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Western Massachusetts: Looking for Land  RSS feed

 
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tl;dr Looking for land in Western Massachusetts, here to document and connect.

Hello there, new poster long time browser. A little background about myself:

I’ve reached a point in my life where I am fed up on the dreaming and more than ready to do the living. The past five years have been interesting in some ways, but very stagnant as far as a career. After being back with the parents for a few months I’m ready for some permanent change.

But I’ve also become picky in my twenties and living anything resembling a “city life” no longer appeals to me. Having a piece of land to live on is the dream. For better health, more mindful living, and more lifestyle freedom.(Custom house, cooking over a fire, maintaining a garden, sleeping outside, etc.)

I’ve chosen Western Mass in particular mostly for it’s vicinity to family and opportunities to learn a new trade.
Plus, I’ve lived my whole life in the southeast and am ready to experience some real winters.

The Offer

To anyone and everyone who has extra land in Western Massachusetts that is currently in disuse I am offering to purchase or lease 1-2 acres of your land to live on and homestead. All terms are negotiable, although my funds are and will be limited. Much of the value I provide will be in the cultivation of your property rather than the money I am able to pay.

With this land I would build a tiny home or other small house (depending on our agreement), and begin a modest homestead that aligns as closely with permaculture principles as possible. I have no intention of drastically changing the property. Construction would be limited to a small dirt road, house site, utilities (if needed), and a small outdoor kitchen. Gardening would respect the established flora and fauna.

Generally I am very quiet person at home. Friends may visit from time to time, but I’d like to think I’m a very pleasant neighbor.

And that’s the gist, thank you for reading!

–Evan
 
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Location: Stone Garden Farm Richfield Twp., Ohio
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Before buying land in Mass.

I would check on what they charge in income tax, property tax, inheritance tax, etc.
See what regulations and requirements they have for permits and building.
Check out what you are allowed to do, and not do. Can you open burn (trash), hunt, use an outhouse, keep livestock, etc.
Do they have reduced property taxes for agricultural use (as we do in Ohio).
Are you allowed to sell farm/garden products from your property. With or without permits.
Do they have any sort of Agritourism Law, ~~which in Ohio says that a farmer can't be sued for any injury happening on the farm. A person gets kicked by a horse, run over by a tractor, etc., they can't sue you.
And so on.

There is a huge variety of conditions you must operate under state to state. You might be much better off (or not) in another nearby state.
 
Evan DiBona
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Thanks Jim! I had started to look at those details, but hadn't yet gotten very far. I appreciate the reminder. Honestly I'm pretty dead set on Massachusetts, I'm very sure New Hampshire and Maine would be easier to do this in, but where's the fun in that? In all seriousness though here's the info I compiled using your points as a guide.

Taxes

1    Income a flat 5.1%
2   Property varies by county, averages 1.04% of a property’s assessed fair market value. Which is often $2k/$4k an acre in rural areas without buildings on it.
3   Inheritance An estate valued less that a million $’s does not require an estate tax.
4   Sales, 6.25% on sales and rentals.

Regulations on Building

“[In 2016], a Nantucket resident started pushing for an amendment to the town’s zoning bylaws for residents to start building tiny. The state’s attorney general office is now expected to approve an amendment that would allow new residential construction under 500 square feet in several districts. (Tiny homes would need to included water, septic and electricity hookups and fitted to fixed foundations due to hurricane concerns.) If approved, Nantucket will officially be the first Massachusetts community to approve zoning that specifically allows for tiny houses.” curbed.com

Tiny Homes And Zoning Obstacles

Mobiles homes often have specific restrictions that vary by county and township. Minimum square footage is often 500 – 600 sqft.
Regulations on Activities

   Open Burning “To burn materials in your yard, you need a permit from the local fire department” In most of Massachusetts open burning is allowed from mid-winter to early spring. Densely populated cities have tighter regulations. Must be conducted Jan 15 to May 1, 10am to 4pm, near the source of materials. Burning an old building can land you in jail.
   Outdoor cooking is allowed year-round and not subject to open burning regulations. The cleaner the burn the less likely it is there’ll be problems.
   Hunting separate license for trapping and hunting. Not permitted on Sundays. Hours range from 1⁄2 an hour before sunrise to 1⁄2 an hour after sunset. Decoys are frowned upon, as is using “high technology”. No road hunting, no killing for another person.
   Homestead Exemption $125k-$500k in home equity protection. (In re Shove, Bkrtcy.D.Mass.,2018) “…use of a portion of the property for commercial purposes does not remove the property from the protection of homestead exemption…” This however has nothing to do with taxes and exists to protect the wealth of a homeowner in the case of a lawsuit. Mortgages, taxes, assessments, claims, prior debts, court issed execution, and liens are all exempt from the exemption.
   Raw Milk sales may occur on the farm, milk must be tested for Coliform & other bacteria.
   Laws concerning sales from a homestead aren’t easily found, although they surely exist.
   Small scale agriculture becomes commercial when it excedes 5 acres of occupied land, or 2 acres and $1,000+ of gross sales per acre. Ordinances on the keeping of animals (small scale) will vary, but will often require a permit. The Board of Health and the local town is the body that oversees these permits.

So yeah, there’s significant regulation and lots of potential obstancles. Luckily these are all in the same spirit as many other spots across the country. And by presenting yourself as following these rules and not being ostentatious it may very well be possible to live in a tiny home in a rural area for many months with no issues. Although skirting around the rules is certainly not a long term strategy. Discussing these issues with knowledgeable officials will probably present some solutions, reading the actual laws a few more, and anything else may eventually be remedied in court. It won’t be easy though.
 
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Hey Evan... My family is looking to buy land this Spring in western ma. We are currently in Dartmouth Ma . I want to buy 10 + acres once I sell my house. We are total newbies aside from backyard chickens... We could help each other possibly? I always think about moving to an unknown area not knowing anyone... And with the traveling I plan to do it might be good to have someone to feed the animals while we are out.

Anyway even if that doesn't work out I would love to connect with someone who knows how to navigate these laws here. Ive often thought about moving eay out West bc people seem to have an easier time going off grid... But Ma is home for now.

I want to be able to buy land and live in a yurt or Rv as we slowly build our cabin. I know there's so many loopholes in order to make this possible or do you think we could get away with it if we buy enough land?
 
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