UPDATE: Where to live in Kentucky?

Last year, I opened this thread. I got a few really great responses. I thank everyone who responded then.

Fast forward to this year. In a month, we are headed to KY to look at “areas” to eventually buy land and settle. Criteria is much the same - Land with approximately 100 acres, some open spaces for horse pastures, good building sites, access to water, utilities, etc. I need to be in driving distance of an airport for my work.

The topic of lifestyle was raised a year ago. I had not considered dry counties then. We once lived in a semi-dry area & it was a bit of a pain. We are not big drinkers, but being able to buy beer, wine, & the occasional bottle of tequila is nice.

On the topic of budget, there are so many variables. I realize that the areas around Lexington that fit this category are in the millions. :eek: I don’t have that kind of cash.

I believe we can swing a couple hundred thousand for the land itself. We expect the land to be vacant when we buy it (although having some kind of structure on it would reduce the cost of improvements later - unless, of course, we have to tear it down). We expect the buildings will likely come when we eventually sell our current house in Michigan a decade from now. Existing fencing of a pasture or two might be a bonus as well as that can be expensive when you have to do it.

So - any more recommendations where to look?

Well, here’s a link to all the wet counties.

Of the wet counties that don’t border Lexington:

Boone, Kenton and Campbell are all near Cincinnati, some areas may be reasonable.

Gallatin should have some affordable areas, but not a lot of flat parcels.

Harrison is OK, but again pretty hilly.

Nelson County is one I would definitely investigate. Real Estate used to be very reasonable there, and Bardstown is one of the nicer towns in the state. Plus it’s an easy trip to Louisville and not too far from Lexington.

I’m not familiar enough with the other counties to comment.

Shoot me an e-mail–I might know of such a parcel.

What do you consider “driving distance”? Anything like you describe within an hour of Lexington or Louisville is going to be pricey, but go out a couple of hours and you might be in luck.

Your best bet might be what I consider “Near Eastern Kentucky”–Powell, Wolfe, Lee, Estill, Jackson Counties and thereabouts. This is where I grew up, and there is plenty of relatively flat/gently hilly land. When you get any further to the southeast than, say, Breathitt County, you’re in the mountains and empty flat parcels of land are hard to come by.

Don’t forget that your airport doesn’t have to be in KY. The bottom end of I-75, around London and Corbin, would put you pretty close to Knoxville, and the area around Bowling Green is fairly close to Nashville.

Email sent.

Might be rough doing a couple hour drive a few times a week. I do not need the airport to be Lexington or Louisville, though.

Either of those are fine with me.

That is precisely the kind of advice I was looking for. Thanks. I know little of the “liveable” aspects of Kentucky. In fact, I am not 100% sold that Kentucky is the location. It started off being “Tennesee”, but the cost of living seemed higher there. Soem have suggested southern Indiana. That is a possibility as well. Mainly, we are looking for lower cost of living, availability of affordable land to support my wife’s horse farm desire, warmer winters than Michigan, and ability for me to still be a consultant that has to fly out once or twice each week.

We’re considering leaving Lexington and moving to Southern Indiana, just out of Louisville. Schools are important to us, so we’re looking at the Floyd’s Knobs area, but you could investigate Harrison County IN which is the next one to the west and possibly cheaper. You drop down the hill on I-64, cross the bridge into KY, get on the Watterson Expressway (I-264), and you’re at the airport.

… see? I tried to warn you! :slight_smile: I agree that dry counties are a pain in the butt.

You also might want to look at Anderson County KY (Lawrenceburg), which is growing pretty fast but is still much more affordable than, say, Woodford.

Pretty good advice in term of land costs, but with apologies to the good Doctor I would really make sure I was comfortable with that area culturally before buying a big hunk of land. And those counties are all on the wrong side of Lexington to be handy to the airport.

The Doctor can accuse me of being a Lexington snob now.

Also, thanks to Southwest Airlines, Louisville is usually WAY cheaper to fly out of than either Lexington or Cincinnati. Cincinnati now has the highest average airfares of any major airport in the USA. . You might want to keep this in mind if airfares are important to you.

Thanks. Finding parcels of 100 acres in Southern Indiana is proving to be a challenge. Know of any sites to look at?

Yeah, the schools are probably not as big a concern for us. We are not makinga move until the youngest graduates from HS in about 9 years. This is an investment in the future for u.s

I do like that part!

Amen, brother!

I am not seeing parcels on teh “land and farm” web sites in this area, though.

Can you expand on that comment regarding being “comfortable culturally”? I mean are there 3 headed goats or something?

That part is a problem. I am seeing land in other Lexington areas that are closer to that airport, though.

Being from Detroit, I generally fly NWA (when they fly), but my allegiance can be changed. My company & clients pick up the tab for my airfare, so I am generally more concerned with getting places when I need to get there instead of flying on the cheap.

I meant to thank you for that. Very useful!

Good insight. Thanks!

I appreciate the response!

Southeastern Kentucky, roughly the area east of I-75 and south of I-64, is about as poor and rural as it gets. The area has been hit hard in recent years, with a big downturn in economic opportunity (especially in the areas that were more dependent on tobacco than coal) and out-of-control prescription drug abuse. I really can’t overemphasize how pervasive the drug problem is. I laugh whenever people talk about living “in a little town where I don’t have to lock my doors at night”; I worry a lot more about locking my doors here than I did in Lexington or Greensboro.

All that said, I don’t think it’s that radically different from living in any rural area. It’s poor, conservative, religious, and years behind when it comes to feminism and racial and sexual tolerance, but those things are going to be true to some extent just about anywhere you go.

My mom was born & raised in Barbourville and it’s painfully poor. I was always shocked at how my grandmother’s neighbors lived, how many members of the same family squeezed into a rundown, beat-up trailer with paper bags over the hole in my cousin Rachel’s bedroom wall.
Nothing good could come of an outsider buying a large parcel of land in that area, IMHO, as folks are so poor they rob their own family in broad daylight. My uncle boght my grandmother’s land from her estate after she died and wound up w/ a kicked-in front door and death threat from his neice and her husband; they wanted a bigger cut of the inheritance and thought they could intimidate more out of him. Now he carries a pistol on him.
I grew up in Oakland County, Michigan from age 8 to 35, so I’ve seen where you’re at and I’ve seen what you’d be up against. There wasn’t a 911 system the last time I was there, even.

Unfortunately, no. But I haven’t been scouting out land, and I’ve restricted my searching to Floyd County thus far. Sorry.

We’re looking at that area because of a potential job transfer, btw… it’s not that we don’t like Lexington.

I appreciate and agee with DoctorJ’s and Nawth Chucka’s responses on this. I expect that DoctorJ is someone much to be admired, since he has chosen to practice medicine in the area he describes.

Where? I can provide local perspective on areas around here if you’d like.

Lexington is Delta country, but many other airlines come in here. There are even nonstops to NYC and DC from here.

Among the towns in which we have seen parcels listed:

  • Carlisle
  • West Liberty
  • Cynthiana
  • Harrodsburg
  • Stanton
  • Frenchburg
  • Richmond
  • Lancaster
  • Flemingsburg
  • McKee
  • Irvine

Thoughts? Areas to stay away from?

Carlisle - I don’t know the town, but it’s wet and not too far from LEX.
West Liberty - 90 minutes (at best) to LEX airport, dry county.
Cynthiana - Worth looking into. Rather rural, but not as impoverished as SE KY.
Harrodsburg - Mercer County is mostly dry, but is very convenient to LEX airport. Lots of history in the area, and close (10 miles) to Danville / Centre College.
Stanton - See DoctorJ’s note re SE KY.
Frenchburg - I don’t know well enough to respond, but Menifee County is impoverished and dry.
Richmond - Worth looking into. Growing quickly, getting wetter, not too far to LEX.
Lancaster - Mixed bag. Garrard County is dry, and Lancaster’s downtown is pretty dead. 10 miles from Danville, which helps (IMHO). Not too far from LEX airport, provided you angle NW on Route 169 from Nicholasvlle to get to it.
Flemingsburg - I don’t know well enough to respond. A little far from the airport, but not as bad as West Liberty. Dry county.
McKee and Irvine - These towns are both in counties that DoctorJ mentioned - Jackson and Estill, respectively. Hopefully he’ll weigh in with more info. Both counties are dry. US 421 out of McKee is a difficult drive, and I wouldn’t think you could get to the LEX airport in under an hour from either.

Hope this helps.

Richmond-I love that place. Like the above poster said, it’s growing. It’s a college town, though, so keep that in mind. (Go Colonels!)

Oh, and Eastern Kentucky is the hell-hole that some of the above posters have made it out to be. Yeah, it’s got it’s problems but what town doesn’t? I personally haven’t locked my door in my 27 years and have never been the victim of any crime. Just my two cents.

Thanks. I grew up in Flint, MI and would hate to retire to the kind of lifestyle I left behind - key in/out deadbolts, loaded weapons at the ready, alarms, etc. :eek:

Bowling Green is much smaller than Louisville and Lexington, but it might be worth looking into. Bowling Green itself is wet, and is a bit over an hour from Nashville. (Mapquest says it’s an hour twelve minutes from generic Bowling Green to the Nashville airport). It’s a pretty nice town. The surrounding area is just as rural as the eastern counties mentioned above, but it’s not as poor. I suspect you’d probably be able to get a good deal in this part of the state. Nowhere near the mountains. It is cave country, though.

For the cons: The area isn’t as pretty as that between Louisville and Lexington in the spring, or eastern KY in the fall, but it’s still nice. The surrounding counties are pretty much all dry. It’s not a big city. You’d have to go to Nashville for a real airport. There isn’t that much to do (but it seems to be growing).

If you want to check it out, Bowling Green is in Warren County. The town of Franklin in Simpson County would put you closer to Nashville, but still just 20-30 minutes from Bowling Green. All of the other counties in the area that I’m really familiar with would put you further from the airport.

I agree with the folks above who suggested the Richmond and Bardstown areas. I have spent some time in eastern KY, but I haven’t lived there. Jackson, Estill, and Lee counties (all mentioned above) do not strike me as very culturally different from the rest of rural KY. Other eastern counties and towns are different, but I don’t know about any of the others named. Rural areas are culturally different from Louisville and Lexington, and the cities definitely have different feels. You may need to figure out if you’d rather be nearer Lexington or Louisville, or between them.

I wrote a long response to this; I don’t know what happened to it.

You’re right, it’s not a hell hole–I like living here, not that my above comments really reflect that. :slight_smile: But we do have issues, some that come naturally with being a poor rural area and others unique to our setting.

I don’t feel the least bit unsafe around here, but I know way too many stories about desparate people looking to fund their drug habits to leave my doors unlocked.

This is one of the prettiest areas of the state, IMO, and it’s very convenient. I imagine it would be relatively expensive.

There isn’t much in Stanton (except the drive-in!), but it’s not more than an hour from LEX. It’s also close to Natural Bridge and the Red River Gorge, which are awesome if you like to hike.

This is probably one of the fastest-growing counties in the state. I’m guessing that a farm of the size you’re talking about would be expensive as all hell. Richmond and Berea are both nice towns, though.

I commuted there from Lexington for a month a few years back; IIRC, it was about an hour. Nice area.

McKee is in the middle of nowhere, and at least 90 minutes from LEX. Irvine, on the other hand, is a decent-sized town on its own, twenty minutes from Richmond, and not more than an hour from LEX.

I really don’t think the wet/dry thing is a very big deal. Most people learn to maintain a stash.

I would recommend Henry County. Very rural, I’m sure you’d have no trouble finding several 100+ acre tracts to choose from. I’m not sure whether the entire county’s wet, but I know that at least one of the towns is. Depending on where in the county you locate, anywhere from 30 - 45 minutes to SDF, possibly an hour to 90 minutes to CVG.

While you look there, also check western Oldham County. The west part, which borders Jefferson County (Louisville) is probably too pricey, but the eastern part (all of the LaGrange area, straight south to Shelby County) might be better. Not completely wet, but close enough to Louisville so it might not matter.

I’ll throw out New Kent County, VA just for giggles.

I live there and farm parcels can be had. You’re within 20 minutes of downtown Richmond and 15 minutes from Richmond International Airport. You also have the only pari-mutuel horse racing track in the state, so horses are encouraged.

Unless you’re wed to KY.

Not wed to KY - the theory is that land in parcels of 100 acres is going to be more affordable there than in most areas with similar climates, etc.