Are you looking to build a homestead, but you are still trying to decide where to locate it? It’s a difficult decision, but there are a few things that can help you decide if a location is right for you and your family.
The first question is possibly the most difficult, but it must be answered before you even start searching!
Should I move to a rural homestead?
I have written about homesteading in an apartment and that is a very viable option for many people. In fact, it can be the ideal place to get started and for many people it can be a perfectly good place to continue homesteading.
A time may come, however, when you have learned everything that you can learn in that spot and when you are ready to expand your knowledge and skills. After all, it is generally difficult to raise chickens, goats or other small livestock in town.
Am I familiar with this area?
Have you lived in this general area before so that you are familiar with weather and other potential issues?
Do not try homesteading in a place where the climate is completely foreign to you. As much as I recognize the benefits of year-round gardening, I could never handle the heat of California, for example.
What are the problems?
From rattlesnakes to blizzards, every area has problems – are you familiar with the ones that you will face on this property?
There are coyotes and black bears in our near vicinity, and we have summer storms that can move a building off support blocks.
How far am I from people?
While the idea of homesteading in a remote location away from people is romantic, the truth is that we need to be near people.
How close to family and friends are you?
Is there a vet nearby?
How much usable land do I have?
Total land and usable land are not necessarily the same thing.
Do you have enough land for what you are planning to do? How much of the land is effectively unusable?
What is the growing season?
There are different foods, and growing methods, used in areas with different growing zones. Do you know how long you will have to grow food, and do you have ways to extend that, if necessary?
What is the water situation?
Water is vital! Is there a reliable, safe way to access water? If you live in an area with cold winters, can you access water all year round? Make sure to know the answer to this before buying a property.
What is the septic situation?
Outhouses may be an option, but most of us want a toilet that we use indoors. What is the state of the septic system on the property, if it has one at all?
What buildings are already there?
Some people can live in a camper or other temporary dwelling until buildings are put up. Many of us, though, live in places where that is just not possible. Any buildings that are already there mean something you don’t have to build.
What services are available?
Can you get phone? Internet? Electricity? If these are not available, which ones are you willing to live without? Perhaps there are some – like electricity and sewage – that can be replaced.
What are the laws in this area?
Law and order is necessary, but many of us don’t want too many restrictions on our personal liberty.
How close are the police, what building codes are required, and is it possible to homeschool? Make sure you know the relevant laws in the area where you are looking.
How high are the taxes?
Taxes should be 1-4% of the full market value. For a homestead, look for a property that is not likely to go up in value rapidly. Unlike a house in town, you are unlikely to be selling it in a few years.
Make sure that the taxes are affordable.
This is not an exhaustive list.
There are so many questions to ask before buying a rural property for homesteading. These 12 questions just touch on some very general things you should be asking. Get the full list of 95 important things you need to know before buying that rural property.