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Things have been quiet lately on the homestead. Between the winter-weather and the fatigue I’ve been experiencing with the pregnancy, I haven’t had much energy for homesteading projects. Winter’s yin is a time for dormancy, hibernating, resting and preparing for Summer’s yang. It’s a perfect time to start day-dreaming about all of the experiences and projects the Summer will contain.
One of these day-dreams led me to find a beautiful property nearby that is for sale for a reasonable price that hubby and I are very interested in. It’s been on the market for a few years. It has 60 mostly flat acres, some wooded, some already cleared and a hundred year old farm house in need of repair. I won’t tell you where it is in case someone tries to buy it before us!
The property is perfect. It’s already on a well with septic, so the only work we would have to do to get completely off-grid would be to install solar panels. The back yard area is large enough for vegetable gardens, chickens, and maybe a large cold-frame or high tunnel green house. The backyard is separated from the rest of the property by a small creek that is more swampy than creek-y but that can always be fixed.
Then there’s about 20 acres that were cleared when the house was first put on the market, two years ago, in the hopes to sell to a developer. The remaining 30ish acres seem to have been cleared of large lumbar, but is still densely wooded.
Our NC tenants’ lease is up in June, which means we’ll be putting that house up for sale around the end of April. Once we can sell the NC house, the baby is born and I can go back to work at a 9-5, we’ll be in a position to put in an offer on this 60 acres.
It’s a long time to wait, but in the meantime I’ve started doing the research we need to do to be prepared to buy such a large property that will eventually become our “forever farm” or the Hillsborough Homestead.
There are several things you need to look for or consider when looking for your homesteading property. What type of zoning is it? What about water rights? Internet/cell phone access? Purchase or lease?
I’ve broken this post into several parts to make it easier to digest. Look for Parts 2 and 3 to be published in the next week or two.
1. Zoning Laws
Check to make sure you understand what type of zoning the property has. Is it zoned industrial? Agriculture? Residential? There are different rules that apply to each zoning type. Any area that is considered flood plain, or an easement, or protected under conservation rules should be noted. How strictly these zoning laws are enforced depends on your local country government.
If the land you are considering is strictly zoned agriculture, you may need to request permits to change a portion of it to residential before you’ll be able to build on it. Your realtor or local county office should be able to tell you what type of zoning the property you are considering is.
2. Internet/Cell Phone Access
This may or may not be a big concern for you. If you are truly looking to go off grid and get away from it all, you may want limited internet and cell phone access. However, if you want to have a foot in the modern world as well as the past, you may need to consider the availability/quality of internet and cell phone access your new Homestead has.
I, personally, do a lot of work online and there’s nothing more frustrating than slow internet. It’s also important for our family to have uninterrupted cell phone access in case of emergencies.
A friend of mine moved to a new neighborhood in California, in a major city, but the part of the mountain his house is on gets terrible cell phone service. Truthfully, it’s strained a few of his friendships with people he primarily chatted to over the phone because they would get frustrated with the dropped calls and bad reception.
3. Distance From Present Job
Our family plan is to commute to our present jobs for the next year or so, until we have the farm infrastructure built up enough that I can quit the 9-5 and run the Homestead full time. My husband, however, is military, and has at least 7 more years commuting to his present job whether he likes it or not.
If dropping everything tomorrow to homestead is not a possibility for you, pay close attention to how long your new commute will be. Property farther from town is cheaper, but you’re trading money for daylight. You’ll be sacrificing homesteading hours for hours in the car.
Now’s your turn! What things did you take into consideration, or what lessons did you learn when looking for your homesteading property?