Cynthia Brownell watercolorThis blog is a first in a series of articles about setting up your homestead. When we first started, I read as much information about moving off-grid and living a simpler lifestyle. Some articles and YouTube videos were very helpful, and others were just out there. So this blog is for the person or family who is considering the big move from suburbia or urban living to the country homestead

Our land

#1 The Land

Where do you plan on buying your land? Do you already have land in the family? Are you planning on driving across the country and buying the first wooded lot you see? The following list are key decisions that you may want to consider before buying or relocating. Trust me — some of these decisions are based on our own previous naiveté and mistakes.

1. Try not to buy land sight-unseen. My husband worked as a land surveyor for several years. He would come home with stories of people who had purchased land before they saw it and later learned it was a swamp. Or they purchased land without walking the property lines, only to find out the parcel was land-locked. (Land-locked is a term surveyors used to describe a piece of land that has no legal right of way or road access.) Also, you will want to have a survey and abstract completed to make sure everything is legal and free of prior liens. Be wary of owner financing and land contracts. If you feel it is a good deal and you know or trust the owner, please hire a lawyer to draw up the paperwork to protect your interests. It is worth the extra money.

2. Make sure the land has a water source. We know of a town in the area that closed their dump in the early 1980s. The dump isn’t the issue; it is the ground water. Because of what was dumped, the houses within that area can no longer use their well water. They have water, but it is contaminated. Do your research. Was there a chemical dumping area close by? What about any fracking? What about possible buried fuel or oil tanks? This may sound a little dramatic, but a little research may save you a huge headache down the road.

3. Building codes. Before you get ready to build that five-story straw house, you might want to make sure the local codes officer will give you a building permit. I grew up in the Adirondack Mountains, a huge state park north of Albany. The park has several residents who must abide by strict building codes and zoning laws. Make sure you understand the laws and regulations before you buy your land. Fines and frustrations can add up.

Live The Good Life with GRIT!

Grit JulAug 2016At GRIT, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to GRIT through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of GRIT for only $16.95 (USA only).

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