I am currently searching for locations to build and develop a permaculture homestead. I work seasonally in the upper peninsula of Michigan from mid-May through mid-September and would like to move to a warmer climate for 7 months out of the year. I've been searching Portugal, Canary Islands, Central America, south America etc. I don't know much about Asia but am open to any and all suggestions. All locations seem to have benefits and draw backs. I'm looking specifically for the following...
-Good/ reasonable soil
-Locations with others sharing a similar interest.
-Little to no building codes
-Lowish Crime Rate
-Rainfall or fresh water available
-Expat and local culture
-resources to buy land (attorney, bank...etc. basically a legit seller and legit transaction) I don't want to buy the same property as ten other people.
I'm sure there's more, but this is a good place to start. Also, this is ideal, but I'm open to all suggestions and opinions.
Be careful with buying in the hills and mountains. Depending on where you're buying it can make things significantly cooler and less tropical than you might expect or desire. For example, in the Andes it can frost in a lot of areas for a significant percentage of the year, something that the Incas and their ancestors had to work around.
When you reach your lowest point, you are open to the greatest change.
They sure all do have their benefits and drawbacks, you need to figure out what your priorities are and work around them.
An important issue you haven't included is visa/land ownership for foreigners. That might be the best place to start, since it rules out a few countries almost off the bat. Another is ease/cost of travel if you're going to be coming back and forth to the US. It mounts up real quick.
As with all things, there are exceptions to everything, so you might need to visit places before ruling out an entire country because of crime, for example.
I've been a US expat in south america for 12 years, and I work in consular outreach. While I own a small urban homestead in Brazil (where, as mentioned above, it FROSTS! who knew), and I love it here, I would not recommend it to anyone. I'm here because of family, if you don't have social support and the language there are just too many hurdles to overcome, and with new political regime it's about to get much more complicated, unless you're the kind of person who throws money at problems.
In general, people talk about Costa Rica as having infrastructure that is most accepted by Americans. Nice people, calm country. I'm also hearing a lot about Panama and Ecuador as retirement places, but I am not sure about land ownership in any of these countries, and that will be important. But I know people moving to off-beaten-track Mexico who seem to be very happy.
Edited to add: it can be really hard to get things in these countries. When you have bugs eating your tomatoes, and every site suggests diatomaceous earth, and that product simply doesn't exist where you live, it gets frustrating. Getting Amazon shipping is not a possibility in some places (Brazil just put a law in place that it costs $15 to receive any mail from abroad. Even a postcard. Shipments from abroad, you pay a tax that is what the revenue service believes to be appropriate for your shipment, including shipping costs. I bought a pair of contacts for USD 5 and got free shipping. Cost me $300 to bail them out.). It seems like a silly detail, but when you want a broadfork, or seeds, or your rototiller busts a gasket, it can be problematic. When you move definitively you can often get exempted from taxes if you have residency, but that is a one-shot deal so you need to plan well.
Thank you for contacting me. I'm open to raw land and existing food forests. I plan to do the planting and labor myself or with friends, family or locals from the region where the land is located. Where is the land you speak of? Cost will largely depend on location.
We had the same thoughts but realized that there were too many opportunities to make mistakes and we don't have the time, luxury, or money. Especially the time or know-how. We want a farm ready to build a house in 4 years without having to do any labor ourselves. Trying to do that down the street would even be impractical, not to mention half way around the hemisphere.
We have a permaculture friend who knew of a guy on YouTube. I know you are thinking youtube. Don't get hung up on it, he actually knows his shit :>
He and his wife have been living in southern zone of CR on his farm now for about 13 years. They are tied into a partnership with some other local ticos and they do homestead development. We met them at one of their developments, discussed what we were looking for, and then did a few follow up visits until we found exactly what we wanted.
We just bought land adjacent to his farm and they have developed a homestead for us saving us much time and effort. It was all turnkey. He can also identify lots and act as an real estate agent if this is something you really want to take on yourself (everyone in Costa Rica is a real estate agent).
The area near his farm offers pretty much everything you are looking for. Stable government, proximity to major services (hospital),, titled land, ownership by foreigners, perfect growing climate, elevation close to 1000m, nice temperate climate to live in (no need for ac as the temps fall into the 60s every night), no drought or water issues, natural spring water, a creek along the border, electricity, many others doing organic permaculture in the immediate area. Our 2.6ha plot even has a system of ponds that are spring fed, so we can establish a fish protien source with minimal maintenance..
Thank you for the insight and details. It sounds like you found a great spot! Having others interested in the same lifestyle will definitely be helpful. When do you plan to relocate? What is the closest town?
Id like to asap but there are some things I need to tend to here and some of our pets need to find a field to play on the farm, so to say. So 4 years is about right. Gives the trees a chance to mature.
Closest big city is San Isidro/Pelez Zeledon. We plan on summering here in Portland. I like the fact the seasons here and in CR complement each other in general. Only 2 months of extremely wet weather overlap each place we have to worry about. I can't fathom being too close to the humidity of the beach.
You have to be very careful regarding microclimates. Water is key.
Being nearby other english speaking permies was also a biggie.
Good move. I lived in OR for 8 years. Summers are the nicest anywhere I've lived. I'm looking at a property about 1.5 hrs south of you. It has spring water and a river and has some elevation, but is closer to the beach than you are located. It seems there is and has been a permiegration happening in CR. I'm excited to make the seasonal move myself. We have to sell our farm here in the states and find a place for our LGD while we're in CR. How much are you asking for your hectare?
So I'm assuming you are speaking of between the border and San Isidro along the international highway? We have friends near the panama border at the beach. Far too removed from civilization for us but for each his own.
I think raw land in the area we are at is close to 20 to 30k us per hectare. More than I wanted to spend but we don't feel our long term future is in the us. That's raw land, everything depends on location and services, and as I mentioned,we would never had made the leap without finding someone we had confidence in who could make the dreams a reality. Add cost to clear, improve, plant, and maintain ...
If you haven't found a location as yet, I know of a property coming up in a very nice out in the country in an off-grid area of Hawaii, where the price is right, and it's got an established fruit orchard with about 600 established tropical fruit trees and flowering tropical ornamentals. Was virgin forest, so I know no chemicals used, and the farm has lots of mangoes, pineapples and passion fruit already fruiting. send me a PM if you are still looking around (I don't come here often). Definitely ExPat mentality and away from any big towns.
Are you still looking? A friend of mine is selling property on the osa peninsula, Costa Rica. Totally off grid; very little development in the area save a handful of houses, eco lodges; around 350m elevation, just up from the coast; adjacent to Corcovado national park. My husband and I bought from him a few years ago and we’re in the process of getting water, permits, etc. really very easy for seasonal time spent in the country as non-residents. Very safe. Nearest town about 30 min drive. Decent ex-pat population. Lots of potential...
What do you have in that there bucket? It wouldn't be a tiny ad by any chance ...
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