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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

UNL Extension in Lancaster County

A Place in the Country: The Acreage Owner's Guide

Your Responsibilities

This section discusses your responsibilities in planning for your acreage and as a new neighbor in a rural area.

Know Your Responsibilities Before Buying an Acreage


For many, living on a few acres in a country setting is a new lifestyle. You will be coexisting with new neighbors whose lifestyle and values may differ from yours. Some will be longtime farmers, perhaps established for several generations, whose livelihood is based on production of crops and livestock. At times you may be surrounded by strange farm equipment, noises and odors. To a newcomer this may be alarming; to others it may be a rewarding learning opportunity. Experiencing the changing seasons with spring planting of crops, cattle grazing on green pastures and large machines harvesting mature crops can truly be something to behold. Take time to learn about production agriculture and what is required for our nation's food and fiber system. Try to understand why a farmer must operate his tractor at night, and the management practices used for the production of food.

Know Your Responsibilities

A special place in the country is often a long-awaited dream. For many it communicates freedom, open space, clean air and unique opportunities to enjoy hobbies, nature and quiet living at its best. Making this a reality not only requires a major financial investment, it also requires careful planning and assessment of the existing property or new homesite under consideration.

Assume personal responsibility - time spent on early problem solving and decision making can prevent costly mistakes and unhappiness.

  • Acquaint yourself with the community land use plans and vision for the area; determine how they will fit your goals of land ownership and a place to live.

  • Consider zoning, future traffic patterns, impact of lighting from future developments (air, light and noise pollution) and other situations that may be detrimental to you.

  • Consider natural environmentally sensitive areas that encompass land and water masses that will require particular maintenance and preservation to include land-use restrictions.

  • Determine permit requirements, building setbacks, codes, easements, covenants and other circumstances surrounding your identified property.

  • Enter into land purchases only when your requirements for water, sewage and accessibility are met and contingency is assured.

  • Have an attorney at law represent your interests when considering properties and when signing purchase agreements.

Practice being a good neighbor...take responsibility to maintain the quality of life you and your neighbors desire

  • Establish good neighbor relationships. Practice citizenship, contribute to the community and respect neighboring properties and the rights of others.

  • Respect trespassing laws and inform children about safety issues. Many times neighboring pastures and fields are inviting playgrounds full of potential risks, i.e. frozen ponds, large animals, rough terrain.

  • Assume responsibility for sustaining land, water and environmental quality. Attend educational programs and use resources of Cooperative Extension, the Natural Resources District and Game and Parks Commission.

  • Determine impact to others when you make decisions regarding your property. Examples include planting trees that eventually grow into power lines or create icy road conditions and snowdrifts on public roadways and private driveways.

  • Understand ownership responsibilities for pets, horses and other livestock. Loose animals cause safety concerns and overgrazing of your pastures can bring negative impact to adjoining property.

  • Don't assume that complete freedom exists in the countryside. Shooting firearms, various commercial activities, outdoor collections of vehicles and equipment often are viewed as nuisances distracting from the neighborhood.

  • Acknowledge that expectations for snow removal on public roadways, emergency rescue, fire and law enforcement protection are much different in a country setting. Response times usually are longer due to distance, road conditions, etc.

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Contact Information

University of Nebraska-Lincoln
in Lancaster County
Web site: lancaster.unl.edu
444 Cherrycreek Road, Suite A,
Lincoln, NE 68528
|
402-441-7180

Source: Adapted for Lancaster County, Nebraska from A Place in the Country: The Acreage Owner's Guide (EC97-2506C). If you live in Nebraska and would like to purchase this publication ($1 Retail, 50 cents Wholesale), visit your local Extension office. If you live outside of Nebraska, contact UNL Extension Publications at 402-472-3023.