Ini & I have been traveling for nearly a week now. Town to town; campsite to campsite. Some remote and full of solitude, some cared for steadily by camp hosts. We are looking for land, see. In Clayton, GA, we stopped at the visitor’s center to use the WIFI and attracted realtors like flies to stink. We heard from one man that realtors are bloodsuckers, taking a fee of 15%. Yet could this be one good & necessary way we can find land? Yet, all of the land we’ve seen here is round abouts $150,000 (for as little as an acre at times!), and, truth-be-told, that is way above & beyond of what we are in likelihood going to pay. I don’t want to take out some loans or finance for 50 years.
This is becoming a reality-check for what people are up against as they want to buy land. Now mind you, this is mainly in Western North Carolina, which we are learning is replete with tourists & vacation-rentals, making the cost of land raise significantly as it takes on commercial value instead of being solely agricultural. The Mountains in the this region are beautiful and it’s no secret that many people want to live in their shadow and amid their plentiful streams.
Up in towns near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (the NC side), each whitewater rafting tourism skid flashed like a lure in spring fishing season. I do not want to live in the midst of shiny flashy lures competing with neighbors for the tourist’s dollar, property prices rising each year as more people get their summer mountain rental. Nor do I want to live isolated on 1/2 acre up in the Mountains on some piece of $45,000 land that rests currently as an abandoned mountain dream home where all that remains is the cleared home pad. Nor do I want to live in any place that is so backwards that two people within a day tell us that “They’re aren’t many minorities here — I don’t know if y’all care about that,” or “At least you’re not Iranian or from California!”- Well, I may not be, but I have lived in California and I love it & what do you have against Iranians?! (one of my best friend’s dad is from Pakistan)…
That brings in the question, if the land is ripe for the baby-boom generation that has $200,000 saved for a retirement dream-home and any area impoverished/not well known enough to not be attracting that type wouldn’t be friendly to my non-white friends … How is the young person … or any person not willing to go significantly into debt // take out a mortgage or loan // or who does not have a large sum of money on hand, supposed to endeavor this dream of 5 acre homesteading? We are in touch with a wonderful supportive woman named Cameron of the Western North Carolina Farm-link and she says, “You have to think creatively.” One option is to set our sites on another region that is not so currently desirable as a vacation destination — a place that is either yet undiscovered or remote or x enough to not be on the commercial radar, although one potential problem with that is close-minded thinking. Another option is to consider a team-up with a farmer, leasing land, 99 year lease options, or taking over an older person’s homestead that is in a land-care trust in perpetuity.
This begs the question for us — are the days gone (such as that of Helen & Scott Nearing and many other homesteaders who followed in their footsteps) of setting off for land and finding it for a reasonable sum – a sum of small means? Or is land a pricey, out-of-reach commodity unless we want to live in Nebraska, some other place without resources or difficult conditions, at an ecovillage or intentional community or take out a loan?
We are not ready to give in yet, but it is humbling to realize that land is so expensive. We are thinking creatively and we are supported by many. It rained 4 inches last night at our campsite here near the border of NC & GA in the Nantahalah National Forest, but we’ve made peace with the fact that everything is wet and will be until the sun comes out again. After all, the plentiful rain is one of the reasons we’ve started our search in this region. It is one of the most important facets for the homesteader. It takes all of our focus to remain holistically prepared to stay on our mission, at peace ¬ freaking out! Are we crazy? Unrealistic? Simply idealistic and hopeful? Magic has transpired for both Ini & me so many times in our lives. We are pairing magical possibilities with the hard, persistent work of the search.