Life is based on the land. It gives you a place to call home and all the necessary resources to establish roots. A space that is entirely yours. Land provides you a location to develop, a firm base, and a strong foundation to build upon. You need land to create a homestead and land to live off the grid. It can be challenging, to say the least, and many people ask themselves how to find off grid land.
This post will discuss identifying prime off grid land and the fundamentals of selecting the ideal piece of real estate.
Before choosing your land, you must first think about what going off the grid is and what it means to you. Real estate is a complicated and intricate industry. Every town, city, county, and municipality has laws, rules, covenants, and regulations. There are rules, some of which are highly explicit and stringent. Some HOAs (Home Owners Associations) even specify the building materials you are permitted to use, right down to the color and design of your home. Not to mention the possibility that an HOA will permit you to keep animals on your property if there is one.
To sum it up, choosing a house that matches your lifestyle preferences and permits growth and development based on these basic values is a good option. Finding and selecting land for off-grid living involves several factors, including the style of structure you will be living in. Here is a quick list of items to remember when searching for off-grid property.
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What To Consider When Finding Off Grid Land
The location must have the resources (such as water, trees, etc.) you need to be self-sufficient, or at the very least, those resources must be close and accessible. Resources can be stored, but ideally, you want the land to produce as many resources as possible. Select a piece of property or smaller lot that is near a plentiful supply of resources. Whether it be a big city, a small hamlet, or accessible natural resources.
This is likely the second most significant factor when looking for the ideal off-grid home. There will be more rules and limitations on what you can do with your land and how you may use it the closer you are to a major city—or any city, for that matter. The land is not only less expensive outside of developed regions, but it also has fewer limitations.
Even minor counties and towns claim they don’t enforce building codes outside of cities. It won’t prevent you from building to code, but it will give you the option to decide for yourself. It is best to build by building codes just in case because they are designed to keep people safe. The idea is that restrictive covenants and laws are less likely to hinder you from developing what you want the further you are from a large town or city.
There is typically more crime in places with higher population densities. Since off grid living is most successful in less dense areas, it’s often safer.
Avoid choosing a landlocked property. Landlocked means there are no trails, roads, or driveways. Be sure you have deeded access to the land.
These are called easements and are signed by the landowners whose property you must cross.
Although it’s typically better to avoid owning landlocked property, it might be ok if there is a decent easement. Do your research about how to find off grid land.
Ease of Access
Physical access is just as crucial as a major thoroughfare and having legal access. Winter and wet season access, specifically. How will you get to your land if the roads leading to your land aren’t kept up all year? If two feet of snow are on the ground, you will be confined to your house.
If you’ve planned ahead, your 4×4 vehicle or ATV has a snow plow on the front. This will at least enable you to leave your home in a snowstorm. How about a lot of rain? Old country lanes may flood and get partially washed out. At the very least, the roads will be muddy, damp, and hazardous. You could easily become stuck if the roads leading to your property are poorly maintained.
Unless you have a large 44 and don’t mind bumping about and over rocks, mud holes, and bumps to get to your land, well-maintained roads are a need.
Rules and Restrictions
Protective covenants and restrictions will restrict your options in this case. The problem is this. Land at reasonable prices is simple to find. Finding affordable land devoid of covenants and limitations, subdivisions, and homeowners associations, on the other hand, is a whole other story, my friend. This is not to say that you cannot live off the grid on a piece of property with covenants. Still, it will undoubtedly restrict your independence to some extent.
Zoning and Property Taxes
You must take the property’s zoning into account when learning how to find off grid land. This will determine how much you pay for the land each year and how much you spend on property taxes each year. Three basic zoning kinds exist. Commercial, residential, and agricultural. Unless you run a business and require commercial land, you won’t be buying any. You’ll probably pick a property that is zoned for residential.
Real estate zoning is a topic that may be the subject of a whole book, and several have already been published on the subject. First, residentially designated land often has higher annual taxes than agriculturally zoned land. Choosing a parcel of land zoned for agricultural use would be the obvious decision in this case (if your only concern was your property taxes). The main issue with this is that most counties in the United States have a minimum parcel size requirement to be eligible for agricultural zoning, which typically ranges between 40 and 50 acres. Your initial investment will go up, but your property taxes will go down over time.
The minimum lot/parcel size for land zoned for residential use must also be considered. Certain residential property zones forbid cattle. Therefore, keeping chickens, cows, pigs, etc., will be impossible. There are fewer limitations the further you travel from a major city.
My advice is that you decide on the type of property with the zoning that will enable you to lead the lifestyle that you choose.
While vital, price and affordability are not as significant as you believe. Naturally, you must have the means to purchase a property, so it would be quite futile to advise you only to do so if you can. Make sure you can afford the taxes by checking your tax records. Why? Because the taxes on a piece of property zoned for residences might occasionally be so high that they can be almost as much as the monthly mortgage payment. Both smaller lots and larger plots have seen it happen.
I recommend verifying a few things before buying your property. Check that the property has a clear title, no tax liens, current taxes, a current or paid-off mortgage, is not in foreclosure, and is not involved in a legal dispute. The last thing you want to happen is to move onto your new property only to learn a month later that there is a legal issue regarding the land’s title. Look up court documents. You can usually find out most of what you need to know by performing a basic title search. Consult the landowner or agent. Avoid it if it appears too good to be true, or if something doesn’t feel right. It’s not worth the trouble and suffering to enter a house just to discover it’s not what you expected.
We’re now going into the specifics on how to find off grid land. How are you going to pay for that ideal off-grid property? Do you intend to pay in cash? Are you planning to use a conventional bank loan? Do you intend to execute a Contract for Deed (CFD) instead? Each has advantages and disadvantages, good points and bad points. Most folks do not have $100,000 to spend on a piece of land. Even $25k is difficult to come by, and people are forced to save money for a very long time before they have enough to move.
Consider obtaining a loan from a local bank rather than a chain. Even though it’s still a bank loan, doing this will support the neighborhood more economically than a loan from a global corporation.
If you’re confident in your real estate abilities, I recommend you purchase the land directly from the owner. You’ll save money on bank fees and possibly interest accrual if you can get a reasonable interest rate. One of the strongest and most straightforward financing choices for real estate is most likely a Contract for Deed made directly with the landowner.
Don’t forget in certain places, you can get exceptions on your taxes for homesteading and living off grid. Read my full guide here!
As with anything, it’s crucial to conduct your research. If you don’t complete your homework, you will regret it unless you simply happen to be lucky. Do your homework, your searching, and don’t rush anything. Becoming ready is key to being independent. In the end, the land you select today will be the one you have to manage tomorrow. Make sure you are prepared for it, that there won’t be any surprises, and that you are aware of what you are entering.
If you adhere to these fundamental recommendations, you shouldn’t have to ask yourself how to find off grid land.
Doing what is best for you and your family matters most. Do only what makes you happy and what you feel comfortable doing.