A lot of people are considering homesteading as a primary lifestyle and if you are thinking about it yourself then one of the first things you have to decide on is the land you will purchase to build your home.
Finding land can be difficult but it is not impossible and even finding a good piece of land that you can afford is something most of us can do.
For many people the ability to build on your own is going to be the most important thing. In almost all areas you can do most of the work yourself as a home owner that is building their own home but in some areas permits and inspections can be very difficult. A good way to find out if the area you are considering is hard on inspections is to call a few civil engineers or architects in the area. Even if they are a few hundred miles away they will be aware of projects in your area and they can give you some guidance. This can be really important because if you are near a county or township line and you can purchase land just a few miles away and save yourself a lot of headaches and cost then you are more likely to be successful.
Now at no time will I ever recommend that anyone build a home that isn’t code compliant but codes are normally nationwide standards. The International Code is what most jurisdictions use and you should use those code guides whether you are required to have permitting and inspections for your work or if you don’t. The reason is the safety and health of you and your family and your ability to sell your property if you ever want to sell it in the future.
The next thing you want to really consider is what type of services are in your area. Although we would all like to be hundreds of miles from our nearest neighbor but still have access to shopping, Hospitals and Support Systems you just can’t have both. This is why you have to pick your location wisely. Personally I would stay away from any incorporated areas like towns of any size. Although you might think that big cities can rule your life you haven’t lived in a small town where they may restrict your ability to buy Electric, Water, Cable and other services or install your own septic system on your property even if your land is large enough to support it. They may also have zoning restrictions that limit your use of the land.
Finding a Larger town with the stores you like and the support systems like schools and hospitals if you are in need of that and then finding the outskirts of that area is normally best.
Property Taxes are another reason to stay out of incorporated areas. Although most property taxes are set at the county level you have to understand everything that comes along with it. You might not only have costs for schools but also sewers and water and road improvements. You can also end up having things like Fire Service added into your property tax payments. If you are homesteading you are doing it because you want the freedom to manage and do these things on your own. This is why you really need to understand Jurisdictions and requirements for your area and compare them to other local areas.
Improved Roads are a real issue for many of us. Although we don’t want a six lane highway running in front of our homes it is important to have roads that are taken care of so you can get to town in the winter or so the kids can attend school if you aren’t homeschooling.
Access to broadband internet and Cell Phone Towers. If you are in a rural location this can be a make or break situation if you are working from home. For most of us there will only be one wired provider if that. For the rest of us we will be looking at Wireless or Satellite Internet.
Television Broadcast Access is also a big thing for entertainment. Although you may not be able to get cable most locations can get Antenna and Dish reception. Dish is almost Guaranteed but Antenna is free and even if you are at a long distance to your nearest towers you can normally still pickup a few stations for news and weather alerts. Radio is also going to be your friend and I purchased a portable radio with USB ports so I can listen to music or other content around the property without trying to struggle to get a station from the city.
There are many other considerations when picking a piece of land such as the type of weather in the area and sometimes just a couple hundred miles can make a huge difference. Other things may be important to you such as open improved fields so you aren’t breaking new land or maybe you want a stream on or near your property.
Everyone’s personal choices are different and there are a lot of great choices out there. In our other How Tos we will look at some of the other issues in Homesteading and in home building.