In our search to find the perfect-for-us property, I keep finding myself asking the same two questions over and over. My internet searches have left me more confused than I was before I started.
Is it better to buy developed or undeveloped land?
I suppose there are pros and cons to both developed and undeveloped land.
Developed land would be less expensive and time consuming, since a lot of the structures are already existing. It would already have a sewage system, water set up, and possibly electricity running to the land. It might be fenced and cross fenced, which can be a huge expense. It might be cleared and the soil might have been amended properly, so it could be easier to start and maintain a kitchen garden and pastures. There could be existing fruit and nut trees on the property that have been taken care of and are already producing on a regular basis.
On the other hand, the structural layout of the land might not work for us in the long run. The house and barn might not be built as well as it could have been if we had been involved in the process. The previous owners could have used multiple layers of various pesticides that could remain in the ground for years. The house might be too big or ill suited for our family. The house might be positioned in a way that would not take advantage of any solar panels we might want to add. It could be a lot more expensive to fix someone else’s mistakes than it would be to do it right the first time.
How many acres do I need for my homestead?
I’ve read that anywhere from 3 to 30 acres is needed for self sustainability for a family.
That is a huge difference, but which is closer to my family’s personal needs? I have a husband, a 15 year old stepson, twin 13 year old sons, and a 3 year old son. My stepson lives with his mom full time in another state, so we only get occassional visits with him. I still want to include the possibility of him being with us in my planning, so I’ll assume that I need to feed a family of six off of our land. How big of a garden must I have? How much land do I need for the animals we will need to raise for eggs, meat, milk, cheese, and fiber?
According to my current library book, “How to Live on Almost Nothing and Have Plenty” by Janet Chadwick – the average homestead garden is 80 x 100. My math might be off, but I think that is about 1/5th of an acre. That is larger than my current suburban lot and it’s 16 times the size of my current garden. I’ll also need extra veggies to help feed the animals we plan on having. I’ll go ahead and assume we will dedicate of acre of land for the house and garden. That seems reasonable.
We want to have areas to grow Corn, Oats, Wheat, and Alfafa. I’m initially planning on allowing 1 acre for each of these crops and 1 acre set aside to rest. These 4 crops will be rotated on this 5 acres.
This puts me at 6 acres and that doesn’t include grazing land, a fishing pond, outbuildings, a barn, pens for animals, an orchard, or a wood lot. I also want to be able to look out my back porch and have a great view and not a view of the neighbors.
Looking at the numbers, I would say that our minimum acreage requirement for self sustainability is going to be around 25 acres. I’d much rather get on the higher side of that number, as there is only a limited amount of land, and the bigger our property is, the more opportunities there are for income generating. I think that anything over 30 acres would be ideal.
Our current plan is to consider anything that comes on the market in our target area that is in our acreage range and price range. I hope that one property will just sing to us, and we will know that our it’s going to become our forever home as soon as we see it. We haven’t found it yet, but I have faith that we will, when the time is right.