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Ready to start our land search  RSS feed

 
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Hello permies, I hope this finds you all well and that I am within the forum rules.

We are a couple, mid-30s, no kids but planning. We've been city/technology people for most of our lives but are now succumbing to the call of the great outdoors. We are smart enough to know what we don't know, which is pretty much everything. We're reading everything we can, but we know nothing will prepare us.

In a couple of weeks, we're going to drive around the interior of British Columbia to begin our search for our home and farm in the woods.

Here's some more about us:

* We don't have a desire to farm commercially. What we raise will be for ourselves and our neighbours if there's surplus. Our goal is simply to raise our own healthy food and for our kids to grow up in clean country air.

* We've learned enough that true "self-sustainability" is probably beyond us. Our goals are to grow our own vegetables, fruits, and pastured animals, but we're not under the myth that we're going to be 100% self-sustaining, and that's okay with us.

* We don't plan to send our kids to public school.

Here's what we are less sure about:

* Do we need an agent? Someone to look out for us? We aren't knowledgeable enough to assess things like soil and water quality. How do we assess if land is a good deal?

* We've been searching Landquest, realtor.com, kijiji, Craigslist. Anything else we should look at? Are most properties going to be available online or do we simply need to put miles on the odometer going door to door? We have about 2 weeks of driving before we have to return to the real world for a bit, and BC is a big place.

* If we find the "perfect" piece of land, but it is only 1-2 acres, how much does that diminish future plans? Early on, we're going to start small with a vegetable garden and some chickens, but what if eventually we want pigs and cattle?

Thank you for having this community and answering (once again!) such oft-asked questions.
T
 
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Welcome to permies.  You will find tons of information here.

While many people consider 1-2 acres to be too small, it is still a significant piece of land.
Enough to do some very serious food growing, as well as enough livestock for a family.

One of the biggest long term limitations for that 'small' a property would be WOOD.
If you plan to provide your own wood for heating and/or cooking (very good idea), it is nice to have enough property where you can go in and select (the cull trees) what you want to fell.  By eliminating the poorest trees for fuel, you are giving the best trees an advantage, and NOT creating large voids in your woods.

Another huge advantage for larger property is the kids.  As they grow, they will certainly want more space to explore, without having neighbors yelling at them.

We have fora specific to Canada (as well as 'Cascades', which includes much of BC).
You might wish to explore some of those fora in order to 'meet' others in your areas of interest.

Good luck in your land search - there is much beautiful land in BC.

 
Taro Machan
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Thank you John for the welcome and for the information. I actually wasn't sure which of the regional forums to post in, since of course British Columbia over laps Cascadia as well as Canada.

Do you have any thoughts on how to do proper evaluation of the land and water situations?
 
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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If you're interested in designing a permaculture homestead, here is a page of useful links including some about how to select an appropriate piece of land:  https://permies.com/t/55751/permaculture-design/Permaculture-design-basics
 
Taro Machan
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Thanks Tyler, unfortunately it seems that the geoff lawton video from your very first link isn't available since the domain has expired -- hopefully it's available elsewhere. Much appreciated.
 
Posts: 134
Location: Jacksonville, FL
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Geoff Lawton Videos

It looks like they go through YouTube from his site. I wonder what ever happened with the ordeal on the old site. I know he was having problems with another person, but I wasn't sure if he still owned the rights to the videos. There was something like 40 or so high quality videos. I'm sure you can find a good deal of his work on YouTube via his site or by searching.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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I think it's this one:  http://www.geofflawtononline.com/videos/video/property-purchase-guide/
 
pollinator
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Location: Pac Northwest
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Are you looking for Western Cascades BC or Eastern Cascades BC in the Okonogan region? Or both? Each area has it's pluses and minuses. And different things you need to look for and be aware of.

I ask also as I was a bit surprised at first to find most of the US Okanogan folks posting in the Rockies forum as the region has more in common with that region than the temperate rainforest of the Western side.

 
Taro Machan
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Devin Lavign wrote:Are you looking for Western Cascades BC or Eastern Cascades BC in the Okonogan region? Or both? Each area has it's pluses and minuses. And different things you need to look for and be aware of.



We're willing to explore both -- as mentioned we have a couple of weeks to drive through the area.

Cariboo/interior BC area is interesting to me. She likes the Kootenays but it seems somewhat too remote to me, pretty darn far from any airports if we want to take occasional trips back to Vancouver. North/central coastal BC and the islands would be much more compelling if we weren't overdue for the huge earthquake that will destroy us all.
 
Devin Lavign
pollinator
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Taro Machan wrote:

Devin Lavign wrote:Are you looking for Western Cascades BC or Eastern Cascades BC in the Okonogan region? Or both? Each area has it's pluses and minuses. And different things you need to look for and be aware of.



We're willing to explore both -- as mentioned we have a couple of weeks to drive through the area.

Cariboo/interior BC area is interesting to me. She likes the Kootenays but it seems somewhat too remote to me, pretty darn far from any airports if we want to take occasional trips back to Vancouver. North/central coastal BC and the islands would be much more compelling if we weren't overdue for the huge earthquake that will destroy us all.



Well prices for land are going to be higher more coastal you get, but then water is less an issue and cost of goods drops some too. Since your looking at fairly small acreage from the sound of it, the price issue might be less an issue as it tends to factor more when you want larger tracts and want to get more land for your money.

Eastern side of the Cascades your going to have more of a 4 season environment, and while more remote there is also more of a homesteading acceptance and culture there.

I don't know about the Canadian side of needing agents etc. But always be open to looking for the for sale by owner signs. You can often get much better deals that way.

A big suggestion for looking for land, is look also at the community in the area. Look at their festivals, events, etc. If possible go to some and figure out if you mix well with the locals. Nothing worse than having a great piece of property but having to drive 3 hrs to get to people you like to be around. Good you don't have illusions of being self sustaining if your knowledge and skills aren't up to the task. The reality is that is more a goal to strive for than a reality to reach for pretty much anyone. We need community and really aren't made to be completely independent and self suficient. Which is why knowing the community your moving into is important.

As for only 1-2 acres, I would suggest trying to stick to more like 3-5 acres minimum and if you can afford it 5-10 acres. Though 1-2 with a protected forest boarding it might be reasonable. As mentioned wood for fires etc is a factor, but also just space to not be crowded. Especially if you end up with kids. Also more land you can get more opportunities you can find on it. However, don't get yourself in too deep with too much land that you can't manage, pay a mortgage (if your going that route), or pay taxes on.

Be cautious of existing buildings on property. They might not be up to code, in poor condition, or placed in the wrong spot. Each additional structure and improvement on property raises the price. Figure out what you can do yourself or hire others to do for you, and consider what you would need right away. Do you need a well right off, or a home? Or can you live in a trailer or cabin for awhile and bring in water while developing a spring?

Water is always a critical issue for any land purchase. Do not buy land without a good water plan understood. Be it a spring, stream, well, water catchment, or whatever you need some water access and a plan to tap it. Don't be the folks who struggle because you have to go into town to get water all the time because you didn't plan for water.

Don't be discouraged if you don't find something right away either, a couple weeks is not a lot of time to search the amount of area your talking about. I had been looking for 10-15 yrs casually just to have an idea of availability and prices and get to know multiple different areas as potential communities I would like to live in, etc. The last couple years, I started getting more serious looking, then when I was finally financial ready to do it it took several months even with a lot of prior research under my belt. The good thing though was I was able to recognize the perfect opportunity early in my serious searching rather than keep looking. Realizing I wasn't likely to find a better place for my price range due top having watched properties for years.

I agree the whole impending Cascadian seduction zone issue is a scary one. Actually nice to hear you have put some thought into that issue.

Big advice I would suggest for what ever area your looking is research wild fire issues. They are more and more common these days, so look for areas that seem to have less repeated wildfires run through them. Also if on the wet side, look at mudslide history. The PNW has some nasty mud slides like the Oso WA slide.

Ok enough discussing the yucky stuff.

I really hope you find your dream property. It is an exciting time. There is the right place out there just waiting for you.
 
Taro Machan
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Fantastic response Devin, that's exactly the kind of information we were looking for. Very much appreciated.

Always happy to have more reading material of there is any more info out there on what to look for when buying land/property.
 
You can thank my dental hygienist for my untimely aliveness. So tiny:
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