Horse House Hunters – Episode 5

In May we also looked at 4 properties in New Hampshire. New Hampshire was our last choice of states. It’s great for having no income tax – which would certainly save us a lot of money – and having larger cities for stores, culture, and potential friends. However, It’s not as pretty as Vermont and not as nice as the Portland, Maine area. Also, while I don’t enjoy paying taxes, I am not entirely opposed to taxes as I do enjoy the things that taxes pay for like roads and schools and – in a perfect world – healthcare. In New Hampshire, we were primarily interested in properties that already had equestrian facilities and ideally a boarding facility.

House #1

3 bedroom, 2 bathroom 1800s house that needed some work. A boarding stable with 22 stalls across two barns, a 60’x120′ indoor arena, and larger, nicer outdoor arena. Only 17.5 acres, which is small for that many horses. The best part about this property was it’s location across the street from a large state park with miles of trails. It’s such a popular park, that people come from all around to ride and camp there. I asked someone who lives in NH and owns horses where she goes to ride and she mentioned this park. The current owner even rents stalls to people who want to camp and ride in the park. It’s also a profitable boarding facility. Located within about 20-30 minutes of some larger cities (Concord and Manchester), but really in the middle of nowhere. There’s no real town and driving in and out we saw a lot of trailer parks. $750k.

House #2

A 24 stall boarding facility in horse-friendly area near the first house. Two insulated barns with a heated and mirrored indoor arena, heated lounge and tack rooms, wash stalls, etc. 2 detached barns for hay, and shavings and a small outdoor arena.This property had a lot of income potential with 3 living units: a main house, a basement apartment, and a separate two-story cottage. The houses needed a lot of work. 20 acres but no trail access. The land had been divided into a ton of small paddocks instead of large pastures. All of the paddocks were mud because 10ish acres of the land were wetlands and not usable so 24 horses were stuck in less than 10 acres of land. 750k.

House #3

A Historic 1800’s home with 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms and the potential to convert 2 of the bedrooms and 1 bathroom into an in-law suite (it would require some work to fully convert). The house was fine, but there was a potential structural issue with an attached office/storage space and older barn. The equestrian facilities included a 160’x70′ indoor arena with GGT footing and mirrors and a 20×60 meter outdoor arena. Technically 20+ horse stalls, but 10+ were in the old barn that probably isn’t structurally stable anymore. The main barn attached to the arena was spotless and well cared for and had 10 huge stalls as well as a heated viewing and tack room. Huge fenced pastures with run-ins.  This property had been the a pony club camp and then a boarding facility for years, but now had just the owners 4 personal horses. 40 acres with a few trails on the property, but no connection to a trail network. Walking distance to a cute, little downtown (think coffee shop, diner, library, etc), a 5 minute drive to a grocery store, gas stations, and the highway and only 30 minutes to Concord. $1,250,000
Which house would you choose?

33 thoughts on “Horse House Hunters – Episode 5

  1. Liz

    #1: 20-30 minutes is nothing to get to bigger cities (I travel at least that far now) and totally worth it to be so close to a kickass trail system. Bonus that the facility is already successful for boarding, with the trails so close I could imagine why!

    1. Olivia Post author

      There’s are 3 Targets within 5 miles of me right now. I know I’m giving that up in moving to a more rural area, but I was really hoping to be close to a small town for a store and gas station and then 20-30 to a larger town/city.

  2. Sarah (threechestnuts)

    I like house 3 and walking distance to town is a nice bonus. Some trails but no trail access might be a compromise, but the indoor looked nice. House 1 looked ok and trail access was good but then again would the middle of nowhere be an issue? Choices, choices!

  3. Julia

    #3 is cute but seems overpriced and no trails. #2 you’ll spend way too much time ref-encing and restoring that pasture — and I recommend avoiding this multi-year project if at all possible. I’d go for #1: yipee, trails! And with the intense development push into northern MA/southern NH caused by the Boston market skyrocketing, you’ll probably find that 20-30 minutes of nowhere filling in with houses in the next 5 years. Think of them as boarders. (But, really, keep shopping – I still think there’s something better out there for you!)

    1. Olivia Post author

      We did decide to keep shopping. That part of NH is quite far from Boston so I can’t see it filling in all that soon.

  4. Megan K

    I probably wouldnt go for any of these, tbh… the lack of property for that many horses freaks me out. The last one is the nicest but overpriced I think.

    Side note I am REALLY super enjoying this series!!

    1. Olivia Post author

      I was surprised with seeing so many boarding places on such small acreage. In our area, you can’t have more than 1 horse per acre. You can squish 10 horses into 2 acres if you want to, but you need to own 10 acres. But NH is big on letting you do whatever you want.

    1. Olivia Post author

      We actually really liked #3, but were scared off by the potential structural work that would need to be done. At that price point, the place would need to be perfect.

  5. Stacie Seidman

    Meh, New Hampshire. I like VT better too. I think if I had to pick one, I’d go with the last. I like being near a town, and the horse areas sound like they’re in great shape.

    1. Olivia Post author

      Vermont is so much nicer than NH. It’s crazy though; we ran the numbers and -with taxes included – it would cost us more per month to own an 800k house in VT than a 1.2 million house in NH.

  6. Elizabeth

    While I may have graduated from the University of New Hampshire and loved it, NH would not be my choice to live. And yes, no income or sales tax but the property taxes are outrageous!!! A friend of mine has a smaller farm than I do and pays 4x the amount of property taxes I do! Stick with VT! 😉

    1. Olivia Post author

      We kept hearing this about the property taxes being so high in NH, but none the places were that bad. Vermont property taxes are high too. But I guess I’m just used to being in CA where all the taxes are high.

      1. Elizabeth

        True, I forget you are comparing everything to CA haha. Still we pay $2000/year in property taxes and in NH my friend pays over $8000 and we have more land. I am definitely a frugal (aka cheap!!!) New Englander LOL!

        1. Olivia Post author

          Maybe it was just the specific properties we were looking at, but the property taxes were similar on properties in NH and ME.

  7. fishwithfeet

    Not a fan of any of them but I’d lean toward #1 and maybe limit total boarders to save pasture and create a horse camp so people can come and ride the trails and camp?

  8. reluctant cowgirl

    I think you’re looking at the wrong part of New Hampshire here. The Seacoast/south is where it’s at. I lived there for five years and never saw any sign of infrastructure lacking due to no income tax. They make up for it with high property taxes.

    1. Olivia Post author

      We couldn’t find any properties that interested us in that area. We looked pretty hard too because my brother lives there. I really like Portsmouth too. It’s not just infrastructure. NH has this live free or die motto and the state embodies that. You wanna build a quarry and destroy the environment? Go for it; it’s your property. I like Vermont’s environment protections.

  9. the_everything_pony

    I would lean towards #1 as well. None of them are my favs, but I don’t mind a bit of fixing up. And it isn’t enough land for 22 horses, but who knows maybe you could knock out some of the stall dividers and have maybe 8-10 stalls that are 24×12 and then you only have to worry about boarding 12-14 horses on those 17.5 acres. Then those stalls could get a bit of extra revenue since they’re larger. The indoor is a great size and perfect for the NH weather, and I love the look of the outdoor arena better than the other two places. I can deal with a less-than stellar house and even a not-fancy barn but I care the most about arena size and what I can do with it. I LOVE the aspect of huge park trails nearby, and since the facility is already doing this, you could even keep the 22 stalls and always keep 8 or so stalls open for people who want to use a stall for the day/night to do the trails. I feel there’s more potential and options with #1 than the other two. To me the 20-30 minutes to town is no biggie – I drove that far into town when I worked for a trainer, and just tried to formulate all of my errands so I made 1 trip to town 1x a week or sometimes 2x a week if I REALLY needed something. These all look promising tho!

    1. Olivia Post author

      I know 20-30 mins isn’t that bad in theory, but I’m used to having 3 Targets within a 5 mile drive. I can decide to make cookies at midnight and go buy all the supplies because everything is open and 5 minutes away. I’m open to being 20-30 mins from a real town, but I’d like there to be a general store or gas station/convenience store nearby.

  10. Jamethiel Morse

    I’m located out West and I’m an endurance rider, so I always lean on the side of trail access, also being a person who doesn’t (yet!) have a truck and trailer makes that even more important! Plus if people do come to ride there, a safe place to leave your rig and not worry about parking is worth, say, $5-15 for a day parking fee as extra income. And the older houses tend to be (with a bit of work) better built for New England winters.

    1. Olivia Post author

      I like older houses, but I grew up in one and I know the projects that come with them. I’ve been really careful to examine the basements and foundations and think about how much work is going to have to happen.

  11. Kat

    How close was a trail system to 3? If they cut the price a bit to accommodate the work needed and trails were nearby 20-30min, then id pick that. But none sound like what you want. If I moved to property, it would need to have most my boxes checked.

    1. Olivia Post author

      We floated the idea of them lowering the price given the work that needed to be done and they refused. We could have done an offer with an inspection contingency, but we knew the structure was an issue (you could see if from outside) and if they were that blindly insistent on their price, negotiations weren’t going to go well. I got the sense they didn’t really want to move.

  12. Gina Vergata

    I like number 3, but I would do some adjusting for the work needed to fix or tear down the 2nd barn. The boxes I would have to have checked off are much different than yours. Did I miss a post where you posted your needs/ wants list?

    1. Olivia Post author

      I think I wrote about my checklist a year ago, but we’re looking for 10+ acres, small house, preferably with a barn, pastures, and arena already included. We’re open to looking at houses with property where we could build a barn, pastures, and arena, but the price has to be good. We have different location criteria for the different states (close to Woodstock or Portland, more open to different location in NH, but must be near something).

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