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Are you ready to leave the rat-race and live off the land? If so, where would you start? Buying land can be overwhelming and it’s hard to consider all the aspects. Here are 8 things to look for when buying homestead property.
8 Things to Look for When Buying Homestead Property
We lived by the coast on a small piece of paradise for over twenty years. When we decided to expand our homestead and property lines, we knew we would have to move out of the area. For almost two years we searched for the perfect place to begin our new journey and we learned a lot along the way. I am very thankful for my homesteading community that helped to guide us in making our decision. There are so many things to consider other than price, I would have never known where to start if it wasn’t for them.
#1 The Laws
You may find the perfect piece of land for your homestead, but if you can’t farm on it or raise livestock legally, then what good will it be? When choosing a location, check the local and state laws to see whether or not there are certain restrictions put in place for the area you’re looking to buy in.
Make sure you get it in writing. If a neighbor tells you ‘you don’t need building permits around here,’ contact the local building and zoning department to verify that.
It is illegal in some states/cities to sell raw milk, collect rainwater, and even eggs. Make sure to check and double check the laws for the area where you want to move to so that you can homestead on the land you are wanting to buy. In addition, if the land is located within a community, they may have their own laws forbidding certain things that the city says is allowable. HOA’s and POA’s override county laws in many circumstances.
We looked at buying ten acres in a development only to find out it was against their laws to have chickens and other livestock. Even though the county said it was legal, the development itself had laws against it.
Unfortunately, many rural areas are inundated with poverty and illegal drugs. Often vacant land is used by those with no regards to the laws and take advantage of other’s property. This may be of no concern if you plan on fencing your land and are able to provide security. However, if you have children or can’t afford to protect your property 24/7, the local crime rate will be something to look into.
In addition to the crime rate, make sure you check the local sex offender registry. If you have children, you may not want a child sex offender living next door.
What is the weather like for where you want to move? Do they have long winters or summers? How long is the growing season? Is the area prone to natural disasters?
When I lived out west we experienced a lot of earthquakes and had long dry periods, but you could grow pretty much year round. The polar opposite of that was when I lived in Michigan. Long winters, shorter growing seasons, tornadoes, and humidity. In addition to tornadoes and earthquakes, we lived on the east coast the last 20 years where we dealt with hurricanes, flooding, sandy soil, and high heat with humidity.
Have you thought about what your family will do for income once you move? Will you be transferring your job? If so, how far will you have to drive for work? If you want to make a living off of the land, will the local economy support that business? These are things I took into great consideration when looking for our new homestead. If we want to raise chickens and sell eggs, will there be a market for it? Or does everyone sell eggs and the market is over saturated?
If you want to start a B&B, will your land be in a area that people want to vacation to? If you work online, can you get a reliable internet connection?
My grandparent’s built (and bought) their home decades ago. Unfortunately, the property taxes have increased so much over the years that they can no longer afford them. Their house and land is paid for, but the taxes are forcing them to lose their home.
In addition to local property tax, what are the state taxes where you want to live? Where we just moved to they don’t have a state income tax, however, the sales tax is 4% higher than where we used to live.
Do you have children that are school-age? Will you homeschool, or will they attend a private/public school? In addition to finding out about the school rankings, curriculum, and policies, don’t forget to see if they accept vaccination exemptions.
How far will you have to drive, or will your kids ride the bus?
You can find most demographics on any town or city in the United States by searching the zip code. With just a little research you can find out if an area is culturally diverse, its population, average income, age of residents and more.
You may want solitude and privacy, but we all need community. I’ve heard from many people over the years that they bought their dream land in a not so dreamy community. Sometimes tight-knit small towns don’t take kindly to outsiders moving in.
Before you move into a new area, spend some time there. Visit the local diner, the churches, parks or the coffee shop. Talk with the locals and get a feel for the townsfolk. Meet your future neighbors and work on building future relationships.
There is so much that goes into looking for a homestead property beyond price and size.