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What it's Like to Live on a Family Compound

Posted by Tiffany Wilson on November 3, 2017

The Franklin family shares their story of living on a family compound on rural acreage in Hilliard, Florida.

HILLIARD, Florida--When Suzanne Franklin takes a walk down her road, she’s rarely alone for long.

Her brother may give her a holler, or one of his kids will come roaring up alongside her on an ATV. Her daughter and granddaughter may step in and join the walk, and best of all her 78-year-old mama will insist she stop for a chat when she comes her way.

That’s the beauty of living on a multi-family compound, and on this piece of heaven, it’s all family.

Suzanne grew up a city girl in Jacksonville, Florida, about 30 minutes south of her home today. But when her father decided to buy some land for a farm in Nassau County, FL, the whole family followed. (Rethink:Rural's parent company, Raydient Places + Properties, owns and sells acreage in the same general area. Explore available Nassau County land.)

“Our daughter and her husband live just across the hay field, my older brother and his wife live here, my mom lives just down the road and my youngest brother lives next door to her. So it’s a family affair,” Suzanne says.

Altogether, the family owns about 500 acres in this charming country community, and they hope this land is their family’s for generations to come.


While her home with her husband Ken, her high school sweetheart, is on just over an acre and a half of land, the Franklins -- and all of the family -- enjoy the benefit of access to all 500 acres. Ken uses one portion of the land as his own personal gun range. The children have trails for their ATVs, golf carts and Gators. Suzanne’s brother raises livestock and grows hay on the land, and her mother maintains a huge garden the whole family benefits from.

The land would be good for hunting, but the Franklins prefer enjoying the view of the deer, turkey, rabbits, hogs and squirrels they share the family complex with. They do their hunting elsewhere.

The large canvas of land has allowed the property to grow with the families. After marrying at age 18, the Franklins started out in a small mobile home on the property. Ken installed a pool and built a pool house. Next, he built a large barn, with plans to build their house next. But the barn was so spacious and beautiful that Suzanne, a professional decorator, saw its potential. They turned the barn into their home, and it quickly became a hub for social events for both their family and their church. At one point, they even had a basketball court inside.

How to Buy Land in Nassau County

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Thanks to their natural talents, Suzanne eventually opened Zan’s Bazzar, a favorite local boutique that is a hair salon, tanning salon, clothing store and home decor store, all rolled into one. At the same time, word spread about Ken’s building skills and he went from building Shaker furniture to building porches to building houses with his own construction company, Franklin Homes.

But the best part of their days is still the end, when they return to their home and their family. The Franklins said they couldn’t imagine a life away from their family complex.

“There’s nothing like country life,” Suzanne says.

Do you want to start living on a communal property? Learn how in our article, How to Start Your Own Multi-Family Compound.

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Tiffany Wilson

The former editor of Rethink:Rural, Tiffany Wilson has been passionate about writing - and country life - since childhood. She grew up in a log house in the hills of a small town in Upstate New York. She previously worked as a newspaper reporter and hospital communications coordinator. Today, she lives with her husband and children in Yulee, Florida.

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