If you dream of self-sufficiency, then buying land for a homestead is a great way to make it happen.
Homesteading, also known as hobby farming, is nothing new. But it is having a bit of a resurgence aside from growing interest in rural, self-reliant lifestyles. And while you can certainly grow a productive edible garden on most properties (including in the city or suburbs), a true homestead requires a fair amount of acreage—plus ample research to ensure that the land you buy is properly-suited to your plans.
Here are some things to consider if you’re looking to buy a homesteading property, including a few quick tips for figuring out how many acres you’ll actually need.
Things to look for in homestead land
Starting your own homestead can certainly be a satisfying experience. Getting it right though requires careful planning, especially when it comes to the land that you buy. Keep these homestead characteristics in mind as you search so that you can be sure to choose the perfect property for your needs.
Suitable acreage – How much acreage you need for a homestead depends on a couple of factors, and you can scroll down to the next section to learn more about what those are. But in general, available acreage is going to be one of the single biggest factors to consider as you search for land, and should be a realistic amount for meeting your hobby farming goals.
Water access – Your land doesn’t have to have access to municipal water lines (and if you’re looking rurally, it probably won’t). But it does need to have at least one reliable source of potable water, such as a well. An additional water source for swimming or fishing isn’t necessary, but it is a nice bonus.
Road access – You may luck out with existing road access if you’re buying land with pre-built structures. However, if you’re buying vacant land for your homestead, then you’ll have to factor in your access options, including road frontage options and cost and maintenance responsibilities.
Soil quality – The type of soil you have matters. Before investing, you may want to have soil testing performed so that you know you have both clean soil and the type of soil needed for what you want to grow.
Zoning and CCRs – Look closely at the zoning regulations and CCRs (Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions) for the property you’re interested in. Even in rural areas, you may face some limits on what you can do, and you’ll want to know in advance what those are.
How many acres is best for a homestead?
The ideal size for your homestead depends on how large your family is and how much food you intend to cultivate. If well-managed, as little as two acres may be sufficient for a small family, while larger families or more expansive homesteads may require 10 acres or more. As a good rule of thumb, figure you will need about one acre of land per person, plus ample room for animals, orchard trees, and anything else you intend to house on your property.
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