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Buying land off-the-grid that will provide food, energy, and adequate shelter can be readily available, but home buyers need to know how to make it work. Advance planning will help people determine what they want to do with the property and the basic amenities they must have in order to achieve it. Home buyers should investigate each of these topics carefully, to narrow down the list of options that are most appropriate.
Land Rules & Zoning Restrictions
Although the whole point of getting away from it all is to find a greater sense of freedom, the land still maintains its own rules. Typically, people who want to buy a piece of land will receive specific details about its location and use. Zoning guidelines are often set by the local government, and can change at any time. Zoning indicates how the land can be used. The more remote the property, generally the fewer rules. However, buyers need to confirm that the zoning will permit them to build, grow, or use the land’s natural resources.
Home buyers should follow up on the property information to verify its accuracy. Sometimes property lines are unclear, especially in rural or undeveloped areas. Even if it seems like there could be no claim on the title, buyers may still want to request a title report and title insurance. This could help protect them in case there is a claim on the land after they finish the sale.
How people get to the property can make a significant difference in its usefulness as a place to live or vacation. Some buyers envision developing a lot for their own use, far from the nearest neighbor. However, being able to bring in materials for building, or just to enter and leave the property, requires an access point. In certain cases, lots for sale do not have a legal road, even if there is an obvious trail people can see. It is vital to inspect the access points and make sure that they will remain open over time. People should also think about how accessibility will change by season. A dry, dusty road in the summer that is choked with four feet of snow in winter could dramatically change the way owners use it.
Utilities And Natural Resources Availability
Far away from the city, homeowners may need to depend on their own energy sources. Some undeveloped lots are already set up for utilities, such as water, electricity, natural gas, and telecommunications. Many are not. Depending on the zoning guidelines, homeowners might have a variety of options for energy located on the property:
These choices require a relatively-extensive infrastructure to harness the resource and convert it to usable energy. The availability of each will relate heavily to the features of the individual property. People may want to add a secondary source they can bring in or have delivered, such as propane. Home buyers should research the kinds of energy sources that will work best for them. It may take more than one to provide enough to support a household and an active farm.
Land Development Potential
In many rural areas, people have to discern what is legal from what is practical. In short, just because homeowners are allowed to do something does not mean that the land can realistically sustain it. Buyers should carefully evaluate each lot for its ability to provide what they need:
- well water or other safe water sources
- comfortable living
- protection from weather
Anyone who plans to keep livestock or grow enough produce to sustain a family may need several acres at a minimum to make this possible. People should also consider the type of soil they will have, and how easy it is to cultivate or maintain.
Identifying The Best Options For Off-The-Grid Land
Few properties will meet every need that a land buyer might possibly have. In some cases, people may have no choice but to select a lot that provides the most. Buyers should be wary of relying too much on a parcel’s potential. For example, buying a lot on the basis of what the city or a private developer plans to do with the area might work well, or be a nightmare. Buyers need to be realistic about what they can expect others to do within a reasonable amount of time, and how much work they will need to put in at first. Sometimes, people need to sit with the idea for a few months (or even a year or two) to be sure of what they want. A slight delay for research and planning could help buyers avoid purchasing land that will not suit their needs.
For some people, the ability to work the land they own and provide for themselves gives them a greater sense of pride in their abilities. Living off the grid can also ensure a higher degree of security. Buying the right lot makes all the difference. With this advice, home buyers will be better prepared to make a wise decision.