufficient farming operation without the goal of turning a profit.
Keys to Finding a Colorado Hobby Farm
Long story short, if you have a passion for farming and want to explore it in a state as appealing as Colorado, finding a hobby farm for sale is the first step in the right direction. But, before you sign the closing papers, make sure you know the answers to the following questions.
What's Included With The Land?
Negotiating a hobby farm sale in Colorado is more complex than making an offer on a house. You might want the seller to leave some machinery, equipment, fences, or pens in place. Sometimes, if a seller is moving across the country, they might be selling some animals too. Your real estate broker can help you negotiate with the seller to get the most out of your hobby farm purchase.
Is The House in Good Condition?
With a hobby farm purchase, you should always prioritize the condition of the house. If you intend to operate your small farm as a hobby, then you have plenty of time to make improvements to the land. The house, on the other hand, needs to be move-in ready for you and your family. It's easier to build a livestock pen than a home extension.
What Are The Zoning Requirements?
Technically, any farmland for sale that's under 50 acres meets the definition of a hobby farm. However, not all farmland under 50 acres is zoned for agriculture. Research your local bylaws to determine what you can legally do on your hobby farm. Some cities limit the number of animals you can have or your ability to sell extra produce.
What Are Your Water Rights?
Whether you plan to grow crops or raise livestock, you'll need plenty of water to irrigate your land. Find out how many shares of water you own, and make sure you have the ditch rights on your property.
Water rights in Western Colorado are complicated and can make or break your hobby farm. If you want to learn more, check out my blog post, "Understanding Water Rights in Western Colorado."
Do You Want to Start a Colorado Hobby Farm?
When it comes to starting a hobby farm, you have a lot of flexibility. It boils down to whether you have a passion for farming and if a small-scale operation is the best way to achieve your goals.
Next time you're looking at hobby farms for sale in Colorado, keep these considerations in mind. Get in touch with United Country Real Estate Western Land & Lifestyle Properties to find the perfect hobby farm or homestead property on the Western Slope.