I wanted to take a few minutes to share some of my thoughts on what to look for when you decide to start looking for a piece of land on which to start your homestead. There are several things that will either make or break your success.
One thing I would pay more attention to the next time we start a project is to determine which government I would be under. I have found that there are some local, regional and national government systems that are very overbearing in regards to what they will let you do with YOUR land and others that are much more easy going and less restrictive. I would want to find an area that is less restrictive. Lower taxes would be nice too. It would be even better if the property prices were low too. A bit of research can help identify places where these conditions exist.
Personally, I would also look into the weather patterns of an area that I was interested in. I believe that agriculture is important in a sustainable homestead, so you want to make sure the weather is going to be favorable to facilitate a reasonable growing season. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have the perfect climate, just one that works. Also make sure it’s a climate that works for you. If you don’t like humidity, don’t settle for an area that is humid. If you don’t like snow, don’t go there. Really do your homework in this area, because once you are invested and building, it’s going to be hard to change course.
I think that another very important consideration is the availability of water. Water can come from several sources. A good well is great, all the better if the property that you are considering has a well in place so you don’t have to roll the dice. At least be in an area that has good wells around. A river or stream can also serve as a good source of water, as long as they are year around. You may have to filter this water for drinking purposes to ensure health safety. A spring can also give you a good source; just check to make sure of the quality and quantity.
While we are talking about water, another aspect of water supply is the presence of various minerals within the water as well as the hardness or softness of the water. Some water sources we have seen have so much iron present that it actually turns white clothing brown. Talking to the local people and well drillers will help you uncover any problems and their possible solutions – or at least help make up your mind that the area is not for you.
Some people buy land that they have to haul water to, but I think this makes things much more expensive in the long run and takes a lot of time to keep things going. I would strongly discourage this as an option. I have a friend that has information on collecting water out of the air through a device you can buy, but this again seems to be expensive and brings one more uncertainty into the equation.
Since I am partial to staying off grid, I would recommend that the land you are considering has some good southern exposure for solar panels. Make sure that you have shading from trees accounted for. Recently while I was in Australia, I learned that you want northern exposure when you are south of the equator. Since some of you are reading this from other countries than the USA, I thought I’d better throw that information in.
It is good to have land that is not in a flood plain where high water becomes a problem if not outright threat to life and property. Our property is sloped and has enough elevation above the valley floor that any flood will not be a problem. The slope on our property also gave us the advantage of building our underground home by digging into the side of the hill. At times I wish we had a little less slope for some of our visitors that have walking issues. You will need to balance out the slope so that it fits your situation. At least make sure you consider the slope before you make your final decision. Even if you have a flat piece of land, you can still do an underground home by bringing the surrounding earth up over the containers. I mention this in the book : Off Grid and Underground – Book Order Just make sure you maintain good drainage.
The price is also going to affect where you buy your land. It’s amazing how the same piece of land is going to cost vastly different depending on the location. This is another area where research will help you out. A couple of good realtors in different areas could also assist you in making a good find.
Soil conditions and varmints are also something you want to consider but are not necessarily a deal breaker. The use of technologies such as aquaponics or hydroponics can neutralize many of these issues. I give some links to some of these sources in the book as well. The stability of the soil is another part of the soil condition. The amount of rocks and rock layers should also be a part of the soil considerations. Some rocks can be good and the right depth of rock layer can be good, but some of these conditions can be deal breakers as well. Talk to some of the local people and find out what the challenges are.
If you are going to be off grid but still want to have some form of communication, one idea is to be within a cell phone tower range. We are in range (barely) and so we are able to have phone and computer access while remaining fairly remote. Sometimes we have to go to that certain spot on the property to make a call, but at least we have the communication. Other people have regular days they go into town to do their communication stuff. You just need to decide what level you want and keep that under consideration as you search for your homestead.
I hope this gives you some ideas to work with and consider as you begin your search for that little bit of heaven you can call home.