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!!!! The age old question; where to homestead?  RSS feed

 
Jen Fan
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I've been ready to buy land for some time now...  I thought I would end up in the NW, probably Washington.  As per some recent events and expansions in life, I've suddenly started to entertain moving out of the NW, just as a possibility.  I'm sure it's been asked 1,000 times, but really- how do you even choose where to go?!  Our country is so environmentally diverse and so expansive...  On the one hand. "It's all good land", on the other, there are definite pro's and con's to every state, county, and climate.

So I thought I'd pick some brains here

I raise fiber and pack goats and intend to start milk goats for home use.  I raise a variety of rare poultry, plus meat rabbits.  Most of my income comes from farm surplus and online sales/work.  I grew up in the NW, I enjoy/tolerate snow and cold well enough, though I prefer 40-60 degrees as a comfortable working climate.  I've gotten sick in the heat several times in the last 3 years (not hard to do when it's over 100 for 10 weeks straight) and these days I get cripplingly ill if I'm out in weather over 80-85 degrees for any length of time, so I need to be mindful of summer highs.  I am terribly sensitive to big ag chemical use and need to stay away from mass monoculture areas.  I also live in an RV on solar and will probably remain doing so if and until I build a cob house.  So naturally there are a lot of environmental and legal factors that go into this.  State and county research is time consuming; can I do this, can I do that, how do I do this, what permits do I need for that, etc etc. Also what resources are in the area, facilities and feed and supplies and emergency aid; how far away is all of it, what is the local economy, community, and political climate, etc etc.  I do hours and hours of research for every property I home in on- doing my due diligence, as it were.

But in the end, it's overwhelming looking at the surplus of land available country-wide!  I grew up traveling around the US and find beauty and peace in so many diverse environments.  Montana has captured my heart, Pennsylvania is filled with nostalgia, New Mexico feels bold and wild, California looks accommodating, Washington promises freedom and privacy, Colorado is cold, wild, and pristine...  How did you guys choose where to go, where to buy, where to live, where to farm?
 
Galen Young
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Location: out in the woods of Maine
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When I was stationed in Bremerton Washington, I was 10 years away from my pension. We had a lot of discussions about our desire to homestead. We spent a lot of time and effort looking at places, shopping for land. The Olympic Penn and the Eastern High Plains desert were both high on our list.

I knew a bunch of fellow crewmen who had bought land, and who were watching land prices and taxes both climb to unreasonable levels. That scared me.

Our land search took us as far afield as Elko NV, and up into Whistler BC.

My military pension runs about $1480/month. We were never confident that my pension would be enough to cover land taxes in the PNW.

We finally settled in Maine.

We have been here for 12 years. It has taken a lot of effort. We are finally on solar power, producing over 95% of our own food, and it is working out nicely.
 
Galen Young
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Each of us, when addressing this issue. Must form our own criteria.

Mine included avoiding drought /water-stress, low land prices, low property taxes, a regional culture of self-sufficiency, and a vision of how I could continue to support my family on my pension while starting a farm.

I am thankful for my pension. If I returned to my home state [California] my pension is not enough to support a family. I need a place with a low Cost-Of-Living. Here my pension puts me in the middle economically in terms of average household incomes.

 
James Freyr
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Location: Middle Tennessee
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What a great topic!! My wife and I are looking for land as well. Here's my two cents. So we're currently in middle tennessee, I'm from here and my wife moved here for work some twelve years ago, and while we have entertained the idea of moving to different parts of the country, we keep coming back to looking at land nearby elsewhere in Tennessee and Kentucky. We have a suburban homestead about 30 miles outside of Nashville on 5 acres, but we desire rural isolation, farm animals, and acreage to make it happen. Some of the reasons for not going too far are that we are acclimated to and comfortable with the climate, we enjoy our usually 7 months of frost free weather, we like the topography of the region (some steep hills, some rolling hills, some flat parts), we like being around deciduous forrest, the region gets adequate rainfall but I do have to irrigate here and there during the season, there are enough extended periods of time at or below 40 degrees so most fruit tree varieties will blossom come spring. There is, for the most part, decent soil to start with but of course needs amending, building and management. It's not necessary to drill far for water, usually 70-170 feet, but there are exceptions. Some downsides are it can be miserably hot in the summer. In my land quest I've noticed there's a heck of a lot more industrial agriculture going on in kentucky than there is in tennessee, so dealing with drift and tainted ground water can be issues. There's no current fracking going on in tennessee, or really much oil or gas industry for that matter, but there is a refinery in the memphis area. Currently, Nashville is bursting at the seams, it's economy is not slowing down, and more people move to the area than there is housing becoming available (my neighbor across the street sold his house in fall 2016, it was on the market less than 24 hours and the buyers paid the asking price). There's major traffic congestion problems now, but there is no shortage of jobs. Tennessee has a 9.25% sales tax on everything, Kentucky has no sales tax (something my wife and I think about). We don't have hurricanes, blizzards, or frequent seismic activity, but we do get violent thunderstorms, tornadoes and sporadic golf ball size and larger hail.

I know what you mean about there being tons of land available across the nation. I think part of the reason we lean to stay within 4 hours of nashville is family and friends are all here. We really don't know anyone anywhere else in the country. My wife doesn't like the cold and I need my hours of sunlight in the winter so that prevents us from looking north, but dang montana is beautiful. And we don't want to go further south, we like having some sort of winter to break up the seasons. You'll figure it out and one day you'll find the perfect spot of land and know it in your heart.
 
Mike Jay
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I'd suggest narrowing down your needs and wants so that you can draw imaginary circles on the map of the US and see how many spots hit all your needs and as many of your wants as possible.  You've already listed some good ones (heat avoidance, cold tolerance, reduced monocropping, regulations and political climate).  Galen mentioned some other good ones (water availability, self-sufficient culture, etc).  I'd suggest the following as well:

How cold is your cold tolerance?  (Minnesota and Ohio are both considered cold)
Humidity tolerance
Frost free days
Access to hospitals, airports, hardware stores, etc
Touristyness (can be good or bad depending on your perspective)
Wildfires
Natural disasters
Major polluters
Types of trees
Property prices

In our case, once we narrowed down to an area 1/3 of a state in size, we focused more on:
Size of town (big enough for a hardware store)
Seeing like-minded people at the farmer's market, organic food store and art fairs when we visited the place
Types of terrain we liked
Types of trees we liked (maple syrup in our case)
Good soil and water
Town and local economy is steady or growing vs dying
Taxes and regulations
We wanted a bit of tourists for marketing opportunities.  We set our limit at 1 fudge shop.  If a town had more than that it was too touristy.  If it had an old time photo place it was automatically off the list
 
Jen Fan
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Good replies, thank you   I giggled about the fudge shop limit!  I know the feelin'.

I do have lots of extra criteria.  Water has been a big stopper in finding land in the NW.  Prices up here are much higher than other regions of the country.  Most areas in my budget are 400+ ft wells!  If the water is higher, then the property is VERY remote or has no legal access.

I guess I'm a bit pampered living in Idaho.  Very diverse climates to pick from, very diverse ecosystems.  Extremely low humidity, which I do prefer, but a mild humidity is perfectly tolerable.  Very few natural disasters aside from wild fires.  Virtually no pest-borne diseases due to low moisture/humidity (heartworm and lyme are not present in Idaho for example, according to the CDC).  Aside from rattlesnakes we have no super deadly pests, no huge bugs (I mean, I like bugs, but going to Montana and being bombarded with 3-4" beetles was a shocker)- aside from rattlers and Eastern Idaho grizzlies we're pretty safe around here.  Problem is legalities and politics.  I can't live the way I want to live in Idaho because Idaho is trying to maintain an image.  I can't get any state aid if I have an accident or emergency.  I can't get a loan if I needed one because doing what I'm doing is 'strange'.  And I definitely don't see eye-to-eye with the average Idahoan.  I'm also perturbed by the spread of white supremacy in the state.  I've lived in Boise and in many small/tiny peripheral towns and have witnessed almost deadly racism in many places. I have sparse family in ID, but also family in Penn, NM, Cali, and Alabama.  I've got friends in AZ, WA, and Georgia.  Sister might be moving to MI.  There's a little bit of everything everywhere, and online communication is my main tie these days.

So that being said, make/brake requirements would include:
Accessible water (legal/adequate rain harvest, live ground water with use rights, low water tables for affordable/DIY well, and/or community water/well)
No restrictions in regards to what I need/want to do (livestock, farming, RV living, owner-built home, land alteration, crop/orchard establishment, etc)
Few neighbors (having lived in towns from 150,000 to 600, I'm definitely a tiny-town person.  Give me a hardware store and everything else within 1-2 hours drive and I'm good.  No endlessly barking dogs, car collectors revving engines for fun, abusive screaming neighbors, or curtain twitchers.  I like people, but I like space and privacy )
In regards to that, it's crazy, but being able to sunbathe naked with confident privacy is actually a requirement for me xD
Healthy substrate/environment, preferably with some amount of established trees (I love con/des trees both), no ex-monoculture plots, or land that require massive work to cultivate.
Healthy-enough regional ag/livestock economy (can I sell/trade goats/birds, etc with ease)
Decent Internet access (be it wi-fi hotspot or cable...  no smart phone but if it's my only option for internet I'll get one.  I need net for social and income both, alas...  maybe someday I'll be rid of it!)
Moderate to low humidity
Summers under 100 mandatory, under 90 would be a dream come true
Winters with less than 5 feet of snow would be ideal (we had 3' this winter and hit -18...  it was alright but for trailer living it's a bit taxing...  colder climate would have to merit permanent structures)
Growing season of at least 120 days
Over 15 inches of rain per year (living in 9-12 right now, sometimes there's no rain for 2 months in summer, kills everything even watering daily...)
Healthy like-minded community access, otherwise I'll ended up ultra isolated- farmers markets and such are an income boon
Ideally 3-5 acres, but as little as 1 if it's otherwise "perfect" (I'll work my way up to bigger), but ultimately the more the merrier.  5 would suffice for my needs right now.
Hunting opportunities, both seasonal game and edible varmints.  I enjoy the provisionary experience of harvesting dinner.  Whether that's squirrel (better than chicken!) or fowl or big game, as per regulatory allowence.  Being out of city limits for legal firearm use is a must.  And with hunting grounds come forage grounds!  Mushrooming and wild forage are big on the list.

I mean, this probably sounds like what most people are looking for, I realize  

I'd like to add being in a small town and not needing a car.  My vehicle makes up over half of my monthly and yearly expenses as it is- and that's with fair MPG, no payments, and cheap insurance.  My sister lived in La Grande for 3 years with no vehicle.  Just a trike with a nice big basket!  Somewhere I can commute as needed via animal or bike would be perfect and make the life of finances much more comfortable and less unpredictable.  I could put all that cash towards plane tickets to visit friends and family!

In regards to own-built homes, the only main work-around I've found has been that, in many counties, structures under 120sq ft require no permits or regulation.  This means small bunk houses could be built without permitting.  Keep in mind I'm not looking for a permanent place...  "land flipping" is a better way to describe my endeavors here.  To turn raw land into a sustainable environment and pass that on to folks who don't have the time, resources, or knowledge to do so themselves but still want to experience it   Put a tiny comfy dwelling and a water source on a property and POOF, you've doubled or tripled the value! 

I have many places in the NW I've researched, counties where my farming choices are legal, etc etc.   But I have not done a broader search. let alone a nation-wide search.  There's just so much out there!  :s
 
Jen Fan
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So I guess what I'm trying to say is, yeah, I know what I want generally speaking.  But the monumental task of applying those filters over literally thousands of available properties is not reasonable.  Hence wondering how others made their decisions
 
Jen Fan
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So I just got the inspiration this afternoon to put together a map.  The map overlays a few basic environmental variables to help narrow my search.  Lots of gathering maps from the government

Criteria include:
- Nuclear reactors/plants
- Radiation levels/nuclear spills
- Uranium levels
- May-June highs (50-70)
- January highs (30-56)
- Annual Precipitation (20-36")
- Existing Oil Pipelines
- Solar resource productivity (based on July max)

Just the basics I REALLY want to avoid, plus some climate

The green globs are, based on this data, the most ideal locations to start with.

I realize I could take this in many directions, but it's a start


^ working on this.  No idea why the links aren't working.  Direct link here:
https://ibb.co/b8XM2a
 
Galen Young
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Location: out in the woods of Maine
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Jen Fan wrote:... Criteria include:
- Nuclear reactors/plants
- Radiation levels/nuclear spills
- Uranium levels
- May-June highs (50-70)
- January highs (30-56)
- Annual Precipitation (20-36")
- Existing Oil Pipelines
- Solar resource productivity (based on July max)


Don't forget:
land for less than $400/acre,
taxes less than $1.25/acre,
lack of code enforcement for DIY homes / farms.


 
Mike Jay
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Hmm, I hate to break it to you but the green glob in Northern Minnesota will certainly have January highs well below 30-56 degrees.  I love the map though, maybe there's just a variable wrong in the data or something?

A few other thoughts...  Being 1-2 hours from the hardware store won't work well if you don't have a car   Also, being out in the country does give you privacy but you very well may still have barking dogs and four wheelers zipping around.
 
jim dee
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Hi Jen,

Great job on the map.
My fam and I have very similar ideas/goals etc...
I lived in Boise many years ago for a short time, and my extended family are in Central OR.
Idaho from my understanding, is one of the few places in the NW where one doesn't have to worry about zoning and such...right?

But the "white power" thingy and the other issues, politically, I totally agree with you on. It's really kinda sad and even a bit disgusting to me.
Something that is really turning me off of from that region, but of course I do not have first hand experience with the central and northern part of Idaho.
And my family is mixed so it makes me a bit cautious.

AS well as the other issues of water rights and all...

Anyways, great thread and info, I hope it keeps coming.
 
Steven Kovacs
Posts: 226
Location: Western Massachusetts (USDA zone 5a, heating zone 5, 40"+)
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You probably can't find a place that meets all of those criteria, sadly. It is probably worth prioritizing them - for example, it sounds like hot summers are worse for you than cold winters.  Could you take the climate in upper Michigan?
 
Mike Jay
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Jen Fan wrote:Criteria include:
- May-June highs (50-70)
- January highs (30-56)


Are you sure about those temperatures?  That's an amazingly cool summer and a rather balmy winter.  I'd sign up for it myself but I'm not sure it's realistic...
 
fred greek
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Decades ago, we bought isolated acreage outside of Kingman, AZ, put in a well, foundation, other infrastructure.  It was going to be our retirement homestead.   But, on a visit when I was alone, I climbed one of the hills, and near the top felt chest pain.  I took out my cell to call 911. But, I realized that as isolated as we were, by the time an ambulance could get there (miles of dirt road off any paved road) the coyotes would be fighting over my carcass.

I went home, and put the property up for sale.  For retirement, we bought a small home within the City of Tucson.  It is a small house, small lot, but close to all pre-crash services.  We are doing our best to make the property self-reliant, and an urban permaculture site.
 
Stacy Witscher
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Those temperatures are about what we have in the Bay Area. Of course, real estate around here is ridiculous. I'm looking to move to the Sierra Nevada foothills, temps are slightly higher in the summer and slightly lower in the winter than here, but the prices are much more reasonable. I sincerely doubt you could find anything in your price range, but I haven't looked at raw land. My daughter and I are looking for 5-10 acres, with an existing house for between $300,000-$400,000. Compared to the Bay, that is cheap, my house on a 1/10 of an acre will likely sell for over $600,000. My childhood home, in Palo Alto, sold for 1.5 million about 10 years ago. And my parents bought it because they couldn't afford a second car. Go figure.
 
Brandon Mehrabi
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I would only go to two places. One is almost anywhere just on the other side of the cascade mountains, that is the east side. That way your protected from the possible catastrophic earthquake that is expected as well as the already existing radiation from Fukushima and any future meltdowns from the earthquake or anything else. It gets tons of sun and varying amounts of wind so green energy is easy. It gets a pretty decent amount of rain although is significantly dryer than west of the cascades. It also has lots of mountains which are scenic as well as holding snow which melts and feed the rivers and streams all year long. We are rather well protected from climate change (or so they say) as we have the cool air from the Pacific as sort of natural ac. Fertile soils and a WIDE variety of foods grow here, from vineyards and orchards to wheat and other grains. It's rather cheap compared with say, the Willamette Valley(although that place you can grow almost ANYTHING unless moisture is a problem).  The downside is that we have huge forest fires and occasional droughts that can be a problem.

The other place I would go would be Michigan's upper peninsula which is also vet scenic and has a sort of mountain range, although nothing compared to almost anywhere else. On the plus side you have 3 great lakes, and can buy beautiful wooded land,  30 minutes from Lake superior and Lake Michigan for around 1k-5k an acre. Water, you won't find more fresh water access  anywhere else on Earth - FACT! Lots of stuff to do and see, very close by. It's protected from most types of disasters, at least any that have ever caught my attention in research, no real forest fires. It's probably full of the nicest people anywhere(so is Washington and Oregon for the most part)

The growing season is short and the soil isn't the most fertile. However if you believe in climate change (which is happening) then the growing season will increase, you'd just need to wait it out.

I live in the Columbia Gorge area, on the east edge of the cascade mountains in the Washington side. It's cheap and LOTS of great land average of 3.5k per acre. I run entirely on solar most of the year and could also run on wind but just haven't bought a turbine, YET! It's beautiful but requires a bit of driving everywhere. I own 10 acres right off a main road, ALL wooded. I don't have a well yet but I'm saving for one. It has a very low population of very religious people who have been preventing growth for years but that's finally coming to an end (not my crowd) however the issue here is that tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of Californians are migrating to the Northwest. Some maybe because of climate change others because of overcrowding possible, who knows for sure. When I was down there I saw it go from rather green to being reduced to almost wasteland by the drought.

As for the Upper peninsula of Michigan (aka the U.P.) no one is really migrating up there lol Beautiful place!

Those are my recommendations for those who want to prep-homestead or just off-the-grid-homestead. If you want to homestead, I think it should be determined by where you want to live, what climate you prefer and what you want to grow.

 
Mike Jay
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I agree with Brandon on the Upper Peninsula if you can handle the cold.  I did a quick search on Zillow for 10+ acres near the city/town of Escanaba.  That's on Lake Michigan which may moderate the temps and extend the growing season a bit (maybe not).  All of these looked to be within 10 miles of town and had enough land to be pretty private.  All had room to grow food and other benefits.  Some were fixer-uppers though.  But getting these sorts of acreage with an established house/well/septic/power seems like a pretty good deal.  Good luck with narrowing down your search!

$130K for 4 beds, 30 acres, open area for gardening

$99K for 21 acres, 4 bedrooms, open land and a pole building

$60K for a fixer upper with a barn on 20 acres

80 acres with fixer upper farm house for $80k
 
Brandon Mehrabi
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Yep! Plus both areas have water sports, you can even do regular surfing in Lake superior! Wind surfing in the gorge as well as superior!

If i didn't live in the gorge area I would be in the UP in a HEART BEAT! Great place!
 
Jen Fan
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Sorry to drop the convo here, I never got email updates on it and poof!  I forgot!



Mike Jay wrote:Hmm, I hate to break it to you but the green glob in Northern Minnesota will certainly have January highs well below 30-56 degrees.  I love the map though, maybe there's just a variable wrong in the data or something?

A few other thoughts...  Being 1-2 hours from the hardware store won't work well if you don't have a car   Also, being out in the country does give you privacy but you very well may still have barking dogs and four wheelers zipping around.


Not every green glob has all criteria matched   I believe I highlighted areas only missing 1 or 2 at the most.  I also factored in things like local political climate as well...  That one's not on the map

Naturally the "not having a car" thing is probably a pipe dream.  The few rural towns I could get away with that in are going to be very expensive.  But!  It's a dream.  Maybe it'll happen some day, it's not a priority.  And Even when I've been 12+ acres from the nearest neighbor I've had to deal with their dogs (barking, traveling all the way to my place to poop, stealing things from the property, etc), but again, it's NOTHING like it is in city or even rural farm settings.  When your neighbors breed hunting dogs and never take them on a walk, for example e____e

ATVs are another factor.  I need to pick between lesser evils though.  As much as I hate the sound of chainsaws and ATVs, souped-up trucks flying by at 75mph on a 50mph road is definitely the greater evil.
 
Jen Fan
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jim dee wrote:Hi Jen,

Great job on the map.
My fam and I have very similar ideas/goals etc...
I lived in Boise many years ago for a short time, and my extended family are in Central OR.
Idaho from my understanding, is one of the few places in the NW where one doesn't have to worry about zoning and such...right?

But the "white power" thingy and the other issues, politically, I totally agree with you on. It's really kinda sad and even a bit disgusting to me.
Something that is really turning me off of from that region, but of course I do not have first hand experience with the central and northern part of Idaho.
And my family is mixed so it makes me a bit cautious.

AS well as the other issues of water rights and all...

Anyways, great thread and info, I hope it keeps coming.


Howdy!

Not sure on the zoning thing.  I know Boise county has no building codes, is that what oyu're thinking of?  I believe there's 1 or 2 other counties in the pan handle without building codes as well.  This is a rare perk, for sure!  People flock here because of it.  Some counties are more lax on zoning than others- really, the farther you get away from any nice looking town, the easier it's going to be.  But Idaho tries to maintain the luxury gentrified recreation front, it chokes a lot of us out.

White nationalists are getting bold and hate crimes as well as hate group organization/activity is brewing up North.  But even down in the valleys here it's bad   This place is a political outhouse.  I am a little ashamed that such a beautiful state, such amazing land has to be infected with the kind of people that live here.  Strong words?  I don't really care at this point, it just is what it is!

Stay safe! 
 
Jen Fan
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Mike Jay wrote:
Jen Fan wrote:Criteria include:
- May-June highs (50-70)
- January highs (30-56)


Are you sure about those temperatures?  That's an amazingly cool summer and a rather balmy winter.  I'd sign up for it myself but I'm not sure it's realistic...


It's more like guidelines ^_^  And remember; all of these climate data maps you get are WAY OFF.  If it says July high of 80-90, it really means it's going to get above 100 for at least 3 weeks.  Averages can be misleading, you just gotta get a feel for it thumbing through climate data   So a Jan high/av of 30-40, you can bet is probably going to be in the teens to low 20's most days.  And that's not counting nights!
 
Jen Fan
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Brandon Mehrabi wrote:I would only go to two places. One is almost anywhere just on the other side of the cascade mountains, that is the east side. That way your protected from the possible catastrophic earthquake that is expected as well as the already existing radiation from Fukushima and any future meltdowns from the earthquake or anything else. It gets tons of sun and varying amounts of wind so green energy is easy. It gets a pretty decent amount of rain although is significantly dryer than west of the cascades. It also has lots of mountains which are scenic as well as holding snow which melts and feed the rivers and streams all year long. We are rather well protected from climate change (or so they say) as we have the cool air from the Pacific as sort of natural ac. Fertile soils and a WIDE variety of foods grow here, from vineyards and orchards to wheat and other grains. It's rather cheap compared with say, the Willamette Valley(although that place you can grow almost ANYTHING unless moisture is a problem).  The downside is that we have huge forest fires and occasional droughts that can be a problem.

The other place I would go would be Michigan's upper peninsula which is also vet scenic and has a sort of mountain range, although nothing compared to almost anywhere else. On the plus side you have 3 great lakes, and can buy beautiful wooded land,  30 minutes from Lake superior and Lake Michigan for around 1k-5k an acre. Water, you won't find more fresh water access  anywhere else on Earth - FACT! Lots of stuff to do and see, very close by. It's protected from most types of disasters, at least any that have ever caught my attention in research, no real forest fires. It's probably full of the nicest people anywhere(so is Washington and Oregon for the most part)

The growing season is short and the soil isn't the most fertile. However if you believe in climate change (which is happening) then the growing season will increase, you'd just need to wait it out.

I live in the Columbia Gorge area, on the east edge of the cascade mountains in the Washington side. It's cheap and LOTS of great land average of 3.5k per acre. I run entirely on solar most of the year and could also run on wind but just haven't bought a turbine, YET! It's beautiful but requires a bit of driving everywhere. I own 10 acres right off a main road, ALL wooded. I don't have a well yet but I'm saving for one. It has a very low population of very religious people who have been preventing growth for years but that's finally coming to an end (not my crowd) however the issue here is that tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of Californians are migrating to the Northwest. Some maybe because of climate change others because of overcrowding possible, who knows for sure. When I was down there I saw it go from rather green to being reduced to almost wasteland by the drought.

As for the Upper peninsula of Michigan (aka the U.P.) no one is really migrating up there lol Beautiful place!

Those are my recommendations for those who want to prep-homestead or just off-the-grid-homestead. If you want to homestead, I think it should be determined by where you want to live, what climate you prefer and what you want to grow.



Thanks for the input!  The MI UP has been on my radar.  However there's a possible green-lighted proposal to start dumping nuclear waste into the great lakes :/  I'm not sure how I feel about that.  And talk about PIPELINES!  Big oil OWNS that area and your land is never truly yours.  That freaks me out a bit as well?

Yeah, we really have it good up here in the NW...  Makes it hard to leave
 
bruce Fine
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beware--- our nation is being stripped of environmental regulations, trump has opened it up to anything goes for polluting industries, be careful to research an area extensively before putting your money down on a place
 
Jen Fan
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bruce Fine wrote:beware--- our nation is being stripped of environmental regulations, trump has opened it up to anything goes for polluting industries, be careful to research an area extensively before putting your money down on a place



Indeed, sir, it's a spooky time to be alive, let alone property shopping :s
 
Devin Lavign
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A mistake I think a lot of folks make when looking for property is too much concentration on the land itself. While the details of the property and physical features is important, there is something else that really can make the experience good or bad no matter what the physical features of the land are.

A huge part of making it homesteading I feel is a like minded community, the people who make up the local area. The people around you can make or break your homesteading experience. If you have people in the area who you don't get along with and oppose your way of thinking it makes it hard to socialize and you become ostracized. But if the people around are of similar thinking you find help and deals, as well as moral support and camaraderie.

I think a lot of the old back to land movement failed due to very progressive folks moving out to rural areas with very conservative neighbors. They were looking at the features of the land and not taking into account the attitudes of the neighbors and people running the businesses.

Now days with the modern back to land movement, we have access to an online community. Which helps a lot. Being able to connect with like minded folks even if they are in other states or even other countries. However I still think having local people you can connect with is key to a successful homestead. You don't have to agree on everything either, but you and they have to be willing to compromise and look past differences to find common ground.
 
Stacy Witscher
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Devin, I agree completely with you. I'm a misanthrope and even I know being surrounded by people with completely different ideologies is a bad idea. As much as I don't like people, there are degrees. Given all the factors, weather, politics, price of land, I would never leave the west coast.

As far as health risks from potential contaminants, I would be much more worried about current pesticide use, than potential nuclear problems. And earthquakes have never been easy to predict, and with climate change and fracking, they are happening everywhere, not just in "earthquake country".

I want to leave the bay area for multiple reasons, cost being one of them. But also, I am a mile from the bay, given current circumstances that seems like a terrible idea.

The back to the land movement in the late 60's and 70's created some great progressive/alternative communities in Nor Cal, unfortunately those areas have become very expensive, Guerneville and Sebastopol come to mind.

My oldest daughter and I are going to be buying land together, and she is racially mixed. She would prefer to live in a community where she is not the only one.
 
Cosaki Culture
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My wife & I just bought land and are moving off-grid in a month.

Took us a good 1.5 years to research and figure out what a good place to settle. She is from Japan so after we narrowed it down to the US, I made a list of things to consider:

1. NO RESTRICTIONS: this was the biggest concern as we want to build with cob by hand, rain catch, live stock, farm etc. Which is mostly restricted in most places.
~This narrowed it down to a handful of states that have counties in which there are no restrictions (Almost all are very rural)
~These states included: AK, AL, CO, NH, NV, TN, WV, UT, SD, KY, and a few others i'm sure i'm forgetting.

1B. WATER ACCESS: Install a Well, or Catch Rain water are the 2 big options, having a creek would be nice but wasn't affordable for us.
*I put this as 1B because there are many areas that restrict rain water catchment.

2. NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS: We wanted to be at least 100 miles from any Nuclear power plant. For obvious reasons.
~Map: http://www.mapcruzin.com/download/nuke-facility-update-2091x1455.png

3. NATURAL DISASTERS: We also wanted to limit our exposure to areas hit by many natural disasters.
~Even though TN has tornadoes and small quakes, we chose to live on a small mountain to limit their impact.

4.PRICE: We dont have a lot of money, so it had to be very cheap, this limited the search a lot as well.

5.FREEDOMS: like not having building restrictions; Owning a firearm, Home school, Home births, etc are important factors for our future.

6.WEATHER / GROWING SEASON; Having a long growing season but still having mild winter was what we went for. Also a healthy amount of rain. This is a reason why we picked TN over CO.

7. HAZARDS:  Man made disasters are also a concern; Oil spills, pipelines, Chemical spills or manufacturing, Mines, & overall Pollution, etc.

8. POPULATION DENSITY: How many people live in nearby areas, if a collapse/major disaster strikes, that population will move to the rural areas nearby.

9. ACRES: We also wanted at least 5 acres to have enough space for trees, small farm, and not being on top of neighbors. I looked as low as 3 acres if there was a good water source.

10. COMMUNITY / ACCESSIBLE GOODS: What kind of people are around, food / hardware stores / hospitals, etc.

Hope this helps a bit!

-Cosaki Culture
 
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