Millions of people want to live off grid! You want to build your own cabin, produce your own electrical power, grow your own food, raise livestock (chickens, pigs, cows) for food, and live a sustainable self sufficient and self reliant lifestyle. If you’re like me, you want all this and more. You want the freedom and independence that living off grid gives you and you certainly most probably don’t want a mortgage. I would say if you can move off grid now then do it. But where do you go and how do you do it? This is a million dollar question.
Fortunately there is an easy answer. The answer is easy, but the work involved is not. It’s going to take hard work, dedication, commitment, due diligence, and lots and lots of homework.
16 TIPS How To Pick The Perfect Off Grid Land
- Remote Land Equals Cheap Land (usually)– The further away from civilization the cheaper it will be.
- Remote Equals Fewer Restrictions/Ordinances – The further away from civilization the fewer restrictions you’ll have and the more freedom you’ll have to build and do what you want without someone telling you you can’t.
- No Covenants or Restrictions! – Don’t buy land that has covenants and restrictions because it will limit what you will be able to do with your land.
- No Subdivisions! – Don’t buy land in a subdivision. Even a rural subdivision has rules that could hinder your off grid lifestyle. Not to mention HOA’s. That’s the next thing.
- No HOA’s! – Home Owners Associations will cost you money. It’s also a pain in the a** to deal with all the rules and restrictions and pesky nosey neighbors always getting into your business or trying to tell you how to live your life or what color you can paint your house or whatever stupid rules they put. Think about this. An HOA is basically a bunch of folks getting together to decide how everyone else lives their lives and what color and type of house they can live in, and they force everyone else to pay a fee to be managed. Yeah…no thanks! That’s the OPPOSITE of what it means to live off the grid.
- No Building Codes or Codes not enforced – No building codes or a property located in an area where the county doesn’t really enforce the codes is best. This usually means remote. Even if there are codes you need to worry about there are still good properties available, but they will limit what you can do and build, and will ultimately cost you more money out of pocket upfront.
- Year Round Access – Make sure you have access to the property year round. In some places winter and monsoon season can make accessing the property impossible. Good roads are key. Think about how you’re going to get your materials and tools and equipment onto your land.e
- Legal Access – Make sure you have LEGAL right of way access to the property. No “land-locked” properties where you have to cross someone else’s land to access your land.
- No Legal Issues, (Encumbrances) Liens or Back Taxes Due – Do a title search. Check all the records to make sure there are no tax liens, contractor liens, or money owed. Make sure there are “no encumbrances” that could cost you more money or time you don’t have to lose.
- PERC TEST! – If there’s no septic system on the property already you’ll need to put one in and that costs money. It will cost you more money if you spend all your money on a piece of land and you can’t put in a septic system because the soil fails a percolation test. A PERC test. A PERC test tests the rate at which liquids seep into the soil. There’s a certain acceptable rate which the soil is supposed to absorb and if it fails then you can’t build. It’s that simple. You can’t build a house because a house has to have a septic system. So it’s a bad deal all the way around. Make sure you do a PERC test on the land if you’re seriously interested in the land. It’s worth the few hundred bucks it takes for peace of mind and can save you TENS OF THOUSANDS if not hundreds of thousands of dollars later.
- Do a Survey! (check the current survey if there is one; if it’s outdated or it’s unclear where there property boundaries are then have it redone) – Have the property surveyed by a licensed and insured surveyor because if you don’t and there’s a property dispute later it can cost your thousands or tens of thousands of dollars and or cause the loss of your building/cabin if it’s on the disputed land. Always make sure the property boundaries are clearly marked and you know where they are and every matches the contract/sale/advertisement.
- Have The Water/Soil Tested For Contaminants! – This is very important. You don’t want to buy a cheap property and build your dream cabin only to discover that your land was a former mining site and is contaminated with poisonous chemicals that will make you and your family sick.
- Pay Cash! – You don’t want to live on a remote property with a mortgage. Bad idea! If something happens and you can’t make payments then you’re in a bad place and could lose everything. Don’t get a mortgage. Beg, borrow and sell whatever you need to raise the funding needed to pay CASH for your land. Don’t go into debt to buy your dream property. Sell ALL your personal items you can afford to sell and use that cash to buy land. If you don’t want to sell your stuff, then ask yourself this. “What’s more important to me…my STUFF or my dream of living off grid, independent, self sufficient, self reliant and FREE!”. The answer should be FREEDOM! Pay cash for your land. Never get a mortgage. Ever!
- Mineral Rights & Water Rights! – Make sure you secure mineral rights (including water rights). If you like a property and the mineral rights don’t come with it then STOP! Back away and find a different property. I don’t care how good the property is, you do NOT want someone coming in and digging and drilling on your land, because that’s exactly what will happen if there are valuable minerals/oil or whatever found in your area. The person or company who owns the mineral rights or water rights will have the right to be on your land to extract the minerals or water and you will be powerless to stop them.
- Don’t Buy Land in a Flood Plain – This should go without saying, but some folks will buy land in these places and lost their money. There is an
- Don’t Buy Land with a Nature Preserve or in Wetlands! – You’ll have a nightmare of a time trying to build, and most likely you won’t be able to. Make sure the land is NOT in a wetland area or in a Nature Preserve because you most likely will not be able to do anything with it.
- BONUS TIP 1: DO YOUR HOMEWORK! – Make sure you check all the local, county, state and federal laws. If you’ve done your homework you’ll have decades of awesome wonderful off grid living.
- BONUS TIP 2: MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ACCESS! (Both Legal & Physical) – I want to reiterate this very important aspect of land buying. One of the most obvious things people overlook is access. People usually assume there’s a way onto the land and that you’ll be able to get to your land anytime. You’d be surprised at how often this is overlooked. Bad neighbors can also make your off grid life miserable by locking gates, cutting your locks, putting nails in the road or driveway to puncture your tires, or any number of dirty nasty tricks to stop you from getting onto you land. It can also cause lawsuits and legal action against you or force you to sue them for access for the property thereby costing you even more money, usually tens of thousands of dollars in attorney fees and permits and damage to your property. It;s not worth it. If there is any question at all…walk away.
- BONUS TIP 3: WALK AWAY IF THE DEAL IS NOT RIGHT! – Always always always be prepared to walk away if the deal doesn’t feel right or it’s not the ideal property. Also don’f fall in love with a property just because you really really really want to move off grid. Never buy the first property you look at. (unless you’re and experienced real estate investor) And even then don’t do it unless you know absolutely what you’re doing and that it’s a great deal.
Now this is just a basic overview of some of the things you’ll need to consider when picking our your off grid property.
The 3 Things You Need To Live Off Grid
We all need the 3 basics of survival.
But in today’s modern “civilized” society, to live above basic subsistence level living, you’re going to need electricity, gas (propane is not sustainable; perhaps fuel oil or diesel made from old vegetable oil) and the most important utilities, internet…and maybe cable TV if you’re into sports or news. That’s it.
Oh, and healthcare and education. Education you can get online, and if you live within an hour of a major town you should have access to good healthcare too.
The 5 things you need to live in civilized society are:
- Utilities (includes water, electricity, gas, internet, cell phone, transportation etc.)
The point of listing these 5 simple and very basic things is this.
When you are searching for your off grid property you also need to be thinking about how you’re going to provide these 5 things for yourself and your family.
This will help you pick the best possible property for you and your family to live on for decades to come.
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