We did it: we got jobs, moved our family, have a grip of cash and pre-approval from a bank and we are officially looking for land. Thing is...I'm fucking terrified and need some insight from folks with more knowledge!!!
I've been obsessively poring over the market for the past 3 years. To the point where I was telling my realtor about properties she printed out for me to look at: "Oh that one has a moratorium from logging", "That one said it perc'ed for alternative soils", "That one is near Johnny's Corner Market", "That one offers seller financing".... for real. She was shuffling through the public notes and was like, "oh yeah, you're right..."
Like everyone who wants to grow shit, it would be nice to have an acre or two that's pretty level and able to be cleared with decent soil. Trouble is, well...I don't really know what 'decent soil' means! I know I want it to absorb water )ie "not clay") but other than that I have no darn clue.
We've walked dozens of properties. Thing is, when I'm looking at a thicket of totally undeveloped land it's really hard for me to envision anything...sure, some places are more open/easier to clear than others, some may be closer or further away from town...but I actually don't know what I should be looking for when I walk a property.
Walking around doesn't tell me how deep the well needs to be, where the septic can go, where the wetlands are. And that's the stuff I care about: is it flat? Can I clear it with machinery I operate myself? Are there at least 3 completely useable acres for livestock and gardening? How deep are the wells in the area? Will I likely be granted a permit for a well here? How many bedrooms does it perc' for? How wet is it?
Should I just be asking my realtor to help me find this information rather than wasting her time driving around looking at thickets of blackberry bushes all over the island? I can drive to them myself, I just need to know the details about it that are gonna cost me $50k or save me $50k in development.
Are there other things I should be thinking about?
Exciting times! First I would say there is no objective “right answer” here. Each property will have its pluses and minuses, and your role is to sort out which attributes you must have, and which you can compromise on. Is privacy most important? Natural water features? Mature forest? Open grassland? That sort of thing. For example, land clearing can cost upwards of $3,000 per acre or more, so if you know you want/need 3 acres of pasture, a wooded lot will require more time and money to get there. Those sorts of costs can be estimated by checking around with neighbors, land clearing companies, well-drilling companies, etc...
Mostly though, walk the land and see if it speaks to your heart. Then you will know if the sacrifices you will make, financial and through your sweat and blood in developing it, will be worth it. Enjoy!