Horse House Hunters – The Grand Finale

In this special episode of Horse House Hunters, we finally pick a house. That’s right: one of these houses is actually ours. In one of the more recent posts, someone commented saying they didn’t know what our search criteria was and I realized I hadn’t gone over that since my posts a year ago.

Hard Requirements

  • Minimum of 10 acres
  • Located in Vermont, New Hampshire, or Maine
    • For Maine, the house needed to be within 20 minutes of Portland
    • For New Hampshire, within 20-30 minutes of a larger town/city like Concord, Manchester, or Hanover/Lebanon.
    • For Vermont we were only interested in properties in the Woodstock area.
  • If not already set up for horses, the land must be able to support equestrian facilities: not impossibly hilly/swampy, not under conservation rules that would prohibit building an indoor, must be easily reachable by a horse trailer, etc
  • Access to high speed internet (this can be hard to find in rural areas)
  • Hardwood floors (or in a price range that would allow us to have them installed). I have sever allergies so this was not a buy it now and work on fixing it up later sort of issue.

Wish List

  • 20 + acres
  • A smaller house – ideally under 3,000 square foot
  • 10 – 20 stall barn
  • Trails or trail access
  • A rental unit: either a cottage or mother in-law that could be rented out
  • Only one project necessary. We were willing to look at properties without existing equestrian facilities, but if we were going to take on the work of building a barn, pastures, and an arena, the house had to be turn-key.


$800,000 to $1,200,000. Just putting in an arena and adding footing would cost around $50,000. Installing an indoor will cost $250,000+. Properties that didn’t already have those features needed to be that much cheaper to accommodate their addition. We got different estimates on the cost of clear cutting forested land (depends on the value of the wood) to make pastures and the price of fencing depends on the fences you want to install, but it’s all expensive.

On the final day of house shopping, I looked at at 5 houses: 2 in New Hampshire and 3 in Vermont. The one Vermont house was an actual nightmare and I’m going to skip it, but the other four were all lovely. This was a day where a lot of the houses had potential. Presented in the order that I visited them.

House #1

This house was like something out of a magazine. Built in 1790 and gorgeously restored and cared for, it was just stunning. One room was an actual library. They had built on to the house over the years and there was a unique wooden cabin sort of sun-room and loft at the back. 120+ acres and only 10 minutes from Hanover/Lebanon and located on a paved road. Some trail access and the ability to put trails in on the huge acreage. No horse facilities and a lot of the land immediately around the house was semi-wetlands. It would require a bit of work to build an arena and pastures because we couldn’t use the lowlands/creek area and would have to build out in the back part of the property, but 120+ acres means tons of property to do so on. There’s no income tax in New Hampshire making properties there much more financially appealing. $785k

House #2

This house had so much character. The original 1835 house had been restored and they had converted the original attached carriage barn into a living room with master suite above. Is there a horse lover here who doesn’t want to live in a converted barn? I certainly do. The property also includes a pond, a sugar shack for making your own maple syrup, some more barns converted into a garage, a mother-in-law suite in the basement that could possibly be converted to a rental. No horse facilities, but 50 acres with huge rolling hills of pasture land and trail access. Located in Woodstock and only about 5-10 minutes from downtown. The only downside was it’s location on a dirt road that divides the property: the house and 5 acres were on one side, the other 45 were across the street. The house sits right on that road and – while the road is at least a dead end – there are houses further up the road so it is travelled. $795k

House #3

This property was all about the barn. The house was actually a bit weird; it’s one giant open space with not a lot of division. I know open concept is trendy, but I actually like rooms; I’m a mess and rooms help hide that disaster. The house is a bit dated and needs some upgrades,ย  but the barn is just gorgeous. It’s a bank barn. I can’t tell you why, but I have always loved bank barns. 6 stalls with a tack room and grooming stall. Acres of fenced pastures with 4 additional run-in stalls. There was an outdoor arena, but the footing needs to be redone. Trails on the property. This one was the furthest from town: 25 minutes to Woodstock, 40 minutes to Hanover/Lebanon. $895k

Which would you pick? Which do you think we picked?

27 thoughts on “Horse House Hunters – The Grand Finale

  1. Teresa

    You’re killing me! All very lovely houses. I would probably eliminate house #2 because of being close to the road (depending on how close). I find that people drive quite fast of back country roads (and you need to factor in ATVs) so it makes it noisy and dangerous for pets. Here some houses are literally 20 feet from the road (or less).

    House 3 seems nice -especially the barn. Is it big enough though for what you want to do in terms of boarding? Can you build the arena close to it? In the winter you don’t want a long trek to the indoor!

    House #1 is my favourite. I love the idea of a library! And that way you can build what you want- even a bank barn ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. M in NC

    Long time reader here … of the three you listed, #3 with the barn.
    Winter is coming and if you plan to get your horses to New England and not worry about boarding, they need a roof over their head. Pastures, trails and between two of the towns you listed meets most of the requirements. If the barn and built out facilities are the priority, you can probably live with the house.

    House #1 sounds like a good choice. Close to the town, plenty of acreage , but no horse facilities. Is it in the budget to board while you build a barn and arena. How far would the barn /arena be from the house?

    House #2, sounds nice. But if you have to build out your barn /facilities across the road, winter weather will make that a challenge to work with, along with security issues since the road is not private.

    Like all your readers, waiting for the big reveal ๐Ÿ™‚

    M in NC

  3. Stacie Seidman

    I don’t have any idea which you picked… But these seem like some of the best options for sure! I like the idea of already having a barn built on #3, but the open floor plan on the house I’m not sure about. My friends live on one of those dirt roads in VT and that wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me. They’re really not busy (not like where I live!) and the dirt roads are well maintained.
    And one sounds so beautiful! I really don’t know how to choose! Can’t wait to hear which you picked!

  4. sarahczspots

    Depending on #2’s layout, the road wouldn’t be an issue for me, especially if you plan to take on boarders since it would keep your house area separate. It’d be easy to put in a little area for watching a sick horse close to the house while keeping the bulk across the road. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think I like #2 the best.

  5. AC

    I pick none, because you said you looked at 5 houses, one was a disaster, and only shared three. So I think you picked the one you haven’t shared yet. Unless I’m way overthinking this and you just had a typo with the numbers. I am kind of curious to see the nightmare house in Vermont though.

    But if I’m overthinking this all, my guess is you went with #3 and are going to re-do the house to add some rooms.

    1. Olivia Post author

      It’s not the 5th house. I had originally written the post with 4 houses, took the one out, and forgot to change my wording there. The 5th house was fine, just not a strong contender.

      1. AC

        Dangit, thought I was on to something! I stick with number three then and you guys are going to slap some walls up. Unless you’re buying house one and three and moving the house from one to the land of three. And since it has a library, I really hope this is the winning idea.

  6. KateRose

    Man I love all of those properties! The acreages we’ve looking at locally are so boring and ugly (and trailer like), all of those houses are gorgeous.

  7. the_everything_pony

    Oh man. It’s between 1 and 3. 1 had pretty much everything you wanted, AND it came under budget (with closing costs but perhaps they could knock a bit off too so I’m thinking it would still be under budget). That would allow you to build whatever barn you wanted – including an attached indoor if that’s something you wanted. 3 is absolutely lovely, and while the house may not be exactly what you wanted, the equestrian facilities are to die for. LOVE that barn.

    So which did you pick? Hmmm….. You didn’t actually show us a 4th farm. One was a mess and you said you looked at 5 houses, but you only showed 3…? So, I’m wondering if the house you picked was one that you DIDN’T share here. You just LOVE teasing us about this house thing don’t you?! haha, well, I’m excited either way to find out what you DID end up buying!

  8. Elizabeth

    This isn’t the grand finale just yet until you tell us hahaha! I really like house #2 but am thinking if you bought that you are planning to board for a while because winter isn’t the easiest time to build. If you are wanting to get into a barn right off, then number #3! No matter what, I hope all moving went smoothly!!

  9. jess

    I’d pick 3 just for the barn. That style is gorgeous. My friends in Barrington, NH have one just like it (maybe not quite so renovated and updated!) and it’s full of so much history and character. God I love New England. I can’t wait to see where you wound up.

  10. martidoll123

    you are still killing me you know? I think you picked # 3 even with the house not what you wanted, the barn sounds lovely and turnkey. OH I CANT WAIT TO HEAR…tho i would love you to live in NH too…sitting on edge of my seat…not a grand finale at ALL I WANT TO KNOW NOW ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Kat

    How many acres was #3, and trail access? That barn would be hard to pass up. The library in #1 is pretty awesome too, and getting to build what you want is neat, but a lot of work since you already have horses in need of a space.

  12. Nicku

    #1 build out the barns how you like and board the ponies until you make it perfect. You canโ€™t beat the benefits of a no income tax state as weโ€™ve found out! Insta-raise!

  13. Shauna

    My guess is House #2, only because you sound so positive in your description of it. Whatever you choose, can’t wait to hear! So exciting. If you are arriving soon, you’ll get to enjoy autumn – the best season New England has to offer ๐Ÿ™‚

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