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Where is the best location to start my permaculture farm for my needs?  RSS feed

 
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Hi, I have had a huge dream of slowly becoming self sufficient with a plot of land that can feed me. I have some requirements and they might be completely unrealistic but hope you can help me find the area that best suits my needs. Here’s my story.

Im 32 years old. My wife (high school sweetheart) of 12 years has decided to leave me. Country living scares her to the point of being in tears, and I am very very depressed and anxious living in the city. Too crowded for me! Along with that she wants kids and I don’t. She knew who I was before we married but she has recently changed her mind... long story short I’m completely broken and figured this is the time for me to leave and start over; and why not start working towards my passion.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area about 40 minutes south of SF in a suburb which is now neighboring Facebook and google and all the other tech stuff. I lived in Monterey CA for a short while as well. I love this area and I wish I could stay but the $17 cheese burgers and housing costs of $3,000/month for a 1 bedroom apartment is rediculous. When someone is walking with an autonomous robot on downtown sidewalk, it’s time for me to leave.

I have been scouring Zillow for about a year looking. At potential slots. My search starts in my area and I spiral outwards and it seems most of California (unless I move to the desert) is too expensive for me. I have checked other states as well but not sure of the living conditions and all the details.

I’m looking for basic areas to look into. So if you have some ideas about certain regions that might meet most of my requirements please let me know and I’ll continue my searching in those areas.

Staying close to my parents would be nice, in case they need my help eventually,  but to be honest my life is pretty much turned upside down right now so I’m willing to me anywhere so I can forget this mess and start over....

here is a list of my requirements for moving. Thank you to everyone for your help!!! If you need more info or something else from me let me know and I’ll clarify.


My requirements

1. 4+ acres
2. Square/rectangular property (not a thin narrow strip)
3. Slight hills for better water catchments
4. Agriculture zone 9a-9b
5. No alligators or scorpions
6. No natural disasters as dramatic as hurricanes, floods or tornadoes. (Fires and earthquakes are fine with me )
7. Inside the USA
8. Under $150k
9. No more than an hour drive to a major city
10. Internet and city power grid connection.
11. A house currently on the property (doesn’t have to be perfect condition. A small fixer upper is fine)
12. City sewer hookup or zoned for septic

 
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With your hardiness zone request you've pretty much got the coastal west or the dessert as your 'closest' options to your folks place. So if you really want to be near a city that means you are looking at SF bay area (unlikely to find the price range you want), Portland (seems possible to find something there within an hour), or Seattle-Tacoma (from what I hear, increasingly difficult to find affordable housing around there). Otherwise you're moving pretty far away from family. I would suggest you keep an eye on the northern coastal counties of California, you won't exactly be an hour from a 'Major' city, but land prices are lower and generally falling and you're only a days drive from the bay area. Del Norte is the furtherst and already quite cheap, Humboldt is getting cheaper and is slightly closer and has more private land than Del Norte, Mendocino or very far norhtern Sonoma are going to be the closest and will definitely offer the most city access however they are the most expensive and most drought prone of these options. But you might be able to scoop up land on the cheap that was just burned out by the fires last year. You might also look into Lake county.
Best of luck with your search.
 
Tim Jones
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stephen lowe wrote:With your hardiness zone request you've pretty much got the coastal west or the dessert as your 'closest' options to your folks place. So if you really want to be near a city that means you are looking at SF bay area (unlikely to find the price range you want), Portland (seems possible to find something there within an hour), or Seattle-Tacoma (from what I hear, increasingly difficult to find affordable housing around there). Otherwise you're moving pretty far away from family. I would suggest you keep an eye on the northern coastal counties of California, you won't exactly be an hour from a 'Major' city, but land prices are lower and generally falling and you're only a days drive from the bay area. Del Norte is the furtherst and already quite cheap, Humboldt is getting cheaper and is slightly closer and has more private land than Del Norte, Mendocino or very far norhtern Sonoma are going to be the closest and will definitely offer the most city access however they are the most expensive and most drought prone of these options. But you might be able to scoop up land on the cheap that was just burned out by the fires last year. You might also look into Lake county.
Best of luck with your search.



Thanks, I would say the lowest priority requirement is the proximity to my parents. If need be they can move closer to me eventually. So considering that, how about other states?? Anything out there?
 
gardener
Posts: 2140
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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Are you sure you want to limit yourself to zone 9a/b?  Unless I'm misreading the zone map, that limits you to a bit of central Florida, southern Louisiana, south Texas, south AZ and the Pacific coast.  My assumption is that those line up with either your hurricane or scorpion avoidance criteria or are pretty costly (Pacific coast). 

If you stretch yourself to zone 8a (which is still terribly hot in my opinion), you open yourself up to many places in the southeast and over to central TX. 

What are your feelings about humidity?  What is your max and min temperature desires? 

I just picked a random big city on the north end of zone 8a (Little Rock, AR) and did a Realtor.com search.  I limited it to 5+ acres, <$150K, 2+ bedrooms and 20 miles from town and got a few interesting places.  Here's one that sounds interesting: 10 acres, $85K

It has fruit trees, a log home shell that needs to be finished, outbuildings, mobile home for the short term, etc etc etc.  It is kind of near to a freeway though.

Land with houses can be pretty affordable if you expand your search range.
 
Tim Jones
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Mike Jay wrote:Are you sure you want to limit yourself to zone 9a/b?  Unless I'm misreading the zone map, that limits you to a bit of central Florida, southern Louisiana, south Texas, south AZ and the Pacific coast.  My assumption is that those line up with either your hurricane or scorpion avoidance criteria or are pretty costly (Pacific coast). 

If you stretch yourself to zone 8a (which is still terribly hot in my opinion), you open yourself up to many places in the southeast and over to central TX. 

What are your feelings about humidity?  What is your max and min temperature desires? 

I just picked a random big city on the north end of zone 8a (Little Rock, AR) and did a Realtor.com search.  I limited it to 5+ acres, <$150K, 2+ bedrooms and 20 miles from town and got a few interesting places.  Here's one that sounds interesting: 10 acres, $85K

It has fruit trees, a log home shell that needs to be finished, outbuildings, mobile home for the short term, etc etc etc.  It is kind of near to a freeway though.

Land with houses can be pretty affordable if you expand your search range.



Thanks for the reply. I guess all of my requirements are flexible as long as most of them are met.

I have a very huge fascination with tropical/subtropical plants. For this reason, 9b would be great but not necessary.

Humidity isn’t a problem for me at all.

I would say the most important on my list are cost, house on property, proximity to a major city and temperature.

As for temp, no snow if possible, mild winters, and enough sun so I don’t get depressed.
 
Mike Jay
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I'm thinking that the South East could hit most of those criteria.  Good luck with your search!
 
Posts: 944
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Tim Jones wrote:9. No more than an hour drive to a major city


How are you defining 'Major City'?

Less than an hour from a metropolis is going to be very hard to find at a low cost. If smaller scale cities are on your radar you can do better.
 
Tim Jones
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:

Tim Jones wrote:9. No more than an hour drive to a major city


How are you defining 'Major City'?

Less than an hour from a metropolis [Seattle, Portland or San Francisco  is going to be very hard to find at a low cost. If smaller scale cities are on your radar you can do better.



was hoping for a major metropolis such as SF, Seattle, Sacramento, or something similar. I live in Monterey wich is a bunch of small cities and mostly nature. This wasn’t that big of a deal for me. So not 100% necessary but it would be nice to get a bowl or ramen from time to time.
 
Mike Jay
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You may want to think in terms of how big the metropolis needs to be and also how big the nearby town where you shop is.  Knowing your actual needs could open you up to many more options.  I'm pretty sure you won't find the plot you want for under $150K near the cities you just listed.  But I could be wrong.

Metropolis levels:
International airport or regional airport
How fancy is the art scene
Quality of hospitals
Quantity of large employers

Town you call home (or is within 20 miles):
Home Depot or small town True Value
Movie theater or Redbox
Super Walmart or Dollar General
Hospital or urgent care clinic
Multiple restaurants or Subway

My personal criteria that helped us pick a specific area was that the town needed to not have a fudge shop.  If you visit touristy areas you'll know what I mean.
 
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Check out Hampton County, Virginia. It is just north of Norfolk, on the eastern shore. Zone 8b/9a
 
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Location: hot springs, Arkansas
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I'm biased but....Arkansas. 

this is hot springs, where I live.
It's an hour from Little Rock, which is a larger market, more variety.
The weather is mild year round, with great stormy springs and maybe one day of snow a per year. 
It's very affordable living, land is cheap, you can find land with no zoning/building restrictions.
Hot springs has a great art scene, loads of festivals and a great farmers market.
Loads of wildlife/nature.  Great rivers, hiking, biking, hunting, fishing, canoe/kayaking, camping.
Climate zones are 8a and 7b.
 
pollinator
Posts: 573
Location: Southern Arizona. Zone 8b
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Perhaps someplace near Tucson, but away from Phoenix.  Phoenix is crazy hot.

It's the right climate zone and there are lots of hills around.  You might be able to find 4 acres with a house for that price.

I do recall one time about 10 years ago when they got about 1" of snow near there and it shut down the highway, they don't have any snow plows, etc.

I live about 1.5 hours south of Tucson, up in the high desert.  We are zone 8b.  It snows here almost every year, but usually melts as soon as it hits the ground.  Maybe once every 5 years we'll get 1/2" to 1" accumulation, but it's gone within a day or two.

Typical winter weather here still sees daytime highs in the 50s.  Summer time highs are in the 80s-90s, only rarely get's over 100.  I think it peaked over 100 on 5 days last year, never make it to 101.

Officially Tucson averages about 12" of rain per year, however, if you go on weather.com and add up the average monthly rainfall, it comes in closer to 20", it shows around 2" per month in the winter and 3" during the summer.

Most places have DSL available.  I'm over 10 miles from the nearest town and I can get 50mbps DSL if I want it, I think I'm on the lowest rate plan which is 10mbps.

You won't see city sewer anywhere outside of town, and in some cases not even in town.  However, septic tanks are common.  As a benefit, when a house sells, the "onsite waste management system" is required by law to pass an inspection which means it has to be pumped, inspected and repaired if needed.  Doesn't matter if the house is torn down, if it has a septic tank, it has to be in good working condition.

Most counties are also willing to accept alternatives to septic tanks (composting, etc.) but they do have to meet certain, sensible standards. 

Arizona's law's on grey water usage are widely considered as the best in the nation.  Sensible and simple for the most part.  New construction is actually required to include stub outs for grey water as a minimum.  What that means is that all the bathroom sinks, tubs, showers and laundry has to have a separate 'grey water' line that comes outside of the house before it can be tied back into the black water sewer line.  That way if you ever want to use grey water for irrigation, etc. you don't have to re-plumb the house.

No hurricanes or tornadoes although we did get a storm about 10 years ago that had straight line winds approx 80 mph.  A lot of people lost shingles off their roof that night, I lost about 1/3 of mine.
No major earth quakes.
We've only had one major fire in the last 40-50 years or so, maybe 1/2 dozen people lost their homes, all of them back up in the hills. It never got closer than 1 mile to my house.

We do have scorpions, but I hardly ever see them, I see rattle snakes more often than scorpions.  I see rattlers maybe once every 5 years.  Still rattle snake bites are rare, and deaths even rarer.  I know of only 1 death in the last 20 years or so. 
FWIW According to the CDC between 7000-8000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the US every year, and only around 5 die.  10 times as many people die each year from getting struck by lightning.
 
Tim Jones
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Peter VanDerWal wrote:Perhaps someplace near Tucson, but away from Phoenix.  Phoenix is crazy hot.



Thanks for such  detailed response! It’s very helpful. Here in norther California we have rattle snakes also. Snakes aren’t a problem for me. As long as I stay away from them they are fine. And I don’t plan to have my house be open to wildlife :) I like a good tight structure.

I hadn’t considered your area before but now, I’ll have to look into it a bit more. some of the youtubers I follow have started farms and homesteads near you. So they share a similar feeling about the area
 
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