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Free Man on Your Own Land

My experiences buying rural land

Geoff Lawton What are the things you need to consider buying land in the country?

Free Man on Your Own Land

There is just something about owning land that sparks something deep inside. I’ve lived in two houses that I “owned” and the feeling just doesn’t quite compare. You can have an elegant house with manicured lawns that’s the envy of the neighborhood but to me there is no thrill in that. With a house in the suburbs you are just so limited. You are trained on what your home is to be used for and what it’s supposed to look like. If you step out of line your neighbors are to give you strange glances as you drive by. If all that doesn’t make you conform, the local government will gladly step in to enforce code on you. There have been a few fool hearty souls who have had the audacity to think they could tear out their front lawns and plant vegetable gardens.

There are guidelines you need to follow just about every where you go and believe it or not, some of these make sense. When you own raw land it is an empty canvas for you. Hey, if you want to go for that English estate look you can go for it, but aren’t suburban homes just a mini replica of this? When I look at land I feel a deep connection. How can this property I own be sculpted to retain its resources? What kind of earthworks can be done to keep water on the property the longest? How can the existing trees be maximized to absorb the energy of the sun and what can I plant that would be good for this zone? What type of dwelling do I envision on this property and how can I maximize it’s utility?

There are many things to consider when deciding to buy property. The first place I started looking was New Hampshire. I had found an unincorporated area that didn’t have much in the way of building regulation. This was New Hampshire. Live Free or Die! My kind of place! I looked at a few properties I liked but each had their problems. One was the right size and price, but access was terrible. From the look of the rough terrain I could tell why this was called the granite state. The others were too small for too high a price. But oh the views… I could picture building a cabin with a porch that I could sit and absorb the scenery. Then that picture was dashed to pieces talking to the locals. What they described was like something out of the book of exodus with swarms of black flies eating people alive. The scenery was gorgeous, there was a near by alluvial lake and the thought of government staying that much out my life was tempting, but I hadn’t done too much comparison shopping.

The next place I looked was the Allegheny Plateau of Pennsylvania. Wow, same gorgeous land scape surrounded by state forests lakes stocked with fish near by, I was in heaven. It was a tad more strict on building codes but nothing I couldn’t live with. I really wanted to build my own composting toilet but a manufactured and certified variety would do. I found the right sized property for the right price with the right road access and a good grade to it. There was one big problem, this was fracking central! I didn’t like the idea of chemicals in the ground water or lighting the water coming out of my faucet on fire. The locals thought it was crazy to worry about that. They were a bit biased. When the drilling crews came in, so did the money into the area. They moved on by the time I was there to Ohio where they were drilling real oil, but with the promise of returning in five years. From what I hear, fracking is a big ponzi scheme anyway. The money is made in the beginning by companies like Haliburton, but soon the supply peters out quickly.

I made the decision to buy in Pennsylvania. I felt I’d need a Plan B location sooner rather than later. It set my mind at ease to have a place and at least I didn’t buy the very first thing I saw. I still look for property. I’d like to be able to do this well and if I happen to see something at the right price, I’ll buy again. Now I look around trying to find the best areas and get a feel for valuation. I guess you can call me a land bug now.

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