The past few years have made more people than ever wish they could escape city life and begin living closer to nature, healthier, and much more simply. That means that people are increasingly searching for free land for off-grid living. The search for more freedom is happening worldwide!
So, is there any such thing as free land for homesteading, just there for the taking?
Well, the short answer is yes!
But it’s probably not what you think.
There’s a lot of confusion about this topic, and it so happens that I’ve been following it for years.
So, let’s discuss the truth about getting free land in the United States and Canada. I’ll guide you through the rest of what I see online currently. This information is fresh!
And we’re off!
- Are There Still States Offering Free Land?
- Free Land for Off-Grid Living In the United States
- It Takes More Than Some Free Land to Live Off-Grid
- Making Money While Living an Off-Grid Lifestyle
- Summary of Points About Free Land for Off-grid Living
Are There Still States Offering Free Land?
No. There are no state governments that I know of offering free land for the taking. But some cities and towns within certain states offer free territory.
Is This Like the Original Homesteading Act?
President Abraham Lincoln legislated the Homestead Act of 1862, which granted American citizens up to 160 acres of public land for a modest filing charge. It expanded the settlement of the West, allowing recently-freed slaves, single women, and legal immigrants to own and develop the land.
Well, guess what?
The Homestead Act is no longer active. After 124 years, the lovely government decided to repeal it in 1976.
So, no, the existing programs for getting free land for off-grid living in 2023 are nothing like the regulations outlined in the Homestead Act of 1862.
That shouldn’t surprise you because everything, including building codes, is overly governmentally regulated these days. And, in my opinion, it’s not for the best of everyone equally.
Anyways, rant aside, onward!
Free Land for Off-Grid Living In the United States
Here and there, throughout the United States, you may find some free or very cheap land programs for off-grid living. The land usually exists within small towns with dwindling populations. Or farming communities that need to expand their demographic numbers.
In other words, they are afraid of becoming ghost towns!
So, they offer free land to entice newcomers, but there are a few conditions. It varies from location to location. But, typically, you will be required to do the following.
- Agree to live on the property for a certain amount of time
- Build a new home within a designated timeframe
- Demonstrate the financial capacity to do so
- Be able to pay the annual property taxes
- And, of course, not be a criminal!
As I scoured Google looking for free land for off-grid living, I found a lot of inactive links shooting me 404 error codes. So, I neatly organized the active free land offers for you – and cut the fluff!
Here are seven zero-cost land sources in the United States:
- Curtis, Nebraska, Medicine Valley Economic Development Program
- Mankato, Kansas, Jewel County Free Land Program
- New Richland, Minnesota, Homestake Subdivision
- Buffalo, New York, Urban Homestead Program
- Plainville, Kansas, Free Homesites Program
- Lincoln, Kansas, Free Home Site Program
- Loup City, Nebraska, John Subdivision
That’s not very many locations, I know. But those are the active links that I found yesterday.
I noticed a lot of links that have gotten removed because, I guess, those towns built their populations to the point they needed to and discontinued the programs. Or their economies collapsed and became ghost towns.
OK, before we get into programs for getting free land in Canada for off-grid living, let’s stay here in the United States for a while longer and explore your options for getting a farm or ranch loan or grant from the United States Department of Agriculture.
The excitement never ends around here!
USDA Farm Grant and Loan Program
If you can’t find suitable free land for off-grid living in the links above, you might consider getting a loan or a grant from the USDA. The Department of Agriculture offers programs that provide funding for new farms. You’ll be required to conform to the USDA’s standards for farming. However, this could be a viable option if you’re looking for a way to get land to begin living an off-grid lifestyle.
Free Land for Off-Grid Living in Canada
Canada’s land mass is the second largest of any country, yet its population is only about 10% of the USA’s. Canada’s population density is very low, meaning the government is interested in developing communities and expanding the population. And, of course, generating more taxation.
You can find free or next-to-free land from Alberta to the Yukon. Like in the US, you’ll be required to build a home in a set timeframe and agree to inhabit the property for a given period.
I found only four active programs in Canadian towns to get free land for off-grid living, including:
- New Brunswick, Canada, The Rural Neighbourhood Project
- Free Agricultural Land in Yukon Territories, Canada
- New Brunswick, Canada, Straw House Community
- Free Land for Off-gridding in Alberta, Canada
So, if you’re a Canadian citizen with permanent resident status who wishes to start living an off-grid lifestyle, these might be good options. I hope so!
Free Land for Off-Grid Living In Other Countries
Did you know that, as of 2023, there are 195 different countries on the planet?
It’s true, so there’s no feasible way I can teach you very much about getting free land around the world. People all over the planet want to use solar panels and generate solar energy on their plots of land. Off-grid communities demand it!
Of course, it’s possible and likely in many countries. You have to start with an online search, scan the results for authoritative sources, and then dive in and read.
If you find worthy land for sale or contract, contact the organization and see where it leads.
Also, contact a local government representative, and inquire there. If they can’t help you directly, there’s a good chance they can lead you in a helpful direction.
Who knows, you might end up as the next property owner in a small Transylvanian village close to where Count Chocula lived, where there’s a full moon every night.
Access or Earn Free Off-Grid Land As a Farm Caretaker
The American farmer has always been the backbone of the entire country. So important!
However, sadly, family farms are fading away as younger generations venture into the cities. I guess younger people don’t like off-grid homes, even if they have clean water and very efficient solar power. It’s as if many of them think they have to be on the power grid!
It turns out that many farmers in the United States need help running their farms, and they cannot find any. Some farmers in these situations are willing to trade room and board in exchange for labor.
A farm caretaker and a wealthy farm owner can often come to a mutually beneficial agreement. For instance, the caretaker might offer to work on the farm for five years for a fertile land plot. Or for a small weekly stipend in addition to a discounted land plot.
But – never expect a free lunch. You have to earn it. A farm caretaker may be required to jump in and help out on the farm, slopping pigs, herding cattle, picking beans, or 1,000 other possible farmyard tasks.
In other cases, a farm caretaker might need to be present on the property to keep an eye on things and contact the farmer or the authorities if anything happens that shouldn’t.
There are many variables to consider here about every possible farm caretaker position. If you’re interested in pursuing this idea, an excellent place to start is at farmer’s markets. Go to some and ask questions.
Make your intentions known. You might be surprised at how many people know somebody who could certainly use some help on their farm in exchange for rent or even a piece of property.
Another good starting place is the American Farm Bureau Federation, an organization dedicated to the sustainable futures of farm and ranch families.
You might also get lucky by talking to folks at church, the barbershop, or the local Mcdonald’s. You won’t know if you don’t ask!
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Financing can be the biggest obstacle in finding land to live off-grid. Undeveloped farmland isn’t something banks and mortgage lenders generally appreciate. That makes Owner Carry land contracts a popular method of financing a rural property.
In essence, the property owner becomes the bank. The property allows the buyer to make installed payments over time, on a predetermined schedule, and according to owner stipulations.
The last payment and closing costs occur as planned. Then the buyer becomes the rightful land owner. While this isn’t free land for off-grid living, it is land for off-grid living that could get obtained inexpensively relative to most other legitimate routes to land ownership.
Land contracts typically require a 10% – 20% down payment. But, again, it’s all up to the owner. There’s always the possibility of working something out where you can omit the down payment altogether.
Online Land Sales Companies
A few online companies offer land-on payments, with no credit check, for a small down payment. And then monthly payments. If you don’t make your payments on time, you lose your rights to the land. Sometimes, you may not build on or change the property until you pay it off. These entities present a simple and fast way for nearly anyone to obtain a piece of land for off-grid living.
Getting Free Land Using Squatter’s Rights
Until now, I have only heard the term squatter’s rights here and there throughout life. But I’ve never known what that means – really.
So, according to NOLO, “In some circumstances, a trespasser who comes onto your land and occupies it may gain legal ownership of it. The legal term for this is adverse possession.“
OK. Hmmm. Right off the bat, I can say that this isn’t something I would consider. Not unless I was freezing to death or something of similar devastation.
The cost of living and the cost of land is increasing. But land prices aren’t that high, at least not yet, and there are plenty of pieces of land at affordable prices throughout the US.
Otherwise, I refuse to squat on federal government land, vacant land, in a house, or any other parcel of land. I’ll develop my off-the-electrical-grid, solar-powered home another way!
Anyway, different states have different laws, still in effect today, that govern adverse possession. I guess it is legal, in some places, in some cases. It’s one of the many areas of law that probably need redefining here in the good ol’ USA.
As for me, I’ll work and hustle and come up with a different way of acquiring zero-cost or very affordable land for off-grid homestead living!
It Takes More Than Some Free Land to Live Off-Grid
Let’s assume you scored an excellent tract of free undeveloped land. And you’re ready to get started living off-grid. OK, now, here you are on the property.
Sure. Sleeping in a tent for a while is fun and fantastic. But what about your longer-term goals and aspirations?
You’re going to need shelter. It doesn’t have to be a modern mansion. It could be a well-built treehouse or even a yurt with wind power!
But, sooner or later, you’ll need somewhere to live and work from besides a tent or your cargo van, especially if you’re somewhere with a harsh climate.
Like cheap building materials? What are your building material foraging skills? Consider constructing a tiny home using natural resources like:
I understand that most people are not hardened survivalists who can build a homestead out of water stream mud and tree branches. Do you wish to live in a one-room cob building of light straw clay?
However, starting a homestead and off-grid lifestyle requires a more simplistic, frugal approach to living, and using natural, free resources makes a lot of sense to many homesteaders.
We are just saying!
Making Money While Living an Off-Grid Lifestyle
Even if you construct your home out of dirt and rocks and live as simplistically as any human could, you still need some money here and there to ensure that you don’t revert into the ways of a Neanderthal!
So, how to make money while living a fundamental, traditional, off-grid lifestyle?
- Say hi and introduce yourself to local farmers and let them know you’re looking for work
- Advertise any special skills you have with a roadside sign
- Raise cattle, pigs, rabbits, or other meat animals
- Raise milking goats and sell cheese and yogurt
- Carve hardwood figurines from downed trees
- Raise sheep and sell their warm wool
- Raise hens and sell farm-fresh eggs
- Grow and sell organic produce
- Start an online business
- Peddle organic herbs
You can also make beneficial contact by introducing yourself to forest rangers, campground owners, firefighters, police officers, and the local Pastor and barber. All are undeniable sources of juicy information!
Summary of Points About Free Land for Off-grid Living
While it’s still technically possible to obtain free land for off-grid living in the USA, Canada, and probably many other countries, there aren’t many options. And remember, not every cheap property lot is an attractive choice.
Let’s face it, the odds of getting some land that suits your lifestyle dreams, for free, with no strings attached, are just about zero.
I think it’s better to develop a sustainable, non-rushed plan when moving to an off-gridding lifestyle.
Believe me. I understand how strong the pull move off-grid can be. I felt it for years and dragged my poor wife through rather challenging times, trying to be there before we were ready to plunge.
I figured I could outmuscle my way through obstacles, and I gave it hell, and I loved every second of it. She didn’t, though. And I had to realize that you must have a clever plan, some source of money, and the commitment to work long and hard to transform your entire life and live off-grid.
The message is that it takes much more than some free land for off-grid living to live off-grid.
Use your homesteading brain and devise a sequential plan to get the perfect spot!
In the meantime, let us know if you have more questions about finding free land for off-grid living.
We know land is expensive. But we are always happy to help our fellow homesteading friends.
Thanks again for reading.
And have a great day!