There was a time when homesteading meant free land (Homestead Act). Homesteading in modern society is a choice. There was a time not long ago when everybody had to physically work hard just to be able to eat. Now with advances in technology homesteading is a little bit easier, but only slightly.
One of the hardest parts about homesteading in our current culture is finding the land. You may be thinking that it is impossible to get free land in today’s world; however, there are many opportunities that offer exactly that. Before you believe that this is too good to be true, remember that it is not entirely free.
The most common way is many places offer incentives so that their community will grow. This means you may have to move to a small town; you may have to build a house on the property, or you may have to contribute to the community in some way. However, compared to the every growing property prices, this is a great deal, as you will be acquiring the land for free of charge.
Moving to a place where free land is offered may not be for everyone. First off, most of the sites that offer free land are in small communities that need growth. There may not be much going on in these communities, and you will need to be comfortable living in such an environment. You will most likely be living in a place without a gas station or other conveniences. However, this also means you will not need to pay property or state income taxes, and you will most likely be in the middle of nature.
The U.S federal government used to offer such incentives, however, they no longer offer free land anymore. Now only some states offer such programs, including Alaska, Iowa, Kansas, and Michigan. Each local program will have a range of different requirements that you will need to research to make sure that you qualify.
Even though the Homestead act was enacted in 1862, the history of homesteads in Alaska began in the 1890’s. To date, over 3000 homesteaders have taken land in Alaska.
Even with the free land being offered it has always been a bit slow due to poor weather and soils. Alaska, although very beautiful can be a rugged place to live off the land. Part of the deal when getting the free land is the requirement to farm part of your acreage.
The Alaskan government continues to encourage the settlement and developing of land and resources in the area. This process is regulated by the Department of Natural Resources in Alaska. It is common to have land available to the public through two types of programs.
The first is a sealed-bid auction program. The parcels are awarded to the highest bidder, and any land not sold is available at an appraised value.
The second program is the Remote Recreational Cabin Sites. This allows the applicant to own land for recreational use in a designated remote staking area.
UPDATE: Alaska no longer has federal lands available. All land in Alaska is being managed by the state of Alaska and they are currently only offering it to Alaska residents.
One such town is Marne, Iowa. Here the Marne Housing and Development Corp have made several lots available for both private and commercial use. There are some restrictions such as what type of house can be built, and what animals are allowed.
Marne does offer a lot of the more modern conveniences. Which for me personally would really detract from what I’m trying to do when homesteading. On their website they have the average lot site at 80×120 Ft.
Marne also has modern utilities and is very close to some large cities. It has high speed internet, phone service and cable. This seems like a mix of free land meets city living to me.
In order to apply, applicants must submit a proposed house floor plan for review. For more information about lots in Marne click here.
The primary goal of this program is to use the local government to help in development of communities that are currently suffering economically. Cities include Lincoln, Marquette, Osborne, and Plainville.
The “free land” program stemmed from the Homestead Act in 1862. Settlers were allowed to claim up to 160 acres of land after working on it for five years or more. The program now is meant to help ensure that declining populations in Kansas do not entirely disappear.
Each city has specific guidelines and an application inviting people to apply to the free residential lots. Most of the time free lots are available only for families who can build a new home within a certain period, and they usually will have specific size requirements. There is usually an interview process with the local city council as well.
See their website.
There are certain places in Michigan that also are offering free land in exchange for services.
If you own a business, this is a good place to move to receive many benefits. In the city of Muskegon, there currently is a program called Muskegon 25 that offers free industrial property to help in creating jobs in the area.
It prides itself in being one of the most comprehensive development incentive packages in the United States. Both new and existing companies are allowed to apply, and they will also receive discount rates as well.
There are many programs in various towns in other states that also offer similar incentives and benefits to the ones listed above. If having free land for a small cost in other areas such as housing and building fees is something that interests you, you will be keen to find out that there are many options available.
See the City of Muskegon.