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Land quest issues

 
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Hey guys, I’ve got some cash, very little knowledge about permaculture but a strong desire to learn and grow, and a burning hatred for everything corporate greed and imposed financial scarcity has produced in my country, America. I’ve been searching for a place to make a homestead for 2 years now, and I’m going crazy. I’ll try not to whine, I’ll try to keep it short…

I’ve been trying to stay this far away from these things:
Landfill: 7 miles
Quarry: 3 miles
CAFO: I don’t know; how far does lagoon shit spray/leech/smell? (Aka how does anyone have land in WI?)
monocrop farming: I don’t know; does the pesticide mist cool you off on a hot summer day? /s
Airport: all the way
Small airport: 2 miles (lead in the fuel, I think? I can’t remember)

Each time I find a magical property that isn’t bedded between these toxic waste sites, it’s unfeasible for some other reason (deep in the flooding mountains of Appalachia, poised to be covered in smoke from wildfires, actually going to be on fire soon, etc).

My true, honest, heartfelt question, which has taken me 2 years to drum up the courage to ask is…how the hell do you find a property in this minefield of a country? Do I need to drop my fears? Are they not worth caring about? Do you live next to a CAFO and it’s ok?

What are the REALLY important qualities of a property and what can be compromised?

I know about checking on zoning and all that, which of course is an entirely different obstacle, and an enormous one. But how much am I worrying too much about all these things that no one else (in regular America) seems to care about?

I’m sorry if this question is offensive or ignorant. I need some help. I’m truly at my wits’ end.
 
master pollinator
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I've sort of narrowed it down by climate and topography and affordability,  so I know what area of the country I'd ideally like to be in.   It's still a pretty broad area.  I'm staying as flexible as I can as far as specifics, but that is part of my nature anyway;  I really enjoy seeing if I can make something work creatively.

I've spent some time online looking at meetup,  FB,  etc. to see if certain locations have an online presence for permaculture/ homesteading/etc.   and sort of watched the groups to see if they seem welcoming and helpful.   Northeast TN looks like a promising area.  

I spend time on real estate websites searching whole counties for x acres in x price range and then I look on google earth and other mapping websites to look for privacy,  conventional farming  Right now it's all speculative research,   I've got a year or two I think before this is a move I would be in a position to decide to make for certain.   Looking at places from another state is difficult,  especially if you can't travel much.  

 
master steward
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My property fits all these things that you want to stay away from except one.

At one time there was an airstrip though I have no idea how many years ago it was discontinued. 30 years ago, maybe more.  Probably only used for a small plane during hunting season.

Come to West Texas.  My property is not in West Texas though I am only a few miles away.

The land here is very expensive, not like it was 10 years ago when I was looking.

Best wishes for your land search.
 
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I have been in the land search for almost 10 years, ever since I got my PDC and I have looked all over the country in person and online.  Right now I'm in West NC, prior to this I was in West TN up in the mountains and I consider it to be the finest opportunity for land procurement in regards to farming, homesteading and the like. I have friends up in rural KY that are doing very well there.  There's a lot of old farm land and also some steep stuff in this area so it's good to be able to visit as much as possible.  It's a good balance of isolation from said "toxins" price, and weather in my opinion.

It really comes down to whats most important to you, and how you envision your site.
Good luck!
 
pollinator
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Hi Sue,

First I'd like to wish you good luck on your quest! Secondly, although I don't know anything about the American real estate situation, I do have a suggestion:

If you really can't find what you're looking for in America - come to Scandinavia! That's if your situation otherwise permits this, of course... There are some decently cheap properties out in the middle of nowhere in Sweden and Norway, and I assume also Finland, far away from all the things you mentioned (okay, and a few other things, like, in some cases, other people). A quick search on a Swedish real estate website yields a few properties with a decent bit of land (a few hectares) for the equivalent of 30.000 USD or less. HOWEVER, the cheap properties do have a few things in common, like houses in need of renovation (or no houses), mostly remote places, etc. Also, the prices tend to be lower the further north and the further inland you go, so essentially coinciding with worse climate for growing stuff. Of course, crappy climate needn't be a deal breaker for a determined permaculture person, but it does limit you a bit in what's possible. So I suppose it's a tradeoff between economy and convenience.

Again, best of luck!

 
pollinator
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Sue Marie wrote:
Each time I find a magical property that isn’t bedded between these toxic waste sites, it’s unfeasible for some other reason (deep in the flooding mountains of Appalachia, poised to be covered in smoke from wildfires, actually going to be on fire soon, etc).


this is becoming the weird reality for the west. i laughed out loud when i read this, but a dark laugh. i tried so much to ground out in the klamath knot, and i miss it all the time. but being in a place where its like you sit there and think someday this will all be on FIRE! its...a very unsettling vibe. its this mostly that keeps me from returning to nor cal and trying to manifest there.

Sue Marie wrote:
What are the REALLY important qualities of a property and what can be compromised?

I know about checking on zoning and all that, which of course is an entirely different obstacle, and an enormous one. But how much am I worrying too much about all these things that no one else (in regular America) seems to care about?

I’m sorry if this question is offensive or ignorant. I need some help. I’m truly at my wits’ end.



this is definitely an individual thing, so maybe you need to do some brainstorming and refining, write it all out on a piece of paper (or like ten pieces of paper- do it several times) - whats the list of things that are priority to you, whats the secondary things that would be nice as a bonus.

i've travelled around a lot, and explored a lot. i get restless too, i know i moved a ton in my life. so looking for land it gets to be if i go for this one thing, then what other better possibilities am i excluding...ah idk how to explain but its tough if you get to ahead of yourself with too much pressure to find a forever place. find a place you like now, try it out see how far you get if you do really like it. its intimidating though to think about making that long term commitment to one place, but i try not to think of it that way. you can always shift later or sell it or whatever else/ share it rent it out etc.
i dont know if thats relevant to you, but it is for me - i dont have to figure out the next 50 years. just get a plan for the now and the next 2-5 years. see what happens. it makes it a bit easier to settle on one area and not feel too overwhelmed with the hugeness of the rest of my life or whatever.
anywho from my travels and exploring i think the best areas of the country are
- the whole west coast (really rural parts to have your no toxic city stuff) but its so darn expensive and over priced, and then theres the whole this could be catching on fire soon thing!

the northeast, thats where i have settled on - new england, which is also where i am from so thats an obvious one for me. theres a lot of good cheap old farm lands and homestead and raw land at a good price. you gotta be able to deal with winter.

and appalaichia as you mention, the ozarks, north carolina has some cool stuff, cheap land and a mostly ok climate except for how hot it can get.

idk as i said its so individual though with what you want, and what you can tolerate, and what your climate needs are. i would rather live in a warmer place than new england but idk...thats like the only real big downside, imo. i like everything else about it, and thats what i settled on. for now -anyway =)
 
steward
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I'd first decide how cold you can stand, how hot you can handle, how humid and hot you can stand and how much rainfall you want to have in the summer.  That should narrow you down to a large handful of states.

Then you can start worrying about the toxic things you mentioned.  To get away from CAFOs in WI, just get up into the trees in northern WI.
 
pollinator
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Keep in mind Dick Proeneke had neighbors and had to deal with trash and litter.

The only way to keep all that stuff X miles away from you is to buy ALL the land 2X miles around you. If it isn’t there now, it’s very likely something you don’t like will move in later.

 
pollinator
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Sue Marie wrote:What are the REALLY important qualities of a property and what can be compromised?



Good climate - Will I be comfortable there and able to grow food?
Disasters - Will I be safe there?
Water - Does the site have redundant sources of water?
Access - Will I be able to get there and leave there easily and legally?
Size - Enough space to do the cool things I want to do there?
Zoning - Has the local government placed undue burdens on how I could earn a living on the land?
Conveniences - Am I actually cool with living there?
Cost - Good value for the above?

Not too hot, not too cold, adequate rainfall.  No major floods/hurricanes/earthquakes/tornados/fires.  Stable socioeconomic and political management at city/state/country level.  Availability of emergency services: hospital, police, fire, cellular communications. Redundant potential for a well, pond, river, creek, seep, rainwater harvesting, etc.  <30 minutes to modern necessities. Store proximity.  <1 hour to airport.  Family or social networks nearby or within weekend driving reach.  Able to provide for basic needs, and buffer or sector out un-desirable sights.  Doesn't smell like poo-gas.

Geoff's advice:
 
Sue Marie
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Thank you guys for taking the time to respond to my post. I really appreciate hearing your perspectives. George, thank you for the Geoff Lawton video; I had seen that before, but it has been years and it was a good refresher. Also thank you for poo-gas! That gave my partner and I a good laugh, hahaha!

And Leila, I relate to your commitment issues in regards to settling down on a property more than I’m comfortable admitting, so I definitely know what you mean! I guess in modern terms the acronym is FOBO (fear of better options), and I suffer from it for sure. It’s good advice to think of the next 2-5 years instead of the lifetime decisions. I’m old enough to know my lifetime decisions never actually decide anything anyway, as life tends to make its own decisions regardless of how I feel about them.

Thank you to all of you. Sounds like you all agree that staying away from the gross stuff is a good idea, and balancing that with important property criteria is what you all are doing or have done as well. Christian and everyone else who is searching, I hope you find your property very soon. May the Zillow gods smile upon you, and may the great winds always blow the poo-gas away from your home.
 
pollinator
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One thing I have always kept in mind when purchasing a property was my ability to re-sell it. Is the property appealing enough for someone else to want to purchase it? With that requirement in mind, I was able to buy a property with confidence. Selling it would not be a problem. That is a big deal for me, because if I want to move on I don’t want to feel trapped.

Our first house ( on 7 acres) was an abandoned, broken down little bungalow within town limits, on a fairly nice quiet street, near but not beside an elementary school. The property, though somewhat rural, had all town services. We spent a few years gradually repairing the house. Had no problem selling it to a single mom with children. Used the money we made to put down a sizable payment on the next property.

Next place was an older rancher ( on 7 acres) in a rural, wooded nice very stable neighborhood. On a quiet road right off a main road that gave access to multiple urbanized areas. Spent some nice years there modifying the place, adding a barn, a pond, fenced pasture, etc. Sold it by word of mouth on the first day I mentioned it.

Next property was 10 acres, no house. In a desirable location for buyers, though it turned out not to be all that right for us. The place had wonderful house sites, pleasing breezes, nice view of ocean and mountain in the distance. We turned around and sold it almost immediately when we listed it.

Our present house (20 acres) is in again in a desirable rural location. Won’t be a problem if we decide to sell.  We built a small home, a barn, some small outbuildings, fenced & crossed fenced the property, built rock walls, constructed gardens.

All of these properties had something that you might consider unacceptable. Risk of forest fire. Risk of flooding. Risk of earthquake. Risk of lava. But a pleasant property with appealing improvements overshadowed the risk factors. Being able to easily resell a property is highly important to me, and one of the top requirements we have when making a purchase.

Since moving to Hawaii we purchased several small properties holding them as back ups to move to if need be. Again we were careful in choosing the locations. We have now sold them all, and all were sold by word of mouth on the first few days after we mentioned it. Selling desirable properties is easy.

How to find desirable properties? Look at properties as though looking through the eyes of other buyers. Don’t get blinded by your own obsessions. And keep searching. Let people in your targeted area know that you are looking. Property sales often get accomplished via word of mouth.

Best of luck in your search. Hope you find something so that you can start your permaculture journey.
 
Anne Miller
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Sue Marie said, "What are the REALLY important qualities of a property and what can be compromised?



For me, it is the trees and creeks.

Like someone mentioned about neighbors.

After purchasing land away from everything on your list we found out that our neighbor's land is worse than a landfill.

When he introduced himself to us he said he was the one who's property looked like the "Sandford and Sons" tv show.

We also just made a trip to the landfill.  It was nothing more than 5 or six dumpsters.  Like a person might see at a shopping center.

My suggestion would be to check out the landfill before dismissing a property.

 
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