I was wondering if there are any homesteaders out there that live in Washington or Idaho that can speak to their experience in homesteading in their state.
I am interested in purchasing a few acres with lots of trees and a creek, off grid with solar and build a earthbag (or similar type construction) home, do some aquaponics, green house gardening, a few animals. I'd like to know if there are any pitfalls or headaches people have had to deal with in regards to their state or county that would be prudent for an aspiring homesteader like myself to be aware of prior to making a purchase.
I currently live in Colorado and it's a real pain (translation: expensive) when it comes to water rights and building permits for "alternative" construction types. I'm fairly sold on the pacific northwest region of the US and I'm leaning towards Idaho because I have been told that most counties don't give you a hard time regarding building permits for alternative building types, also water seems to less of an issue (regarding state or local government red tape). You can collect rainwater use a creek or stream if it is on your property without worry. But this is only hearsay and I don't know anyone that has personally dealt with this in Washington or Idaho. It should be noted that I have only enough money to purchase the land. I sold everything I own to pay off debt and save up a little money to buy the land. I don't have thousands of dollars set aside to immediately start building anything. So I see myself camping on the land in the beginning. One of the main reasons I want to go with earthbag is the low cost. Time and labor I have... money I don't. So things like taxes and red tape fees are very important to me.
Your personal experience and recommendation would be appreciated if there is anyone out there.
I don't know much about Idaho other than hearsay. I did live in Washington State for 17 years. Water Law is relaxing a bit toward the individual over corporate/big ag. One can not collect rainwater and do 'erosion control'. Idaho, I believe, is still much friendlier on the homesteader. One thing I would caution is check the soil maps before you buy any thing, as well as walk the land thoroughly. I have seen some property for sale in the NE of Washington state that was not much more than a sprinkle of soil over bedrock. Trees seem to find a way to force their way down into it, but I am not sure how successful that would be for a homesteads needs.
Most the counties in the Northeast are more friendly to alternative build than those in the central and western portions of the state. But are still bound to the more liberal politics that predominate the western Cascades. (read high taxes.) Although WA still does not have a State Income Tax, I would not be surprised to see that change in the next 10 years, as budget shortfalls mount. It is cold up there. You live in CO, so I don't think that will come as a big surprise for you. But man, I cannot imagine camping a winter in either state.
On final 'watch out'. Be careful of deal too good to be true. Always ask if the property is on reservation land or has deeded access. Some private property was held and is still private that the reservations were created around. Not an issue, unless you actually want to travel to or from your property. Then you have to pay the tribe a use fee for the road access. Reasonable to be sure. But that privilege is granted year to year and revokable any time. Just something to consider. Also keep re-sale way down if you ever decide to homestead somewhere else.