How To Find and Buy Land for a Small Homestead

When you are buying a small homestead

Are you ready to begin homesteading? You’re joining a growing number of Americans who are returning to our roots and living off what the land provides.

So how do you get started? It’s kind of obvious but you need land.

The good news is you don’t need thousands, or even hundreds of acres, to have a fully functional homestead. Indeed, you can homestead on less than ten acres. But it’s not something you should take lightly or do quickly.

As you begin, there are several factors to consider when you are looking for your perfect homestead.

What size property do you need?

The first question you need to ask yourself is what size of property you need for your homestead. And the key word is ‘need,’ and not necessarily ‘want.’ My focus is on smaller homesteads, those less than 10 acres, but there is still a significant difference between an acre or two and 10.

On a small property, it will be tough to have room for cattle to graze, particularly if you are using the property for anything else. You would likely have room for a family milk cow, but not a lot more.

So just spend time considering what your homestead will look like. And what you want it to look like in the future. Have those plans drawn out so you don’t overbuy or underbuy.

How far out do you want to be?

You also need to consider location. Homesteading on a decent sized piece of property is generally not something you do in a subdivision. That means you will likely be moving out of town. The question is, how far out can you be, or do you want to be?

Do you want neighbors? For some, they want to be as far away as they can be. That usually works well because prices would tend to be less the more rural you get (in most places). But think of life’s basic necessities. Are you okay with having to drive 30 or 40 miles to a drug store? Maybe 15 or 20 miles is more your liking. Just make sure you are happy with the location before you sign the dotted line.

Do you want to live off the grid?

For some, the beauty of homesteading is the ability to be totally self-sufficient. You can do that.

Others don’t want to take it quite to that extreme and want electricity, water, relatively accessible roads. Keep this in mind when you spot that dream piece of land.

How much do you want to spend?

As with any real estate transaction, you need to have a budget. You don’t want to make go broke homesteading, but it’s more than just the final price tag of the property to pay attention to.

How much work needs to be done? Not just to the house, but to the property. Does it have outbuildings, or will you need to build them, or at least put money in repairing them? Does the land need to be cleared out? It stands to reason you will need to put some money into making the property right for your needs.

What kind of land do you need?

When you think about the plans for your homestead, consider what you need the land to provide. If you are relying on a wood stove to heat the house, do you have sufficient trees for your needs? If you will have cattle, does it have open land for grazing?

These are just a couple examples of questions you need to ask. In most instances, you can work the land to make it right for you, but that might not be preferable.

How much work do you want to do in preparing the land?

As a follow up to the previous question, think about the work you want to put in. One response might be that you just want to purchase a small farm or homestead that is being used in a fashion similar to what you envision.

On the other end of the spectrum, you can start completely new. You can buy property that you need to clear, build a house and any outbuildings and bring in water and electricity. This will allow you to have a homestead drawn to your exact specifications but will be time-consuming and costly.

Is the property appropriately zoned?

Make sure you can have chickens, cattle or other livestock on your property. In some instances, you need to make sure you can have outbuildings. The further out you go, the less of an issue this will be. But do make sure you check this off your list.

What about Internet access?

If you are running either a full-time or side business from your homestead, or maybe just a blog, you want to have reasonably fast Internet speeds. Unless you want to spend all of your free time on your computer.

Does it make sense for your needs?

By purchasing a homestead, you are committing to a new lifestyle. It can be a great experience and something you can pass on to your children.

But, you want it to work for you. If you want to be close to school, be close to a school. If you want to be close to town, be close to town. If you have no need for a hundred acres, don’t buy a hundred acres.

This property needs to meet your needs. The previous questions served more as a checklist or bullet points to ponder as you find a property. This is a little deeper. This is about finding a property that is right for you and your family.

You don’t want to make a purchase and regret it. By thinking about these questions, you will be off to a great start in your new life on the homestead.

If you want even more in-depth prepping and homesteading information then please check out my best selling 176-page book “How To Survive The End Of The World As We Know It – Gear, Skills, and Related Know-How. It’s available in paperback and well as Amazon Kindle.


  1. MD, how much is 10 acres going for near you in Tennessee?

  2. Great art per usual M.D. our second property, is a tad bigger than where we live at and even though I would not be able to have a milk cow, I could do chickens, and have a large garden, plant Berry bushes, so they had plenty of time and room to grow. I would have to start my rosemary, over and my grape, it’s finally after three years growing no grape’s yet but it’s promising. With our youngest starting High School, we have at least 4 year’s until he’s finished but finding out that their school, is fine if we move away because it’s an smaller school, that deal’s with so many different schedules with kids, who work, or go to counseling, pregnant mom’s, and mom’s of pre School, that we don’t have to live in town but 5 minutes away from school sounds better than 35 minutes away. So yes, lot’s to think about and plan.

  3. Been a fan of this site for awhile thought I’d chime in. DW and I are
    building on acre and quarter, doing
    most of work. Town is 19 miles away
    and nearest neighbor is 3/4 mile down the road. Like m.o.t we can do birds but no big stuff. Half cleared of trees and half done on house since jan of this yr. Living in camper since start. Love the quite and hoping garden produces more next season in the raised beds. Did build 24×20 shed first before moving to put our stuff in. All the best.

  4. Nice artical. Well written and covering basics. If cattle, water on the property would be a consideration.(pond, etc.) Yep work the land and make it your own.

  5. Good basic review. These are topics my wife and I have discussed recently. We’re both in our late 50’s and would like to transition from the burbs into a homestead as we become empty nesters and draw closer to retirement. We “think” we’d like a 5-10 acre homestead above 1,000′ elevation. Definitely a lot to consider, especially as you grow older and discuss what you can and can’t do physically.

  6. Thanks for the article. Timely for us.
    We are trying to sell our 80 acre place and radically downsize for our tarnished golden years. We figure 5 to ten acres is all we want to take on. We want to stay rural and I would love to be off grid, or partly of grid. I don’t plan on cattle but a decent kitchen garden and some chickens would be in order.
    In Western Wisconsin, small parcels sell of a premium. It was the same in 1974 when we bought this place, At that time the 80 acres was the bargain. However the millennials who are mostly looking at places like ours want a new home and and all the land with our river frontage but think they should only have to pay 0ne or two hundred thousand for it which would have been a good price in the 1970s. They also want to do community supported agriculture but think they would manage it and hire people to do all the labor. HA! In every successful CSA I know the owners work harder than anyone (if they can even find people who will work).
    After all the years here we have the tools and things needed to transition to a small place. So, for us it is more a matter of less taxes, less infrastructure costs, less to maintain.
    My final thought. It is also helpful to have a spouse that is on the same page on the plan. I have watched as couples who look at our place argue. One is in love with it, the other is not. I watched as one guy after being harangued through out the tour of the land actually put up his hands in surrender. with another couple she wanted it but he stood apart. I started to talk to him and he said: “I don’t give a sh**, this is her thing!” They are living in town now.

    • Send the info on the property. I’m looking to purchase our “Final resting place” and want a sizable piece of property to call our homestead. Hobby farming, a few chickens, pigs, cow, etc., as well as Forrest for cord wood and hunting. Recently retired and have spent a lot of time looking for a parcel that fits my desires.

  7. Good article. We have 80 acres, but lease out for grazing, hunting, and agriculture, which pays the taxes. That is way more than we 70-year olds need. But we like knowing that much is ours.

    Now, there are stories in our area of city couples who came to our lovely county and how it turned out for them. If you are not prepared for wild animals, feral animals, an insect for every season, lots of flies, fire ants, mice, rats, and the smells, you might want to rethink a move. If both in a couple are not 110% committed to country living and really want it, it won’t work. It’s the country and you’ve got to love the life.

    I’ve learned that almost everyone loves the idea of country, they just don’t really want to be in it.

  8. I just bought a new home in Northern Central Michigan on five acres with my nearest neighbor being over a 1/2 mile away. These five acres will offer plenty of hunting opportunities and season fish migrations in the stream behind my house. All the land around me is privately owned and apparently is not used much by the owners.

  9. We live in an isolated, rural area on the high plains. DH was raised here. I am a city girl that adapted well, probably due to being raised an Army Brat. But I have seen many others come from the city with very few adapting. Some small towns are welcoming, others are not. Some houses in town are probably bug out locations. They are owned by city dwellers and used a few times a year as a hunting base. The biggest problem with that scenario is they are not known by most of the community.

  10. M.D. Good article. Thanks for the info.

  11. MasterSergeantUASF

    The DW and I lived on a bug-out-boat in California for a decade before coming ashore and moving to S.E. Kansas. We have five acres; three are dense forest and two are cleared where the house, detached garage, shed, carport, and 2500 sq.ft. garden. We are on rural power and water, with septic, but we also have a wind turbine and ten 300 a/h batteries and two Honda EU2000 as well as a windmill powered water well. We have a river, a creek, and a stream the cross our property. We have an abundance of deer, turkeys, rabbits, and squirrels. Our neighbor across the road has several hundreds acres of free grazing cattle as well as two ponds and loads of water-fowl, guineas, chickens, etc. We are rural but Walmart, True-value, Tractor Supply, and the liquor store are just a few miles away. Taxes are cheap, but flood insurance is NOT. There is an adjoined eight acre wheat/corn/clover field that I hope to acquire when the owner passes. He promised me first dibs on it as he has no offspring. It used to be an RV lot so it also has electrical and septic near the tornado shelter. Last season I had so much produce I sold most of it to the the local grocery (not Walmart). This season for some reason only peppers, tomatoes, cantaloupe, and watermelon would grow. I planted 50 corn but only got seven. Armadillos and raccoons dug up all the potatoes. Anyways, after 46 years of town/city living, the last 4 years here have been AWESOME! (Now, time to re-do the 1978 bathroom.)

  12. In Tennessee you need 15 acres to qualify for tax relief.