There's a lot to consider when you’re looking to start homesteading. Fortunately, there are a lot of great resources out there. Books such as Homesteading: A Backyard Guide and Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills are both great places to start. In this article, I’ll discuss some of the first things you should consider when you want to find and buy a homestead.
Finding the Perfect Location
It’s important to look at many different areas when you are searching for a location for your future homestead.
Laws and Regulations. Different areas offer many different amenities depending on the country, region and specific location. Consider the state and local laws regarding homesteading, hunting, collecting rainwater, raising livestock and owning firearms. It’s important to make sure your homestead is in a location where you will have the freedom to carve out a life without having to worry about too many permits or other laws.
Seasonality. Think about the seasonal changes and natural resources in the location of your future homestead. Will you need to prepare for long winters with below-freezing temperatures and deep snowfall? What kind of rainfall does the area typically get during the growing season? Will you be near a wooded area where game is plentiful?
The answers to these questions will affect the kind of life you can live on your homestead and will have a huge impact on your ability to be self-reliant and sustainable. Homes and land are a great resource to use in your search.
Features. When you're considering whether a land parcel is right for your homestead, ask yourself the following:
• Is there an existing well? If not, how deep are wells in adjacent or nearby properties? And how much does drilling a new well cost in that area?
• Is there an existing road or drive? If not, how much will you have to budget to put one in?
• What kind of ground and soil does the land have?
• How many livestock can the land support per acre?
• If you’re going to be growing your own food, will you need to bring in extra support for irrigation or raised beds?
• Will you need to make any special provisions to deal with local weather events, such as building a storm shelter, windbreaks or the like?
• How far is the homestead from the nearest town? Is it close enough – or far enough away?
• Are there existing structures on the land that you will be able to convert or use as-is?
Set a Budget and Stay Flexible
Once you've selected the ideal location for your homestead, determine the budget you have to work with early in your search, and stick to it – but stay flexible. You may have a preference of a vacant parcel of land, but find that buying a lot with an existing structure is easier in the long run.
Your budget cap should be firm, but your vision of your homestead and your preferred location should be able to change with what is available to you in that budget.
Carefully Consider the Condition of the Property
The degree to which the parcel of land will need work to get it ready to be a working homestead is very important. While a low price can be attractive, you do not want to buy something that is going to need much more than cosmetic fixes or repairs. Otherwise, you may find the costs of owning the land ballooning to much more than the original price.
If you’re thinking seriously about homesteading, chances are you are fairly handy and can be relied upon to do basic fixes yourself – but always keep in mind the costs of doing them when you are negotiating the selling price.
Be sure to get a home inspection if there is an existing structure on the property, and make sure that it doesn’t need major repairs like a new roof or repairs to the foundation.
What did you look for in a homestead? What helpful tips do you have for others that might assist them as they're looking at buying a homestead? Comment below and let them know.