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Best criteria for purchase of homestead property? — The Grow Network Community
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Best criteria for purchase of homestead property?

aprilbbrinkmanaprilbbrinkman Posts: 211 ✭✭✭
edited November 2020 in DIY Tutorials

It is our goal to start a small family farm, approx. 2-5 acres with basic barn, work shed, and a simple, one story family home. Is there any advice on criteria we should follow when choosing property to purchase? Any pointers from those of you who have had this kind of experience is greatly appreciated.


  • sallyhowardsallyhoward AustraliaPosts: 106 ✭✭✭

    I agree with the above great suggestions. We had a written list of practical requirements like water as well as aesthetic preferences like a beautiful view and when we found it we felt the land calling us.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,643 admin

    I too, agree.

    I would add to this to look for a place where there would be opportunity to expand what you own.

    It is also good to have a welcoming community. Our surrounding area is lacking in that.

    Consider what animals you may want as well & if the land you purchase is suitable to sustain the type & number that you choose.

    Beware of hidden costs.

  • toreytorey Posts: 2,552 admin


    So many thins to consider!

    For a garden, exposure would be important. Does it get enough sunlight throughout the day or maybe you are in a warmer climate and need to have shade in your garden for the hottest part of the day? Soil is also a consideration for a garden. While it is possible to build raised beds and bring in or make your own soil improvements, it is nice to have a good basis to work with. Rocks are one of my property's drawbacks.

    For animals, fencing is important and can be expensive to install (depending on the type used). So that might be a consideration to calculate into the cost of the property.

    If you are thinking of off-grid, there are many more considerations along those lines. How self sufficient are you prepared to be? Does it have good exposure for solar or enough wind that a wind mill could be an option or a creek for hydro-electric power? Or if grid electricity is available, how reliable is it and is there a choice for back-up? Heat sources can be considerations. Is there enough firewood in the area?

    Water. So important. I think you should have a water source on the property. Preferably a surface source that does not dry up in the summer. A creek or spring is ideal but at the very least you should have your own well if surface water is not available. Perhaps you are looking in an area that gets a lot of rainfall and a cistern would work but that could pose issues if there is a drought. Gardens and livestock take a lot of water.

    I agree with @LaurieLovesLearning about a welcoming and supportive community. Check out your prospective area to see if there are other like-minded individuals or families that you can connect with. Look for groups that might be supportive such as farmers institutes, 4-H clubs, church groups or school organisations. It makes it harder when you are "going it alone".

    Good luck with your search and let us know how it goes!

  • judsoncarroll4judsoncarroll4 Posts: 3,201 admin
    edited April 2020

    My first instinct was to say water. But in many regions, rainwater catchment and earthworks can solve most problems. Slope can be adapted. Soil can be enriched or remediated. Sun exposure is a big concern. I guess neighbors are my biggest concern. I've had some really horrible neighbors. I will no longer consider any property with shared drives, wells... anything of the sort. It is so hard to know the neighbors before hand, and things can change. My family's far was in a great situation until a neighbor on the other side of the hors e pasture decided to develop a low rent mobile home park that mainly catered to Illegal immigrants. On the far end of the property, another neighbor developed a housing project...… not good... and the kids from the more respectable neighbors were even worse.... once the county built a new high school across the road from our property, it was all over. Theft and vandalism were constant. In other places, I've had a lot of trouble with buying land that was cut off from a larger property that had been in the same family for a while - the folks still seemed to think they owned the land and could trespass and do as they pleased. I've had neighbors with bad dogs who would attack my dogs and kill lambs and kids. Even the neighbor I thought would be the best - retired deputy sheriff, military veteran, fireman, who had a plant nursery - turned out to be a nightmare. He did as he pleased, damaging my septic tank and cutting trees on my property, dumping trash on my property, etc.... and dared me to do anything about it.... he was "the most respected man in the county." So, my only answer is to be very careful do your homework and if possible, have some buffer zones where you can plant blackberry thickets or use other strategies to keep people off your property. Any natural boundary is a plus. I have a whole system of deer and people proof hedgerows that I've designed - gave the details in the topic on theft in rural areas. If you have the option of renting the property for a couple of years before you buy... I would! Oh, and no POAs, EVER!

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,643 admin

    @judsoncarroll4 I fully agree, and that is part of my concern. We live in a community that is cold go outsiders & will tell new people go their face that their ideas aren't wanted here, but if you can benefit them in some way, and better yet, for very little, you are wonderful...but only for that time. If you are born here, move away & come back, it is like you are tainted. If you marry in, you are usually more accepted too. It is a strange place.

    We also moved onto a place that puts us between feuding neighbors. It was ongoing well before we moved here. I would say more, but you never know who is reading. We also had a neighbor shoot our dog when there was no need to do so.

    Mind you, if help was truly needed, some would still help.

    @aprilbbrinkman Another thing to consider if you have children, is to make sure there are activities (and a good school unless you homeschool) for them. We drive almost an hour for kids activities. There is absolutely no music lessons for them here either. It is dead.

  • aprilbbrinkmanaprilbbrinkman Posts: 211 ✭✭✭

    Thank you so much for the awesome comments your experiences are priceless very excited to start plot shopping!

  • dottile46dottile46 Posts: 420 ✭✭✭

    @aprilbbrinkman I agree that water is the most important. If you are lucky enough to find a property with an artisan well that would be even better.

    Soil can be amended, fences can be built, and shelters can be erected. I have no idea what part of the world you are in, or are looking in, so I'm going to wing this one. Check the soil qualities, that can be done online for free if you are in the USA or its possessions, and see how far it is to bedrock or if that area has a fragipan. We absolutely love our new place, but that dang fragipan makes it difficult.

    (Fragipan - a subsoil layer composed of extremely hard packed sand, silt, small rocks; so firmly packed it will break the blade of a knife; roots cannot penetrate, does not allow water to filter through, and does not allow for digging post holes, foundations, etc without using a jack hammer, pick ax, or similar tool.)

    Check soil qualities here https://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app/WebSoilSurvey.aspx

  • Marjory WildcraftMarjory Wildcraft ✭✭✭ Posts: 1,043 admin
    edited April 2020

    if you are looking for a region to move to (versus the specific property) I wrote an ebook call 'how to find the perfect survival retreat' and it is in the library.

    My biggest criteria are community and then water. The biggest myth of the survival community is that you can do it alone - you can't.

    Who are your children going to marry?

    And water is life. I've lived in too many dry climates now... Have at least three sources. I know a lot can be done with rainwter collection, swales, etc. And that is something you definitely need to do.

    Pressurized water is such a God send!

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 3,643 admin
    edited April 2020

    @aprilbbrinkman About neighbors, you could always go meet prospective neighbors, telling them that you are thinking of buying in the area or a place adjoining theirs and get a feel for what they are like.

    We did that at one place (we didn't end up buying in the end) but the neighbor we talked to was very nice & hoped we were able to buy. It was good to learn more about the area & the people there. He would have been a good neighbor.

    About the sale too...make sure you find the truth about why the place is up for sale. That could help determine if it is a good choice & give a heads up to potential issues.

    @Marjory Wildcraft brings up a good point. Keep in mind that who your children spend the most time with will shape who they might choose to marry. For that reason, we mingle very little with local families here. We are very careful who are children are exposed to when they are still at home. Once they leave & go elsewhere...well...we are dealing with that now. It can be stressful when they don't see the future implications of their choices that you can see.

  • aprilbbrinkmanaprilbbrinkman Posts: 211 ✭✭✭

    wow THANK YOU I am so grateful for TGN we are looking to purchase hopefully in Yamhill County, Oregon. This knowledge is invaluable. I am so excited to research all these leads further.

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