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buying land in the Maritimes: advice?  RSS feed

 
Dylan Bennett
Posts: 3
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Hi there everyone!

This is my first post to Permies, but I've been lurking for a while. I'm hoping you all can give me some advice on buying some land, and preferably in the sweet, sweet East Coast!

So I currently live in Toronto, but I grew up in a small town and I have some experience farming/being outdoors. I'm by no means seasoned, but I'm not entirely new to working with the land. What I'm hoping to do is to purchase some land wherein I can build a house and settle down. I'm thinking that something around 10 acres would be the minimum, and more would of course be welcome. I want to be able to do a lot of stuff on the land -- build a house, grow food, practice permaculture, raise animals, preferably harvest wood for lumber. Also, access to water would be a benefit, but of course that's not always possible.

Anyway, all dreaming aside, I suppose I just have a few questions about how to prepare for this big step in my life. Any idea on how much something like this would cost, and how I would best go about buying the land? Should I go through a realtor or would it be best to just talk to people and buy some land off of someone who's selling? What about splitting a property? Is that worth it

Does anyone have any advice on what to look for on the land or what to avoid? I've noticed that there are large pieces of land for super cheap, but they have practically no access and have nothing set up. Realistically, how much work is it to do something like: install a road? Set up a connection to a power grid? Deal with the Internet? Dig a well?

Similarly, if I were to buy something that were riddled with trees, how much work would it be to cut some of them away to make space for a house? What would I do with the trees? How much time would this take, since I'd have to get rid of the stumps too?

I realize this is a lot of questions, but it's something I've been thinking about for a while and it's dawning on me how much I don't know about the whole process. Thanks in advance for all of your help everyone!
 
Kirk Hockin
Posts: 67
Location: Merville, BC
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Dylan,

Huge questions! Awesome, but so much of this will depend on so many factors... There are books out there which address some of this (such as: http://www.amazon.ca/Finding-Buying-Your-Place-Country/dp/0793141095 ). But a lot of it, at least price wise will depend on location. rob roy's books are also interesting (maybe start here: http://www.amazon.ca/Mortgage-Free-Innovative-Strategies-Debt-Free/dp/1603580654/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1381602574&sr=1-1&keywords=mortgage+free ).

For starters, I'd recommend visiting an area you are interested in and ask locals about some of these questions. Secondly, in Canada, many real estate agents will set you up with a PCS account, allowing you to have updates emailed to you on a regional market, based on your search criteria (price range, house size, etc...).

Secondly, any info you receive on pricing, from the US, you can figure it will cost more in Canada (whether labour costs, materials costs, etc...). Whenever I here about prices in the states (for tools, materials, services) I always find our prices are higher (sometimes a little, sometimes a lot). I'm a Westcoaster, so I can't speak to the Maritimes, but I'd be surprised if it was all that different.

As for how to go about it, it's all about trade offs... Remote land is cheaper, but you have to be more self-reliant, and happier with isolation. Dug wells are cheaper, but can dry up more regularily than drilled wells... so many variables...

As for how possible is it? How hard is it? Again, it all depends... can you use a chainsaw, do you have one? Can you buy a tractor or skidder? Will you live in a tent in the snow? Do you need a job?

I guess my main advice would be to start reading: websites are good, but there are lots of books out there (new and old) that address these issues. You may also want to consider an apprenticeship with someone already living this type of lifestyle...

In any case, good luck with the journey!
 
Dylan Bennett
Posts: 3
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Excellent, Kirk, thanks so much for your response!

Yeah, I realize that there are certainly trade-offs to be had. I was recently searching for property and found a real gem: 83 acres for $27,500. However, it's smack in the middle of forested area and doesn't even have a road leading to it! It'd be an experience, certainly, dealing with something like that, but I think I'd have to make sure that I'm down for that kind of commitment before I dive head-first into it.

Thanks so much for the links to the books. I'll have to check them out and do some more reading on the financials of it all. I'm thinking that $50,000 would be a good starting point to get myself set up, especially for what I want to accomplish. And yeah, visiting areas I'm interested in and talking to the locals is a very good idea.

Thanks again for your help!
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6795
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Try the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia. Something with a few different slopes would allow for the creation of various micro climates. There are many marginal farms in this area that were quite cheap when I last checked. Tourist traffic in summer would allow for diversified income.
 
Jay Peters
Posts: 75
Location: Montreal, QC mostly. Developing in Southern New Brunswick, Canada.
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Hi Dylan,

You're basically a half step behind me.

I own property in Southern NB and believe me, it can come quite cheap here.

One thing that was important for me was a very specific area which happens to be a bit more temperate (5a) due to its proximity to the ocean (just up the Saint John River)...lots of annual precipitation, but far enough inland not to be affected by coastal weather systems and still gets lots of sun too, no fog!

I found that cruising kijiji and craigslist was interesting but the piece I wanted ended up coming through a realtor, and of course don't forget the legal costs regarding transfer of ownership.

There's lots of former farmland available in this part of the world, and often cheap, particularly in Albert County, though it's pretty remote and elsewhere too. I would think that starting with old farmland would be an easier go than starting with all woodland..many parcels offer both.

Community is important to me, which is a big part of the reason I bought where I did despite slightly higher prices generally speaking ...I have seen lots of large-ish parcels go for good prices as well if you wait if out though. NB isn't very desirable at this point - most young people move away and much farm and pasture is going unused and growing up... even lots of very fertile land along the saint john river valley...this makes for good deals to be had.

Good Luck!
j
 
Jay Colli
Posts: 9
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia
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Hey Dylan,

I'm not sure if the south shore is up your alley but 65 acres just came up for $20k, which could be a good deal depending on the exact location. The ad is pretty short on details but I know there's a lot of arable land near Bridgewater so if you'd like to follow up with the seller then I could send you the link. Personally, I'd be looking at land in the Annapolis Valley on the south face of the North Mountain or along the Northern shore (Antigonish, Tatamagouche and Amherst) but I know there are vineyards popping up on the south shore so there must be some arable land down there. Check out GeoNova and see if they have an arable land layer that could help you decide on where it might be worth buying land. Nova Scotia as a whole is pretty short on decent growing land but there are drumlin fields all over the province that have agricultural potential.
 
Vern Faulkner
Posts: 35
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Jay Peters wrote:
I own property in Southern NB and believe me, it can come quite cheap here.


I'd agree.


Community is important to me, which is a big part of the reason I bought where I did despite slightly higher prices generally speaking ...I have seen lots of large-ish parcels go for good prices as well if you wait if out though. NB isn't very desirable at this point - most young people move away and much farm and pasture is going unused and growing up... even lots of very fertile land along the saint john river valley...this makes for good deals to be had.


There are some good plots to be had, and areas in southwestern NB that are emerging as a bit of a permaculture/local food movement, myself quietly included.
 
dan collins
Posts: 73
Location: Nova Scotia
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Hi, I am 2 yrs into building a permaculture based farm here in Upper Stewiacke NS. I would give a thumbs up to Nova Scotia, there are many small pretty little communtities with opportunities through private sales. The market here was really slow this year with tons of great deals. We bought here a 35 acre cattle farm for 90000 off Kijjiji after my father- in-law toured it and said it had lots of potential.

the best thing Nova scotia does is fall/spring cleanup which makes all the roads free bins for a week or two, we've outfitted our farm with the freebes.... amazing really. We moved from Victoria BC to get away from a large morgage with not much other than a tractor and the cleanup provided us with pretty much everything else from work benchs, sinks, furniture, tools, hoses, bins and bins of hardware,....the table this laptop is on etc.

Things to consider:
*20 ft well 6000$ish
*live within 30 mins to town (gas and time issues)
*land on road that has farm stand opportunity ideal (sell your surpluses)
*pallets are your friend
*make sure you get to know the local sawmill guys
*get here before the shipards fire up, though it is slow, prices are rising. Noticable since we bought in 2011.
*bridgewater recommendation could be a steal, bueatiful counrty/water landscape, the south shore is awesome with mild winters
 
Jay Colli
Posts: 9
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia
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Just as a follow-up on the South Shore parcel, the ad also says there is a 16'x24' camp on the land that is 10 years old but needs a new roof, there is good hunting but it is not easily accessible. The ad says it's on an old hauling road so I would imagine it's a Bowater Mersey Mill road (papermill that used to operate in the area) that was left unkept so access via quad or on foot was suggested. Seller's number is 1-902-354-5836.

There's also a 53 acre parcel near Liverpool that came up, also short on details but at 10k is must be a clearcut Seller's number is 1-902-356-2225.
 
Anne Murphy
Posts: 7
Location: Nova Scotia
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Have you thought about looking for an older farmer, who is looking to retire, but doesn't want to see all of his hard work turned into a Subdivision? maybe rent to own (with some free lessons included?) I met one at Bee School, who didn't want to give up his farm, but none of his children were interested in taking over, so he was in the market for someone younger who would work with him, and eventually take over his farm.

I'm in the valley, and i know we have a few spots out in the boonies (Aka.. not close enough to a highway for developers to care about) that may need some work, but are real gems... usually an abandoned farm, with the house needing work, barn falling in, with an overgrown orchard and garden. While it seems like alot of work.. it is so worth it. We just acquired one of these abandoned farms (lost to the human world for 10 years) and are having so much fun discovering all the treasures the old owner left behind, like the acres of Maple trees he used to tap, along with the hand carved sap spouts he left in the barn or the row of highbush blueberries he planted just before he passed away, that are now huge and full of berries every year..

We only have so much uncleared land in Nova Scotia.. it would be a shame to clear some, when we have all these abandoned farms that just need a little love.

 
Dylan Bennett
Posts: 3
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Hi again everyone,

Sorry, things came up with my family at the end of the year and I never got a chance to thank you all for your responses. This is some amazing information, thank you all so much! I'm thinking more strongly of purchasing land soon now, so I'll definitely look around in the areas mentioned. And the idea of taking over an old farm is a good one -- I'd never really considered that, to tell you the truth.

If you have any more info or insight on the matter, I'd love to hear it, and thanks again!

-Dylan
 
Fallon Wilson
Posts: 30
Location: London, Ontario, Canada
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Hi Dylan we just bought 29acres with a road into it. Its 70% clearcut but very doable for our plans. We looked on Kijiji and you can view all properties for sale on here www.viewpoint.ca Watch for real estate agents that dont look for what you are actually wanting and sellers who dont give you all the information. Example we had our hearts set on some acreage near Bear river/Digby. We had asked the seller way in advance we wanted to meet with him to take alook etc...the day came and he never responded to us or returned our phone calls. We had found the property and found that the pics he took of the "high and dry" was only 5 acres of the 25 he was selling, the rest was swamp marshland and his "new road" wouldnt handle any kind of vehicle except a 4wheel atv or snowmobile. We ended up finding an honest and open seller on Kijiji, took a look at the land. Then we looked at others and then went back alone and took a few hours hanging around the land, looking at the details of the place and made the decision to call him and take his offer. We got our land for under $15,000. Its 15mins from a town, there is a public and high school same distance, healthcare etc, but still "in the country" enough to have deer, moose, bear etc on the landscape . If we can find our hideaway you can too
 
ina rimpau
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What parts of NS/NB are particularly buggy, to the point where it's hard to be outdoors certain times of the year/day?
 
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