Before Buying Land, Make Sure You Can Get There!

By , September 10, 2014

Many people who yearn for a simpler, off the grid lifestyle find inspiration from this blog. I try to pass along specific advice for how to pursue this kind of lifestyle when I can. Let me now offer what may be the most important advice of all.

I recently read an account of a family moving to Alaska to start a new life. In my opinion, they made a critical miscalculation that ultimately led to their failure. It’s a long and sordid story, but my “takeaway” is quite simple:

When seeking a piece of property, beware of impediments to using that property! Make sure that using the property does not require changing or defying federal, state, or local laws, or local customs or practices.

This may seem overly simplistic, but it appears to be a very common mistake.

This most often involves access to the property. In the example above, the family bought property within a national park, then punched an illegal road through park property with a bulldozer to access their land!

What, I have to ask, is wrong with these people? (If you read the book, the answer is “plenty!” but that’s a larger story.)

Buying property requires a modicum of forethought. This includes figuring out what the land will require of you. If it requires a road across restricted land, either public or private, don’t buy it! Look elsewhere! What could be less self reliant than plopping oneself down in a property that can’t be reached without the forbearance of other property owners, then crying that you can’t reach your property unless those adjacent property owners accommodate you? It’s bad neighborliness at the very least.

Sadly, and perhaps predictably, much of this issue sprang from the participants’ attitude toward the government. As is common with many self reliance advocates, these people aggressively opposed the government, and, in my opinion, sought the confrontation that naturally ensued. I can’t understand the mindset of people who yearn to get “back to the land,” find a property with limitations, then set out to overcome those limitations rather than work within them. If you want to be antigovernment, go right ahead—after you ensure you can legally establish yourself on the property you’ve chosen!

To put it another way, this would be considered poor strategy. If one desires an enclave from which to face down the outside world, one would be foolish not to establish full rights and access to that enclave before picking a fight. The statement: “Here is a problem I have created, now solve it for me” does not, in any way, express self reliance.

We faced this ourselves, so I know whereof I speak. If you’ve followed this blog, or looked at our main Web page, you know that we have to hike to our property on a trail that will not support wheeled vehicles. We knew this limitation existed, and accepted it. We had no illusions of ever getting a road to the property. In fact, we would aggressively oppose any efforts to establish one in our neighborhood. We didn’t try to helicopter materials in; we realized that anything brought to the land would come by water, or on our backs. If we couldn’t accept these limitations and conditions, we wouldn’t have bought the property.

End of story. No “ands,” “ifs,” or “buts”.

In conversations and emails with readers I often talk about reality checks, moments of reflection that should help one confirm that one really does want to take the necessary steps to pursue the lifestyle. This should be a major one. Because, to put it bluntly: if you’re the type who would buy a limited access property, then demand that those around you grant you greater access to it, you may be a whiner, and not cut out for this lifestyle after all.

One Response to “Before Buying Land, Make Sure You Can Get There!”

  1. Linn Hartman says:

    Well said! Same thing happens around here. People from OFF (can’t tell you exactly where OFF if, but a lot of people from there think they want to move here) see some land for sale and then find out you can’t get to it. Neighbors don’t always have to give you access. Plus every time they survey with the new technology someone wins and someone looses. That Oak tree or pile of rocks does not work today. Anyway it is more fun to pick a Yankee than cotton. Have a good day.

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