When you buy a homestead, perhaps the most important factor to evaluate is the suitability of the land for your purposes.
The house is important too, of course, but if you buy land that is highly non-fertile or difficult to water, you’re going to create unnecessary headaches for yourself.
The following is an overview of some of the characteristics that would make good homesteading land. If you can find property with these attributes you’ll be doing yourself a favor.
If you are able to purchase land that has fertile soil, consider yourself lucky, as more often than not, homesteaders must build up the soil until it becomes productive. If you are able to buy land upon which the soil is being worked, that’s even better.
Even fertile soil takes a year or two to get into shape, so if the person that you buy the land from is working the soil, odds are that work has been taken care of for you. Be wary though, as many people use pesticides and other chemicals that may not be compatible with your goals as a homestead, if you intend on farming naturally. This is particularly true if you wish to pursue an organic certification. If that’s the case, you may be better off buying land that has not been worked. Although it will be less ready to produce, you won’t have to deal with the chemicals in the soil and will likely be able to achieve organic certification more rapidly.
Access to water
This is a big one, perhaps the biggest. Easy access to water, via river or lake, or even a large sized stream is something that can really make your life easier, in any number of ways. It goes without saying that you can use the water for crops and animals, but how about fishing? Boating? Access to other spots of land?
A river running through your property is a true gem, in a few ways. It can be used to water animals and crops, much like well or lake water, but it also provides the possibility of harnessing the moving water with a hydroelectric generator. Hydro is perhaps the ultimate way to provide energy for yourself. It is cheaper to implement than solar and will provide for a more steady power supply. Although a river introduces certain possible problems, like safety issues, or flooding issues, it’s generally a wonderful feature.
It goes without saying, but affordable land is obviously preferable to land that sells for a premium. If you are able to save money on the acquisition of the property those funds may be used for other things that are sure to be required. Outbuildings are not cheap, neither are tractors, farming equipment, seed, greenhouses, and all sorts of other things. With that said, you’re often better off to spend a bit more money on the property if that expenditure results in significantly better land.
Proximity to other homesteaders/farmers
Being close to other like minded people is a significant bonus, regardless of whether or not you are a new homesteader or a seasoned veteran. If you have neighbors who share values, you’ll likely be able to rely on them in all sorts of ways. You’ll be able to trade goods, ask for advice, compare notes on growing techniques, and just generally work together in a variety of ways.
Lack of natural disasters
You may want to avoid homesteading in tornado alley, just like you may wish to avoid homesteading in areas prone to other natural disasters. You’ll have to worry about mother nature enough as it is so you are well served to stay away from areas that are disaster prone.
Proximity to nuclear reactors
This one is self explanatory. Given the choice most people would choose to live far away from nuclear reactors, and perhaps chemical treatment plants, pulp/paper mills, and other things that are hard on the environment and possibly lethal in certain cases.
Choosing property for your homestead is a great adventure, as each piece of property presents unique opportunities and challenges. No two pieces of land are the same. If you take your time and wait for the right property you can likely save yourself a pile of work. You’ll also give yourself tremendous advantages.
The utility of a property with a river running through it cannot be overstated.
Dark, rich soil will have you producing more quickly than you would have expected. Good neighbors make everything easier.
Homesteading Books & Guides
Before plunking down your hard earned money on a piece of property, make sure it’s truly the one you want. You’ll be happier & your job will be easier. At the end of the day you’ll be able to create something much more special.