So I am basically looking for a piece of land to buy and develop a sustainable, ecological, homestead. I'm thinking maybe 5 acres somewhere super cheap and remote. No utilities so I can do the full off grid thing.
I want good weather/climate (for human comfort). And I want to make sure I avoid as much political resistance as possible (like off grid, building code, etc...) so I want to go somewhere as free as possible from all that.
Anywhere in the US, and then I am also willing to consider international opportunities as well. I'm quite concerned about the political climate in US regarding the attack on small scale permaculture practices and off grid living. So anywhere in US where I can avoid that nonsense, or anywhere globally that I can really be left alone, I'll consider that too. It should would be a lot easier in North AZ, then on some remote island tho you know? So I'm open to all your suggestions thanks!
No, seriously. Along the coast in the central-southern part of the state where we are, the winters are Winter, but not so bad as all that if you are prepared and have a good woolen sweater or two. We have a friend who went through this last winter without heat at all in an old farmhouse with no windows. It's not high on his list of experiences to repeat, but he still has all his fingers and toes.
Most places with a "nice climate" are going to be a) WAY out of the price range most permies are looking for, and b) so full of people and regulations that you cant do what you want, even if you could find the land to do it on.
Meanwhile, there's a 10-acre plot for sale in our town - 4 miles from downtown, a wicked easy bike ride - with a leveled building site, several springs, and a nice south slope for $12,500. Owner financing, even, as long as you dont build anything permanent before it's paid off. We looked at it, but I'm more into livestock than rice paddies (but I know enough about rice to know that this land is made for it if ever one was...). The town has no building permits, livestock restrictions, or anything - you can do a Jenkins system on Main St if you want to - and permie/green people are pretty well a majority population. The town is aging fast and most of the populace is aware enough to know that we need young blood to survive. I can throw a rock from my front door and hit half a dozen properties for sale at prices between a fart and a song.
Seriously, think about Maine. It's not nearly so insular and cold as we make it seem to outsiders... Have a little respect for the lifeways here, work hard, and you're on.
In both southern Missouri and northern Arkansas there is land that is available for what most of us would consider affordable. The culture is "let me do my thing" and you can get very remote. In fact, the more remote the property the lower the price. I would stay away from the "lake" areas as they are being developed at a fast pace and will be higher priced and have lots of rules. But, there are hundreds of listings in these states. You may have to be a bit more flexible in the amount of land you want to buy ... meaning you might have to buy more than you wanted. Also, many of these properties have lots of timber on them. So, while you're setting up your permaculture heaven, you can be harvesting timber for your needs and for possible retail purposes to generate just a bit of cash flow. Weather is amazing affording you all four seasons, but a very mild winter. Having all four seasons would allow you to have great biodiversity in your growies and that would benefit your diet so you didn't get tired of eating the same things all the time.
Cochise County in S.E. Az. Good soil, water table, weather is awesome, & many properties are zoned rural which means no inspections on buildings. Prices are very low as well. The weather is awesome because of the 4,000'+ altitude.
Just as a quick example of what I was talking about earlier about Missouri. Here is a website that lists many properties for sale or for auction. The link below is a listing of any property that is between $1,000 and $100,000 and it appears there are about 4,900 listings!!! It's crazy. Note, when you get to what appears to be cheaper prices, you may be looking at per-acre costs. You just have to read the ads. I'm not advocating this particular website or even the state of Missouri. But, the point is that there is land out there in almost every state that is available if one does a bit of digging.
Additionally, if you are in an urbanized area, visit your county website and look for a page that lists property that is not owned by a resident but by the city or county but has back taxes owed on it. Counties are not really wanting to be in the real estate business and make it attractive for residents to purchase these lots. Often these properties can be purchased for just the back taxes or just a bit more. How cool is it to turn a 1/2-acre lot in a warehouse district into a permaculture paradise?
However, as others have said in multiple places and I've heard Greg Judy and Joel Salatin repeated say this ... you don't have to buy land to farm. There is opportunity to rent the land and make a profit off of it that more than pays for the rent. Something to consider.
I was recently thinking how the forums could be used as a resource for people to decide this in the future. There could be a thread where everyone describes and 'rates' their location and fills prospective land buyers in on any pertinent information when it comes to farming there- the going rate of land, how open the community seems to be to sustainable farming, how friendly the community is to business, how well the farmers markets do, how the building inspectors are, whatever else you can think of.
Basically I'm thinking of something kind of like Yelp but specifically for prospective farmers.
After enough posts, people could go through the thread and get some ideas of what places might suit them best, or what areas to avoid.
I'm not sure if this is a good idea or would be worth the effort to put together, but maybe some future buyers would see the benefit of having all that info in one thread? I'm hoping to buy some land in a few years and I would definitely use this site to help me decide on a location. And maybe we can get a bunch of permies people to move to a couple of hot spots and take over!
My wife and I help my father-in-law manage his land in South Dakota (about 1,000 acres) which he rent out to larger operators. My wife writes the rental contracts and makes her decision about the per-acre rent based on many factors, such as grain prices, grain futures, land sales figures, etc. One of the best sources for this kind of information is frequenting the coffee shops in farming towns when the "old boys" are all there. They also gather at farm auctions all the time and pretty freely share this intelligence about land prices, rental prices, land productivity, yields, etc. Between auctions where people stand around for hours looking at someone else's junk and coffee shop talk, one can gather quite a bit of intelligence about a local area. Food for thought.
I like dead resource towns and rural towns that are in decline because they have lost their schools, post office, railway connection, mine, mill or other life blood. You may not put the same value on these things as the market does. Some negatives become positive over time. When a big paper mill on a lake closes, property values suffer. A decade later the lake is cleaner, the mill site is a park, retirees have moved in and the sky hasn't fallen.
Twelve years ago I bought land that was covered in logging slash. It all rotted. Fifty foot trees occupy clear cut areas, lack of grid power is no big deal, they paved the main road and cell phones work.
Depressed areas become viable as new blood moves in and negativity moves on. When a town is filled with hundreds who are lamenting their lost jobs, property values and retirement prospects, they can drag you down. Soon, the place will contain others who are happy to have gotten in on the ground floor of a resurgence.
Don't count your weasels before they've popped. And now for a mulberry bush related tiny ad: