If you’re anything like me, looking for and purchasing land can be intimidating. Unlike regular dwellings, there is little assistance available for anyone looking to purchase remote grid acreage (or with an existing cabin). Allow me to assist you by sharing what I have learned on how to find land for off grid living!
How to Find Land Suitable for Off Grid Living
In my eyes, there are five main things that you should be certain of when looking for off grid land. Here they are in some more detail:
Humans cannot thrive without water. This may seem obvious, but there are areas of the country where people transport their water for miles to their estates. This is just plain dangerous UNLESS there is a dependable, pure natural water source nearby in a survival situation.
The reason for this is that transported water is NOT environmentally friendly. The amount of energy expended on gasoline and labor to pick up, pump, transport, and place the water on your land is enormous. It’s not practicable in an emergency. It puts you and your family in peril — not just from dehydration but also from filthy circumstances that could lead to disease.
Ensure that you have a clean, natural water supply, such as a well, a lake, river, stream, or natural spring. In addition, make sure you have a robust filtration system and a water storage tank for backup in case your natural source becomes contaminated or polluted.
There are trees, trees, and more trees. You will require lumber. Whatever location you choose, you will almost certainly require lumber at some point.
If you intend to build a cabin, it seems to reason that you should have plenty of trees on your property. It makes sense to have materials on hand in case you require them. In the long run, it’s more cost-effective to acquire the equipment and create your own timber rather than buying it at the store.
Natural resources such as wood, rock, stone, clay, and mud will all be required in some way or another. It makes sense to ensure that you can provide supplies for all aspects of living. These materials save you money in the long term and are considerably more environmentally friendly.
Manure is sometimes used as a building material. When building cob dwellings, it is added to the mix and gives insulative and adhesive properties that mud and clay do not. I’ve also heard it keeps bugs away.
Having horses or cattle will offer you lots of manure for construction and crop growth.
After a while of searching for the “ideal off grid property,” I understood that “perfect” was subjective, and “practical” was objectively far smarter.
Purchasing land suitable for developing an off-grid house is by far the MOST IMPORTANT component. It is more significant than building codes, city ordinances, restrictions, and covenants. Why? Simple. Because there are too many constraints on the land to create an off-grid residence. It will aid in weeding out undesirable properties.
Purchasing practically contributes to sustainable living and renewable energy. Keeping practicality in mind rather than aesthetics or price will significantly narrow the search, and it’s probably worth a bit more money for practical reasons.
It’s frequently mentioned in business. The same is true when purchasing land for off-grid living: your location is critical when considering energy generation, environment for agriculture, and preference.
Off grid means you’re not linked to the power grid. You’ll be generating your own electricity, either with wind turbines or solar panels or a combination of the two, in a single off grid power system. You must choose a location that is suitable for your wants and needs.
Your perfect property may differ from the next person’s, but you’ll need plenty of sun and wind if you plan to generate your own energy.
I utilize City-Data.com to locate regions that are more suitable for power generating. They provide detailed information at a glance and provide a plethora of demographic, geographic, and climatological possibilities while looking for a location. They also feature miniature topography maps, tables, maps, charts, and graphs that contain far more information than you could ever require.
Here’s an example of climatic data from City-Data.com.
No matter how hard you look, there will always be limitations on what you can build (and how you do it). Avoiding major cities is the quickest, easiest, and most practical option for selecting a decent site. However, when I started renovating the cabin I bought, it seemed like I was jumping through hoop after hoop, even though it was in the middle of nowhere.
Building, zoning, and any other legal restrictions present an issue. There are not only restrictions on the sorts of homes and zoning (what you may do on the site), but also HomeOwners Associations that require strict adherence to their community’s laws. Look out for this if you’re buying off grid land.
Ideally, you’ll want to select a home with as few restrictions as possible.
Large metropolitan locations are more constrained than rural areas. This is not always true, but it is a good general rule. Some areas in the Western United States are more open to new ideas than others.
Consider the city of San Diego, California. The county is highly particular about the types of structures constructed. Zoning and rules are also rigorous, and properties are more likely to be part of a development or suburban neighborhood.
Ensure that the property you are purchasing has deeded access or a strong (non-litigated) easement! I cannot emphasize this more. When I looked at properties, I found many beautiful but inaccessible properties. If you’re looking at a property like this, make sure you factor in the cost of making a road or gaining access to the property.
A 100-acre plot in Wyoming or Montana can be found for an AMAZING price. Still, it may be landlocked (surrounded by other private property) with no access via roads or drives. This means you won’t be able to do anything on your land until you first go via your neighbor’s.
If you can’t reach an agreement with them, you’ll have to go to court. If you had the money, you could try to acquire some of their lands and build your own road to access your home, but it’s simply not worth the bother UNLESS it’s a truly great house in the right location.
Seriously, sometimes it’s more difficult and expensive to access your land than to build a house.
I elected to buy directly from the landowner when I bought my property. I don’t want to go through banks for a variety of reasons.
The landowner, first and foremost, benefits directly from the sale of the property via a contract for deed or lease option. Sure, if you default on the mortgage/lease, this could be a problem for them, but you’re not going to do that, are you?
The second factor is credit. Many people may not have enough credit to qualify for a typical mortgage without paying a higher interest rate if they qualify at all. Credit is synonymous with debt. Period. Part of the rationale for going off the grid is to get out of debt.
Who would you rather owe money to? Who owns the land, the landowner or the bank?
Another advantage of purchasing directly from the landowner is the ability to negotiate a better price and lower interest rate. This implies you’ll have a reduced monthly payment for a shorter time and will own the land sooner and at a lesser cost.
If you don’t feel confident bargaining on your own, hire a buyer’s representative. They will act on your behalf, whereas the seller hires a real estate agent to sell the property. Their interests are in selling the seller’s property to earn their commission. If you choose to go the traditional method, hire a real estate agent who can assist you in negotiating the best bargain possible.
What’s the Best Way to Purchase Off Grid Land?
The first step in finding an off the grid home is to browse around. Because the bare property is typically sold as an investment and is not promoted to households, obtaining inexpensive land for your ideal homestead can be a challenge. Similarly, non-conventional dwellings, such as off grid cabins or small homes, may not have a place in the traditional housing market and hence require a little more effort to identify what is available.
If you can’t locate anything in your neighborhood that matches the bill, that doesn’t imply there isn’t something out there. You may have to put in a little more effort at first. Fortunately, the best buys for low-cost bare land or off grid homes are usually the ones you find yourself, rather than those already “on the market” or listed through a real estate agent.
Interested in learning more about off grid living (and even how to find off grid land). I recommend watching a couple documentaries and learning more about this lifestyle.
Here are the best ways to find off grid land without a realtor:
Check these Websites Regularly
Here are a few of my favorite websites for off-grid real estate. Many websites that rely on real estate agent input data, such as Zillow, may display erroneous or misleading information. Many agents do not specialize in bare land and may not know how to do it correctly.
Furthermore, most bare land or off grid properties lack an address, making listing and discovering bare property more difficult.
Reach out to Owners Directly
One good and less frequently discussed option for purchasing land is to contact the owners personally. This is not as difficult as you may believe.
Many rural properties are sitting vacant, owned by people who don’t want them but don’t want to go through the effort of selling. Typically, these individuals inherited the land or purchased it as a vacation home. In certain circumstances, they have no idea where the property is. Nonetheless, they pay property tax on this piece of land in every case.
Check the Local Tax Auction
Tax auctions, also known as sheriff’s sales in some places, are a good method to buy substantially discounted homes if you’re ready to do some legwork. The lots in these sales have not paid their property taxes and were seized by the state.
These sales are normally held once a year and cover only one county at a time. Lots are often sold to the highest bidder, and the new owner is frequently obliged to pay any delinquent taxes in addition to the purchase price.
Every land auction I’ve attended has been all-cash. You may be required to pay the full price on the same night as the auction, or you may have a grace period to make the payment. Check with the organization organizing the auction ahead of time to determine when and how you’ll have to pay for any land you could purchase.
Check the Local Newspaper
I know this is a relatively old-school way of doing things – but it can work! Here you may find older or less savvy folks looking to sell a low-cost piece of land without the assistance of a real estate agent.
Most towns still have local newspapers, which may include free classifieds. Look for a local convince store, which I believe is the greatest place to get a print newspaper or classified periodical.
Some newspapers also have online classified ads found straight on their website. The land listed here is frequently not found in a typical Google search or other land listing sites. So, take the effort to look up the newspaper’s website by name and see what’s available.
Join Local Facebook Groups
Many Facebook-based homesteading or off-grid living groups are becoming increasingly popular for purchasing and selling land. I’ve noticed some lots for sale in the larger groups. Still, unless you live in a really popular homesteading region like Idaho or Arkansas, I’d join a few active local homesteading organizations in your region or state.
While I don’t recommend using Facebook in general, there is a good chance you’ll find something unusual here. So, even if you’re not a big Facebook user, I’d suggest creating a mostly empty account, joining a few local homesteading, off grid, or permaculture groups, and writing a simple post about what you’re looking for. At the very least, you may receive a few helpful recommendations on where to look. At the absolute best, you may receive your dreams’ inexpensive off-grid property delivered directly to your inbox.
I hope this guide answers how to find land for off grid living. I know it’s a time consuming, and frankly a draining process. Just remember that you’ll get through it – and hopefully gain your dream off grid homestead!