I want to live in the mountains but I do not have much money, but I am really smart. I know this because I have several very expensive pieces of paper from very prestigious institutions that I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on for them to tell me that. I am a 40 year old generation X'er that bought into every thing I was spoon fed throughout my education/indoctrination. I became consumed with pursuing the trinkets and bobbles of the marketplace and never knew what was really essential to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I think the spirit of the people on this site exemplify the type of lifestyle I want.
I am looking for unrestricted land because I plan on homesteading it. This would include farming, animals, treating water, and electron production.
I would like at least 5 acres, but I notice that most mountain land is going for about $3000 an acre. I only have about $4500 I can get together.
With that said I am a very hard worker and fun to share stories with.
David, here are my suggestions. I apologize in advance in case they aren't very glamorous.
Start gardening where you are. Wherever you are. Even if it's just some salad mix and herbs in a couple of buckets on your back porch. It's incredibly satisfying to grow your own food, even just a little, and it will provide you with invaluable experience.
Here's some info from the state Extension Service - http://gardening.ces.ncsu.edu/gardening-2/how-to/ - the Extension Service is a taxpayer funded repository of agricultural knowledge and ongoing research. They're an excellent resource to tap into. At the county level you can call them up and pester the Master Gardeners with gardening related questions. Good folks.
There's also the fabulous permaculture gardening series by Will Hooker out of NCSU. I think there's links on this website to his entire semester of lectures. Some lectures are slower than others, but personally I watched them all this winter and found them informative. So I recommend seeking those out. What I found particularly interesting were the field trips that he took the students on. There's some really amazing stuff going on in NC.
Also the super-boring stuff: homesteading is a lot of skills. I recommend having some skills before throwing yourself out into the wilderness, hence to start gardening now. I do recommend dealing with any debt you may have, and start using those smarts to save up money for land. Start thinking about how you're going to support yourself while homesteading. Can you bring your job with you / telecommute? Then you'll want to be sure than the land you pick has good internet access (oh and check this if you haven't - http://www.rsttv.com/fiber - big changes coming to NC soon on this front!!). If you can't bring your job with you, then can you find a new one? It is hard as hell to make a homestead financially solvent, to grow enough of something that you can sell it at enough of a profit to pay the bills. I'm not trying to discourage you, just don't want to sugarcoat it. Some people do the WWOOFing thing to gain skills, but it's tricky, you're only going to learn whatever you hosts happen to know. Another option is to become a farm hand, where you actually get paid for your labor. Not great pay, but pay nonetheless. Both of these will give you experience that will give you an idea of what you might want to do - and more importantly what NOT do - on your own land/setup.
I actually used to live in Boone. I always had mixed feelings about the area.
There are some great attributes to it, notably the proximity to forested parks/ the Appalachian trail,
regional type stuff like apple festivals, music, etc.
There was a growing "makers" fair which had quality products.
Good farmer's market,
some interesting places to eat (Melanie's is the only place I would bother naming).
They have a homebrew supply (of course it opened after I left...figures :p).
Property is tricky from many angles. NB:
College puts a lot of pressure on the town, always buying, or claiming eminent domain on properties (what else is new).
Rent is high. Mountain folk/ old timers/ natives can be hit-or-miss. Some are okay with alternative lifestyles, many/most aren't. This complicates voting matters substantially.
The town gov't, is shady as well. The Democrats in the area have had the monopoly for a long time, but that is eroding. It sounds like the republicans aren't going to be any better. Real Estate barons hold significant sway and in-town, many zoning issues came up (a neighbor rented a triplex to courteous tenants. She almost lost the property because of false "loud noise' reports and falsified police evidence. Preemptive paperwork was being filed by a larger property buyer who was friends with the UDO chair.... that sort of thing)
In short, lots of growing pains for a vacation,college,retirement community
Short growing season.
Relative isolation from interstates (I travelled frequently, and regardless, it's slow going to get to Asheville, Charlotte, or more civilised TN) and a lot of growing pains for those living in-town or affected by its governance. Avoid Pottertown, Meatcamp, and to a lesser extent, Bethel (though there is viable, open land in these areas). Hard to articulate it, but it'd be tough for an outsider.
The area splits 2nd & 3rd vacation home types ($$$$) with pseudo-hippies, college faculty and students, regular folks, etc. (not so much $). Genuine folks are scattered about though, to be sure.
Low-paying jobs are quickly snatched up because of the students, career track positions are a little more scarce.
I'm just shotgunning some of the salient points I observed as a resident (2002-2012) If you have ANY interest in the area, please ask me anything
Avg. annual rainfall:48.26"
Avg. days of sunshine: 209
Humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfb)
Rolling Coastal Plain
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