Off the Grid Style
Buying raw land or any type real estate for that matter is always a serious investment and is often life changing, so it is not to be taken lightly. If you are loaded and are just ‘parking your money' the following tips probably won’t apply to you as you can just purchase something which is already established and set up, either on or off the grid. But, if you are like most of us you need to carefully figure out just what you can afford and where you can do it. It’s exciting when you reach that point, especially the very first time, so lets jump right in shall we.
- Raw undeveloped land is generally the cheapest way to purchase land, and ‘off the grid' land is the cheapest of all usually. 'Off the grid' land is often much further out there off the beaten path and there are no electrical lines or water or gas lines to the parcel, hence the 'off the grid' label. You have to think through whether this a problem or an opportunity. Only you can decide. So figure out your comfort level right away and then proceed. Don’t be afraid to take a small calculated challenge to yourself, financial or otherwise.
- Often time purchasing raw land requires a larger down payment or 100% cash outright to pull it off. It is difficult, if not impossible, to get a 30 year conventional loan for raw land as it is considered way too risky to the normal lenders. However owner financing is a common option to look for, especially with an off the grid property. The interest rates are usually higher than you might expect with owner financing, but unless you are able to pay all cash up front you really don’t have much leverage. Talk to the local realtor of choice, who works in the area of the purchase, at the start of your search so they know how to define your limits.
- Right away, the first thing to do is to figure out a general area which resonates with you. Lifestyle, climate, recreation, distance from stores, lay of the land are all important considerations on initial consideration for any purchase. Which State? Which county? are critical questions to ask yourself. (Hint; check out relevant local codes and permit fees early on in the hunt). Narrow down your search and then start researching those properties in detail. It is much easier now during these magical internet days with hundreds of full color listings to choose from. Multiple photos, maps and satellite shots are waiting for you, as opposed to the minimally scripted fax page descriptions of 20 years ago (think 140 character twitter post with no photos, vidoes or links). Don’t expect a realtor to lead you to your dream parcel. Get busy and find it yourself, then call the realtor.
- Once you find a parcel you like, call an agent. You need to drive there and walk the land to see if you really like it, before you make an offer. Ask yourself if you can you handle the road in? Or do the neighbors make if it feel like the movie “Deliverance”. Can you tolerate a bad acting neighbor next door to an otherwise perfect parcel. Or not? This thought process is critical to your long term energetic vibrational experience around the purchase and your time spent there. You might hit pay dirt first time but don’t count on it. Plan to study the land of numerous parcels, hit up google earth and loosely map the boundary lines. Figure out if has a level meadow or how steep the hillside is. Is it full of rocks, lots bush or forest. What about a long view? Does it have a spring or a creek on it. hmmm... Check it out and more than anything else trust your gut.
- Mendocino off-the-grid style
- Great you found the parcel and want to make an offer on it before any one else has or does. Cool. If you decide to open escrow, the first thing you really should do is drill a well as a condition of the escrow. Be prepared to pay a permit fee (varies by county) and set a contract with a well driller to drill. Recognize they might not hit water, or hit a really low amount say under 2 gallons a minute. Well, low flow is no biggie with a solar panel, a solar pump and a storage tank. But no flow is a huge problem and could a deal breaker. Do you re-drill elsewhere, go deeper in the same hole or stop and contact a water witcher to try another time? Consider your budget. You will be out your cash, whether the hole is dry, or if it is a gusher you have cased, so be careful where you drill for the all important water. Water is freedom and opportunity. Water is life.
- Yes!!! you pulled it off. You found an owner financed acreage parcel you like with water for a hypothetical $85,000 (good luck in some counties now) with 25% down and 9% interest for 12 years ,or something like that. You closed escrow. Now the fun begins.You are actually rolling. Immediately build a garden area if it is obvious where it goes. If not begin the vision of where it should go.
- Plant bare root fruit trees on the north side of your garden zone, the first winter after it is set up, since the young untrained trees take 3 years or more years to start to produce fruit. You probable need to fence it. Organic biodynamic methods are the key gardening principals for long term sustainable success in all garden zones, off the grid or not. John Jeavons “How to grow more vegetables” book is the ultimate reference guide. You went off the grid, go all the way already with your garden too. Join your neighbors on the path or lead the way in areas less familiar with organic ways.
- Get comfortable driving on dirt roads and meet the other nearby landowners on your road, private road or not. Be respectful of the roads and your new neighbors. But most importantly take your time at first. Be your land. Don’t rush a plan and regret it later. Take a season or two and watch the spring and fall equinox on the land. Check the winter and summer solstice. Where is the first morning sunlight landing on the shortest day of the year, or on the fall equinox?? Figure it out. Get in tune with it, then act to optimize the light for both your garden and your shelter.