Choosing land to buy is the most important decision you'll ever make for your homestead. Location, weather, terrain and so much more will determine your success for years to come.
What should I look for when buying land to homestead on? This all depends on what you're doing, your location and how much you have to spend. Someone homesteading in Florida may have different expectations than someone in Iowa, so while this list is long, it isn't all-inclusive.
Here's some things to look for when buying land to homestead on:
This one is probably the most important. Not only will you need water to drink, cook, clean and shower with, but your animals are going to need a lot of it, too. This is why a running water source, pond, lake, well or significant amount of rain(for rainwater collection) is important.
If your goal isn't to be off-grid, but is to be in a rural area, check with the local water department before buying. Give them the exact coordinates and ask if they will service your land. If they don't offer city water, you'll need to factor this into your decision.
If rainwater collection is on your radar, this is especially important. Observing drought patterns and 100-year rainfall patterns can let you identify the area's rainwater collection potential. This is also important for streams, creeks and ponds on properties. Will they dry up in the summertime, leaving you without a water source?
Knowing how much rain to expect is important, but learning what kind of weather to expect important before buying, too! Is the land in tornado alley? Do they receive significant crop-damaging winds or hail? Is there a possibility of a hurricane hitting the area? This can change the game plan, completely!
Grass and Pasture Management
I can't stress this enough if you're moving to a new area. One of my biggest shocks when moving from Georgia to Texas was the difference in grass. Gone were the days of my horses staying fat on daytime grass, even in the winter. After our move to Texas, I had to turn them out 24/7, feed them several round bales of hay a month and expensive feed just to keep them at a healthy weight. Also, I had to implement more pasture management than ever before.
Research what others are doing to manage pasture in the area where your homestead is. Ask questions! What kind of weed management is needed? How often will you need to feed hay? What kind of grass is native to the area? These are all important questions!
In some areas of the country, trees are prone to disease, beetles and other infestations. An infestation is something that can happen after moving there, but that's something that you'll need to factor into your decision making.
Topography and Terrain
Is the land on the side of a mountain? What about in the bottom of a valley? Do either of these make a difference to you? Can a septic tank be added?
What about building? Will you need to bring in heavy equipment to drill or lift into the area? Bulldozers? If you own this equipment, that might not be a big deal. Renting it is a different story, though!
A site to build a home, barn or shop is important. Sites can built or cleared, but that requires money, skill, time and equipment. This is an important consideration!
Local Laws and Codes
What are the local zoning laws and codes? This is especially important for homesteaders, as many cities don't allow farm animals. That means no chickens or milk cows! There are even places that restrict the building of tiny homes, rainwater collection or even gardening. I'm looking at you, H.O.A.
In some places, it's a law that houses need to be connected to the grid. Obviously this conflicts with off-grid plans. Check other laws concerning your lifestyle, like homeschooling regulations and raw milk laws.
Even if you're going off-grid, you may still want internet. What services are available nearby? Will you need to have water hauled in?
How far is the hardware store? The farmer's market? Gas stations? Hospitals? How hard will it be to find a job off of the homestead if need be? Location, location, location!
The land you pick to homestead on is arguably the most important decision you'll ever make. It's important to find land that you can work with, meets your needs, budget and lifestyle. Research and more research will help you make the best decision for your future homestead!
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