I just dropped the price of
the permaculture playing cards
for a wee bit.

 

 

uses include:
- infecting brains with permaculture
- convincing folks that you are not crazy
- gift giving obligations
- stocking stuffer
- gambling distraction
- an hour or two of reading
- find the needle
- find the 26 hidden names

clickity-click-click

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Would love to hear your story of affording and finding land  RSS feed

 
Norma Guy
Posts: 10
Location: Ontario, climate zone 2
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Dylan Gillies wrote:Norma, I wish I knew the areas what you were talking about! An over view of aspects like climate, hardiness zone, types of vegetation...the small details ya know


Northern Ontario, climate zone 2a/2b, mostly coniferous at that latitude... going to have to build walipini and high fences so the deer don't eat everything.  The bears will probably like the smell of the apples, and the smell of carrion is more likely to attract them than keep them away, so while the bone sauce might work for deer it might be a black bear dinner bell

We found our land on http://recreationland.net/

That only helps if you're looking in Ontario though.  I saw someone else recommend Landwatch, we pored over that one for a few years, you can sign up for email updates and the like.
 
Dylan Gillies
Posts: 32
Location: Cascadia!! Sebastopol
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I found a pretty nice place that meets most my requirements in the Olympic peninsula and in considering going into debt for it. It's not horrible, $80k...20acres
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9744
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Do you have a means to pay the mortgage?
 
Robert Bizzarro
Posts: 23
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Jeremy Butler wrote:While I have no experience buying land, I read this a while ago and thought it could be a pretty good way to go about doing it.

http://homestead.org/NeilShelton/HowToBuyLand/VeryCheaply.htm


I know Neil Shelton ( the author of the linked article) he usually has some good deals at Ozarkland.com.   Good man to deal with.
 
Dylan Gillies
Posts: 32
Location: Cascadia!! Sebastopol
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Yea, i have a job. I could swing an owner carry.
 
Sanda Everette
Posts: 7
Location: near Chimacum, WA
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Well we are also one of the older folks. We bought our land on Washington's Olympic Peninsula...at first 26 acres, and eventually 39 acres in 1989 17 miles south of Port Townsend. Coming from CA, it seemed like a good deal. We hoped to start a small community. Unfortunately, we were not able to find work in the area and eventually went back to CA, after planting a small orchard.  We rented our beautiful cedar house and our tenants managed to burn it down. We took the insurance money and paid off the land. So 25 years later, after retiring, we began building a house and got our occupancy permit last year, for a unique double octagon in which we hope to do a small bnb. Soooo.... we would love to have some young or youngish farmers come partner with us...though as mostly glacial moraine or wetland forest, it is not great agriculture land... but is beautiful with small creeks and ponds.  I don't know what form ownership could take. The property is zoned 1 house/10 acres plus an ADU/ 10 acres, so there could be 3 more houses and 4 ADUs here. https://dragonbellyfarm.wordpress.com. Currently we have a 34' classic trailer for rent. As land is paid for, financial investment would need to go for building and for infrastructure...septic, perhaps improved well, etc. we don't want to subdivide and really all the potential house sites are on about 7 acres in the middle of the property.
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Primary area of house sites
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in the forest...creek
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Our home and future bed and breakfast
 
Jordan Harder
Posts: 14
Location: Cocolalla ID
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I'm 25 and just last summer moved back to North Idaho where i grew up after some years of travel, sailing and short term work gigs. I've been dreaming of starting a little farm for quite some years. I kept my eyes on the real estate around and ended up making a friend who specializes in raw land and prepper kind of real estate. Towards the end of the summer I found 10.5 acre piece that was pretty much exactly what I wanted. I offered $60 with ten down. And the owner accepted. Scraped together the ten thousand including borrowing 2 from my little sister and bought my piece of land. I got a motorhome for free that I drug out there and put a wood stove in. Come spring I'll dig in, build my road, shop/house, some fencing and trees and whatever i can get done. I work as a carpenter, but I'm trying to transition to something less physically demanding, to have more energy leftover for my projects. I'm also open to the idea of teaming up. I have a few friends that have been talking about it, but we'll see. Contact me if you might be interested. I also love to mountain bike, climb, ski and surf, and this place is wonderful for all but one of those!
Best to you!

-Jordan
 
James Everett
Posts: 96
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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After my dad passed away in 2007, I took over his loan on 30 acres here and paid of the land he had purchased.  I was in the military at the time and had no Idea what to do with it but to let me mother continue to live on it.  I got out of the military and took a job in Wyoming still in the satellite communications filed after 2 years there my mom needed my help with my older nephew that she adopted after some circumstances so I move back down to the land here in Gaines county and so I started to look more into what I wanted to do with it.  So with it I know I wanted fishing so that was one of my goals it to have a pond and the land sits perfect on a natural draw albeit dry most of the time but I hope to bring the water table back up to where i can have a pond in the future.  Then i ran across this forum and has giving me more ideas then I can think of and now that I finally got my finance good I can do more work on it.  Though looking for more in the area that would like to help work on it for benefits of future food due to more land than I alone can work.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9744
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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James Everett wrote: So with it I know I wanted fishing so that was one of my goals it to have a pond and the land sits perfect on a natural draw albeit dry most of the time but I hope to bring the water table back up to where i can have a pond in the future. 


Really excited to see how you progress with this project!  I have extreme fish pond envy.

 
Hans Quistorff
pollinator
Posts: 804
Location: Longbranch, WA
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My offer in the signature line still stands. 5 or 7.5 acres. The 2.5 acres is mostly cleared and has access to a small cement barn for animals. It is available to start wih a contract of understanding that all taxes and fees would be paid by the users and any improvements would be mine untill a purchase contract is feasible.
The reason for this offer is the land is a tax burden for me but I wish to see this inheritance developed in a permaculture way.  At my age it is all I can do to maintain the 2.5 acres that is the developed part of the 10 acre inheritance.

Additionally I have a 90 x 140 foot parcel for someone that wants to do permaculture in a small way while being close to amenities and the highway. This lot is adjacent to a treed greenbelt wes with a cleared doubble lot to the south where the house is below the level of this lot. The lot to the north is vacant partially logged wit alder regrowth.  Probably available; I owned it at one time and started to plant it to a food forest. My lot has enough large Douglas fir trees to build a large log house to replace the 60 ft mobile single wide. If someone Has the skill to do this they could triple their equity and then move to a larger land holding.
 
Gail Gardner
Posts: 128
Location: SE Oklahoma
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Dylan Gillies wrote:

I've seen so many videos and webinars of young people who somehow can buy land, quit their jobs to move into their property. How the hell?! I just don't quite get it... but I'd love to hear your story of similar success just for my pleasure and inspiration.


Hi Dylan,

The key is to find landowners and work with them directly. When I moved to Texas, I found a landowner willing to sell me 117 acres at $570/acre with 5% down. He carried the paper for 15 years at 10% so my payments were around $600/mo. At that time I worked for IBM and it was within commuting distance to the client accounts I managed.

The further you get from a big city, the cheaper the land. Move outside the distance that most are willing to commute and prices drop. There are a lot of farmers who are getting old and don't have children interested in taking over the farm. Find one willing to let you lease/option or buy and improve part of their land they're not using.

Or find someone wanting to retire willing to carry the paper. Then either learn to do something you can do online or even bettter - keep your overhead so low that you can work on your land full-time. Build a room in an existing outbuilding or barn or find a farm that has an old house on it that needs work and isn't being occupied.
 
Gail Gardner
Posts: 128
Location: SE Oklahoma
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:The story of my farming life is that people come up to me and say. "I wish that you would farm my land." They don't want money, or vegetables, or my time. They just wish that someone that they know and respect would take care of their land for them, so that it isn't such a burden to them. They continue to pay the taxes and for irrigation water. I just manage the land as if it were my own.

I am constantly turning down these sorts of offers because I am already taking care of all the land I can use effectively.



This reminds me to share that in Texas and possibly other states with rural areas you can lease land for $15-$25+ per acre per year.  When I've seen that the land is usually pasture for cattle; however, the owner may not care and at least where I was in Texas, about half the land was permanent pasture while the other half was planted annually. You might be able to find a place to grow food on a lease-option or for sale by owner or even just lease it year-to-year to make sure you like the area, soil, etc.
 
Gail Gardner
Posts: 128
Location: SE Oklahoma
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:28 [Just turned last month in fact] living in Graham with family while saving up for my land [and blessed to have 5 acres of family property to homestead in the meantime.]

Are you set on this region? It's very expensive here compared to some others [but it is a favorable climate and I'm not planning to leave.]

As to finding the land you're looking for, can you give me a size bracket? My own target of over 100 acres is very different from... say... 20 acres which is also quite different from 4.

Also, are you picky about topography? I actually prefer to have plentiful slope to the land to move water around.


I don't know about other areas, but in Texas the price for 5 acres, 20 acres or 100 acres were pretty similar because the smaller the land was sub-divided the higher the price per acre. Don't assume that you can only afford a few acres  - also look at larger parcels in the same price range.
 
Jami Gaither
Posts: 51
Location: North-Central Minnesota
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Here's my tale.  The golden nugget embedded here is to check bulletin boards close to where you want to buy land.  Also, it helps to be in the middle of nowhere if you want cheap land.

My husband and I had, about 2003, looked at buying retirement property in Arizona (we loved Sedona and had a friend who’d bought recently in nearby Cottonwood) but we quickly realized the water wars had already started there.  A few years later, while visiting my mother in Minnesota, we made a trek up to Itasca State Park and I fell in love with the Mississippi Headwaters area.  Huge trees, quiet, and lots of water.  We began looking online at County Land Sales and Realty sites to find something close to the park. 

In late 2006, we found a property about a half mile down the road from the park and contacted a realtor letting him know that we were coming up from Indiana to purchase land the first weekend in January. We told him about the 16-acre parcel we wanted to see and explained that we were looking for a larger piece 15-20 acres, preferably backing up to State Forest land, cheap - $1000/acre if possible, and NOT a section of a larger parcel of empty land being broken up.  We drove up from Indiana January 4, 2007, the day before our showing, grabbed a couple hours of sleep at Mom’s (she lives 2 hours south), and drove up to the property with plenty of extra time the morning of the 5th as an ice storm had made roads a bit sketchy.  We arrived early at Rock Creek General Store at the North Entrance to Itasca State Park to get changed into our snow boots.  While there, we had a cup of coffee and Dan checked out the bulletin board where he found a flyer for 20 acres of land selling for $20,000.  We asked the cashier about the paper flyer.  It was pretty primitive but Kelly assured us it was legit.  The guy had inherited his Mom’s property and house and was selling off his other portions of the family land.  We grabbed the phone number and headed out to meet our realtor a half-mile down the road.

Our realtor said two things that right away should have been GIANT red flags: 1) “This is the first time I’ve been out to see the property.”  Seriously!  We just drove 850 miles and you’ve made no effort to familiarize yourself?  And 2) “The current owner bought the property sight unseen.”  Needless to say, the property was a P.O.S. – fully wooded (many downed trees from straight line winds a couple years previous) with a center of impassable (in summer) wetlands and a small 1/2-acre high point in the back, which would have meant building a giant bridge to access the only building space.  We climbed over trees for an hour, getting lost in the process, and by the time we got back to the road I had thrown my hip out and I was pissed.  So, I say to the realtor, “I hope you have some more properties to show us as this one is not it.  As I indicated to you on the phone, we are buying land this weekend.”  He proceeds to pull out exactly what we told him we don’t want: a 20-acre parcel of 4 available on an 80-acre split at $2500/acre, a 10-acre parcel for $5000/acre, mostly farming estates being parceled out.  We agree to follow him back to the office to see what else he could find and, as soon as we get in the car, I call the number from the flyer at Rock Creek.

The phone is answered and I say, “Hi, I’m calling about the property you have for sale.”  “Oh, yeah”, the guy says, “I’ve been waiting for your call!”  WHAT?!?!?!  Just weird.  We figured it was someone else he was waiting for but, he agreed that we could come out that afternoon and he’d walk us through it. 

We arrived mid-afternoon and the guy is 3 sheets to the wind.  Super happy to see us and, after chatting for a few minutes in his Mom’s house, he takes us out to walk the land.  We spend probably 90 minutes walking the whole 20 acres, coming in on the NE corner via an old logging road that runs through the property, all the way down to the deer stand he built as a teenager on the south end.  We walked through the clearings and waded through the trees a bit.  We walked along the south side of the wetlands (the property’s NW corner was about 9 acres of swamp) and then headed back to his place to talk more.  He needed money right away and we had funds.  He got a phone call and went outside to answer it (cell service in the area is touchy) while Dan and I wondered if this guy was for real.  What was happening felt like magic, the way things were falling into place.  But also a bit weird as this guy seemed kind of crazy.  We decided that, if he could prove ownership, we would buy.  In the end, we agreed to put down $10,000 as soon as he could get his lawyer to draw up a contract for sale, which was done early the next week.  We ended up with a contract to pay off the land at 6% interest and didn’t pay much in interest as we paid it off before the end of the year. 

Now I know many of you Permies folks are ahead of the game when you buy land.  We hadn't heard of Permaculture back in 2007 and knew nothing about Soil Types or Zones or South-Facing Slopes.  We just knew we wanted out of the Rat Race and getting a place to go to was the first step on that path.  We saw in this property a chance for lots of wildlife with the wetlands (there were deer tracks everywhere), access but quiet (even though we're on a main county road, there is not a lot of traffic and there are nice tree barriers at the roadside), and a blank slate on which to build our dream.  And now, 10 years later, I am living full-time here at the Harn (that's our name for our pole barn house - House-Barn --> Harn).  The husband will join me in March, sooner if The Donald creates a situation where he loses health care at his job - most of the reason we're still in the Rat Race at all.  We've built as we could afford it so are mortgage free.  And we hope to keep expenses low so we can live with little income.  We have a few things started here but mostly will be developing our P/C Homestead from scratch.  We're getting excited.

And we're learning from you all.  It's been great reading here at Permies.com.  Thanks for all the inspiration, tips, and warnings.  Glad to be a part of this community.

 
Roberto pokachinni
pollinator
Posts: 1507
Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
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Well, I'm not so young as I once was, but I began this dream when I was quite young, a child even, and forgot it for quite a while as the party of late youth set in in full force, but then I found it again, and it still took a while for me to really put the focus on it.  And that is what you must do, I believe, if you really want it.  Land is not often cheap, and it is not often where we think it will be.  I'm 47 now, and I started looking for the right community when I was 24 after an early 'mid life' crisis.  God I hope it's not an actual mid life crisis... because I'm just getting revved up! 

I probably would have been right to forget about finding the 'right' community, and just focussing on connecting to whatever community was present and try living there long term and if it felt right then find the land, but i didn't do that; I wandered around and worked transiently all over the place, without putting down much deep roots or deeper connection in the communities where I visited.  That said, I found some great communities in Canada and the U.S. and I don't regret my journey/search, but I do regret not grounding myself in my dream sooner, or putting in a greater effort to really make the deeper connections to the community that really make a person feel that they belong. 

Many people (close friends and family) were surprised that I wanted to buy land, as I'm not a ownership kind of guy, I had wandered for much of my young adulthood, living out of a backpack, tent, tarp camps, and small backwood cabins or beach or mountain huts, and I tended to be the sort of person that was always helping other people build their dreams, connecting in a small way in people's lives for a short time and then moving on.  But I wanted to put down roots, tree roots to be exact, and lots of them, and to not have the obligations or expectations that go with other people's projects.  I wanted to compost my shit and grow my trees and piss wherever I wanted.  I wanted autonomy, on my own land, and I wanted it soon.  That's when I got to focus.

I decided on my present location partly after visiting it in 1997 and partly because I fell in love with a woman in 2005, and partly because it reminded me of what my home valley might have looked like had not the government and industry, and globalized consumerism not taken it over, and partly because I was welcomed by a diverse and interesting community.  And so, in 2009 I set myself up to market garden on other people's land, and I looked for land. 

I had a job as a support worker for mentally challenged adults that I kept going back to in the city for three winters, while coming back for most of the garden season to make a lot less cash but have the opportunity to get to know the people and landscape and to continue to look for land. The relationship went the way some do, and I kept my personal focus in the valley.  Meanwhile in the city, I lived in a camper van, I commuted everywhere by bicycle, and I worked as many on call hours as I could manage on top of regular shifts, while using public facilities like recreation centres, libraries, and the outdoors for my living room and while spending very little money, mostly on fruit and nuts. 

I saved nearly $20,000 Canadian in three years; I'm sure I could have been cheaper on myself and saved a lot more, but I like sushi. So there's that.   

Fortunately when the time came (May 2012), when the land (40 acres of south facing slope with a small creek and backing onto crown land and National Park!) arrived in the sphere of my fortune, I also managed to connect with a self made wealthy dude, who became my mortgage man, who fronted the other $100,000.  In Canada, or at least in my experience in B.C., you can not get a mortgage on raw land from a bank. A hundred and twenty five thousand dollars is more than I care to contemplate in a single sentence, much less when that sentence ends in debt, so I try not to think to much about debt but about the great fortune that I have to be presented with this incredible opportunity!  I have to admit that sometimes this opportunity of being in debt scares me to my very core.  I pay a high interest rate to this guy, but I can put whatever money I want on the property, whenever I want, (and no bank can match that... and so there is that) so long as I put the monthly minimum $750 in.  I usually put in a great deal more than $750. 

I lost my job due to unforeseen circumstances (which scared the living sh%t out of me, because I was in debt, greater than I'd ever been and I now had no income), and went on Government Employment Insurance for a short time.  During this time purchased a very cheap ($200) beater (it had been rolled so it has extensive body damage) econo car (a 4 cylinder two door hatch back), which by the way I am still driving 2.5 years later despite being able with my job to afford a 'better' car. 

And having such a cheap mode of transportation, i could look for and accept work around the valley and potentially commute to work if I found something solid and finally, after a bunch of odd jobs and months of frustration and application, I landed the job I presently have working on the railway, which I had actually applied to before I lost that other job.  I worked on the road (10 days of work away from home and 4 days off including my days of driving to and from the assorted work locations) for a full year, and made more money in a year than I have ever earned.  Then an opportunity came up to work for the same railway in the valley of my land, albeit a 40 minute commute, so I applied and got it, which allows me to be home on the land all year while still socking away decent mortgage payments.

Working as I am is not ideal.  I would much rather be on the land, playing permaculture.

It actually sucks a lot, often.  But I try to make the best of it, and of my time on my land.

But, what sustains me, besides the time on my land that I have the grace to be present on at this time and my time in this great community, is that I am focussing on my goal.  The goal is to have the land paid off by next year around this time (January), and in three years time (after getting my infrastructure in place) to quit this job and focus solely on permaculture on my land, and in this amazing community, and to help regenerate the degraded farmland that is abundant in this valley. 

I had to have goals, and I had to be really focussed, and at some point I came to the conclusion that for that to happen, I had to really, really want it bad enough to develop the goals and to get really focussed on them. I did, and I do, and that's how it happened for me.  

There was a certain amount of luck, chance, or whatever that happens in life, and in my experience this is a wonderful part of life that seems to happen more frequently when we are trying to manifest our dreams, and to do the right thing.  I really believe that, and I wish that I had put more faith in that when I was 24 or earlier.  But maybe I just wasn't ready then.        
 
Jeremy Franklin
Posts: 58
Location: Binghamton, NY
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I want to share our story on here, as we were able to strike a deal to buy about 20 acres within 20 minutes of town for about $30k with about $3000 down and really crappy credit.  Fair warning, it did require some risk on our part, which some people are not OK with.

The first key is, as Gail said, talk to the owner directly. The seller's realtor not only lied to us about what the owner was willing to accept, he intentionally tried to torpedo the deal at least twice after it was struck. (Some suggested he was trying to scare away buyers to snatch it up himself or for a friend).  Look up tax records to find the owner and Google them to try to find contact info. Then always talk to the owner if they're willing to talk to you.

Our owner was aware of our credit and was willing to finance it himself at a rate we agreed on and a monthly payment we could afford over 5 years. However, he apparently didn't understand how mortgages worked, and thought he could keep paying his own mortgage on the property after he'd sold it to us, so he backed out of the deal once he found out he'd have to pay off his note.

So then what I did was offer to lease the property from him at the same monthly rate for the same term, with the right to buy the property for $1 after the 5 years was up. This allowed him to keep the mortgage and pay it off with the monthly check I was sending him.

The risk to me, of course, is if I default on that payment for any reason, instead of starting foreclosure proceedings, he just has to file for an eviction which is a lot quicker and easier to do. However, that risk is on me. As long as I make my payments, that's not an issue. The bigger issue is that I'm basically trusting him to be financially stable for that period. If he were to file bankruptcy or have the bank foreclose on him during the lease period, I'd be SOL. There would probably be some recourse, and I could probably make some kind of deal with the bank, but it's not a sure thing, and it would probably be an enormous hassle. I had talked to the guy quite a bit by this point, and knew the type. There's little chance he would get himself into that kind of trouble, but the chance is not zero.

In my case, part of the reason I was able to get such a good deal was because the owner had only bought the property because a natural gas deposit had been discovered in the area. He lived in Texas and had never even seen the property.  I had to sign over the gas rights as part of the deal (not to harvest from my land, but any royalties that would have been paid as a landowner in the region), but since this is New York and they were never going to allow that to be harvested anyway, I wasn't really giving away anything of value, and even if I was wrong, so what? So I'm not a millionaire.  I still have my land and I'm not tied to the rat race any longer and that's what's important to me.

Point is, talk to the owner directly, find out what's important to them and make a deal that gets you what you want while giving them what they want.
 
Devin Lavign
pollinator
Posts: 494
Location: Pac Northwest
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Jami Gaither wrote:Here's my tale.  The golden nugget embedded here is to check bulletin boards close to where you want to buy land.


This is so very true. Rural areas your seeking land in things like bulletin boards, for sale by owner signs on road, local paper's classified section, and word of mouth from those in the community your trying to locate in are usually how you get the best pieces of property. Often the best places are not sold via real-estate agents or websites. But these analog methods can be hit or miss. As with Jami it might seem like a magical stream current of perfect coincidences and synchronicity, or you might have to spend the time in the community to meet that right person who knows Ol' Uncle Doug who is trying to sell his grandfather's old unused in 30 yrs except to hunt on farm that is a perfect fit for all your choices. Or what ever your list for a perfect property needs. Thing is a lot of the best property is only advertised locally.

Even without this incentive to go look at bulletin boards it is often a good idea when looking for land to go to the towns in the area you are looking and get to know them. Having a community you fit in with can make or break the experience you have getting land and building something. It is no fun if there is no one in the nearest town that you can relate to and become friends with. The flip side being if there is a good group of like minded folks, it can make life a lot better.

This video from Marjory Wildcraft really explains it well.
 
Jami Gaither
Posts: 51
Location: North-Central Minnesota
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Devin Lavign wrote: As with Jami it might seem like a magical stream current of perfect coincidences and synchronicity


Oh, how lovely you've stated it, Devin!  It does amaze me how often things fall into place.  It's almost weird sometimes... like when I needed three pieces of wood last week and found two recent scrap cuts that were exactly the length I needed for the project so only had to cut one.  But I will say that I don't believe that magic in my life simply happens.  I could be wrong but I believe it happens in part because I let the Universe know what I need.  There is a saying that I live by (maybe based on Joseph Campbell as I recently read something he said that is similar) ~ I believe the Universe is constantly conspiring for my good. 

So how to we let the Universe know what we want?  Over the years, Dan and I have made Dream Pages by putting cut-outs from magazines on paper to depict what we desire.   We post these up in the bedroom to keep it in our minds.  We also draw (and re-draw and re-draw...) plans for the layouts of house/garden/workshop/electrical plans.  [Don't ask Dan about the basement which was in re-design until the last room was completed.  Poor guy, he has this crazy wife who is always seeing something new at the last minute!]  We visualize and talk through ideas over and over and ask "what if?" continuously.  And then we commit to moving forward.  Dan's saying is: If you Plan, you Can.  If you Don't, you Won't.

We also trust our guts.  When something feels right, we check in with each other and go forward.  When something feels wrong, we let the other know and try to read the signals to keep from getting into a bad situation.  We ask, "What's the worst that can happen?" and if it's not too bad, we take a risk.  By trusting intuition, so far we've done pretty good.

We find allies.  We ask other people for input.  From asking Kelly at the gas station what she knew about the property on the flyer.  She and Wade are now good friends who have given us loads of connections to local people and insight into current events.  There is no place like the local gas station to get the juice out here in the middle of nowhere!  And we connect with local people as we have found that the Universe will connect you with people right when you seem to need them, sometimes ahead of time so trust can be built and available once you do need them or they need you.

And we work.  Dan and I did loads of research online (being 14 hours away, off-site evaluation was our only option) to find a property near Itasca Park.  We called some local places to chat about properties and got some good feedback on how life in the area is slower and colder than in Indiana.  We saved funds and, when we made the trip to the area, we had committed to "buying land that weekend".  I guess there is the chance that the Universe would not have provided at that point in time and we would have, in disappointment, thoughtfully waited.  Dan is good at keeping me reigned in when need-be.   But, lucky for us, the property appeared.

So I do think that the Universe at times seems to magically unfold for us but I think being clear to ourselves about what we want, to others who often direct us to others or vice versa, and to the ether by creating drawings and plans, we've been able to find success.  Of course, if you watch some of the YouTube videos, you'll see where we occasionally fail too! Hindsight is so much wiser than foresight.  

Then again, it could just be that I'm an incurable optimist who constantly sees the good and brushes over the downsides.  It's sure a happy life living this way!
 
Jonathan Burger
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My wife and I recently purchased 20 acres in the Columbia River gorge that we hope to develop into our homestead.

I've written about our entire process at length here: Forest & Field Journal

The short version is this:

-We went from $20 in our bank account to $50,000 in three years making around $30,000/year.
-After exhausting all of the options on the market, we mailed letters to property owners.
-After getting a thumbs up from one of the property owners, we worked through the entire process, obtained financing, and purchased the land.

I imagine many folks out there are in a similar situation as we were. With the right amount of hard work and creativity, most anyone can make it happen, especially permies.





 
Richard Jones
Posts: 1
Location: San Diego, United States
greening the desert hugelkultur tiny house
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When I was 27 back in 1979, 13 of us hippies bought a 120 acre private inholding in the Cleveland National Forest. We paid it off in 1992. It is a remote canyon with a year round artesian spring and live oak trees. We own it as a non profit mutual benefit corp. We pay $35 a month each for taxes and insurance. Cost of land plus dues to now is about $21,000 for each member. Only 3 of us now use the land regularly. We all make weekly 50 mile trips to San Diego for supplies and socializing. In 2013, I took Paul Wheaton's class when he was down here and built a hugelkultur. It works! Last year, I got peas, Egyptian spinach and squash late winter to early summer. Rainwater drains off the fire road into swales on the high side of it and forms a pond for a few days. In 2015, a student of geoff lawton almost joined us, but chickened out. I know, it's a weird deal and you have to get along with other humans - yuk! But, if anyone wants a tour, I will show you around. My vision is of a tiny house village. Not sure if a wofati could be made from gnarly dead oak trees. Good luck in your search everyone. Maybe this story will help some how.
 
Daron Williams
pollinator
Posts: 236
Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
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I'm 31 and my wife and I were able to purchase a house on 2.86 acres of land outside of Olympia. The place is only a mile away from a great bike/walking trails that runs for over 20 miles and connects to other trails. The land needs a lot of work but it has great potential - this includes two seasonal streams that open up a lot of irrigation options. Mostly clay soils with almost no topsoil but luckily permaculture techniques give a lot of options to improve this and being young I have time to improve it. The house is small by American standards but still has 3 bedrooms - but only one bathroom, no garage, and a simple kitchen with no dishwasher. All not a problem but it lowered the price.

My job is decent and can cover the monthly costs, my wife works too, and we got help from our family to cover the down payment. Without their help we would not have had the down payment. So all in all we are lucky - but we also took land that was not in the best shape and a house that lacked some of the things most people expect. All of this helped to lower the price and keep it from being bought by someone else.

The trade off is that my land is not ready for food production and it will take a lot of effort to bring it to a productive level. But it has good sun exposure, slopes for various habitats and good water access. So I will keep working my regular job while I improve the land and bring it up to a productive stage. I'm really enjoying working on the land and it will be great watching it grow more productive.

So all in all my wife and I got this place by accepting tradeoffs, getting help from family and being willing to keep our day jobs for the foreseeable future. Not sure if that helps you but that is my story. Good luck with your search for land!
 
Dylan Gillies
Posts: 32
Location: Cascadia!! Sebastopol
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Richard Jones wrote:When I was 27 back in 1979, 13 of us hippies bought a 120 acre private inholding in the Cleveland National Forest. We paid it off in 1992. It is a remote canyon with a year round artesian spring and live oak trees. We own it as a non profit mutual benefit corp. We pay $35 a month each for taxes and insurance. Cost of land plus dues to now is about $21,000 for each member. Only 3 of us now use the land regularly. We all make weekly 50 mile trips to San Diego for supplies and socializing. In 2013, I took Paul Wheaton's class when he was down here and built a hugelkultur. It works! Last year, I got peas, Egyptian spinach and squash late winter to early summer. Rainwater drains off the fire road into swales on the high side of it and forms a pond for a few days. In 2015, a student of Geoff Lawton almost joined us, but chickened out. I know, it's a weird deal and you have to get along with other humans - yuk! But, if anyone wants a tour, I will show you around. My vision is of a tiny house village. Not sure if a wofati could be made from gnarly dead oak trees. Good luck in your search everyone. Maybe this story will help some how.


Hey there Richard,

That sounds super beautiful out there. My gf and I have been playing with the idea of moving to San Diego. If we do, I will definitely be looking to get a tour!


Right now, the thought process is, stay in Seattle and make $$. It's not that there's no money to be made in SD, its just we have connections in Seattle and would have an easier time landing some corporate job or something...
 
Cynthia Quilici
Posts: 34
Location: Central Vermont
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I want to repeat Nicole's advice, above, about property with existing infrastructure. I bought raw land but it is taking significant amounts of money to develop (driveway, well, required septic, development taxes..). In hindsight we should have looked for the crappiest trailer going that already had those things wrapped in. Instead of paying 2017 prices for a driveway (for example), you end up effectively paying the 1937/1950 /1978 price...

After paying $1500/acre for the raw land, in order to build on my property I had to take a minimum of 2 acres out of the "Current Use" ag/forestry prop. tax reduction program. The town came by and valued the two acres at $50k!! I gritted my teeth and paid because I have just not been in the right headspace to fight the valuation. Meanwhile, if I had gone the crappy-trailer route it would have been a while before improvements would have drawn a great deal of notice...
 
Miles Flansburg
master steward
Posts: 4139
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Howdy Dylan, are you still looking for stories?

I grew up in a family of South Dakota farmers and Ranchers, so owning and working land is in my blood. I was planting seeds in kindergarten and always dreamed of owning my own land.

In my late 20's I had married and we rented an old home, built in 1895, no kidding, it cost us 200 per month. So we were able to save some money.

I was lucky enough to score a really good job and we really stepped up our savings. We bought a foreclosed home on 1/2 acre that needed work. With a grant from my in laws we put down a big chunk of money and paid off the home, in 15 years, by making a double mortgage payment each month.

We are pretty frugal people, we did all this while also raising our two kids. We had a large garden and a greenhouse. ( I look back now and wish I had never left that place.)

With the home paid off we again started saving money at a fast rate. At the same time buying a new minivan to haul the family around in and a used truck to go camping in.

In my 30's I started looking for land. I watched the local real estate adds in the newspapers and one day I spotted 11 acres for $25,000 located within 10 miles of our favorite camping area. We took out a second mortgage on the house, as raw land is hard to finance, and paid cash for the land and a backhoe to work the land.

After a few years I took another job and moved far enough away that we really couldn't get back to the property very easily. So we sold it for $55,000. And sold the backhoe for more than we had bought it for. ( If you can buy and sell like this you can "move up".)

Life has a way of giving you all sorts of choices and roadblocks. My job ended and we scrambled to find work. Another move and we ended up a little closer to family and my favorite state of Wyoming. 

About 5 years ago, after many more struggles, I found the 11 acres that we currently have. I have a project thread here at permies about it. HERE

We had invested the $55,000 from the other property, and we pulled some of it back out to buy this land. We added an old travel trailer and try to get up there as much as we can in the summer.

I guess it would have been much better to buy a place that we could be homesteading on but it is a nice get away at this point and a good investment.

So My advise is to live way below your income and save as much as you can, you are young, do not get in a hurry. Today with the internet, I think that finding land is a lot easier. I still look at land all over the US, sort of a hobby of mine. There are a ton of good websites out there and some really good deals to be found.

Take your time, meditate and envision the property you are looking for and it will appear ! Good luck !
 
George Hayduke
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My grandparents lived in a small town in North Florida, and although I was a suburban kid I was always strongly drawn to the land.  When I graduated from college I went looking for land in North Florida, and one day I drove down a dirt road and saw a hand-lettered sign offering 15 acres for sale.  I called the phone number, negotiated with the seller, and bought the land owner-financed.  Over the years I paid it off, and when new land around me would come on the market I would buy it.  Now, twenty years later, I have about 50 acres.  I recently made an offer on an additional 23 acres.  We shall see....

When I bought it the land consisted of pasture that had given way to volunteer pines for a half century.  I cut down a few acres of pines and converted them to pasture.  Over time I built a house, outbuildings, and added a solar well and a windmill.  raised bed gardens and livestock pens were built.  We dammed a creek and built a pond.  Not incidentally, I also got married under a giant oak on our farm, and we raised four children. 

Moving to the farm was one of the best decisions we ever made.  There have been hardships, but there is immense beauty every day.  

 
Michael Jay Anthony
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dont own my land, but am renting right now. only have permission to cultivate in the back yard, which ranges from partial shade to complete shade in the winter,  so its very limitted, but im doing as much as i can with it.  im growing in 4 4'x10' hugulkulture beds, 1 4'x20' conventional bed along the woodline, 2 2x10 ground beds along the edge of the house and porch(1 hugulkultur 1 conventional), and 4 mounds. in this im able to grow a lot of my families food, but not enough. Id like to produce stuff to market but need more space.

i have a business plan for cultivating the front yard, if after some time the landlord can be convinced to let me cultivate the front, or if my family purchases the place. its a suburb, so it will always be limitted, but i have a growth plan if we buy the place.

ill take out a loan and/or take a few CSAs to build beds and cultivate the front for a few years, after paying back the loan, look into larger piece of land somewhere for more intensive full time production and building a home on, starting with just a little shack for myself and maybe a helper to crash in while continuing to live in and cultivate in the suburb primarily.

after the home is built and my family can move onto that property, leasing out this suburban farm lot to someone interested in that, or employing someone as a manager, letting them live here for free if they mantain the property and farm, so we can make revenue to build up the newer larger farm. im a homeless advocate so i will try to get some folks off the streets, let them live in and train them to upkeep the suburban farm house, and use it as a transitional housing program maybe, helping homeless folks start their own farms if they like.

the plan to cultivate the front of the suburban lot starts with a 1k investment, to build 2 75'x5' hugulkultur beds, with a 2' path between them, and a cheep PVC/plastic wrap 13' hoop house over the two, water catchment and drip system, and seeds. the following year i will expand the opperation 50% building beds in another section of lawn, which will require some trees to be cleared to let in more light, and those trees will then be used for growing mushrooms in the woods the following year.

the plan to cultivate a larger area is similar, but larger in scale.5' wide hugulkulture beds, practically as long as the space allows, and a hoop house covering every 2 beds. ill need 10k to build 10 100'x5' beds, and 5 hoop houses, a shack for temporary seasonal living, seeds, water catchment and drip system.
 
Jarret Hynd
Posts: 109
Location: Sask, Canada - Zone 3b
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Figured I'd may aswell post this sometime. Land in Sask, Canada is artificially kept low because there are many provincial laws that restrict foreign buyers from accessing it. We recently hit "highs" of $1,000/acre for farmland in the last few years, but there are plenty of pastures that can be bought for half that price. Renting farmland, which is highly valuable for the non-permaculture portion of the world, can be achieved for an average of $50 to $60 per acre. There are plenty of farmers here that would love to have 10-15 year leases of $8,000 a year per 160 acres. So, as you can see, the affording and finding part were not that hard for me.

Usually here you pay $1 a day per cow/calf pair when renting pasture, so after finding an ideal acre next to a large pond and using those #'s aswell as a few others, I came up with an offer. It was part of a 40 acre pasture that was pretty bad as the farmer could only feed 5 cow/calf pairs on it during 6 months. I offered to rent 1 acre for $300 each year for the next 5 years and it seemed like a pretty beneficial deal. I threw in that I'd do maintenance on the fence, if he bought the supplies, but since it's a small area and doesn't have many cattle in it, it won't be more than 4 hours of my time a year.

We all know $300 is chump change in regards to what can be achieved with 1 acre of land when properly managed. We'll review things after the 3rd and 5th year, and if I have enough cash and the farmer feels like selling, I will buy the 40 acres. I'll likely throw in another deal at that time, as I don't want to invest too heavily into animals besides maybe a few chickens, offering to let his cows graze it down for free as I won't be able to utilize all the space right away anyways. That's jumping the gun a bit, but why not day-dream plan ahead.

I was reluctant at first to even make the offer, as it's hard to confront farmers with such an idea, but figured it was too good to not at least try for. The acre is next to a spring which has apparently never ran out of water even in times where there were 3 years of drought. Just need to buy a $700 pump and 70 feet of line and I should be set for next year.
 
Dave Anderson
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Location: Eagle Mountain, United States
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My wife had awakened the owning land/farm dream that I had when I was a child but had let die because everyone told me I couldn't make a living farming so I gave up on it.  However, my wife has a farming background and when we got married she got me thinking about it again.  I checked 5-6 real estate web sights, regularly, that catered to land/farms but never found anything we could afford.  We ended up buying a house in the suburbs with a little less than a fifth of an acre and I tilled up most of the back yard.  Fast forward 14 years, I was still checking the land web sites (usually a few nights a week just before I went to bed).   By then we realized we wouldn't be able to afford anything close to my job.  So we thought maybe we could buy land a little further away and slowly make improvements and transition slowly, working on the weekends type of a thing.  Eventually, last year on a local land website I found 40 acres for $60,000.  I mentioned it to my wife, she said it sounded good.  I set things in motion to take out a home equity loan.  I know--more debt, not good.  But I did it anyway.  Turned out my wife didn't think I was serious.  So it was a nasty shock when she realized I had put an offer on it.  It's two hours from my job (on a good day), closer to my wife's family though and that's good.  It's covered in sage brush-for now.  Has a gentle slope  it. It has a seasonal stream that dries up in June.  I'm currently applying for  water rights while I'm trying to dig some ponds to use as water storage.  When the ponds are ready I'll put some pigs in to take advantage of their gleying abilities.  I'm just starting out with this and I'm honestly terrified that I will do the wrong thing and screw up.  I know it's not going to be perfect but I think I need to do my best and learn from websites like this as well as my own mistakes.  And we'll figure it out.
 
Not so fast naughty spawn! I want you to know about
Permaculture Playing Cards by Paul Wheaton and Alexander Ojeda
https://permies.com/wiki/57503/digital-market/digital-market/Permaculture-Playing-Cards-Paul-Wheaton
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