Andy Fleming writing on homesteading

America is a big place with vastly different cultures, growing seasons, land prices, and local government. This is certainly a good thing if you’re looking to escape the rat race and set up a homestead. But sometimes it can be hard to find the “right” place when you’ve got so many choices available.

Before you even start sifting through available plots of land or look into buying a home, it’s a good idea to sit down and figure out what’s important to you. Do you want to build your own place in a state with conservative government and lax building codes? Are you interested in farming in a place with a long growing season, rich soil, and frequent rain? Are you just looking to get off-grid as soon as possible with cheap land for a quick move? Perhaps all of these things are important, in which case you may want to decide which qualities are “essential” and which can be considered convenient bonuses.

Regardless of your criteria, you’d be wise to start your search with a few key states known to be particularly enticing for homesteaders. Don’t be afraid to do your own exploring either! Even pricy states have cheap land hidden away, and you never know when you’ll find a good deal on a scenic slice of fertile land. Do enough searching, and you’re guaranteed to find the plot or home that’s right for you.

1. Alabama

Alabama homesteading

©iStock.com/PeteMuller

Some people claim that Alabama is the best place to homestead right now, and it’s hard to argue with them. Land in the state is dirt cheap, with acre plots often selling for less than $10,000 and sprawling, 10-to-20-acre farmland available for around $50,000. Sure, you can find cheaper land in states like Wyoming or New Mexico, but you won’t find the high-fertility and long growing seasons that make Alabama so attractive. Property taxes in the state are also very low, around 0.336% on average; and you’ll save on utilities since you only need to heat the house a few months out of the year. Plus, many locations in and around the Appalachian foothills are breathtakingly beautiful and feature abundant hunting and fishing opportunities. A winning combination for any homesteader.

2. Idaho

©iStock.com/NicolasMcComber

If freedom and space are your top priorities, Idaho is worth a look. You can find 10-to-20-acre plots with river access for less than $20,000, and 20-acre plots for around $50,000. Property taxes average higher, around 0.931%, but are still quite low for the region. Idaho also has some excellent homesteading laws, and will allow you to declare up to $100,000 worth of your property as a “protected homestead” which makes it off-limits to seizures by creditors. You can also exempt $100,000 worth of homestead property from federal taxes in the state. Value your privacy? Some areas of Idaho have only one or two residents per square mile. A great pick for those that want to truly get off the grid and do their own thing.

3. Tennessee

©iStock.com/trait2lumiere

Another good “all-around” pick for a new homestead. Acre plots can be found for $50,000 and a $50,000 investment can net you 10 to 20 acres of fresh farmland. If you’re going for affordability, middle and west Tennessee is the best place to look as land value goes up close to the Blue Ridge mountains. Farmland here is abundant and fertile, and there’s no income tax in Tennessee. Its government tends to favor a hands-off approach, so they’re unlikely to interfere with your building plans or pass legislation that infringes on your lifestyle.

4. Florida

Florida Homesteading

©iStock.com/MichaelWarrenPix

Florida might seem like a more expensive state at first glance, but you can still find an acre of land for around $6,000, and 20-acre plots for $50,000. Short winters and long growing seasons will make for good farming opportunities and you have your pick of clay soil up north and sandier soils down south. Property taxes average 0.938%, not much higher than Idaho and the state government is less intrusive than the average. Florida also boasts a “right to farm” law, which means that farms operating for a year are exempt from lawsuits which try to claim they are a “nuisance” for any reason.

5. Arizona

Arizona homesteading

©iStock.com/stillsbyscott

Arizona is undoubtedly the cheapest place to find land. You can find plots of land up to 40 acres for under $30,000. Property tax is quite low too, around 0.802% on average. The downside is that Arizona land is mostly desert, which can make farming a challenge. However, if you’re prepared to set up an irrigation system and specialize in desert farming or ranching, Arizona’s affordability makes it hard to beat.

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