If you’re lucky enough to be purchasing a homestead you may want to look at a few things. Take it from me, I bought a piece of land and had it sold within 60 days because I just didn’t do my research. I won’t make that mistake again and I hope to help you avoid that headache.
The expense of buying a homestead can be expensive. Old timers have told me that “The time to buy land is when it’s for sale.” They also say, “They don’t make land anymore.” Both of those statements are true and losing a good deal for a couple of thousand may hurt you more than you think. If the deal is too good to be true it probably is.
Write down what you are looking for and consider your resources, needs and location. Will you have to work so much you can’t enjoy your homestead? Can you make some money off the homestead by logging or other natural resources?
Is your job stable, and do you have a husband or wife that will help support the homestead until it can support itself? Are your debts paid off? Will you need a truck? How will you afford that? Do you need a tractor?
Don’t forget the details, and just make sure that once you get it that you can keep it. Having your ducks in a row is everything.
After making sure you can afford this endeavor, water is your most important resource. The last thing a homestead needs is a water shortage or polluted well. Find out everything about your water sources. Preferably you should have at least 2 ways to harvest water.
Wells, springs, ponds and rain water catchments are all possible ways to stay alive. Figure out how much water you need. Then figure out how much your animals and garden will need. Make sure you can at least double this amount in available water. It’s easy to drain a well and all sorts of issues can happen like draining your well, burning out your pump and sucking up silt causing you to clean out all lines and filters in your house.
Test the water! This should be done at least once a year and preferably twice a year. Knowing your water is a must from finding out the pH for watering plants. Many people find they even have led or pesticides in the water from runoff.
Lastly, check to see if you can legally collect rainwater. Some areas have laws that prevent you from collecting rainwater. I agree, that is dumb, but some counties feel that they even own the falling rain.
Find a homestead with your needed location. Do you want to plant all year? You may have to move south. How far south depends of what you want to farm or raise. Do you want to tap maple trees? Then you might want to be up North. Are you a subsistence farmer and plan to hunt for most of your food or do you rather farm?
Your age may come into play depending on your wants and needs. Will you plan on planting nut and fruit trees? If so, remember that it can take up to 15 years for some nut trees to produce. If you’re up there in age, then you need to consider a site that has those trees grown already.
How is your back doing? If you have knee and back problems, think ahead on how you set things up. I have some raised beds and Hugel beds that make it much easier for me to harvest. I also have a hoop house that has a sunken walkway. My days of bending over there are over.
If you’re young and in good shape, getting a piece of land and starting from scratch can save a lot of money. I’m on my second homestead. The next one will have all the fruits and nut trees grown or I’ll just stay here.
Consider any special needs you have. Is the weather good for any of your medical needs? My Great Grandmother needed to move up north from down south because the heat and humidity made her asthma unbearable. Do you have any similar needs?
Are you in driving distance from your job? I don’t like driving! When I moved to my last homestead, I commuted almost 2 hours to work every day and then back in the evening. That got old quick, and I would never consider that again. Make sure your homestead is within your acceptable driving distance.
Also, consider the drive to shopping centers. Do you shop once a month or do you shop often? This may be a consideration that affects the area you choose to buy in.
Laws can really be a bummer so check zoning. Some areas won’t let you have any livestock if you have under 5 acres. Other areas like mine have no restrictions. I can keep a cow on my ¾ acre if I really wanted to. I like this because I feel I have more freedom. I still have to get permits to build and such but it’s better than some areas that won’t even let you have a pot belly pig.
Do you have children? Do you homeschool? If you have children, consider if they can take the bus or if you can drive them in. How will the ride be with 6” of snow? I ended up homeschooling my children so this isn’t a consideration for us but it may be for you.
Lastly if you do have medical conditions, find the closest hospitals. It may be inconvenient if you must drive an hour or two before reaching the hospital. In an emergency, time is not your friend. If you have routine visits, think about the distance before you buy.
After making all these considerations and others that are important to you, make the buy. Don’t let your dream homestead slip through your fingers!