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Strategic Land Purchase (Europe based)

 
Posts: 4
Location: Montpellier, France
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Hello Everyone,

I wanted to throw in a few lines for a discussion, primarily to share my process of inquire and the observations i made into trying to materialise my permaculture dream.
I think many of you here will relate having come across the same conclusions and problems.

The experience is based mainly on the situation in Southern Europe (France, Italy, Portugal) as I think they have similar laws... or differ slightly.
I lived and worked in Oceania (NZ, Australia) but cannot relate to that environment, as laws seem to more relaxed or just different.

My conclusion and observation is personal and your experience / feedback very welcome.
I know however that many of us come across this issues when trying to make the big leap and get their own property started.

a) most of us have no or very limited knowledge about where and how to buy land + housing (you can't build on agricultural land yes some do but it's not my intention)
b) most of us want just to get GOOD, GOOD land and focus less on housing (tiny houses, a camper, a yurt, eventually a building) but this is subject to local regulation and laws (In Italy tiny houses are not allowed, neither composting toilets!!)
c) point b brings you to point c , which throws you in a dilemma between choosing an "average" land option and "mediocre" housing... you basically have to have a roof over your head and sewage system and land that is not overly degraded. Not the ideal solution, rather a compromise i think.  
d) once you have done the "compromised" choice you are left with lots of learning, repairing and hard, hard work, not ideal from a pc point of view!!

The criterias to buy land should be primarily focused on: ACCESS (roads) , WATER , STRUCTURAL POSITIONS, NOT OVERLY PENDENT (Hard work) etc.etc.

The paradox is as following:

Good permaculture land might be available but be agricultural land and you have no permit to build.
In permaculture you want to have your roof and housing around your productive system and live synergetically not "drive to farm" as conventional farmers often do.
So the real estate falls short in that because most people see farm as an extractive process, not a synergetic one.

This is the first dilemma in the real estate we all encounter, more or less - I think.  

Other points worth mentioning:

Land for building permit is not for permaculturist, but rather "I want my villa, pool and some herb garden" while working in the city. basically the focus is more on the House and barely on the surroundings and productivity etc.etc.
-> It makes little sense to buy a land with building permit if you have no good soil or general a lack of good design potential.
-> This land usually is very expensive too, because as mentioned, it is sold for other reasons than to grow regenerative systems.

So land with building permit falls out of OUR equation, as we are not interested in the lifestyle / and cost a priori.
Our priorities are ELSEWHERE, right.

What is left?

Traditional Farms, they are often huge monoculture degraded listings, and hard to convert for the average permie (unless your Joel Salatin LOL).
-> Most of us have not the monies to buy this huge farms let alone manage them with tractors and machineries we do not have. this could work in a cooperative fashion, or if you have farming background, but then again you really need to start from scratch unless your dad was as said a farmer and gifted you lots of tools and skills.

What remains is possibly the only but viable alternative.

You can get a fair amount of land in some remote areas with an old barn, abandoned small farmhouse, country house, and possibly the additional option of buying agricultural land (keep that in mind).
The detail of how land is divided (1 ha forest, 2 ha farmland, 3000m2 bulding) is very important, you don't want forests only, neither farmland. Ideally a mix of both.

This seems to me the best option for a permaculture project here in EUROPE, because:
you can live temporarily in some yurt, tent and even tiny house while renovating the house to its bare minimum while also getting the soil and water - plant systems back in place.

The pros are: for a relative good price you have already standing walls, maybe a roof, windows, or more to renovate (costy yes) but no time pressure! Ironic once you have a house with sewage system you can move in the land, declare to live there while housing in your alternative option (tiny house, container, yurt).  

After lots of thinking and research I decided to move in this direction , as the other options seem very difficult and a burden.
In an ideal scenario I would just focus primarily on GOOD GOOD LAND and live TINY for first YEARS while eventually expanding also House-wise.
BUT Good Land is mostly found in agricultural listings, while Land with building permit is too expensive and not destined for the goal as explained above.  

My next steps will be to

a) Get to know an area by living there for months and study the criterias of properties and regions very well (access, soil, structure, water, sun/shade, latitude, altitude, other key factors)
b) Choose a property on sale with min. of 2-3 ha farm and forest land and a old country house in need to renovate.
c) Once I make the purchase (wish me luck) start to work on the priorities of land regeneration and the housing aspect (i find both important)

The question I would like to throw here for people that have done this steps already:

-What are your greatest regrets once you have purchased property ...
- not enough ha of land?? you focused too much on the house or viceversa not enough on it?
- neighbours?
-How much ha are ideal for you, assuming you had at least purchased 1-2 ha of land ?
-What would you do differently !!

I'm in the process of establishing a project in Central Italy and had to go trough this brainstorming and analysis.
Happy to hear from you if you have valid input and feedback, of course also other global regions apply.

Cheers!



 
pollinator
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Location: Eilean a' Cheo
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Ivan,
I think you've got the right idea generally. I would say your #1 is really worthwhile if you can manage it.  Getting to know the area, the properties, the people and the soil before making a financial commitment is great. You then have contacts, jobs, knowledge to start you off and can move more quickly when the right property becomes available, or even before the owners have thought about selling.
We did something a little similar, but bought first at a distance.  About 2.5 Ha of East sloping sheep field with a 1920s stone 'whitehouse' needing a fair amount of work, but with rose tinted glasses not too bad.  We thought we could do it up at a distance and then move up.  We both had well paid jobs in the automotive industry and were mortgage free (even after buying the property). In retrospect we probably paid too much, but my main regret is not moving here straight away rather than the price we paid. We found not being on site made the improvement process too slow, losing too much time to travelling, so took the decision to relocate after a few months and have not looked back since.
Living in a house while doing it up is not great, and has been much slower than anticipated, partly because the delay meant we lost out on our house price when there was a big fall in values.  We ended up debt free, but without the same income and busy with the local shop we purchased to provide us that income, so time poor too.
I don't think it's possible to have too much land wherever you are, even if it ends up as wild land, although maybe greedy perhaps in parts of Europe.  I still regret it each time a nice field here gets turned into a holiday let, but really have quite enough on my plate here!
Good luck!
 
pollinator
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Location: Denmark 57N
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Ivan Bonafe wrote:

-What are your greatest regrets once you have purchased property ...
- not enough ha of land?? you focused too much on the house or viceversa not enough on it?
- neighbours?
-How much ha are ideal for you, assuming you had at least purchased 1-2 ha of land ?
-What would you do differently !!



I don't like being close to the road, but it's needed to sell things. we have to big a house but when you have a list of criteria that have to be matched then choices often become limited.  The criteria were good and safe access to a well traveled road for a roadside stand, a house of at least 120m2 a barn in reasonable condition at a minimum of 300m2 and a minimum of 1hectare good (read not swamp) land. We ended up with a 250m2 house 900m2 barn and 2.2 hectares, all minimums were met and then some, oh and the bathroom had to have room to put a bath back in very important but still not done!

we are actually inside a village so we have houses all round our land, none of them are closer than 100m to us and most are 200m away.

We have 2.2h of land because the rules WERE when we bought it that you needed 2h to be a farm, they have now changed it and we would need 10h to stay a farm so we have to pay "garden" tax value on the land which makes the tax bill go up 1000% (literally) 2 hectares is to much for us really one would be fine, we rent out 1.2h to someone else who ploughs sows and harvests it for us. and we only use around half the remaining hectare for the house, barn, drive and growing vegetables for us and for sale. I very much think it is possible to have to much land, it is a huge amount of work to look after it, make sure it doesn't become sycamore forest or become wild enough that the state come along and slap a protection order on it (happened to our last house)

I would not do anything differently, though I wish we had a bit more money so we could afford fencing and then could have animals on the field we rent out.
 
Nancy Reading
pollinator
Posts: 217
Location: Eilean a' Cheo
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I was going to add that the quality of the land: depth of soil, aspect, etc. obviously affect how much you need depending on your aspirations for it!
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