You Can also Contact the County’s Tax Assessor and see what land parcels are in currently in foreclosure or that owe back taxes. Sometimes you can simply buy the land by just paying off all of the back taxes owed. This is exactly what land flippers do.
Beware of Owner Financing and be especially careful when doing deals through First United Realty, which is famous for working with Homeowners Associations (HOAs) and Property Owners Associations (POAs) to write up absent landowners for breaking the CCR’s and then fine the property owners so much that they prefer to walk away from the property than pay the fines, which is what they want. They then resell it for another 20% down deposit and wait for the landowners to miss one payment. It is an unethical business practice, but 100% legal.
Download a 7.5 minute topographic map from the US forms service where the property is located. Note where hills, valleys, creeks, seeps and flood plains are located. Pick an elevated spot to put a shed, cabin or home.
Also plot a pathway for a driveway that won’t wash out with heavy rain. Keep the road level and straight as possible so that big trucks can carry big and bulky items such as fiberglass swimming pools, shipping containers, or 10,000 gallon rainwater cisterns can be delivered to where you want them with little effort. Plan a loop so drivers can drive in, dump their load and drive out without having to turn around.
If the property has trees, consider selling a portion of the timber and letting them come log an acre or two so that you can earn cash to pay for building a house. Consider where the sun will be shining during the summer and winter. Sun can be used for passive heating in the winter as well as generating solar electricity during the day.
If the property has stones, rocks and boulders. Consider crushing the rocks into gravel that can be used to build and pave a driveway. Big boulders can be sold to landscape companies or used to anchor the corners for barbed wire fences and for landscaping. Rocks can also be placed around trees to help collect water as dew will condense on them trickle water down to growing trees root systems.
Regardless of how big the property, consider fencing in 1 to 2 acres that will be big enough for a garden, and paddocks for livestock and free range chickens. Then build a big, strong and tall fence this is bull-strong, pig-tight and horse-high that will deter wildlife from eating your garden and pets. Always plan ahead when building. You may not plan on having horses, cows, goats or other livestock, but having paddocks or fenced in fields full of green grass and hay can always be bartered with for food, labor or money. If you live in bear country, you might also add an electric fence to the top of the fences to keep bears out.
If you’re a hunter, consider building fences that will fold down or gates that can be opened during hunting season in key locations near the garden. Position tree stands on all 4 sides of the garden so that no matter which way the wind is blowing, you will be located downwind. You can also plant food plots to draw in deer, elk and other big game animals.
Consider putting in solar lights along the perimeter of your fence. Solar lights that shine all night are great for attracting bugs and the spiders, scorpions and other stinging pests that eat them. You will know that you are succeeding if you see spider webs in the trees near the lights. Anything that drops fruit on the ground will attract wildlife, varmints and bugs. Use night time lights to pull bugs away from your home.
For security you can install motion censored, 1,000 lumen lights on all four sides of your home. Whether you are home or not, these lights will come on and make intruders think that the lights on are and you are looking out the window with a locked and loaded shotgun. Motion-sensored security cameras are also great.
Consider arriving to your off grid property just as winter is ending and spring is quickly approaching. Plant a garden and all of your fruit bearing bushes and trees as soon as you have a way to irrigate them with as little effort as possible. Locate your rainwater harvesting systems, rain barrels and cisterns at the top of hills so that you will always have lots of water pressure. Engineer your water lines so they they can be drained prior to hard freezes, including the cabin’s water lines. Nothing is worse that having all your water pipes burst because you didn’t plan on severe winter weather.
Next build chicken coops, rabbit hutches, bee hives, barns, animal sheds and a wood shed for drying and aging firewood whether you need them or not. A flock of 5 chickens per person and several pairs of breeding rabbits is a good way to ensure that your family never starves. Rabbits breed fast for meat. And chickens will provide eggs and half the ingredients need to make bread. As your garden begins to grow you and start to harvest the veggies, you feed your family with veggies and feed all of the waste greens and imperfect or spoiled veggies to the chickens and hogs. Sunflowers and grains can be stored for feeding animals during the winter.
For temporary shelter, consider large wall tents, yurts, sheds, shipping container homes and even large Indian tipis. The cool thing about living in temporary shelters is that it will allow you to see the land for a while and then pick the perfect place for a long-term house that may take a year or more to build. Don’t like the first spot you pick, you can also move a temporary shelter to a more permanent location.
Before you start building, install the largest solar power array that you can afford. Shoot for a 5-kW to 10-kW solar power array. If you need to scrimp on money, plan on adding more and more batteries later and add they as you go. A large solar power array will allow you to run all of your appliances and battery chargers for tools and electronics during the day. The only thing you really need to run at night is a refrigerator, a freezer and a heating blanket or AC unit.
Once a house is framed, tar papered and roofed, you can spend bad weather days inside building mudrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms. Consider building one medium-sized room in the middle of the house. Building a central room will make easy to heat and cool a place where the family can sleep and relax after a hard days work. The outer rooms will serve as buffer against harsh hot and cold weather. Also keep water, showers and kitchen sinks in the center of the house to shield from freezing temperatures versus location water sources on an outside wall. Build all outside walls with 2×6 studs and the best insulation you can afford, especially on the north and west walls in the USA.
You can use good weather days in the winter to build insulated, hardened walls on the outside perimeter of the building shell with tar paper, insulation and then wood, brick, vinyl, aluminum, corrugated metal or stone to keep the bad weather outside.
Plumb all of your gray water to directed gardens and the black water to a septic tank. Or, to a black water waste soldier fly bin that will use maggots that will eat everything from animal carcasses to cow, horse and human manure. When the maggots mature, they will self-harvest by crawling out of the muck and into buckets, which can then be used as feed for chickens, hogs, fish, and even pet reptiles.
Also during the winter, you can start planning a bigger and better garden. You can build greenhouse or cold frame window box for growing wintertime crops, even when there is snow on the ground. The sun will keep the lettuce, cabbage, root vegetables and other brassicas growing even when it freezing outside. Remember I do live in Texas so this may not work up North where there is 4 ft of snow on the ground and negative 30 degrees outside. But you could always build a Walipini or underground cold frame greenhouse that is heated with a steaming pile of decaying compost.
Consider ordering a Starlink satellite dish for high-speed broadband wireless internet access.
Use cold winter nights to plan and bring new workers to the homestead in 9 months.
Make a list of things you won’t get too for another 5 to 10 years, but will be fun to dream about building over a hot cup of coffee or a cold beer.