Skip to main content

How to Find Homesteading Land

The days of the Wild West are over, but if you know how to find homesteading land, you can still own your own land for little to no cost.

When you first hear the word homestead, you probably think of the Wild West. Most people associate the word with the Homestead Act of 1862, a land program that gave potential farmers 160 acres of free lots as long as they were willing to work and live on the land.

While the offer of 160 acres of free land has long since passed, if you know how to find homestead land, you can still come out with a small farm or ranch setup, even today.

Where you start your search and how to find homesteading land will vary depending on what type of homestead you are looking for.

There are many different types of homesteads and many ways to go about finding and starting one, we'll take a look at a few of the most common, and talk about a few of the ways we can find these pieces of property.

The U.S. government doesn't give away free land anymore, but some state and local governments do. If you are looking to go the free to cheap route for your new home, that's where you're going to be looking.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but if you are just looking for some free hunting or fishing land, you're probably out of luck. Most land owners who get their mitts on a piece of real estate like that are very reluctant to let go of it. And most cheap land is often not well suited for hunting.

But, if you are creative, and persistent enough you might can get close.

If you are looking for a homestead for hunting, fishing, or camping, your first stop should be the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The Last Frontier is one of the last places still actively putting land out there for new settlers. While this land will not be completely free, it is probably as cheap as you will find pristine, wilderness land. We're talking truly off the grid living.

There are three ways the Alaska DNR sells their land: first, by a sealed-bid auction, where potential buyers submit a sealed-bid with their highest price and the highest bid wins the right to buy the piece of property; secondly, by a over-the-counter (OTC) sales system, where land is sectioned off and then sold for directly at or under the appraised value; and finally through a site staking system, where you actually get to go and stake a claim for a property, which is then assessed and sold to you for the appraised market value.

Outside of Alaska, you'll have to think outside the box to get cheap or free homesteading land that allows you the freedom of hunting and fishing. One way to do this for free would be house/land sitting.

Many people who have large lands or properties use them as second properties but need them cared for all year long. There are many long-term house/land sitting opportunities, not only in the United States but around the world. Check the web for sites specific to these opportunities, as well as on places like Craigslist.

Outside of these opportunities, you are probably looking at purchasing your own piece of land if you want a place with no restrictions on which you can hunt and fish. This option gives you a little more freedom when it comes to where you are going to live, but it also means that you may have to come off the hip with some big time cash if you want prime land, and that can set you back in your attempts at going fully self-sufficient.

If your goal is not to have more hunting land, or you are not necessarily concerned with large acreage but more with having access to build a proper home and life, then the options are a little more open. Especially if you want to save money and not buy land. It may be a little easier if you do not care where you live because it will be quicker to jump on those opportunities when they pop up. Many off-grid homesteaders acquire their own little piece of heaven simply by not being too picky. And if you are looking for a new adventure, it can be exciting not knowing whether you will be living in Ohio, Colorado, Maine, or New York during the search. Cast a wide net with realtors, you may be surprised what they call to offer you.

Local governments in some states have free land programs that give away parcels for just this purpose. This land is usually located in rural areas or small towns. Areas that participate in these programs are hoping for more small farms, people, and eventually full-time jobs to their communities.

States in particular who have a large number of homesteading opportunities are Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota. The great thing about many of these properties is that they come completely free and some even come with extended property tax benefits. There are literally acres of land begging to be homesteaded.

Though many times they will have "strings" attached, which may include specific requirements for when a house must be built, and even specifications on size or layout of the house. But, if those are things you are willing to work with, you can be sitting on prime land in an up-and-coming community for little to no cost on the property.

The best way to find these particular homesteading opportunities is to contact local governments. Many have offerings listed on the web, but there are many more that may be available if you make the effort to search them out.

Figure out (generally) where you want to live, and start making phone calls. If you are passionate and show a willingness to work hard, you'll be surprised at how quickly doors will start to open for homesteaders.

Products featured on Wide Open Spaces are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.



How to Find Homesteading Land