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How and why did you choose the land you live on?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 258
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As title says.

Has anyone ever bought land in an area which was "foreign" to them, or was a place they never lived. i.e. you lived on east coast your whole life bought land out west and vice versa.
 
Posts: 211
Location: Pennsylvania
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Yes, sort of. My wife and I recently moved to western Pa to the area where she grew up, I grew up in Oregon. We meet years ago while we both worked in Colorado. I had visited the area with my wife several times before we moved here so it was not completely unseen to me. We spent several years looking for a place to move that fit our wants: rural, decent growing season, size of acreage, price, and several other things. We had looked in several different locations, both closer to where we had been in Colorado, the mid west, the northwest and decided we would look in this area. We first looked at listings online, but we found that with realtors having to pay extra for online listings that the sleepers and deals were typically not listed online, especially in this very rural area. The result that brought us to our home and acreage was to send an email to most of the local real estate offices in the area we had narrowed our search too. This email outlined what we had set as criterial for purchase. For us this included things like we were more interested in: houses that were fixer uppers than polished gems, minium size of acreage, mixture of pasture and forest, zoning, but we also stated that we would consider other places that were not perfect matchs to our list. As it turned out after sending emails to a dozen realtors only two actively did much for us. One kept sending us info on properties that had nothing to do with our critia and the other understood what we wanted and researched all the listing in a two county area that matched our list. One thing that helped is that we moved our daughter and her cousin out to the area ahead of us since they too wanted to stay close to us and they were young enough tat their housing requirement were not along with our homesteading lines. When we saw listings that we were interested in the girls would go with the realtor and take dozens of photos for us and we could ask questions over the phone with them. This helped a lot, but it was not absolutely nessesary. When they visited this property and we saw the photos and talked to them we made arrangements to drive the 22 hours to come and walk the land and veiw the house along with a few others. At that time we made an offer contingent on getting more detail on aspects of the property and a well test.
Part of our deciding on locating in this area is that the job market here is poor, land prices are reasonable, and I brought my shop and business with me that is not dependent on the local economy. We spent most of a decade preparing for this transition. It did not go flawlessly, but it did go smoothly. I think the preparation, planning, research and setting goals is critically important to make the move from one way of life to another. It was the dreaming and planning that set our list of wants for the property. What we found was a piece of land that fits our wants, plus somethings that we did not know we wanted. The house is very sturdy and comfortable, but probably not what we would have built. The property had not been live on for atleast one year and prior to that the older couple who had live here had not been able to take care of the house and land. So we have a great fixer upper, an overgrown orchard, about 5 acres of overgrown pasture, a small creek, and a large wood lot. Since I had done most of the construction on our past home years before we had quite a bit of equity when we sold it and we were able to buy this outright with part of the equity. None of this would have happened if my wife and I were not in unity in this dream of ours, if we had not developed a very frugal life style years ago paying off debt and no incurring new debt. We had a dream and invested our lives in it in reading, studying, researching and planning. We are currently working with our daughter and my son so that they can do the same in time.
kent
 
kent smith
Posts: 211
Location: Pennsylvania
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Here are some photos of our place, the first two from when we first saw the place in winter / early spring of the house and the pasture:


A few months later this is the start of the garden carved out of the pasture:

one of the apple trees:

Thanks,
kent
 
Steven Baxter
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Thanks
Good idea about sending a list to realtors!
 
kent smith
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Location: Pennsylvania
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It has been a great move, a lot of work, but well worth it.
Good Luck,
 
                            
Posts: 126
Location: Ava, Mo, USA, Earth
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I was living in the Washington, DC area and knew I could not stay there much longer.  I made a couple lists.  One for what I wanted the general area I moved to to be like.  This included such things as some winter, but not a lot; enough rain that I would not have to irrigate a garden all summer long; hills and trees.  Also included on this list were man-made things: low-taxes, few building codes and such.  The second list was things I wanted in my specific property: south-facing slope, good garden spot, trees, building materials such as rocks.  There was a side list of things I'd like to have, but could live without: live water, a cave and maybe a barn.

I then started looking on the net for general areas that seemed to meet the first list, and then looked for RE ads that seemed to fit the second.  I'm still not sure why, but after I started looking into the Ozarks, especially Southern Missouri, other places seemed to take a back seat.

I lined up a few places to look at over the phone and email and then took off for a three week tour.

There was not functional MLS here then, so things would be different now.  What I did was pick the towns that had the most interesting listings and then stopped by each of the RE agents'  offices and kept looking that way.

Two pieces of advice:

One.  Take the time to really decide what you want before you start hunting.  You may have to do some preliminary searching to help you decide what you want, but if you're still not sure what you want, don't buy anything.

Two: Check out the area and the land well before you sign the papers.  I've met half a dozen or so people in this area that bought over the Internet.  Some had never been in the state before.  None are on their land now.  A couple never would have made it anywhere.  One moved to a different farm in the same area.  One left due to illness.  All that sold lost money.  All of them initially said they were happy with their purchase and that they thought they got a good deal.

Good Luck!
 
Steven Baxter
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homesteadpaul wrote:
  This included such things as some winter, but not a lot; enough rain that I would not have to irrigate a garden all summer long; hills and trees.  Also included on this list were man-made things: low-taxes, few building codes and such.   The second list was things I wanted in my specific property: south-facing slope, good garden spot, trees, building materials such as rocks. 
I then started looking on the net for general areas that seemed to meet the first list, and then looked for RE ads that seemed to fit the second. 
Two pieces of advice:

One.  Take the time to really decide what you want before you start hunting.  You may have to do some preliminary searching to help you decide what you want, but if you're still not sure what you want, don't buy anything.

Two: Check out the area and the land well before you sign the papers.  I've met half a dozen or so people in this area that bought over the Internet.  Some had never been in the state before.  None are on their land now.  A couple never would have made it anywhere.  One moved to a different farm in the same area.  One left due to illness.   All that sold lost money.  All of them initially said they were happy with their purchase and that they thought they got a good deal.

Good Luck!



Good ideas!
Low property taxes would be on my list. As well as little restriction on building codes.
Who determines property taxes, state or county?

 
pollinator
Posts: 10117
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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oracle wrote:

Who determines property taxes, state or county?




Both, in most cases.  The state makes the laws by which the county can assess rates.  States may have the property tax laws available to read online, this will enable you to find out which states give tax breaks for agricultural or timber use of the land.  Here in Texas we have Wildlife Management tax valuation, in which land used to provide wildlife habitat is taxed at the lower agricultural rate.  I don't know if any other state has this special tax status available.

 
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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how? well FIL owned the house and land and although it needed a lot of work in 1971 we got it for $9k on a land contract..couldn't beat that
 
Steven Baxter
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Brenda Groth wrote:
how? well FIL owned the house and land and although it needed a lot of work in 1971 we got it for $9k on a land contract..couldn't beat that



What does FIL mean?


BTW nice pictures machine!
 
Posts: 243
Location: Caerphilly, Wales, UK
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forest garden trees woodworking
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oracle wrote:
What does FIL mean?



Father-in-Law.
 
Steven Baxter
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Sam wrote:
Father-in-Law.



Hahaha, ok thanks.

Would the state also regulate zoning laws or would it be the city/county?
 
                      
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In answer to the original question: 

The Why came before the How.  We had always been interested in moving to the Pacific Northwest.  DH had lived in the general area as a kid.  I was tired of Zone 5 as a gardener, and definitely needed a lot more land.  So Zone 8 was very appealing.  (I was a bit shocked, though, to find that the frost dates aren't much different than where I was before.  It just doesn't get nearly as cold in general--instead of going down to -20 F, it stays pretty much at 40-50 F all winter, with occasional dips below freezing.)

Knowing that the Pacific Northwest Native Americans had a rich culture, with much artwork (totem poles take a wealthy culture to produce) you know that the area had to have abundant natural resources in terms of food. 

Also, we happened to have family in the area, although several hours away.  Close enuf but not too close.

We knew we wanted to be in protected agricultural land, but also on a road where we had enuf traffic that we can easily advertise and sell what we are producing.  From 3-5 acres.  Good water, and a house.  Outbuildings if possible, but we could build if necessary.

The How was that Husband went first after he landed a job, and then room & boarded with a local family.  And that family made all the difference in the world.  They were as interested in our hunt for land as we were.  They are long-time residents, and so knew all the ins and outs of the area.  They could tell us where the land was shale and water was inadequate.  They know where the land is too rocky, or where there are flooding problems, or if development is happening.  We looked for six months to find a place, and eventually found a private sale, partly because the folks Husband stayed with knew that the house was a solidly built one because she had driven by it every day while it was being built. 

We didn't choose offgrid or even too far from civilization, but got a place where we can easily board a commuter bus because we're close to a crossroads where Greyhound has a flagstop.  And we can walk a couple miles to the seashore and sit in a pub and watch the boats rock.

We got 3 acres with a well, a woodlot, and a solid, if small house.  We've felled some trees to open up some more pasture, and have had it milled so we can build some outbuildings. 

I'm raising chickens, both meat and eggs, and am about to have two hogs slaughtered.  And the area is gorgeous. 

I would completely recommend the temporary room & board if you can get the right situation with people who are willing to give opinions.  In our case, it was through a church, who are glad to have us because we bring music-making ability. 
 
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To the original question in July - "bought land in place that was foreign to me". Yes, Central America. 
  Lived on the east coast, most recently Florida, Miami & the Keys. Tropical, everything grows, the backyard provided breakfast, lunch & dinner, not to mention peace & balance.
  Wanted bigger parcel/growing capacity. Had spent some time in the northwest, so headed out to settle in, beautiful, beautiful place, but growing season too short, didn't work out.
  Friends had mentioned central america, several times over a few years time. Headed south. Got off the plane about three pm, walked about, found a room. In the morning found an estate agent, described what I was looking for, by 11 am I had signed a contract on a decent size parcel. My whole intent for this property is to grow food, the right way and feed people.
  Planning/researching is a very intelligent approach to buying land and I would absolutely/strongly recommend it, but in this instance I knew the moment I saw it.
  I've gotten a start on this project and am hoping to find some people interested in growing and eating their own food.  People interested in free use of the land as long as you're growing your own food. Free use of the land means I don't want any rent, leases, donations, fees, subscriptions, etc. AND I don't have any stipends, paychecks, etc.
  I do have a lot more details for anyone really interested in this idea...
 
Steven Baxter
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Thanks to the last 2 posts. I like hearing about others stories. Hawaii and Arizona are on the top of my list as of right now, but things can always change.
 
Posts: 21
Location: The Great State of Louisana
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Well my criteria for the land was within an hour or so of my kin,geographic isolation and good soil. Well geographic isolation in flat Louisiana mean rivers,bayou's, and swamps. So I used google maps and started and hour north of me and worked my way south following waterways. Found 10 or so penninsula's that met my criteria and then took took a trip to the tax assessor's office in each parish.
You can findout so much info for free from them. Then id mail the owner and if possible call them. See if they were in my price range and willing to sell. Do some soil tests walked the land and thats that.
 
 My land has a  "U" shape with the open end only about 300ft, has a 20 deep 100ft wide bayou around it. It is also less them 1 wooded mile from a wildlife management area and because im a farm I get tons of nuisance deer tags, deer hunting all year for the win!
The soil is rich Red river soil. That along with the climate ive been growing all kinds of stuff lately. I started at a pecan/cattle plantation but with the knowledge ive gotten from permaculture ive been moving towards a full food ecosystem.
  Geographic Isolation was important to me for self defense purposes. Along with 7ft hugelkultur beds topped with thorned blackberries and cacti that surround the perimeter.  Man I love my climate.
  As for property taxes I dont pay a dime in my parish. I LOVE the South. In the Great State of Louisiana we have homestead exemption if your land meets certain criteria.........Hey stop thinking about moving here....locals only
  I also wanted land that was comepletely off they grid.....no where even close to it. It had no road near it,no house,no power,water,sewage. In short it was virgin. We have no zoning in my parish and the tax assessor only comes every 4 years but he told me there was no way in the world he was hiking thru a mile of woods just to get to my land,thats were I park my cars. Thank the good Lord for 4 wheelers!

  All in all i agree with the previous posts figure out EXACTLY what ya'll want before ya'll start looking.

 
 
gardener
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When we decided to leave the city, we moved to the region where my wife's family (and long term friends) live, since we wanted to have a support network with young kids.

I really wanted more acres because I wanted my own personal wilderness, but my wife (having grown up on a small farm) encouraged me to realise how much work land can be. The one consideration for me was being reasonably close to a rail line, because I didn't want to be in a situation where (as a professional) I'd have to drive long distance to a major city in a world where energy is only going to get more expensive.

All of this happened before I discovered the concept of homesteading and learned about permaculture. So although now I don't see myself being a corporate whore in 10 - 15 years, I take great comfort from knowing I didn't buy something larger but more remote.
 
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I have traveled a bit in my younger years and love aspects of the geography in many different places.  This part of the world is "home" to me however, and when I was was elsewhere I missed having four seasons.

While at work one day I found a notice on the bulletin board for 40 acres of land in the next county.  Phone calls were made and a personal visit was scheduled.  The walnut plantation I had dreamed of for many years was grown enough to be producing fruit.  The "tillable" land is a rich Houghton muck.  A wooded hill gives us a location for the earth sheltered home long dreamed of, and the price was reasonable in my mind.  Thirty days later I was a landowner.   

Of course there have been downsides.  About half of the property was in CRP until a year ago.  It's a 90 mile round trip to get anything done, so little projects get postponed until there are enough of them to make it worth the travel time and gasoline.  I retired early so the cash flow dried up sooner than I had hoped.  But each year sees the dream taking shape a little more.

 
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my friend in England told me her sister had bought a house in Bulgaria for 5000pounds and i thought that was worth checking out!
we found this lovely village, I was the first foreigner to ever spend time here and just fell in love with the place and especially the land behind the house
my neighbours are brilliant, my Bulgarian is still rubbish but i now have a landscaped garden that used to be a field, we have more fruit trees than i can manage, i tend the land biodynaimcally and right now we're preparing for the winter hibernation it'll be minus 25 in a few weeks and its had to remember that it was +35 about 5 weeks ago

 
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Location: Snowmass, CO
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The choice was easy once my wife and I decided we'd like to make a life utilizing permaculture principles: my FIL's Great Grandfather (my wife is fifth generation here) homesteaded this land in 1888, and we are the first in the current generation to show an interest in working the land. Of course, ownership of the land is shared by the family (currently eight people, not equally divided), so the invisible structures are something that we must take in to account. They're strong enough that we've considered not utilizing the family land for our dream, but have decided that working through these invisible structures will help bring the family closer and benefit everyone (including our neighbors, the land, and local ecology) in the long-run.
 
He was expelled for perverse baking experiments. This tiny ad is a model student:
It's like binging on 7 seasons of your favorite netflix permaculture show
http://permaculture-design-course.com/
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