Finding and Buying a Homestead
If you’ve been following our rocky story over the last year, you know that our most recent home purchase was…..unexpected? Or at least didn’t happen on our timing! But nevertheless we ended up with a great homestead, a little farm, and plenty of space to raise our family and everything we need to be mostly self sufficient.
Our current home is actually our second homestead (but our first farmstead), our previous home was also an acreage that we were able to be somewhat self sufficient on. I will say that with our second home purchase we definitely have learned a lot more and finally know what to look for in a homestead purchase!
One question that I get quite often is how we found our most recent homestead and what where some of the things we looked for in the place in order to make our purchase. Today I’m hoping to answer those questions for you! If you are currently looking for a homestead I hope these answers will give you something to consider before you make your purchase.
Looking for a Location
Even though we were planing on traveling for a while before we planned to settle down, we still looked into many many different areas for our future homestead. We’d planned on moving for quite some time so we had been looking at any home magazine we could get our hands on! Our favorite online resource was Homes and Land but we also liked being able to call individual realtors when we were looking in an area and asking them what was available in our price range. Throughout the process of looking we stayed very open to a location, although we hoped for it to be within 4 – 5 hours of family.
Being Open But Within Budget
We were open to both vacant land and a home, although leaning towards vacant land. Now I’m actually glad we ended up getting a home because even though we’ve done a ton of work to it, we’ve been able to move in sooner than it would have taken to built from scratch. No matter what we found though our budget was around $100,000 or less. I did not think we would be able to find a home and land for that price but you will be surprised if you stay open to location!
Considering the Land and Area
Once we went to look at a place we took in everything considering our ultimate goals (which were to be as self sufficient as possible). Would the land support animals and livestock? What was the soil like for gardening? Was there a well or how much would it cost to dig one? How long would the driveway need to be? (Driveways are a HUGE but understated expense!) At one point we looked at a large area of cheap land but it had no well and there was cactus EVERYWHERE. It would have been a major expense to get those things going and then we would still have to build a house. Ultimately we went with less acreage but an opportunity to grow/support more because the land is so fertile.
So make sure you ask about these things when looking at a place:
- Does it have a well? If not, how deep are nearby wells? (Then call and get a quote from a local driller, one piece of land we were seriously considering cost $100k for the well. That one got crossed off our list in a hurry…)
- Does it have a driveway? If not, make sure to budget that into your amount you are willing to spend.
- What is the soil/ground like? How many cattle/goats/sheep can you support per acreage? Will you need to bring in extra support for a garden area?
- What is the weather like? Will you need to make special provisions to deal with the weather in that area? (ie: build a basement or a tree shelter belt)
- How close is the homeplace to town? Do you need to be closer or further away? Are jobs available?
- What perks does this land/house offer? (ie: fruit trees, barns, sheds, ect)
Condition of the Property/Land
Of course you know that we decided to go with a major fixer upper when we purchased our homestead. The biggest reason why? A very attractive price. Most of the fixes were from cosmetic damage that was reparable. It was pretty nor sanitary but we did not have big big expenses like new floors or a new roof (and only needed 4 more new windows). Previously I did not want another fixer upper since our first house was one as well but I’ve since changed my mind 🙂 But if this is something you want to consider, make sure you are up for the task before you take it on! Without my husband’s experience we would be pretty stuck up a creek without a paddle. MAKE SURE you get a home inspection!
We didn’t have must have’s for a house (other than it having at least 2 bedrooms and a bathroom indoors!) only because any property we would be looking at would be cheap enough that we would be able to add on in the future if needed. My only item on my wish list was that there were already some established trees on the property.
Specific Details About Our Property
(for ideas and so you can see that all these things are possible within budget!)
- Our home and land cost less than $90,000, after the renovation costs figured in.
- Our homestead consists of the house (900 sq feet) and 11 outbuildings (including a large barn).
- We have a private well (although it is shallow and OLD).
- We have 5 acres that we own currently with our home, 2 of those acres are treed. (although no neighbors for miles around).
- The soil in our area is extremely fertile so you can do much more on less acreage.
- Our house runs mostly off gas, although we are currently connected to the grid and have electric lights and fridge.
We were open and willing to go where we felt led to go as long as the property had what we needed to be able to work towards being self sufficient and was a smart financial decision. I will also add that I think it’s key to be very open. If homesteading is what you are looking to do and feel called to do, there may be other sacrifices that have to be made to achieve that goal. For us it was living a bit further than we hoped from people we knew and moving to a place we weren’t that familiar with and my hubby taking a new job. All barriers we could get across if we put our mind to it but sometimes it’s hard to get over the initial change. (But after 7 months we still see family at least once a month, we really love our new little town, and a job is a job!) If you have goals and dreams for your life it’s not always the easiest paths to achieve them but in the end you know it’s worth taking the harder road!
There are so many facets to buying a homestead and I know I didn’t include them all here so please shout out your questions in the comments section or you can always email me at [email protected] of course!
More Q&A to come in Part 2!
Are you looking to buy a homestead for your family in the future? What are your must haves?