My name is Ruben Pares. And have some questions to ask here to all of you, experienced homesteaders.
We are a couple of professionals; my wife a Horticulturist, I am an Architect.
We owned and operate a beautiful piece of land in the outskirts of Havana, Cuba, that we called "our homestead" . The land is roughly a 12 acres plot, 200m above sea level, and is pretty developed with numerous permaculture endeavors.
At this point, and due to a variety of circumstances, most related to the global pandemic and its movement restrictions, we have comeback to USA for a while.
Since these restrictions continue to be in place with no clear timeframe of ending, we want to acquire a piece of land in USA where we can homestead.
We respect realtors and the real estate business, but like to stay out of it if possible. Rather, we would like to buy a piece of land from "someone" that own it, and pay for it with real money. Like in old times, ....sorry to be such and old-timer...
1- A plot of land from owner
2- Ideally, previous farm, but not necessarily
3- Fully wooded, it could be undeveloped.
4- We are open to all continental USA
5- Lot size: open, but preferably 5+ acres
6- Price range: 20K max. Cash deal in exchange for clear deed.
7- IMPORTANT: No HOA, No building restrictions, No assessments. RV, camping, accessory structures, farming, animals, friendly with no restrictions (does these exist in USA or I have to look in Europe...) ?
8- Ideal for permaculture; preferably
Landwatch.com is a useful tool that allows you to search by maximum price, minimum acres, location, type of land, etc. and weeded out locations not to your liking and land not suitable.
Once you get a selection other resources can be helpful for research, for example the National Map allows you to zoom in and nice views of the shape of the terrain, overlays that show wetlands, dykes or dams, watershed documentation, etc.
The USDA Soil Survey, with a not as cool viewer as the previous map, but no less useful showing soil types that reveal all sorts of data on the soil and what lies beneath. It warns that it can be inaccurate when zoomed in, but I’ve found it usually very accurate. They mis-categorize a swampy, somewhat difficult access area that contains bottomless muck as sandy soil, but up the valley they list it correctly. The National map picked up some ephemeral wetlands that are not shown on the soil survey, I suspect through a process that detects water through the tree canopy.
Water is becoming a more and more central aspect of whether a homestead can prosper. Researching weather patterns, prevailing winds and local climate would be an obvious boon to any decision.
The geologic history would be grist for my decision making. While not every hazard can be accounted for or avoided, understanding the topography and any potential for catastrophic flooding is front and center for me. What can look like an Elysian valley can in a hundred year storm (seems more frequent these days) become a raging river carrying away everything in its path. Analyzing the dangers in previously undeveloped areas can be a lot harder than it seems and where local knowledge is your best source.
Many counties list and geo-locate wells (drinking and otherwise) with all sorts of information on how much water it provides, how deep drill, depth to obstruction and the drilling company ID. Unfortunately the quality of the water usually is not noted.
Researching the neighborhood finds that Google Maps is useful for mapping distances to resources. The StreetView feature is great for looking around the neighborhood and in a web browser, (not the app) you can look at older StreetViews (if available) that can show different seasons, etc. Google Earth also is a useful tool with a lot of features in the desktop not available in the app, but even the app can be incredibly useful for things like measuring distances and areas.
Thank you very much for such a valuable information and the time you took to provide it.
I am familiar with some of these tools.
On-line portals like LandWatch.com, in my opinion, are flooded with real estate agencies that use the tool, in many occasions, as bait to increase marketability.
It is common to find properties that are, simply, "to-good-to-be-true". Then, upon inquiry, you will find that "that" listing is "sale pending" and, of course, you are then redirected to many other listings of that agency. This happen very very often, and such incorporates an obvious frustration to the search endeavor leaving a bitter taste about this on-line tool. This is just my personal experience.
Precisely, due to these on-line portals it the reason why I am posting this, with the sole intention of finding "someone" who is actually an owner who wants to sale.
I am very grateful to you for providing this National Map link. Very useful!!!
The issue with water availability is, as you boldly mentioned, of crucial importance when making a buying decision.
Again, James, thank you very much for your reply. It is highly appreciated!!!
John C Daley wrote:you may find yourself with a nasty neighbour!
I went to visit an old shipmate when my job took me close to his home. He growled about his neighbor. First thing he said was he didn't do his due diligence.
When you find property you want on the short list simply call the local cops. They are usually more than happy to tell you where all the meth labs, houses and crackheads are located around your potential property.
If you can't live without that little piece of heaven next to just one little crack head that's over a mile away anyway and he won't bother anything....think again. Crackhead already knows how to get into your dream home. He's stolen from there before. Why do you think it was for sale? He will watch your place like a hawk and steal anything not tied down.
Call the cops? Crackhead has crackheads for friends. He may have been supplying other crackheads and they won't be happy that you've put their crack supplier in jail. You may have to iron up to defend yourself.
These crackheads know the legal system. They've been in it for years. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience. You don't get justice with a legal system...you get a case closed for any technicality, a wrist slap for the offender who will turn and smile at you in court or thrown out because of lack of evidence.
Choose wisely, your dream could become a nightmare..
ETC(SW) US Navy, retired
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