Our Quest for Land

Our Quest for Land

We knew our quest for land would be a challenge. Sometimes, though, when you think you know something will be difficult, you’re still not fully prepared for just how difficult it will actually be. You sort of have an “oh…” moment and, suddenly, you’re extremely discouraged. Looking for the right piece of land was that moment for us.

Before Our Quest Began: Research

Long before selling our house and moving into an RV, we did some preliminary searches online for land in our area. We found several pieces of land that would be amazing; however, we quickly realized those would be out of our price range (without getting a mortgage or incurring unwanted debt). We adjusted our search parameters accordingly and found properties that seemed affordable. So, we thought, “Great! There is property we can afford,” and we quickly drew our focus back to the tasks we we’re currently working on; namely, fixing up and selling the house we owned in the city. (If you want to read about the things we focused on fixing and updating, click here.)

Once we had fully committed to the idea that we we’re going to build a homestead and move towards a more off grid lifestyle, we sold/donated a lot of our stuff, purchased a mid-sized RV and sold our house. We parked the camper at a relatives house in a somewhat rural community and we began our arduous process of finding the land to build our homestead on.

Instantly, a million questions came to mind: How much land do we need? How much land can we afford? What distance away from our “hometown” were we willing to move? How do we go about finding land? Making offers? The more research we did into buying land, the more questions arose: How much does installing utilities cost or, if not utilities, solar/wind energies? What are easements? What’re water/mineral/timber rights? What kind of rules do CC&Rs and HOAs have? (For more information about things to consider before buying land, look here.)

Needless to say, we became somewhat nervous and, though neither of us wavered on our dream to find land, rather discouraged. So we slowed down and took a step back. First, we decided on just how far we would consider moving away from our family in our hometown. This enabled us to have a better idea of how far we could look. Since land wasn’t (and still isn’t) very cheap around our hometown, we decided that we would consider moving within a 2 hour drive from there, where, surprisingly, land is a lot cheaper.

However, that only answered that one question and we had many more left to answer. So, we did more research. Researching the general costs of solar versus installing public power. Looking at water and mineral rights in the areas we were most interested in. Inquiring about the cost of wells and how deep they generally were in those areas. We also researched the cost of septic systems. Through this research, we learned a lot.

We learned we would give priority to land in our price range that had a well and/or septic system already installed, since these things often come with hefty upfront price tags.  We decided we didn’t want to buy property that had any sort of HOA or CC&Rs; granted, these things can be assets for you and your land, most of them limit what you are able to do with the land, which is something we wanted to avoid. If property came with power, great, and if it didn’t we would do solar/wind power right away. In short, we armed ourselves with valuable information that we had not known previously. This allowed us to better understand how much we could spend on the actual land and how much we had to set aside for all these various other things.

Our Quest Begins: Searching for Land

We began searching for land on all of the real estate sites in our area. Since we were working on the goal of only moving within 2 hours of our current residence, which spanned 2 different states, we didn’t worry about finding a real estate agent. We simply contacted the listing agent directly and asked if they could either show us the land or allow us access to see it.

So we began viewing land as often as we could, which, since we work during the week, was mostly weekends. This limited how many parcels we could view in a week. We looked at dozens of parcels; most of the time they would have an issue we didn’t want to deal with. Sometimes an easement, or wetlands, or a lack of trees. So we just continued looking, trying to keep our heads up and stay positive about the dwindling list of prospective parcels.

Alongside the real estate sites we scoured, we also kept our eye on Craigslist as well. As our list of prospective properties dwindled further, we found a woman selling her parent’s property, so we emailed her. She got back to us instantly and sounded like she was optimistic about working with us. She sent us a link to the actual listing and we went out and viewed the property. It was somewhat smaller than we had hoped for, but it had so much we wanted as well; enshrouded by trees, it already had a well and a small dry cabin.

So we got our own agent and made an offer, which was promptly rejected. So we countered and were able to reach an agreement. We did our due diligence, which, amongst other things, included having the water tested and looking into the cost of installing a septic system. The water came back okay, but the septic system came with a larger price tag than we had planned, so we were able to talk them back down to just above our initial offer. We closed on the property shortly thereafter.

Buying land was definitely  a learning experience; one that is hard to grasp until you actually attempt to purchase land. Although it was a somewhat difficult process, we couldn’t be happier with what we have found and what we will create. To find out more about the land we are building our homestead on, check here.

Are you looking for land to build a homestead on? Did you just buy or have you owned land for awhile? We would love to hear from you about your journey or answer any question you may have about the process of finding land. Comment below or click here to contact us!

 

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