One of the questions we are frequently asked on the blog is “How did you find land to start your homestead on?”. This is not a simple or straightforward answer. Finding the exact land we wanted to purchase for homesteading and living off the grid was the result of a lot of research, conversation and travel. In this blog post we’ll share what the journey looked like to find the perfect piece of land. Hold on for the ride, it’s a long one!
It all started with loads of conversation.
Our journey began with hours and hours of conversation one summer a couple years ago. Just dialogue, chit-chat if you will, as we drove to the mountains for a waterfall hike or down to the grocery store for necessities.
These activities kept bringing up conversation points. Whether because we were so madly in love with the hours spent close to nature or the horrid experience of trying to get a few groceries in a mad house shopping center crawling with downright nasty two faced people. You know the ones. Wave on the road and then cut you off in the parking lot. BLAH! Often the conversation revolved around our happiness and energy. Some activities seemed to recharge us, while others were just a drag.
Over time, the conversations began to shift away from observations and toward action. I’ve always felt that the only difference between complaining and not is action. Through all this conversation about what we both loved and didn’t about our lives and the world around us we sort of napkin-sketched the “ideal life”… a theory about how we thought things ought to be.
Getting from where we were to that napkin-sketch would require some small changes – about a billion of them! Entertaining such changes brought up strong emotions. Joy, smiles and laughter at the thought of building things like our new DIY hot tub deck or a platform for our RV Garage-in-a-Box. Quickly followed were feelings of fear, worry and even a little grumpiness at the thought of things like selling a perfectly good , brand-new car, living in an rv, living in less than ideal conditions for a while, letting go of our possessions, etc.
We then researched the best location to start our off grid homestead.
For us, research started over 2 years before we actually made our purchase. We didn’t start with an area first – we started with that “ideal life” and napkin sketch. The common name of the landmass didn’t matter to us much. Bahamas or Nova Scotia had equal appeal.
Through our conversations we had come up with a decent list of fundamentals. With these, we felt most of our most basic needs would be met. These were the bare minimum. Our theory also stated that where these things exist, many other things we desired would very likely also exist. “Birds of a feather flock together”, right?. If people had fought to keep the government small in their area, they might likely also feel strongly about individual responsibility, self sufficiency and a strong community. Turns out we were right….more on that later.
Our goals as they pertained to the area we wanted to settle down in were as follows:
- To live debt free
- Land had to be affordable (If we couldn’t afford to buy cash, then we wanted payment not in excess of $400/mo, easily affordable if one of us had to work, and for a term no longer than 15 years, most certainly would be paid in full within our working lifetime)
- Not have to travel far, for emergency medical needs, not need to commute to get basic necessities, nor traverse crazy roads (not needing new cars, excessive wear and tear on our automobiles)
- Relaxed or non-existent building codes
- Generate and maintain our own power and water systems AND NOT be required to use public utilities
- Dispose of waste water on our own without using public systems
- Build our own home, garage, outbuildings WITH OUR OWN HANDS and MATERIALS
- Not require expensive or extensive permits, licenses or inspections for any or all of this
- Acceptable zoning or lack of zoning regarding farming and agriculture use
- Decent farming opportunity to grow our own food
- Opportunity to raise our own livestock for food
- We wanted an owner carry contract as we wanted to buy bare land, financing is usually very difficult
- If we ended up with a payment it had to be lower than a car payment and easily paid off in 10-15 years if we actually went full term, which we didn’t intend to need.
- To have all 4 seasons, but still able to grow food with decent growing season
- To be able to use renewable resources readily available (think trees)
- To be close to outdoor adventures like hiking, camping, swimming
- To be close enough that we could reach family if needed in an emergency
- Needed to be reasonably not subject to frequent and devastating natural disasters (even though within two months of living on our land we experienced a full-blown wind carnage that almost destroyed our RV carport!)
- Needed to be far enough from large population centers that if all hell broke loose and the system crumbled we wouldn’t immediately be vulnerable to looting and chaos
- Needed to be tolerant at worst and supportive at best of home schooling children
- Needed to have voluntary vaccinations or at least vaccination exemption for philosophical reasons
- Needed to have a homestead exemption to protect our land as an asset should we encounter financial troubles
We made a list of areas which fit our criteria.
We mostly used the internet for our research including blogs, YouTube and forums. This consisted of reading, watching and many hours of note-taking. We found that many people were already on this journey with many years of experience and had much to say about different areas they call home and what they would do different if they did it again. We made a list of the VERY few areas that met most of the criteria. Over the coming months, we talked about these areas whenever the conversation went that way.
Through our conversation and research we kept coming back to Idaho. Partly, this is because I grew up in Central Idaho (McCall) and had some childhood memories of visiting our target area. No major bad memories came to mind, so that was a plus.
From our residence, it was about a 10 hour drive for a visit to the area. We’re getting good at 12-18 hour drives having been to Mammoth, CA and Boulder, CO in the past year. Initially, we were skeptical as my recollection of the area was cold and longer-than-normal winters. With a family camping trip in Summer of 2014, about 4 hours in that direction, we thought since we’ll already be 1/3 of the way, why not plan to extend the trip and make the trek? So we did!
We started wandering in search of “the place” to begin our land hunt.
This trip wasn’t a vacation…or much of one. We’d probably describe it as a whirlwind! We did 3,000 miles in just 10 days! This was partly because we wanted to cover a lot of ground to exclude or include as many areas as possible from our search. After our family camping trip, we drove about 6 hours and camped for the night on the Columbia River. The next morning we were on the road for Idaho!
We had a loose agenda, but had approximate destinations and goals to achieve each day. First, we scheduled to meet with a Realtor who seemed to understand our “mission” and not just our needs. We met her by the middle of the following day. She handed us a mountain of brochures, maps, folders. magazines of and about the area. She even gave us a few listings to look into.
Our goal that day was simply to find our way around and get to know the area so that when she called with a new listing, we’d have half an idea where it was. We did a whirlwind tour of the greater area. That day, we fell in love with one area in particular. We may have fell in love with the area we did because there was a sign posted at the intersection of two gravel roads which said “LOST PONY, Got Spooked, Jumped Fence, Ran Away”.
After the tour, we checked back in with the Realtor and gave her our thoughts and wishes. We had tried valiantly to locate a property near the LOST PONY sign, but failed for fear of trespassing. (We’d eventually find that property the next spring on completely different visit with the help of a different Realtor AND the help of the county records.) That night we headed south for a place to camp with much needed showers!
Lucky for us, we arrived a knick before several other carloads of would be campers. We secured the last spot. Just as we got all tucked in and ready to rest, a van load of city folk, clearly wound tight, rolled into the adjacent spot and once the doors opened, the mayhem begun. The infant daughter only seemed to know how to scream, and only scream one thing, “I don’t want to!”. The father upon exiting the van ran straight down to the dock on the lake, in the dark of night (11PM), and jumped, not quietly in the least, into the lake in what sounded like the proverbial cannonball formation and made a splash to be heard throughout the campground! Under our breath we threatened to rise early and bang pots as revenge. Alas, they beat us to it! That’s a night I won’t soon remember. Gladly it didn’t hamper our enthusiasm.
The next day we were back in our dream area, checking out listings. We even wandered up to the Canadian border for fun. We had dinner and crashed at a free camping site on a secluded mountain lake. As the sun set we laid together on a rock beside the lake. We were home.
After just a day and a half flying up and down dirt roads looking at potential places to call home, we decided we knew enough about the area to get good and lost. So off we went south to visit some other areas. We ended up LOST that night, driving around trying to find a place to stay without reservations. Desperate, we finally set up camp on the side of the highway. It wasn’t a good night of rest. I remember waking up yelling “Drugs! Drugs!” I was dreaming the cops were after someone in a high speed chase and they had drugs. Thus why you shouldn’t sleep next to a highway! (In hindsight there we SO many places we could have stayed, but that’s the reality when you don’t know an area at all!)
We ended our journey in my old hometown at a hot springs. We did a few laps up and down the highways and through town as quick as we could so I could relive some childhood memories. We enjoyed a skillet breakfast on the beach and enjoyed a cup of coffee while working indoors during a freak hail storm. We also took a short nap on a public dock in the summer sun – a dock I used to jump off as a kid. It was a much-needed trip back home. Plus, it gave Alyssa a lot more context about me as a person. Finally we realized we couldn’t really do any more with our trip so we cut it a day short in favor of getting back home to do more work. We had a trip just a few days later to Mammoth, CA for Alyssa’s family trip so we’d be on the road again for another 1,200 miles and a week away.
I shared this story in a fair bit of detail as this was our experience starting to take action. While we weren’t miserable, it meant over 10 days of car camping. Minimal working space, time or energy. We mastered organizing our car so that we could have the car set up for sleep in just 10 minutes. We had plenty of water, cooked fresh meals every morning and night and even veggies from our first gardening attempt the spring before. Our entire 10 day drip including fuel, food, cat sitting and the few camping fees we paid was around $700.
The property search for our off grid homestead continued with highs and lows.
Over the next 8 months we would make 3 more trips to the area. We wanted to come during the dead of winter to see how things looked and felt. We also came later in the spring to revisit the listings when they weren’t covered in snow. We also wanted to find more listings to investigate and spend more time getting to know the area.
During our winter visit, Alyssa had found listings from a different agent whom we deferred to as he was raised in the area and knew it AND the people very well. Our previous agent never kept in touch. We’d just get an automated email from time to time with listings which didn’t reflect our wishes. We looked over many listings on that cold visit but just weren’t feeling home. We shared with our new agent contact what we really wanted. The real “Here’s what we’re looking for…”
As it was he knew a man who had a property with pretty much all of what we wanted. He sent us out to take a look and we fell in love! It was just right! Had an adorable little cabin and everything! We headed to town, got some warm soup and headed to the Realtor’s office to discuss the details. We learned that the asking price was considerably higher than our budget, but the Realtor suggested we make him an offer and see where it went. We drafted up terms that we liked and sent it over. We didn’t have time to hang around the area till we had an answer so we headed home. The offer was accepted! We had some contingencies though. We wanted to see the property in more detail when not in snow so we arranged to inspect the property within 45 days.
Our next visit was the beginning of spring. We brought my dad with us which was hard to finagle as his work isn’t flexible, but we got the family involved and made it work! He loved the visit to the area he had fallen in love with as a young man. We went straight to the property to give it a look over and upon arriving it didn’t feel the same. The snow was gone. The property didn’t quite make sense. The cabin wasn’t as buttoned up as we had hoped. It didn’t feel right. That night we stayed the night at the property and something happened that put the nail in the coffin. I slept very poorly because it was a cold night. Near freezing. The train across the valley some 5 miles away could be heard as though it was right in my sleeping bag! The highway perhaps 1/4 mile away was also loud enough I couldn’t get good sleep. That was all I needed to call off the deal.
The owner met us at the property the next morning which was very friendly. He’s a great person. The property just didn’t make sense for us. So we ended up back at the “LOST PONY” property that we couldn’t find before. Remember? Well we finally found it. It too was just not going to work. Once we got accurate details the actual dimensions were so wacko it wasn’t usable for much besides an airplane runway.
That evening we again spent the night at the secluded mountain lake. The conversation that evening was one of disappointment and sadness. It wasn’t mean to be. Due to my dads work restrictions we decided just that quick to head back for home so as not to risk him being gone too long. We effectively drove for two days to spend just over a day in the area. This trip too, wasn’t a vacation. At best, it was a grind.
Back home we put our minds off this disappointment and focused on work. Our business was going strong at the time and we needed to get some work done. We sort of had to deal with the starting over feeling.
After some health issues and some hard, long days working for a couple months we were exhausted and burnt out. In short, we decided we didn’t know where we were going. The house rehab project we were working on was going to come to an end in just a few months. We didn’t want to stay where we were. It was starting to feel like crunch time.
We, out of lack of doing anything else, ended up spending several days which turned into a few weeks just doing day trips in our area. We found a nice secluded swimming hole that was warm. We found a beautiful river area we hadn’t been to before and made a video with all the fun we had. It was much needed R&R.
During our drives and rest we kept talking about what we needed to do, but we never could come to a finite action plan. Why? Because we didn’t know where we were going. In the end we decided that we needed to know where we were going before we could decide how to get there.
We needed to get back to Idaho, if for no other reason than to exclude this from our options. It was still plan A, but we had been discussing plans B and C if it didn’t work out. It was a Saturday, July 4th. We made the executive decision to leave the following Tuesday.
sBefore leaving Alyssa had found a new listing. Finding land was hard for us, there just weren’t many listings, and even fewer in our price range and with the terms we needed. The images from the listing looked great, but we didn’t have high hopes after the last adventure. Upon arriving we met with our agent first thing and he handed us a least a dozen listings on every side of the valley. We headed out to look at the one Alyssa had found first and it spoke to us. We spent quite some time there. Walking around. Talking. Enjoying.
We decided on this trip that we would spend as long as we needed in the area to feel comfortable with the decision to pursue Idaho or walk away until another time. We decided we would look at some of the other listings presented to us and use them as a barometer. We camped here and there all over the area taking in restaurants, the lakes, various campgrounds, beaches and rivers. We took a day trip to British Columbia to visit a regional hot springs, enjoyed the longest free ferry ride in the world across a stunning Rocky Mountain lake fed by glaciers.
We didn’t know if we would buy land this time, but what we knew in our hearts was that this was home. After looking over many properties and not getting good vibes from any of them we kept coming back to the first piece Alyssa had found. It spoke to us. We wrote up an offer and headed to the lake to camp for a few days waiting for the answer.
Purchasing 5 acres of land for living off the grid & homesteading.
Making this happen takes some creativity. No matter where you are buying, trying to buy bare land isn’t easy. Going to your local bank won’t yield much aside from an outrageous interest rate. The bank wants a dwelling to place a lien against. Bare land has nothing really to incentivize repayment of the loan. Defaults are high. They also want to run credit reports, see years of employment history and in some cases want more co-signers. It’s a nightmare. This is something we wanted to avoid for obvious reasons. This is why one of our criteria was an owner-carry.
We had already done much number-crunching to come up with terms that were favorable to us. This basically was a down payment, target term and monthly payment. We used these numbers to come up with an interest rate and a sales price. These were drafted into an offer to the seller which is pretty rad because unlike a bank who dictates the terms, really the seller is open to whatever so long as they get a decent down payment and the monthly payments are worth their time. Keeping the term short and interest rate high[er] helps here. We’re paying twice the average APR on our note, but we didn’t have to deal with a bank. Comment below if this subject is confusing for you and perhaps we can do an in depth discussing about it if it’s a needed write-up.
We run our payments through an escrow company who takes our money and distributes it to the seller. This third party in the middle protects us both and ensures accuracy. We get our land, they get payments and a substantial down payment. Everyone is happy.
Owner carry is when the owner of property carries the note. This means there is no bank involved. It’s a very simple transaction without endless line item fees, origination fees, closing fees, lending fees and so on. The title company drafts all the documents and both parties complete them. It’s a few signatures and it’s done. You should expect to have about 20% cash to put down. This is the security to the seller that you’re good for the note. If you default, they keep your down payment and get the land back. It sounds harsh, but owner carried notes are by far the easiest way to secure financing. Beside they are usually fairly flexible with terms and will negotiate on things like term, interest rate and down payment.
Deciding on the perfect location to start your homestead, and then finding the perfect property, is challenging to say the least! But we have some tips and tricks to make it easier!
Purchasing landing like this is challenging, even overwhelming. There are innumerable things to consider and just as many which can be easily overlooked. We’ll provide you with a full checklist of things to consider when buying a property for homesteading down the road.
However, we did come up with a simple 13-Point Starting a Homestead Action Map that you can start using today, to help YOU find YOUR perfect location, perfect property, and even help you make the first step!
13-Point Starting a Homestead Action Map
Learn the twelve things you can do today to get a jump-start on your homesteading journey and finding the perfect property!
- Get a journal or app to carry around with you (We like Evernote): Each day document your wants and dreams as they come to you, in conversation etc.
- Audit your life as it is today: Decide what it is that’s keeping you from achieving the goals you have for yourself and your family. Be honest!
- Make a “living plan” that lists things you can do right away to start living as if you were already there: Some things you might include here are “get involved in a community garden”, “learn to live with less”, things like that. While you may not be able to start your homestead tomorrow, there are things you can do today to develop necessary skills and start the transition.
- Start the conversation with immediately family, then extended family, look for supportive partners: It’s not a bad idea to share your aspirations with people that are close to you, or even people that aren’t. It’s great to keep family in on the loop and also to find people that can support you and people you can bounce ideas off of.
- Do initial research on places you might want to settle down: We did endless searches using the internet, forums, Facebook, blogs, and tried to find any clues that would lead us to our “perfect area”.
- Getting your life and affairs in order so you can take action on research and findings: A lot needs to happen to be able to take action on buying land and moving to start your homestead. While you may not have property yet, or a location in mind, you can start getting your affairs in order and lifting up your roots so that when the time is right, you can go. We started getting our affairs in order 2 years before our move!
- Actively challenge yourself to live with less: Start practicing minimalism now and living with less now. If you want to do something similar to what we are doing, less is often more. We couldn’t have many luxuries we were used to while persuring a new lifestyle (like a new car that was sitting in the driveway with a lot of money wrapped up in it).
- Reduce overhead to a bare minimum: Whatever you think is a reasonable overhead, try to go less than that! Cut needless expenses. Do you really need all of your vehicles? Internet? Television? Spotify? A gym membership? etc.
- Shift income from dollars-for-hours to passive income: If you want to actively pursue homesteading, it can be a full-time job, especially in the early stages as we are in! Our biggest achievement is shifting our income to passive income, that pays us whether or not we work. It’s a lot of work to make it happen but when our bills are paid despite “working”, that’s a huge help. Here are 6 ways we make money online while homesteading to give you some income examples.
- Location dependent to location agnostic: We’re not saying you need to leave wherever you are now necessarily. However, if you do want the option to go anywhere, you need to not be tied down to a location with say a J-O-B. We had a business that was our ball and chain to Medford which we worked hard to sell.
- Create a contingency plan: If things don’t work out as you wish, be sure to have a contingency plan or two. Maybe you can live in an apartment for a while, or maybe you can live with family to save up some money. These can be transitions, or just a back up plan if you initial move to your land is too difficult.
- Make a list of things you’ll need to start acquiring to make your move: We have bought A LOT of stuff in preparation for this move, and even in the first three months of our adventure! Think of what homesteading tools you will need such as an RV, pickup truck, portable generator, work boots, quality tools, etc.
- Setup saved searches on Craigslist for these items, be ready to take action immediately when they pop up: Be on the lookout for things you will need like tools, materials, etc.
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Jon B. says
Landowner Carry in Michigan its called a Land Contract very similar. 1) Owner holds deed to property until paid off.
2) Owner finances by accepting down payment usually 20% also.
3) by Law may charge up to 11% interest
4) Length of Loan cant rmember 10-15 yrs may be more
5) Under Loan you can not Timber off the Land or execute any Mineral Rights, if they exit. For obvious reason, take the wealth & drop the loan.
6) Similarly, if you get behind on payments you can lose all money paid and any improvements or structures you may have built, on property.
Jesse, You write very well. Easy to understand and very informative. I would encourage you to document your journey in a way that a future book would be possible. If you have not read “Wranglerstar” new homesteading book i would recommend that you do so. Your journey is fresh and inspiring and many others may/can learn from you two. I see a “pure living for life” book in the future. Take care and GOD bless, JC
Lady Lee says
What a story!
I totally agree with what you said about the banks. The price of bare land is going up, but banks are not willing to finance it. I think it’s getting harder to purchase land if you can’t pay for it cash.
However, sometimes you get lucky. Our story is very similar but still different. We somehow found a bank to finance our land for us and, honestly I have no idea how it happened.
It’s a lot to write so if you want to read the story it’s here: http://ladyleeshome.com/first-planting-kismet-farm/
I love your blog and what you guys are doing. We still don’t live on our land, but we are finally ready to put our house on the market and move.
Now if only I could convince my husband to build a small cabin instead of building a regular, huge mortgage kind of house. Still working on it 😉
Keep up the good work and say hi to Alyssa!
G’day from Australia. I’m just starting a similar journey.
We are a far more regulated society, so cutting timber and building structures is a legal minefield here…. Often it’s better to hope for forgiveness than to seek permission.
Still, I’m looking for a 100-200 acre bush block with plenty of trees, water (spring or bore), and ideally a granite outcrop.
Good luck, and keep writing.
Love your blog, you are living my dream! Thank you for sharing your journey, I am truely inspired. I’m in the very early stages of planning/dreaming. Out of curiosity was there any other locations on your short list that fit your criteria?
Glad you’re enjoying our blog, we hope that it is helpful to others in their transition! We were going to check out areas of Montana but ended up finding property before we had a chance to do so. I know there are other areas with no building codes in various parts around the US but as we LOVE the Pacific Northwest (and were already living there, and have family there), it became obvious where to search for us personally 🙂
My husband and I have just recently discovered your blog & YouTube Channel. We are looking at purchasing bare land and building on it. Your videos are inspirational and fun to watch! We will be following along your adventure.
Did you guys consider purchasing/using shipping containers as a means to construct a temporary or permanent home? I know you spoke of rent vs travel trailer, did the thought of purchasing a used shipping container and transforming it come into play?
Glad you found our blog Irene, hopefully we can share some helpful insights through our posts and videos! Purchasing land has been a great experience so far, hopefully you will enjoy the journey! We have not considered shipping containers (among many other options). We know the options are endless and will be deciding which route we want to go for our home over time, but prioritizing ideas that utilize the resources available to us. We thought the best route for the start of hte journey was a travel trailer as it’s fully enclosed with water and septic which is huge…. any other option would’ve resulted in a lot more more work and planning which we simply didn’t have time for. I’m sure lots of things could work though!
Qberry Farm says
Hope I can find a couple like you to purchase my extra 5 acres. Isolated but close to necessities. Good roads and water recreation close by. Coop to sell produce through and rich people along the waterfront to purchase it
Read the description.
Sean F says
Started my journey in 2002, when I came off ddeployment into 2005 , I started building mine in nort Idaho. Nice to see others taking the path
Tabitha B says
Could you share with us your short list of places in the US that you considered? Especially those with relaxed or non-existent building codes and/or zoning? Where would one big in to find that out? I’m hoping to find some land in Texas but I don’t know how to find out about the building code laws in each potential area.
Bill S. says
We found our oasis in Minnesota, 40 acres of wooded land for $12,000 November 2014. It is 3 miles from any utilities on an old logging road. By the end of May I had the driveway finished and started building a little 12’x20′ house. It is still not completed but done enough to live in. We closed on our house in Minneapolis this past November and here we are.
We have endured -25° with-45° wind chill and all is well. Our 6 laying hens are now producing eggs. Our solar charges our battery bank and the well provides 5 gallons/minute. No propane heat, just a little potbelly stove for wood heat.
Shipping containers are key while you are building. I found an old F150 and put a plow on it and an old gasoline tractor with a front loader and back blade.
Now we wait for spring to get back to building.
What a venture it has been.
I read a little further and got my own answer. I look forward to seeing more blogs, and U-tube stuff from you both. Pretty impressive what you have done in a short period of time. Seam you are smart with money and decisions you have to make. I always say “every day is a new adventure” it truly is for you both. You are both Living the dream and that is pretty cool. Enjoy and stay safe, and warm.
Congrats on your new adventure! I sincerely wish you the best. I am about to embark on a similar journey myself, as I begin my search for land after researching this part of the country (West Virginia) for the past two years.
Land here is a bit cheaper. I found 5 acres above the flood plane for 10 grand, and a whopping 69 acres for under 40k. I am single, so I plan on doing this alone, or with the help of a friend or two, but basically It’ll just be me.
I just wanted to say thanks for the valuable insight, as I’m sure I’ll be using your blog as a reference tool this spring and summer!
Thanks Jeff! 5 acres for 10 grand? 60 for 40k? Sounds awesome! I know there is definitely affordable land out there… ours was quite a bit more than that. Glad to hear our blog is serving as some sort of reference… we’ll continue to be as transparent as possible and let us know if you have questions or any particular struggles (or successes!). Would love to help any way we can. Keep in touch!
Best wishes to you , from centre-Finistère – Brittany – France
Hi just found your story we seen some of your videos.we are moving this coming month february 2016 to el paso tx the land dont have nothing and we barely have money we got stolen close to $15,000 havent been able to get ir back the free aid lawyers dont know if they be able to help or not we put in a application april 2015 and where we live now contract has expired.my husband say to ask how much the generator cost you.thanks for all the videos you two put.aida
Good luck on your journey Aida! Our generator cost us $2,300. There are much cheaper generators out there if you’re on a tight budget, and you can probably get a pretty good deal if you keep an eye on Craigslist.
Hi! I tried to access your 13-Point Starting a Homestead Action Map, however I could not publicly “like” via any of the three options..Facebook and Twitter have lines through them and produce an error message and google just keeps coming back to this page. Would love to read what you have to say about action items. Thanks.
Hi Ellen, it has been a long time since you posted this comment so maybe you gave up or found a solution. However, I am not sure that site feature is working correctly. I Google+ and Facebook liked it and the content never appeared anywhere for me. I actually liked it multiple times on different browsers too! Oh well, this site is so helpful and great, missing one post is disappointing but I’m still richer for having the rest.
Yep, I had the same trouble.. Pity, it would have been interesting I think.
Still, although I’ve LOVED following these two young uns..
I’m mid sixties now, live in the UK.. and will never use the info’ at all I guess,
So, never mind, haha.
I have to say your wish list is pretty much ours HAHAHA! Idaho is called a “green state” as far as homeschooling goes which means you do not even have to register your “school”!! That is a huge thing if you want freedom in that area. I am curious what you paid on your property, could you email me? And a general idea of where in Id you are? We are currently in Kansas but would LOVE to do exactly what you guys are doing!! The only thing I would add to the list is a good evangelical church 😉 My husband and I have recently considered to purchase a nice Travel Trailer while he is finishing college so we can save that $$ but we have three kids and that would be pure chaos LOL… Good luck to you guys and I look forward to reading through your blog 🙂
We have met A LOT of families in our area that homeschool which backs up our thoughts that this is a good state for that. We are eager to learn more on the subject and the realities of homeschooling here. What we paid on our property isn’t private information… we paid $45,000 for 5 acres. There is cheaper land but we love this area and love this parcel of land, so it was worth it to us. We don’t want to share where in Idaho we are just for safety reasons, but there are great areas to do this all over the country… just gotta do a little homework! Yea, we frequently ponder what living in a travel trailer would be like with kids but I know it IS possible…. but no way in one that is just 19′! I think there are a lot of routes to go… but it depends on the land you buy and existing systems (such as water, septic, etc.). Hope you find lots of valuable info on the blog and best of luck to you and your husband!
My husband and I have a very similar list for the land that we’ll be looking for in the next couple of years. I was curious to know if you would share what other states, cities or areas of the US were you able to find that met all of your requirements? You mentioned that there wasn’t too many places but just thought I would ask to see if you looked at other states besides Idaho?
Hey JoAnne, to be honest, we really didn’t fully inspect any other states. We were pretty clear with what we wanted and it really came down to one state for us… we just love the Northwest, this area in particular, and it isn’t TOO far from either side of the family. Wish I could be of more help! I’m sure you’ve done plenty of internet research, but there are lots of people that discuss this question in depth and share what they know about various areas… should be found through plenty of Google searches. Would love to know what areas you’re thinking of!
Marta Pareta says
Hi from Argentina! I just “met” you (it´s the way I feel it….) yesterday before going to sleep…and I didn´t see the bed until 4 AM! I deeply enjoyed your videos and posts! and “came back” today again…you´re fantastic!. Dream makers! GO, GO, GOOOOOO!!!!! I didn´t know the expression “off the grid” and despite I could understand the meaning, I asked my friend the dictionary….guess what! The literal Spanish translation would be “out of the net”….and that´s what you´re doing! Keep going! Loves from a cold, windy, rainy fall…AND from a country with NO CREDIT…so, we have what we can pay cash for or…just don´t have! (Most of the time, don´t have…hahahaha!)
Welcome to the blog! Hope our adventures didn’t keep you up to late! I didn’t know the literal Spanish translation of “off the grid”… cool! Not having access to loads of credit isn’t a bad thing by any means… we should all practice buying things with crash or here’ a crazy idea… doing without if we can’t buy it cash! What a concept, right? Here in America we want everything NOW NOW NOW and are willing to sell our souls to debt just to have everything and not have any struggles with our lives. Keep in touch, and nice to “meet” you as well!
Marta Pareta says
Well…in some way, your posts kept me up late…but I decided it all by myself! hahahaha! New generations of argentinias also want everything today….and sometimes they get frustrated for not having it…system is system all over the world. Anyway, not having credit, at the end of the road, seems to be much better: you have what you have and nothing or nobody can take it from you! There ´s only one thing we know better than millions of people: how to live in cri$i$! I mean…GO ON!!! You´ll do it !! Loves!
I don’t do social media (at all), so I must accept that I won’t gain access to your additional content.
I applaud you for not only embarking upon this journey, but also documenting it for others to follow. I especially like the female perspective being presented, because my wife is terrified that my “retirement plans will have her stuck living like an early cave dweller, far from civilization.
I’ve been researching my move to off-grid for the better part of the last 10 years & while trying to both prepare financially for it, & get my wife more comfortable with the idea. I’m curious how you’re getting Internet access on your land (that’s one of the mandatory requirements my wife has for going along with the new lifestyle…) Are you limited to tethering to a mobile hotspot or cell phone, or do you have a local DSL/broadband provider option?
Thanks for all you’ve done so far, keep the dream alive ☺!
Off grid definitely doesn’t have to mean being a cave dweller far from civilization! Internet was a must-have for us as well at this point in our lives… later, it might not matter so much. I know that HughesNet is an option so long as you have a view of the Southern sky, but it’s pretty slow from my understanding and they cap you on your data usage which may or may not be a problem depending on how often you use it and what you use it for. For us, that would never work. We have a wireless internet provider in the area so we get our signal via a radio. We pay $65 for 1MB which is more expesive than in the city but it’s a bargain for us all things considered! A hot spot would work too but we use way too much data for that. You could always look around for locations that are rural but still have multiple options for internet… it also can vary property-by-property. WE contaccted a local provider before we bought our land to be sure that it could get internet access.
Thanks for the response.
I’m focusing on some of the more remote locations for land acquisition, because it tends to drop the price & most of the “contact with the outside world”, is them wanting me to fix something of theirs; very rarely is it me looking for outside help or participation.
My wife’s concerns are not completely unfounded, but I still don’t HAVE to rough it, just to prove anything. I think HughesNet will be sufficient for meeting her stated criteria, even if it is a big step down from big city broadband, & I’m just not willing to work for the rest of my life, just to have Internet speeds up in the top 5%. Satellite Internet opens up the range of acceptable land.
Even going with one of their commercial accounts at higher prices, to get faster speeds isn’t out of the question, particularly if it is to become our only utility bill. I’ll be sure to do my due diligence before making any offers on land, because I do wish to share the joys of ‘living deliberately’ with my wife & i believe most of her apprehension is fear of the unknown.
We’re not likely to become neighbors, but my wife does do some social media, so you may one day get contact from her sharing our own homesteading adventures. I expect to be too busy living off-grid 😉
All the best to you and yours!
Edward Little says
Hello again Homesteaders!!! As usual I am following along your journey and really enjoying your stories and blog posts. Since I am disabled and CANNOT do the homesteading thing like I have always wanted to my entire life, my wife and I are adapting our little 1 acre of land and changing the interior of our house to meet our specific needs. My son is soon to be married to a beautiful young lady with two young daughters and for the first time in our lives we will be Grandma and Grandpa!
That is such an awesome hope for us!
I recently wrote you and told you that i landed a nice 4×4 truck by bartering just as you guys did and I am very fond of it since we get tons and tons of bad weather and snow here in the primary snowbelt in northeast Ohio. Soon we will be taking our German Shepherds for rides in it once we get their shots up to date.
Our house is nearly 200 years old so it’s not only a serious challenge to upgrade it and make the necessary changes to accommodate 3 new people here and another dog (they have a nice female Australian Shepherd) but it’s a real challenge for me since I am disabled and have serious heart problems and can’t do much. But…I do what I can when I can and I am truly enthused by you young people to keep going so my wife and I have a teeny tiny little container style garden where we will soon be getting tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers for our salads.
I’d like to tell you guys a really funny story about our first year here. You see, I grew up in this house, and just a year after my father passed away 11 years ago we were finally able to get the banks to work with us in order to buy our shares from my siblings. It was a nightmare and just took that long! But finally, we managed to persuade my brother and sister to come down on the price enough for us to buy it from them. We sold our 14×70 mobile home for$2,000.00 and my wife and son made the move while I was over the road driving semi truck.
That was in April. But in late August a drunken driver spun off the road and drove his pickup through our barn! I was in a terrible section of town in Chicago making a pick up when I received a text to “Call home. Urgent!!!” Right away my mental wheels started freaking out and spinning really fast and I thought that something terrible had happened to our teenage son on our little farm! I rushed outside and made the call home, but when my wife told me that some drunk guy drove through our barn I almost dropped the phone from laughing so hard!!!
Well, to make a long story short we received a check from the guy’s insurance company a few weeks later and I scheduled an extra long weekend to be home so my son and I could make the necessary repairs. That weekend arrived and we went and rented the backhoe and got to work tearing out the damaged corner beam and replacing it with a new one. we worked all weekend for more than 12 hours each day to make the needed repairs – that tells you how bad the damage was.
Well, late on Sunday night I was inside the barn in my shop around 10:30 PM cutting the last piece of fascia to be replaced on the gutter boards of the barn when I saw something out of the corner of my eye that just struck me as a bit odd, and I didn’t actually know what it was so I started paying a little closer attention to the front door area of the barn while I worked. At first I thought I was seeing a black car driving by really slowly then coming back around again and that got me a bit worried since the guy who drove through my barn was cited for numerous things when the police finally caught up with him the next day…and NO they didn’t get him for DUI since he was nowhere to be found until the next day. BUMMER!!!
But then I saw it several more times out of the corner of my eye and thought it might actually be one of our neighbor’s cows from just a little ways down the street. But then I saw it head on!!! It was a huge black bear!!! I grabbed my hammer and started making as much noise as I could to try and scare it off but that dang thing just wouldn’t leave! For the next 3 hours he and I got to know each other pretty well since I was unable to leave the barn and high tail it up to the house!!! But eventually he gave up and just seemed to disappear so I set world track records running up to the house and dead- bolting all of the locks!
The next day a close friend of mine named Ted came by as my son and I were hanging the last of the freshly cut fascia, and he had a news paper in his hand. I said “hello” and we got to talking. Ted was reading the headlines of the local news paper and it turned out that the bear that came to visit me the night before was a 386 pound bruiser that was being tracked by forest management, and there was also a large female that slept in the park across the street from our house that night. The paper wen on to say that the bears were raiding people’s bird feeders for the seeds and I told Ted that it didn’t seem to fit because we hadn’t filled the feeders up sinc ewe moved in, but my son said, “there’s a big bag of bird seed in the barn, Dad.”
I thought he was joking, so I asked sarcastically, “where?!” he went to the barn door and pulled it open and sure enough there it was sitting beghind a big piece of plywood just inside the barn!!! Ted was really laughing hard at that one too! I told him this story and said that the bear and I got to know each other really well since he wouldn’t let me out of the barn for THREE LONG HOURS!!! LOL. Sheesh, what a night that was !!! That was in 2006 and we have now been living here for over 10 years and my wife and I will be married 20 awesome years on July 4th this year!!!
I not only hope you enjoyed my story and got a good laugh but I also hope you enjoy at least as many wonderful married years as we have. I love your stories and your blog. You are doing what i wanted to all those years ago. I may not be homesteading in the traditional sense like you guys are, but we have lots to do here and remodeling our home to fit three more wonderful people is very much like it. You guys are so blessed!!! It’s like you are family to us here! Lots of love and endurance and joy to you both.
The Little Family
My husband and I are setting up our life to go in the direction of homesteading. We have money to purchase land outright, but are having a tough time finding the right place to start looking. We live in Washington state, close to the ocean, and the prices are outrageous, the restrictions on building extensive and overpopulated. Your list of must haves for land and location look very similar to ours, we would add awesome community for raising children since we have 2 baby boys. I am very interested in your small list if places you were considering before choosing Idaho. We would like to be in a days driving distance from where we live, so Northwest basically. Were there any other places other than northern Idaho that you found fit your homesteading needs, particularly with relaxed building regulations and requirements, zoning and so forth.
I agree. Please post this list. I read the article hoping that it would reveal the fruits of your research.
I am also interested in finding a real estate agent that is savvy about land specifically for homesteading purposes. Which agent would you recommend?
I first encountered the beauty of Northern Idaho as a teen when my parents bought a cabin on Priest Lake. I had been born and raised in Southern Cal on the beach. It was never a fit The minute I saw Priest Lake I knew it was a very special place. Long story short. Many years and 7 children later, my husband and I are making the move this summer back to Northern Idaho to live off the grid and coming with us is our 14 yo son and youngest child. We currently live in Spokane. Meh. We did have a farm outside of town for 10 years, but as my husband lost his job in 2011 we eventually lost our farm. Briefly lived and taught in Priest River, not a great place, not like the lake. Now are back in the city working to save for our dream. Hubby is a long haul truck driver and we are hoping he gets a local job. We are obviously not youngun’s like you two, but we are strong and healthy and firmly believe the best option for our family is off grid life. We have much experience having had a small farm, in gardening and animal care etc. Just a matter of finding that piece of land this Spring. We are doing it all on a budget. Jim is a super handy guy and can build and fix ujst about anything, I guess my gift is my work ethic handed down from my parents. But I will tell anyone who wants to do this, make sure your spouse is on board 100% other wise it will not work. Love your blog. It helps to see other doing this on a budget, so many other You tube Off griders came in to it with way more cash than we are, so it is hard to relate.
tim burk says
Wow! there is a whole lot of great information here! My wife and I are on a very similar journey and in about the same place. We hope to move to our dream location this spring. I’ve really enjoyed learning and laughing with you two! can’t wait to see what the future holds. We are likely fairly close to you as well, Northeast Washington, close to the Idaho border. I am slightly ahead of you in some ways and behind in others. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can be of any use. I’ve had to reinvent the wheel a few times and it is no fun… Tim
johary rodriguez says
Your story is very inspirational. Im am currently looking for land in Idaho. to try to live a free life, not dependant on modern day things, close to nature when i can grow a small orchard and have lifestock . I am looking at areas in Boise or within 45 minutes to Boise (nampa, emmett, new plymouth, melba idaho city , treasure valley. areas or anywhere) for work purposes. Meeting with realtor in March (waiting for no snow). I am hoping to pick the land of my dream during this visit.
Did you have to obtain a building permit for building your home?. Once you completed your home did your property taxes increase?. i am wondering if its possible to build dwelling without permit, and never create an official address and really be off the grid. I am very concerned that eventually I will be subjected to the same tax as here in FL. taxes are raised frequently based on assessed market values and now my taxes are 4k a year.
I want to build an earthbag home, do you think this is acceptable in Idaho. One couple recently built one in washington. I really appreciate your input. Thanks
One day my Wife and I will be able to buy our dream land! Thank you for posting this information! I already know that I will not be able to undertake this mission for 5-7 years due to one bill in particular that can’t be avoided or paid off early(child support). So all I can do for now is save as mush as I can and try to practice living minimally. Thank you again and best wishes to you and your family!
Scott Alliston says
This is great and wonderful thank you for this I will be reading much more of your blog it’s helpful and inceptive you guys just answered some of my questions I have for you I fin your youtube channel informative and fun I also subscribe to Fouch-o-matic channel and several others but wow blew my mind on some things!
what is a homestead exemption?—never heard of that before
I am desperately wanting to homestead but have two issues. One, I am desperate, so I am wanting to snatch up the first deal I find that I can afford that meets my criteria, but I KNOW that is not the way to go. Since we won’t be able to do much travel to actually see the property, we’ll be going in blind and that worries me. I’m afraid of buying land that will be useless or have unknown ‘issues’ that I won’t find out about until after I buy it. This will be my first real estate purchase EVER. Apartment dweller here.
Two. I am having no luck finding anything in my state. Most of the land I have found is out of state and I am feeling scared to leave my comfort zone. Never mind the fact that I have always wanted to leave and move elsewhere, but am simply too afraid to pick up and walk away from my family (parents, siblings, etc…) and the roots we have put down here. My husband agreed to move but is not very motivated so it all falls on me, and I don’t know what I will be getting myself and family into.
Couple the two together and it’s a tug of war going on, I want to grab the first thing (that’s out of state) but afraid to actually go and live there.
Am I the only one with these shaky nerves?
I’m also intimidated by the whole process… solar panels?? installing septic tanks? water wells? no cleared roads/easements? These things sound difficult and expensive, what if I get in there and just can’t afford to move forward? Is there a map that I can follow that will just get me from point A to point B, so that I know what to plan for before I get there, with a less than 2% percent chance of fail? lol.
I just want some land off to myself, surrounded by woods (not too thick) to put a little cabin, some chickens, pigs and goats on, plant a garden, a few fruit trees and not be restricted to do so. I don’t want to be so secluded where we’re sitting ducks for an undesirable or a wild animal, but I don’t want the neighbors to see us sitting on the porch, either.
Praying to Jesus that I get the right lead soon.
I wonder if it would be possible to have a clickable list chronologically of all the video’s, my friend was interested and I found it confusing to find the first video.
The video’s of the wood workshop in Maine are really wonderful and inspiring, lovely wood beam homes!!! So fun to watch……..
The best way we’ve found to do this so far is to create a playlist in chronological order… try out this link! https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLp1Rm233y0B_bLOIcnFccDPgpu-4EXokW
I love reading how people came to find their land. Your land looks beautiful! We actually did a weird thing finding ours in that we prioritized fiber optic internet to be able to work from home. I documented it on my blog (girlvsgrid.com) if anyone else is interested. We ended up lucking out too in that the area we chose (Lake of the Ozarks) doesn’t have any building codes!
My husband and i dream of going off grid. We have been looking for land and are thinking of Idaho, Wyoming or north Carolina. It’s is hard to decide; such a big decision. We are wanting 25 acres at the least. We have a travel trailer, 3500 gma, and some cash coming soon. Thanks for all the tips on buying land. I had no idea about the restrictions, homesteading exemptions, and your recommendation of buying with no bank involved. Thanks guys!!!!
so where do you guy live now ?