I recently started my journey in permaculture and I'm already finding the process a little overwhelming. I am studying an online PDC so as to at least have a basic understanding of the principals with a view to buying some land and setting up my own permaculture system.
The question i have to people is how to even get started. I have been looking at plots of land around spain/portugal or southern france and for the budget (EUR 50-100k) I have it seems that undeveloped land or one with a ruin is all i am going to be able to afford. Reading around the internet it seems that most rural land is cheap for a reason and getting planning permission to build on it is really difficult and can be a really expensive mine field. Naively i thought the hard part would be designing a system however it seems that getting planning permission to develop on your own land seems to be the harder part.
My original plan was to purchase a plot and to plant trees and do the earth works while i can get some money together to build a house. This seems to be a really risky way to do it since there is the risk that after purchasing the land you wont be allowed to live on it. It also seems that a lot of places are against eco housing since its not in keeping with local architecture. What is the best order to do things when factoring legal red tape and planning permission? Does anyone have any advice for how to scout land in these areas.
Well, you should look into the guidelines and regulations before you purchase the land. Places are becoming more accepting of alternative housing, and there are some resources online to help make your case to be allowed to build them. It's a shame that some communities are just blatantly against them. An alternative is finding a location to where you can build something small that doesn't need building codes and permits, because it isn't considered a residence. Here, that's supposedly 10 x 10 feet. Once you file any paperwork with the city, you start the vicious cycle of inspections and permits.
Hello Mark. You are right, it can become a bit of a nightmare, but don't give up, it'll work itself out. Other people are doing it, why wouldn't you be able to do it also?
William is also right, it requires a lot of research, and the broader your search area the worse it gets. Portugal, Spain and France have different regulations and those change with the area you are searching in each country. For me the first thing would be where would you like to live? Is there a country you feel more close to or a particular area? How are people there doing things? Do you have friends that are living the way you'd like to? Are there any plots of land near them so you'd be part of a community instead of going at it alone?
I'll give you my own case as an example. My wife and I searched from north to south in Portugal (we had decided we wouldn't leave our country). We saw many pieces of land, many towns and villages, all beautiful. But it was when we started talking to locals, instead of searching online, that we really got somewhere. First of all we got to know people, most really nice and willing to help. We finally started focusing in a particular part of the country, Castelo Branco (mainly because land is so cheap here), and more specifically Sobral do Campo, where the people were so nice and willing to go out of their way to help you out. We decided it was here we wanted to spend the rest of our lives, inf this beautiful area with these great people.
They actually searched for land for sale for us, asking friends and family and neighbours and very quickly we found the perfect spot for us. We realized that the most important thing in this type of project/life is community. Being able to rely on people around you and they on you.
When you find a place you feel like this about, spend some time there, talk to people. Then it's just a matter of choosing a piece of land for sale, research a bit about it (eg: is it in an ecological reserve and thus may have restrictions on building) and not rushing into it before you are sure.
Me and my girlfriend are interested in buying land in Castelo Branco. We have spotted many potential plots which we think would perfect for permaculture and sustainable living.
Do you have any idea how the local government feel about people living off-grid in yurts on their own land? Are many people doing it in your area?
Good for you, CB is a great choice for what you want.
There are a lot of people living in different types of accommodations, tents, tee pees, caravans, sheds, you name it, and I can introduce you to some of them.
Honestly the local government doesn't really care and the people around here are really welcoming and willing to help.
So, as long as you don't step on anybody's toes you'll be fine.
Are you looking for land on the internet or personally? Please beware of real estate agencies. Also what's on the internet is 1% of what's actually available and most cases a lot more expensive.
Well, right now we are looking 100% online as we won't be in CB until October.
However, when we arrive we are planning to volunteer around local permaculture projects, meet the locals and like minded people, with the idea of being introduced to sellers directly. I'd rather buy land this way.
We will take our time and get a real feel for the area and hopefully the perfect place for us will arise. I'm sure it will!
Right now we are very excited and trying to plan as much as possible without actually being in the country.
It would be great to stay in touch and maybe you could introduce me to some of the characters that you mentioned.
No thanks needed. I'll send you some contacts via PM that will be useful for sure. There are several great pieces of land for sale around our parts (Sobral do Campo) that are not on internet that I can send some info and get you in touch with the owners if you're interested.
In the meantime check out our project on facebook if you want. It's Quinta do Vale Escondido (Hidden Valley Farm because it's in a wonderful secluded valley).