House Hunters


Ding dong, Ben and Kristin are at the door! ;)

Since we recently decided we’d like to build our own dream home in the country someday, Ben and I spent the entire afternoon house lot hunting!

Before we left I made a big glass of fresh Strawberry Orange Juice for the ride.


Ummm, it was basically the greatest thing ever!!!


3 oranges and 5 strawberries, juiced up with my Jack LaLanne Power Juicer.


Thick, sweet and SO REFRESHING!


I could seriously start every single morning with this concoction. It was magical. :)


A’ight, let’s roll!

We set out with no plan except to just start driving.

The search led us to acreages next to corn fields,

and lots tucked into wooded areas off of dusty gravel roads.

One lot was SO enticing, that we had to get out of the car and explore a little on foot.

(which my flippy-floppied feet were a tad ill prepared for! ;) )

It was so beautiful and remarkably quiet except for the sounds of the birds and the bugs. Heaven. :)

It also came complete with a pond! Fun!

Alas, this 27 acre lot is priced at $450,000 – which is a little out of our price range…just a little. ;) 

I was actually shocked at all the lots and acreages we found for sale.

It’s very encouraging from a buyer’s perspective!

A couple of hours into our search, we headed back to civilization to grab a late lunch at Wok in Motion. It was weird coming from peaceful country roads into the madness of Saturday afternoon traffic. Almost too much stimulation!

At any rate, fluffy, insanely delicious Chicken Fried Rice was devoured, then it was back to the car. 

Driving around today kind of put the whole "living in the country" lifestyle into perspective.

Yeah, it’d be awesome to have so much land and trees all to yourself, 

But there is something to be said for paved streets, a grocery store 2 minutes away and the ability to just go for a run around the neighborhood, which would be difficult on rural, gravel roads.

Still, I think it’s what we both want.

If/when we find a lot that’s perfect for us, we most likely won’t start building for another 2-4 years while we save some money.

Driving around today got us even MORE excited for the future though! :D

Well last night’s Sangria on the back porch turned into going out for a friend’s birthday, and Ben and I are totally wiped. I think I hear a big glass of ice water and DVD calling my name!

Have a great night!


Could you live far away from the gym and grocery store in the country, or would it be too hard to give up the convenience of urban life?

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  1. RunEatRepeat 07.23.2011

    Doesn’t matter if it’s food or scenery, your pictures are always gorgeous!

  2. girliefriend 07.23.2011

    The further away from urban madness, the better!

    • Nicole G 07.24.2011

      I agree with you completely! The husband and I both work in law enforcement in a busy, urban area and right now, we happen to live in that city too. Not ideal to live among those you arrest ;) We are in the process of trying to sell our house for the 3rd year in a row! Definitley not a seller’s market! We will be builing a new home about 35 minutes from our work in a rural-ish area but in a subdivision. We are sooo excited for peace and quiet, and nice neighbors and good schools! I used to think I would hate living far away from stores, etc but as I get older, I think it sounds lovely!!!

  3. Francesca 07.23.2011

    Our move to the country was a huge adjustment for me…more than I ever imagined. I love the quiet serenity but definitely had to get used to be away from everything. I do more grocery shopping in my sweaty workout clothes since I refuse to make multiple trips “into town”. I am much more organized in meal planning and errand running. Just like everything, there are pros and cons. Good luck on your search!

  4. Miranda 07.23.2011

    We spend many a day driving around in the country, dreaming of the future!

  5. Rachelle 07.23.2011

    Move west of Jordan Creek Town Center Mall. You have the country and are 5-10 minutes from EVERYTHING! We love it – peaceful country plus convenience to stores, gyms, malls, movies, everything! :)

  6. ktlovespie 07.23.2011

    I would love love love to live in the country! I just moved from a fairly quiet town (not quite a “middle of no where place but still rural) to something more residential and I don’t love it as much as I love rolling hills and green grass and the sounds of birds. All I hear are cars and air conditioners now :-(

  7. You guys will HAVE to build a baseball field if you end up buying near cornfields. If you build it, they will come :)

    • heather 07.23.2011

      loving this, lol!

  8. Anna 07.23.2011

    Gah the IA countryside is so gorgeous, rolling and green. I am originally from IL but think your state is better :) I’m also trying to figure out what urban/rural balance works for me. And don’t discount those gravel roads; running in the country is amazing!!! (you just have to keep your wits about you for dogs/cars/being alone)

    • anna 07.24.2011

      I agree – I’ve lived in both the city (Des Moines) and the country (rural southern Iowa) and I prefer running in the country. Do keep your ears and eyes open at all times (either way, of course).

      Prefer LIVING in the city though. I’m too much of a people person to be out in the boonies all the time, though it is nice to visit.

  9. Ashley 07.23.2011

    The country life is SOOO pretty, but I’m such a city girl. I know nothing else but living close to everything and right now, that convenience outweighs the country living. My mom and dad bought a piece of land (about 3 acres) about 5 years ago and it’s not too far out but still seems like it’s in the country. Unfortunately, my Dad passed away right before he retired (2008) and the land is just sitting there until my Mom decides what to do with it.

  10. Morgan 07.23.2011

    Living in a small town or rural setting is my dream….someday, fingers crossed!

  11. jean 07.23.2011

    We did this last summer. We moved 30 minutes from my favorite spots:) but it is nice. A little hard to get used to but I agree with Francesca – I wear my workout clothes everywhere. But we found a nice quiet neighborhood with a few houses (not many) , I run around a small lake where we can go boating , paved roads, one grocery store in the small town. I do like it , just takes a little time to adjust to the drive (and gas prices) Go for it!!

  12. Brindi 07.23.2011

    I grew up in the country and I love it….I’d love to live there again.

  13. Teresa 07.23.2011

    I grew up on a farm and loved it. My husband & I are both farm kids, so it’s been an adjustment living in town with neighbors on all sides. But when I went to college, I got a taste for city life, and now I miss the conveniences. I live in a rural Iowa town now, and I have to drive 20 to 30 minutes to the grocery store, Wal-Mart and work. I hate the commute and would love to live where you are in WDM close to work and grocery stores — and Asian restaurants! Oh, how I miss Asian restaurants. And movie theaters! Really think it over before making a decision about moving to the country. You’ll have to deal with all kinds of things you don’t have to now — like all-day lawn mowing, septic tanks, wildlife (including bats & snakes!), snowplowing your driveway to get to work and landscaping. We all know how you like landscaping :)

  14. bs 07.23.2011

    i lived about 25 miles “in the country” away from the small city for 2 years – while it was in the high dessert and there was a wild beauty about it (nothing like wild horses hanging around your 5 acre lot & glow in the dark scorpions on your front porch), I hated being so far from civilization and wound up back in the city where everything is 2 min away – much prefer city although country is nice to visit

  15. kEndra 07.23.2011

    My brother and I would busy ourselves for HOURS upon endless hours while growing up in the country – I do miss it and am glad I grew up that way. While it was always a treat to get to go to town for things, I’m glad I was able to play in the creek, build forts, climb trees, and not have to worry about anyone seeing you for miles. :)

  16. Paige 07.23.2011

    Speaking from experience (I grew up on an Iowa farm), living in the country is a giant inconvenience. I lived 30 minutes from a Hy-Vee, Wal-Mart, etc, and it was 15 minutes to the closest (tiny, poorly-equipped) gym, my high school, etc. SO, while it’s beautiful and extremely peaceful, it is definitely something you want to make sure you are prepared to live with. It can also be a little isolating in the Iowa winters – since most of the roads are gravel and don’t get plowed as quickly and they are a little dangerous to drive on. Don’t mistake me for a Debbie Downer, it was an extremely unique life experience to grow up on a farm, and I value it – just weigh your pros and cons carefully! Good luck. :)

    Also it kind of makes me sad about how many lots you saw for sale! Des Moines has EXPLODED into the countryside in the past ten years, and to see all those lots for sale probably means that the family farmers who own them are struggling financially. :(

  17. jen 07.23.2011

    i grew up in a ridiculously small town where the closest real grocery store was 40 mins away and the nearest mall was over an hour away. since leaving and going to college 11 years ago in a real city i could never go back to anything that far out of the way. however, now that we have started a family, i’d love to find a quiet area within a 10 min drive of a city.

  18. heather 07.23.2011

    i can’t imagine living in the country(i’ll be honest, i can barely imagine leaving the east coast)! your photos *are* lovely though. i can imagine you enjoying my part of the northeast, actually–there’re mountain ranges and new york city(and the jersey shore, complete with or without a snooki)are all at most within an hour’s drive. i think the corn is better where you are, though. :)

  19. I think I could do it- although I love the convenience of a town nearby. I think I love having a garden and some land more :) Good luck with the land hunt! I’m sure there’s an area that’s perfect for y’all!

  20. Carolyn B. 07.23.2011

    I grew up in a tiny town of <5,000 people, and I can't imagine having grown up any other way. It took us 10 minutes just to get to the grocery store, gas station, and church! The mall and Target were 20-30 minutes, and I don't even know where TJ's was! My parents and younger brothers recently moved to a house in the suburbs of Charlotte (I refer to our neighborhood as Stepford), and it's so freakin convenient to be <5 minutes from the grocery store, movie theater, mall, TJ's restaurants galore, etc. Personally, I just moved to Chicago, and I'm absolutely loving the urban life. I know my retirement home a loooong time from now will be in the mountains though, it would be good to have a quiet escape with an absolutely gorgeous view!

  21. The Iowa Expat 07.23.2011

    I loved the country but the mice in the fall–ew!! Living next to a cornfield does have certain risks…

  22. Hannah 07.23.2011

    Hi Kristin. I read your blog every day and enjoy it very much! I actually live on the Navajo Indian Reservation in the middle of the desert. The closest grocery store is a two-hour drive away. I would say the biggest adjustment for me was learning how to plan so far in advance. I only go to town (shopping, bank, post office, etc…) once every three weeks, so I have to have three weeks of food planned out. And running on dirt roads is actually really nice! Your ankles just need time to get used to it. I hope you and Ben can eventually live out your dream of country living! Thanks for sharing your life with us.

  23. Rachel 07.23.2011

    Having grown up in the ‘burbs & then moved to a small town, I went through serious culture shock. We have a Wal-Mart in town, and a decent Hy-Vee, but that’s it. If I want to go to a decent restaurant or Target or any clothing store besides JC Penney’s or Maurices, I have to drive an hour north or South to either Watertown or Sioux Falls. Which, given the crappy state of SD roads in winter, I don’t do. It still sometimes feels like I’m stuck in the middle of nowhere, but I don’t think I could move even farther away from everything. That being said, my husband’s going through this phase where he wants to move to some patch of land out in Wyoming or Montana, and live “off the grid” one day, so who knows! :)

  24. Amy 07.23.2011

    I grew up on a farm 10 miles from the nearest town (less than 2,000 people) and honestly, I wouldn’t go back. Ever. Yes, it was fun when I was a kid to play with my sister all day long all over and my mom didn’t have to worry much about us getting run over/kidnapped, etc., but once I hit about 12 or so it was really isolating for me and annoying for my parents. My friends in town could just walk a few blocks and see their friends and catch up over the summer, whereas until I could drive, I had to have scheduled times to see them. Also, as my sis and I got involved in stuff in school, the multiple trips in and out also were bad on the parents. Plus, we had to drive 30 minutes to the nearest grocery store/Walmart and 45 mins – 1 hr. to the nearest mall, Target, city area.

    I also agree with Teresa – don’t forget about all the extras that come with country life, such as rural water and electricity, roads that don’t get plowed as quickly as the city, lots of landscaping/lawn mowing/maintenance, etc. Plus don’t forget that if you move to the country, you’ll likely end up in a different school district (not DSM or WDSM) and you’ll have a huge commute.

    Yes, I’m Debbie Downer. I lived in Iowa City during college, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Orlando for internships, a town of around 8,000, one around 2,000 and now in WDM. When we move again, I’ll cry. I love the city. The country is great to visit and look at, but I definitely do not want to live there for any extended period of time.

    I’d say not to let your country drives take you too far out. . . maybe look for something that’s only 15-20 minutes tops into the city. I couldn’t tell from your posts, but are you looking for something in a “small town” or do you want to stay in the DSM area? Good luck with your hunting, that is very exciting – even if I wouldn’t want to live out in the country again ;) !

  25. Cindy 07.23.2011

    Matt and I spent three years looking for a house/acreage. We looked at things we loved and things we didn’t so we knew exactly what we wanted. An acre wooded lot with an 80s contemporary house set off a street you can’t park cars all over.

    We thought our standards were too high but nope. We got exactly what we wanted, and even got a water view out of the deal. That last bit wasn’t on the list but it sure has been nice watching the herons wading back there.

    I’m marveling that you can get 27 acres for $450,000! That’s what we paid for our acre (with a house) here in central MD! The property alone is 300,000. Man alive, I would love 27 acres.

    We are fortunately unique in that our house is surrounded by hundreds of acres of protected woodland/wetlands, yet we are still close to grocery stores, the gym, a few restaurants, etc. Personally, I would have loved to move out to the country to have open roads as far as the eye can see but our lifestyle, and Matt’s business, don’t afford that.

    Keep hunting, girlfriend, you’ll find the right thing when the time is right for you guys.

  26. I think country living is fantastic, but you have to be at a certain place in life. I think you need to be “set in your ways” or at least confident in who you are…. not being defined by the world (shopping, stores, gyms, people) around you. I don’t know if that makes sense, but I know for me, I wouldn’t be prepared to move to the country just yet. I’m loving being in the city, trying new things, and meeting new people. I’m still defining who I am.

  27. Jaci 07.23.2011

    You guys should go out to the Home Show Expo in Altoona to get some ideas!

  28. Randall 07.24.2011

    I grew up in the country so I love living “in town” as an adult. My husband grew up “in town” (very, very small Iowa town) but now his parents live in the country. He’d love to live in the middle of no where but at this point, I just don’t think I could stand it!

  29. Madison M 07.24.2011

    There’s something to be said about the Iowa countryside. It’s beautiful! And actually, running in the country is awesome! Since a quick run around any particular section is a built-in four miles. Makes it much easier to map your runs – sans computer to tell you how far you went. :) Hope you find something perfect!

  30. Margaret 07.24.2011

    We were thinking along the lines you were and realized we liked city conveniences. We ended up finding an in-town acreage so we have more space (almost 2 acres) but live less than a mile from life in WDM.

  31. karenc 07.24.2011

    Oh, I’ve been there, done that…love the country, the peacefulness- its great but I’m a generation older and the commute and gas to and from work got to be too much (those icy mornings on I35 all winter- did not enjoy! Ha!) – would have loved to live in the country but close to DSM, but the land close by was so expensive – had to move at least 45 min. away to afford the land! Look for something close and you can have the best of 2 worlds! Best of luck – you will love it tho, I am sure!

  32. Jessie 07.24.2011

    We live on 7 acres about 2 miles from a small town. It’s close enough that if you need something from the grocery store you can run in, but far enough away that you have the country life. I love it! We have fruit trees, a huge garden, raspberries, blueberries and grapes. Someday I will have a nice deck to enjoy my coffee on while looking out at the cornfields (which are great to have with kids, once the combines and tractors come around they go out for rides all day long)! Good luck on your search!

  33. Diana Amy 07.24.2011

    I’ve thought about this for YEARS – growing up we used to make the drive from St. Louis to Cincinnati to visit family there and I always fantasized about living in one of the farmhouses in Illinois/Indiana. In college I worked at a camp in Maine and loved being secluded in the wilderness and running on backroads (dirt roads are better on your joints, after all!) Now I live in Manhattan and dream of the day when I can have a big piece of country land for myself!

  34. Tracy 07.24.2011

    As enticing as country living is, I think it would be hard on my kids not having other kids on the block to play with everyday. Summers off school could get a little long and boring. Something to think about!

  35. jad18 07.24.2011

    I think I would like living in the country three of the four seasons of the year. In the season that shall not be named I think it would be isolated and even a bit scary to be out in the country. Then again I am a bit wimpy and love having neighbors who help with snow blowing, etc. I hope you and ben find what ypu are looking for.

  36. How neat! I’m loving the walkability to stores, gyms, restaurants etc that I now have since I just moved to Dallas, but I can totally see myself loving the peaceful countryside when I’m married. Good luck!!

  37. Ellen 07.24.2011

    I grew up west of Jordan Creek. As the years went by the less “country” it was out here. We still have the feel of the quiet of having more space, but are 5 minutes from everything we would want in the city. Congrats on starting the land hunt. Enjoy!

  38. Lauren 07.24.2011

    I grew up in rural Iowa and hope to someday live in the country again. I’ve since lived in NYC, Chicago, Cincinnati, and presently, MSP, but nothing really compares to the ease of life in the country. “Simple life, happy life” is my motto!

    Also, running on gravel roads is GREAT! It’s easy to track your distance, there’s always lots to see, and everyone waves and honks on their way by. I find the miles fly by much easier in the country.

    Thanks for the post full of Iowa countryside photos. I really believe it is the most beautiful place in the world!

  39. Dream Mom 07.24.2011

    It’s always been my dream to live in the country. I love looking out over all of that greenery. I’d love to grow my own organic food. I’d build an eco friendly home but it would be loaded with traditional southern style: 5 inch baseboards, wood floors, a nice wide porch. It would be decorated is soft, muted colors and have pretty drapes that would blow in the breeze. I’d probably hang my wash on the line in back (probably after the first time I did this, I’d think it was too much work, lol) so the sheets would smell really fresh. I’d definitely grow a cutting garden (it’s a large flower garden where you grow a ton so you can have as many cut/fresh flowers in your home). I’d name the place of course because all good country homes would have a name. I’d have farm fresh eggs and fresh raw milk from a nearby organic farm and I might even decide to get a cow for my own raw milk and maybe a chicken or two. Not sure if I’d really go that far since I’d be scared to really milk a cow, lol. (I almost bought shares of a cow last year and they said we had to milk the cow for our own milk. I quickly sent her an email and asked if I really had to do that (this would be known as a deal breaker, lol) and she said that for a fee they had people that would do that. Ah, country dreams.

    That being said, I would like a big city to be a few hours away in case I wanted a taste of the big city.

    We did have some friends that built their own home in a country area. Later they built a barn and had goats. It was the coolest home-he built some furniture and she’d make all of the quilts for the beds and pillows for the rocking chair. They’d save their money for the larger furniture pieces or they’d always be saving for something, like paving their mile long drive. Winters required a snow plow to clear the road. Overall, it was quite lovely and still is one of my favorite homes.

  40. Nicole 07.24.2011

    Country life….all the way. Growing up on a farm for 18+ years, it has put a big dislike of city living in my blood. Sure, I lived in a bigger Iowa ‘city’ (Ames) while in college, but currently live in a small town.
    But at the farm, the nearest civilized small town is about 10 minutes away, while the shopping towns are about 20-30 minutes away. You learn to plan shopping trips/grocery runs once a week/every other week. Well, that is if you don’t work in town I guess.
    Something to keep in mind…Iowa winters. Yes, there will be times where you are snowed in and without power. Be sure you have a small tractor/big lawn mower that can move snow. And maybe even a generator as well. Rural homes are usually some of the last to get power back during outages.
    Oh, if I could move to the country today, I would totally do it.
    Have fun dreaming and planning!

  41. Bridget 07.24.2011

    Great pictures! I’m a city girl (Chicago born and raised) who married a farm boy (town of 35 people….yes, you read that correctly!) We now live in a town of approx 3,000 people and LOVE IT! Great to raise our kids and isolated as heck. We live just south of “town” and have 5+ acres which allows us space, peace, a garden, chickens, cats, a dog and a horse. It’s pure Iowa heaven. You just have to plan those Target trips well and shop online. :)

  42. Cristy 07.24.2011

    Shop online! Shop at a bulk food place (BJ’s, Costco)–plan it carefully and you’ll be all set. Make sure you have a huge pantry and lots of storage in a cool basement in your dream home where you can put a chest freezer and perhaps a second fridge. I’ve done both: city and country living, and really, country living is da bomb. My RPM’s just go way up and my blood pressure takes a spike in the city (where we live now) on a regular basis. It’s tough when you have kids, as you (and they) are somewhat isolated from friends if you live on a 25 acre lot, BUT it’s such a wholesome place to raise a child!!! If you can deal with the social aspect of living in the country, the country gets my vote. :)

  43. Melanie 07.24.2011

    I grew up in the country and hated it. None of my friends would ever come visit. We were too far out in the middle of nowhere. :-(

  44. Amy 07.24.2011

    The land and scenery looks absolutely gorgeous, I can understand wanting to have some of it all to yourself :)
    I’m a city girl myself but the peace and quiet of the country is definitely appealing some times!

  45. Jess 07.24.2011

    I live in a very rural area of Iowa, in a small town. I am 15 mins from a Wal-Mart, and 60 mins from a Target and mall. I love it. I know everyone where I live, and everyone helps each other out. I would like to live out on an acre or so like I did growing up some day.

  46. I think I could deal with being farther away from stuff. My boyfriend lives in the middle of nowhere and I love it. It really feels like getting away to go home:)

  47. Melissa 07.25.2011

    I grew up in San Francisco and moved to the midwest suburbs with my family in high school, so I’ve experienced a little of both. I couldn’t live downtown but also couldn’t live in a rural area. I live in the center of the city but in a quiet, residential, urban neighborhood. I might enterntain the idea of moving further out someday, but right now I like our “urban suburbia” as we like to call it quite a bit. To each their own :)

    Beautiful pictures and I hope you find exactly what you are looking for!

  48. Prairie Princess 07.25.2011

    It kinda looks like you were lot hunting in my neck of the woods…literally. Van Meter area? Anyway, I grew up a city girl but then met and fell in love with a country farm boy who’d never lived in the confines of a town or neighborhood in all his life and who told me before he proposed that he wanted to be with me forever but I should know that he could never EVER live in town. So I of course moved to the country, for love, you understand. And I don’t regret it for a second. In fact, I get it as I don’t think I could ever live with neighbors or streetlights or traffic noise again. I love it. I work in town so I make sure to make any errand stops on my lunch or on my way home so that once I’m home on the range, I’m there for the night. Also, I don’t think there’s any better place in the world to raise kids than in the country. I think our kids would agree. Good luck!

  49. So exciting! The land looks gorgeous!

  50. Your brother and I share a birthday!

    Living in a city, it is hard for me to imagine living far from any stores, let alone live out of walking distance from a store!

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