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Land Buying Tips For Off-Grid Property

October 20, 2021

Off-grid living has become increasingly more popular and rewarding for those not afraid of a challenge. Living an off-grid and self-sufficient lifestyle will mean different things to different people. Some want to connect with nature, some want an environmentally friendly home, while others seek financial freedom from the high cost of living seen in many urban areas today. Regardless of the reason, off-grid living usually means less dependent or complete independence from traditional energy sources. Making this transition to your new lifestyle requires careful planning and research. Whether you want 5 or 500 acres, one of the most important elements of this plan is choosing the right property for your home site. In this article, you will find some important steps to mark off your property search checklist.

One of the first things to establish is your budget. Spend considerable time planning to identify what your budget will be for your land costs and your choice of shelter. Off-grid shelters can be small cabins, tiny homes, campers, or for some courageous people, a fancy tent. Establishing your land budget should be your first step before even starting to look at a property. Think about your off-grid homesite requirements and zero in on a land checklist that can meet your budget and needs for space. Some things to consider will be a garden site, space for livestock, and the size of your shelter. There are other factors to consider like if you plan to hunt or want a running stream on the property but start with the basics.

The next step will be to contact a land professional that will prove to be invaluable during your actual property search. Land professionals specialize in helping buyers find a property that fits their specific needs and budget. An off-grid homesite will have several specific requirements and you don’t want to purchase a piece of property to later find out it will not meet your needs. Make the right decision with your land choice. 

Starting an off-grid homesite will usually mean looking at raw land that will be cultivated into your dream, but work with your land professional to make sure you have the answers and information to address your specific needs before making an offer. Location is key when deciding where to buy. Remote property is traditionally better for off-grid living because it will have fewer usage restrictions, will be cheaper per acre, and provide more privacy as well as security. Agriculture land with year-round access is the way to go. Here are some key questions to ask:

  • Are there any zoning or usage restrictions prohibiting your off-grid shelter or intended improvements? 
  • Does the property have good year-round access from a public road?
  • Are there any liens or other encumbrances on the property?
  • Is the property within your budget?
  • Does the land have the proper soil type for building a structure and establishing a garden site?
  • Does the elevation provide for a great homesite and allow for good drainage?
  • Is the property in a flood plain?
  • Do you plan to have any livestock, and will there be adequate space for them?
  • Will this property be able to accommodate the basics such as food, shelter, water, and power? Examples include space for solar panels, a running stream or water well site, and the type of shelter you envision.
  • Does the land need to be near a city for an occasional supply run, a local hospital, or schools?
  • Will anyone living there be traveling to work and need to be within a reasonable driving distance?
  • Are there any public utilities, internet service, and cell phone service available? 
  • Do you plan to hunt on the land? If so, does it have adequate wildlife habitat?

Off-grid homesites are easier to transition to with proper planning. Look for ways to reduce your costs during your property search. For example, I recently visited a 70-acre property for sale that had portions of the timber harvested. Cutting the timber opened up two large areas that would provide for good build sites on the property. It also had two different access roads created by the timber crews and lots of road frontage. This property would be a great choice for an off-grid buyer because they could purchase the land at a reduced cost per acre and it already had two access roads and cleared potential build sites. The access roads and build sites would help you save by not having to spend more to clear out those areas. There was plenty of open space for a solar system to be installed and establish a large garden. In addition, there was a creek running through the center of the property as well as hunting opportunities. This would be a great budget-friendly option for anyone looking for a ready-made off-grid homesite location that had a lot of potential and resources in one package. 

Creating your off-grid homesite can be extremely rewarding and offer a peaceful and enjoyable lifestyle. It all starts with choosing the right property that will meet your specific needs. Work with a real estate land professional in your desired area. Establish your budget and plan appropriately. Be patient and diligent in your search. After some hard work, you will be more independent and enjoy watching the sunset on the deck of your new off-grid home and property.

About the Author
Marshall McCraw is a licensed Land Professional with National Land Realty. Marshall has been working with landowners for over 17 years as a state Conservation Officer in Mississippi. During this time, Marshall has worked closely with landowners on many different issues such as wildlife conservation, property line disputes, civil, and criminal acts. Conservation Officers are a unique category of first responders that carry out wildlife law enforcement duties, assist federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, and receive special training for natural disasters and search and rescue response. Marshall is also a hunting and boating safety class instructor. Marshall’s formal education includes a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Louisiana at Monroe.