How to Choose Homestead Land

A green meadow or hayfield

How to find and choose homestead land

When you're ready to buy land, how do you find the right piece of property? We looked for several years before finding Oak Hill, but it was worth the time it took.

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When we started looking at property we had a short list of must-haves. 

But as we looked, our list grew longer as we identified what we didn't want - in other words, we were able to identify what we did want by discovering what we didn't want. Many of those things hadn't even occurred to us before we actually looked at several properties.

Where to look for land

The first item on your wish list is probably the state or region where you want to buy land. You may not want to leave the area in which you are now living. You might want to move closer to family. You might be willing to move out-of-state.

This will determine your method of searching for land, of course. 

If you want to stay in the same general area, you'll be able to find local land for sale just by driving around or calling a local real estate agency. 

Family members might have some recommendations if you want to move near them.

We looked online, and it's even easier to do now than it was years ago.

Here's one place to start looking. At Land Listings, you can filter the properties for sale with the various things that are important to you - where the property is located (by state and even by county), the number of acres, whether or not there is a house on the property and so on. 

Tips for finding land for your new homestead

Making a Wishlist for your Land - What are You Looking for?

Spend some time identifying the must-haves for you and your family. Divide your list into the things you simply must have, and other things you can be more flexible about.

Start your list with the important items - the minimum amount of land you want, and whether or not you want a house or raw land.

If you want to raise livestock or chickens, write that down. Local ordinances and covenants can dictate whether animals are allowed or not. 

At one point we owned five acres of unimproved land in upper Michigan. Imagine our surprise when we found out we could not have livestock or run a business on our land. We sold it a short time later.

You'll want a sunny location if you want a large garden. Believe it or not, at our previous home we needed a permit to dig a garden any larger than 100 square feet. Yes, really. That's just ten by ten feet.

Make sure you have access to water, whether it's a well, a year-round stream or spring, or other source.

And of course, set a price limit and don't go over it.

Our list contained things that were important to us, but might not be important to you. It looked something like this:
  • At least ten acres
  • Cheap land
  • A low cost of living
  • Low property taxes
  • Relaxed building codes
  • A warmer climate than Michigan - we were tired of snow!
  • Good homeschooling laws
  • Located near a military base
  • Not on a dead-end road
  • A good, reliable water source
We also had a few other "wishes" on our list, but we were more flexible about those. 

For instance, we wanted our land to have perimeter fencing, and cross-fencing would be even better. Sheds or a barn would be nice, but we knew we could build them if needed.

Tips for finding land for your new homestead

Narrowing Down the Search

Since we wanted a warmer climate, we knew we'd move south of our then-current location. 

Because we wanted a state with friendly homeschool laws, we further refined our search to those states. 

And finally, we wanted to be near a military base so we could continue to take advantage of the Chief's retirement benefits, so that narrowed our search even more.

Identify your wants and your needs, then search for land for your new homestead

Check it out in person

Since we were willing (and even wanting) to move out of state, all the potential properties we found were a distance away. When we found a property online that fit our list of criteria, the Chief and our son would travel to look at it.

One of the properties we checked out had a junkyard next door. Another, although it was indeed ten acres, had a narrow road frontage and was very deep. We realized we'd rather have a property that was more square in shape.

Google maps makes this process much easier now, but fifteen years ago it wasn't very reliable or nearly as detailed. 

Don't depend completely on those online maps. That junkyard next door might have been a surprise if we hadn't gone to look at the property with our own eyes before purchasing it.

do not recommend buying property sight unseen! In fact, the owner we bought Oak Hill from had done just that, and had put it back on the market just three days after moving here. 

Don't let that happen to you!

Do the research

Once you've found what looks like the perfect property, be sure to ask questions. 

Your realtor is a good resource to ask who you should call with your questions. The local town or county will have the official answers for you, but it helps to know which department you should call. 

  • What is the rate of state sales tax? Is there a local sales tax as well?
  • What are the state homeschooling laws? 
  • Does the state charge personal property tax on tractors and other equipment, travel trailers and other items?
  • How much will the utility companies charge to hook up a house you plan to build? 
  • Do you need a permit to dig a garden? Do you need a minimum number of acres to have large livestock? What regulations are there on selling milk or eggs from your homestead?

On our third land-scouting trip, the Chief found Oak Hill. And the rest, as they say, is history. You can read more about it in my retrospective on a homesteading journey.

If you're looking for homestead land, what is important to you? I challenge you to identify your wishes and put them down on paper. Good luck in your search!

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Tips on how to find homestead land.

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  1. Your list looks just like ours!! Water is at the very top of ours since we live in the highland desert of Utah. We shared this with our FB readers at

  2. Thank you for sharing, Tessa.

    In Oklahoma, water is at the top of everyone's list too!

  3. We had a list too (a long and detailed one!) and it took a couple years and many trips to multiple states to find our place. I agree, figure out what you want and hold out til you find it! Love the blog!

  4. Anonymous1:59 AM

    Finding a good place is difficult now a days. Buying the property without seeing is not advisable.

    Your list looks good so that all who is in search of property will have the same.

    Good Luck!!

  5. What beautiful photos! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

  6. Thank you, and thank you for stopping by.

  7. It looks like a little slice of heaven there :)

  8. Thank you, Debra, we love it here.

  9. So glad you found your dream home. We are on that road now. Thank you for sharing.

  10. I hope you find your perfect place soon, Daisy.

  11. Our property just sort of found us. Word of mouth. The house wasn't exactly what we wanted, but the property was. Here we are 16 years later.
    (still working on the house ;) )

  12. Sandra, I've learned that it's more important to find the "right land" than the house, within reason of course. :-)

  13. You list is very impressive and great to look your blog post. all the best

  14. Looks like your search and your list resulted in a beautiful pier of property!

  15. This is a great list! We just made an offer on 3 acres and we were looking for many of those same things :)

  16. That's awesome, Heidi! I hope your offer is accepted, and that this is The Place.

  17. We started looking about three years ago, and the list changed as we learned more about what we wanted. Our locked-in, needs were great school district, off the grid, one acre, lakefront (not pond) and livestock capable. Weather was a factor in the beginning as secretly all New Englanders want to move away from winter, so we looked as far as Oklahoma, with some time in Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, the Carolinas and even Maryland. In the end, we found exactly what we wanted only 45 minutes away from where were living. The search was fun, with plenty of road trips to explore potential homesteads, but we found where we belonged and couldn't;t be happier.
    Thanks for sharing on the blog hop:)


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