By Sara Tipton
Buying raw land for a homestead is risky. It comes with hardships and rewards, but there are ways to avoid some of the more obvious pitfalls right from the get-go.
These are the top mistakes to avoid if you are looking for land to homestead on. When using the amount of money it takes to purchase land, we should all take the time to learn from mistakes others have made. Texas homesteader and YouTube creator, Better Together Life, has put together a video detailing the mistakes many can make when they decide to buy homesteading land.
Mistake #1 – Being TOO far or TOO close to amenities. If you are too close to amenities, you don’t want to have to deal with the chaos that could unfold at grocery stores if the shelves are empty one day. You also don’t want to be too far. If something happens, you will want the option to run to a town and get the things you need. If you have children, they will likely want to participate in activities. Being able to get them there will be beneficial to them.
Mistake #2 – Don’t buy one of the first properties you look at. It can be tempting to just want to get out of the city and leave it all behind, but making a snap judgment without knowing what else is out there or what else could possibly suit your family better could be a big mistake. Personally, when we bought our little homestead property (ours was not raw land, it came with a house and outbuildings) we looked for months and saw close to 20 properties. Nothing felt right. When you get to the right place, you’ll know. Trust your gut instinct and avoid making an emotional decision. When we drove onto the land we have now, we didn’t even have to go in the house to know that this was it. It was what we were looking for.
Mistake #3 – Don’t buy property without trees. Trees have value. If your property doesn’t have trees, sure, you can plant some, but it’ll be decades before they grow into anything. We have added fruit and nut trees, and trees for shade four our duck pond. If you have to take down a tree, you could dry it out and sell it for firewood or burn it yourself. Trees will offer shade and wind protection for your homestead, too. This was a deal-breaker for us. We refused to even look at properties that didn’t have trees on them. It made little sense to want to live a homestead life without a tree in sight to us.
Mistake #4 – Don’t buy a bad investment. Luckily, in most areas, any land is going to appreciate especially in the times we are in, so this is a tough one to screw up. But if you buy a treeless, overpriced, bare piece of land 4 hours away from anything, the chances of it appreciating are slimmer. To avoid this one, make sure you buy something that has been increasing in value. Research the property and look at the values. This can be found on sites like Zillow. This involves having an exit strategy. Make sure you have a way out. If no one wants your property, there will be no escape.
Mistake #5 – Don’t buy a property with a north-facing slope. In our area, these are dark, cold, pieces of land that make growing difficult. The sun won’t shine much on your land. We are at the foot of some mountains, but still in the open except for the trees on our land. Just make sure if there are slopes that you are away from how much sun you will or will not get.
Mistake #6 – Don’t buy any property with ANY government regulations or homeowners associations. This was also our main consideration. You don’t want a mini-tyrant from an HOA telling you what you can do, which animals you can raise, how many outbuildings you have, or what you can park on your own property. We intentionally refused to look at a property with CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions). Most of us choose to homestead so we don’t have to listen to other people tell us what to do and how we are allowed to live our lives.
This video is pretty spot-on and encompasses the thoughts of most people who want that escape from the daily grind. My biggest suggestion is to not let others tell you you can’t homestead. People are shocked when they find out I have ducks, bees, an outdoor garden and a greenhouse. They can’t believe I actually can my own food and store what we grow over winter. They don’t believe that I help cut, split, and stack firewood to keep our house warm. My outward appearance, including my Metallica t-shirts, doesn’t lend to me being a “homesteader.” But we are all different and we can all do it if we want to. Never let anyone talk you out of homesteading or tell you your personality is wrong for it. It’s all about doing, and learning. If I can do it, so can you!