Andrew and I are hunting for the next place we'll be. We don't anticipate or plan on staying in Cityhouse for too long, even though it has been a great training ground. We know that we just don't belong in a city, as opportunity-filled and accessible as it is.
We'd far rather give up the ability to instantly buy a pineapple out of season for the peace of sitting on our porch and watching our animals amble past a real garden. We want our kids to grow up with chickens in their arms and dirt under their toes. We can't wait for them to be able to see the stars at night. We want to live a simple life on land that we know is good.
So! We have been spending many of our library visits looking for The Land, and as we have hunted and visited potential sites, we have come up with a checklist of things to watch out for (and looked at lots of maps of the United States). Now granted, every homesteader is probably looking for a different ideal land, but these things, we feel, are universally important to consider:
1. Is it on potential Fracking land?
I know the feelings on fracking range far and wide, but Andrew and I are on the "nope" side of that spectrum. We hope to be able to use well water, and the idea of contaminants leaching through the soil and taking away our ability to sustain this most basic of needs is a deal-breaker for us.
So, we've been consulting maps to make sure that any of the land we consider is not on a shale basin. Even if fracking hasn't been started or even planned in many of these areas, we don't want to have to deal with it in the future if our neighbors decide to cash in on it. And! The nice secondary benefit is that this helps us narrow down what areas to look in. Otherwise, this hunt can seem overwhelming.
2. What are the homeschooling requirements?
In the United States, the requirements for homeschooling vary from state to state. I had no idea about this until I listened to this podcast from "Stuff You Should Know" and heard about the range of regulation. In Michigan, for example, you aren't required to even report if you are homeschooling or not. By contrast, in New York, your children are required to get mandatory immunizations, you will receive a homevisit by state officials to make sure that your setup is up to par, and you will be required to give standardized testing. Since we hope to homeschool our kids, knowing what is required of us per state is a huge consideration for where we'd like to go (and frankly, we'd prefer to not be messed with too much!)
3. How close are home improvement resources?
This may seem like a small detail, but we fully anticipate needing to fix up whatever house we end up buying. In addition, we'll probably always need to be building something. Having resources within an hour's drive will probably make a world of difference once we finally get to our property. I know that the original homesteaders went into the great unknown and had to fashion most of what they needed with what they had--but let's face it, it's nice to know that a big box of nails is 20 minutes north, rather than in the hands of a trader you really, really hope is coming by before the winter.
4. What does the surrounding land look like? Is there something there potentially harmful?
We visited a potential site that had a lot of promise--it had a nice flat space for fields, friendly neighbors, and a sweet little "downtown" within walking distance. The places we hoped to make our fields, however, were directly downhill from some other neighbors with a huge backyard of absolutely perfect, golf-course grass. It didn't take too long to realize that all the fertilizers and pesticides that they put on their luscious, ridiculous lawn would be streaming straight into the fields and stream that we were hoping to use as our food and water source. It was one of a few factors that made us continue our search.
In contrast, one site we really liked was butted right up against a national forest. Not only could we be allowed to hunt and collect wood there if needed, how awesome would it be to just walk off your land and go camping whenever you wanted? Definitely a plus for us to consider.
5. Enough acreage to sustain?
According to Andrew's research, about 10 acres of forest are enough to provide a sustainable amount of deadfall to keep our woodstove going all winter. Add to that another 5-10 acres of land we hope to farm, pasture, and run amok on, and we're using at least 15 acres (or 20!) as our baseline for how big we want our land to be. This calculation is going to be very personal to whatever you're looking for, but it, again, has been a nice filter as we look through dozens upon dozens of potential sites. (Price has also been a filter, of course!)
So far, this is what we've tried to check up on as we visit and Internet-search. We can't wait until it's finally time and we know where to go. We'll keep you updated with what we learn next, and we'd love to hear what you've learned on your journey as well!
We are a husband and wife who are trying to live simply. We are learning much as we transition from life in the city to life in the country. Come along with us, and maybe you can also learn a thing or two as well.
We love writing for these fine folks as well!
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Simple Life Homestead