Searching for the picture-perfect homestead land can be exhausting… And, it can end up not being so picture-perfect but can be perfect nevertheless.
Brianna, the kids, and I had been searching for months for the right place for our homestead.
In our minds, it had to be clear, have a creak, or pond(s), or some other water source.
And lastly, it needed a small house.
The property we found and fell in love with was fully wooded, except maybe 4 acres, it had no fences. But it had a barn. It also had a house; it was not small and needed to be updated to this decade.
The house had running water and electricity that is about it.
But we loved it, and for the house and land, it was within our price range and had the amount of land we wanted.
Our Tips On What to Look For and How to Find Homestead Land
In our journey, we have found some tips (through struggle) to help you decide what you can look for so that it is not so stressful.
The Right Price
You want to make sure that your land and homestead are not overpriced.
You want to be able to enjoy your purchase and not have the doom and gloom of a huge debt hanging over your head.
Look for foreclosed homes or land that has been on the market for a while.
Don not be scared to negotiate a price. The Piece of land we bought was on the market for seven months. We countered four times before the seller agreed.
Some states offer free land if you are willing to move to a town or state that may be struggling to keep residents. Be aware this land usually comes with a clause or two on what you can or can not do.
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You need a water source.
Do you have a water source, river, stream, pond, or groundwater?
Digging a well can get expensive fast, depending on where you live—research this in-depth before jumping on a property.
You can not homestead on a dry chunk of property. You do not want to have to rely on a company delivering water to your homestead. What happens if the vehicle breaks or there is another pandemic stopping everything.
You nor your animals will survive without water.
We use and recommend a combination of watering methods.
Catching rainwater ( if you are allowed in your state) can be used for your garden or animals. We have used ours for flowers for years. Clean water-catching devices and gutters work well for rain.
City and or county water is also a plus.
Access to the Land
Here are some questions to ask yourself about the property you’re looking at:
- Is it landlocked?
- If so, will you need an easement?
- Is the easement built into the deed?
- Are you in a state that has snow?
- Will, there be snowplows to clean your road, or will you have to?
- Do you have a gravel road that leads to the property?
- Will the county grade the road and fix washouts?
- Do you have a tractor with a box blade and a bucket can solve some of these problems?
- Will the City, County, or State allow you to clear or fix the roads yourself?
All of these questions need to be answered when you are getting ready to purchase any plot of land that you’re wanting to use as a homestead.
Is your land zoned for livestock?
If you want to have livestock and use your land to the fullest then you will need to check if there are any zoning considerations.
You can ask the realtor or contact the county courthouse for specifics.
We recommend using your relator in this case, they should be knowledgeable enough to answer your questions or be able to figure them out and let you know.
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Planting Zone and Animal Unit Measure
What do you want to do with your property?
Are you going to grow vegetables, livestock, both?
By understanding your planting zone, you will know when the best time to plant is, and what plants grow in your area. The USDA has an interactive map you can use for information regarding your state and zone.
Depending on your land, you may not be able to have all the livestock you want. Animal Unit Mesure is a formula that helps homesteaders, farmers, and ranchers determine how many animals can be supported.
Your local country extension office can help you determine your AUM.
If you exceed your AUM, you will have to submental feed your livestock, which will cut into your profits.
Farmers Markets and Sale Barns
How close to a farmers market or sale barn are you?
Will you have to drive hours and hours just to sell your product?
Our homestead is about 30-45 minutes from the sale barn and the local farmers market.
You will want to measure out the distance from each location and determine how far you are willing to drive.
Can you combine your trips together? Can you take your pigs to market, turn around and sell your honey and vegetables at the farmers market?
By combining trips, you will save gas and time. We do recommend, However, washing the trailer out and having clean clothes, so you do not smell like the Farm while selling your other products.
State and local laws should be read through and understood thoroughly before selling food goods to the public.
We would like to think everyone is honest and looing to buy high-quality, farm-fresh items. Unfourtently, in this day and age, people are quick to sue or blast you out on social media even if you are completely innocent.
Powering Your Homestead
In our case, we have electricity with the hope that one day we can have a complete solar home.
We have heard the horror stories of how much solar can be, or it doesn’t always work. If solar is the plan, we recommend researching this in-depth.
Solar panels also need batteries; these batteries will need to be replaced. When looking at all your options, compare and contrast the pros and cons.
Solar can be a lot more expensive than you expected.
Wind and water power are other options when looking at your homestead site.
Maybe a combination of one or more methods.
Survey Your Property
You need need need a survey. If the survey is a year or two old, you may feel comfortable with not needing a new one.
When you are negotiating the purchase of your homestead, try and add the survey into the contract.
Shop around; we called five crews until we found a price that we were happy with.
Explain specifically what you want and remove the fluff. One company was wanting to survey and make the price higher than it should have been.
By having a survey, you will know where your lines are so you can build your fences, barn, or plant your garden, and not have to have a boundary dispute.
How close is the Fire Department, police, and hospital?
In most rural towns, you may only have a volunteer reaction force. By not having a full-time fire department or police force:
- your insurance will be higher
- you may have a hard time getting them to your property
- the response time will be longer
- you may be stuck fighting your own fire or keeping an intruder at bay
We recommend having emergency supplies on hand in case things go sideways. A reliable water hose(s) for fires and reliable firearms for protection.
With firearms, you need to know how to use them and take time to learn the weapon and your state laws.
Medical emergencies happen. How far is the hospital? Map out a route, the time before emergencies have a plan beforehand.
How Many Acres Do You Want or Need?
This question can only be answered by you and your significant other.
My wife and I decided that we wanted at least 5 acres, up to whatever we could comfortably afford.
Before you buy, you will need to have a plan for what type of homestead you are about to start. By answering this, you can have a general idea about how much land you will need.
There are many homesteads that have only a few acres. My grandparents’ homestead is on 3.5 acres and they’ve been there for decades.
Those 3.5 acres provided enough vegetables for their needs and many other members of the family.
So, don’t balk at the smaller units of land. With some work, you will be surprised at how much it will produce.
Is It Wooded or Cleared?
The land we found had 3/4 acres of it was covered in pine trees.
We decided that we could clear cut or thin the pines, this would accomplish two things.
Provide some cash to help pay off the land, build a barn, or build fences
We could decide where we wanted the land to be cleared and make it our own
We could use the wood for our projects by renting a portable sawmill.
Once You Find Your Homestead Land
After you’ve found the land you’re wanting to buy is when the fun begins!
Start dreaming and planning how you’ll get your homestead to pay for itself so you can eventually go full-time.
Few ideas to think about for making money with your homestead:
- You can sell animals
- Or sell produce
- Try selling crafts
- Maybe start selling jams and jellies
- Or even selling soap
We hope this guide is helpful to you!