Land in a rural area for a Bug Out Location is romantic thought for me, and recently I have been looking at prices within a couple hour drive of where I live in an area that is the polar opposite of where I live.  I make some notes about a year ago around the prices of a couple plots of land and am comparing the prices today to a year ago.  .  For example, I found a three acre plot in a pretty rural area that is going for just under 16,000 dollars.  Not too bad.  However, I need to do more research on items such as how deep the water table is.  Why?  So that I can decide whether or not I can drill a well myself or if I must hire someone to drill a well.  There is no running water on the plot so this is one of my top concerns.  But that is not why I am writing this post.  I am writing this post to try to educate you a little bit on some of the research I have been doing on some of the pros and cons of buying a rural plot of land for a BOL.  And trust me, there are pros and cons…

So I think that you probably guessed that I am looking for some raw land.  I am looking for a few acres that I can “under the guise of developing it in the future” use as a BOL pretty inexpensively.  Here is the ideal situation:

  • Raw Land, three – 10 Acres in size.  I have an idea for 10+ acres, but will discuss that at another time.
  • Ideally, a plot of land that has running water through it.  Not a wide river, but a stream that will allow for water all year, maybe some fish, as well as other wildlife that would be drawn to it…
  • Off of a dirt road that gets moderate to little traffic
  • Someplace where I can eventually put a cabin but start with a travel trailer or 5th wheel.
    • Something that is not permanent so that I do not have to deal with higher property taxes right away.
  • Someplace where property taxes are under $1,000 annually
  • Someplace where I can cache resources in multiple locations that no one will be able find but me
  • Someplace where I can grow a half acre – to a full acre garden if I had to.  Now that being said, if you knew how large 1/2 – a full acre is, this is QUITE an undertaking without modern equipment…
  • Someplace defensible (not sure that is the right word)
  • Someplace where I can go “on-grid” or stay “off-grid” depending on what and how the property gets built up.  I don’t mind paying for electricity on grid if I am also generating some of my own at the same time keeping costs down.  I think there is merit to dropping a locked shed on the property that has electric piped into it with a refrigerator and chest freezer during the good times…  By staying “on-grid” a more normalized lifestyle can be maintained as a “weekend” warrior while building out the BOL for both good times and bad…
  • Someplace where a shallow well can be drilled (http://www.drillyourownwell.com/index.htm)
    • Questions such as how deep the water table is, and how much would it cost to drill a 100 – 500 foot well?  I would hope that I could find a piece of property where the water table is within 15 – 30 feet and I don’t run into rock…
  • Somewhere a small  septic system (even a VERY small one) can be dug and added. (http://www.wikihow.com/Construct-a-Small-Septic-System)
  • Somewhere where I can trap and hunt on my own property if I need to.  If I have the chest freezer, as mentioned above, I can shrink wrap/food saver my game and store it for when I would like to have/cook it…
  • Somewhere where I can target shoot with a bow or gun without offending neighbors.  In fact somewhere where gun laws are looser than the states of NY and NJ.

So what are some of the advantages of looking for raw land in a rural area?  Well, believe it or not, I have noticed that rural land prices have not depreciated the way suburban and urban land have depreciated.  It’s true.   My “limited” research illustrates to me that rural land tends to depreciate slower in ill economic times than that of urban and suburban land.  I say this because typically, the more populated the area and the more there is a dependency on an industry for work the more likely that demographic and geography may be impacted if the industry is hit by hard times… A couple of “for instances” would be the following:

  • The Steel Industry and the cities of Allentown and Pittsburgh, PA.  When the steel industry took a dump 20+ years ago so did these two power house cities.  Allentown being smaller than Pittsburgh, it took Pittsburgh many years to recover from the Steel industry going bust by reinventing itself as a more white collar town.  Allentown and the Lehigh Valley area in PA, personally have still not fully recovered.  There is no new industry in that area and hence the job market is soft.
  • The Automobile Industry.  With the recession, this domestic industry has taken a dive, and no where is it reflected worse than Detroit, MI.  Without exaggeration, I have heard and read content that suggests that homes that were being sold in the $150,000.00 and $200,000.00 range have sold for as little as $7,000.00 – $10,000.00.  To me that is pretty remarkable.  Since the industry has taken a dive, people have moved out of the area in search of work and the home depreciation dropped like a rock.  It is a little (a lot) scary to me to see home prices drop like this and people without jobs and moving out of the area they may have lived and thrived their whole lives.

This also brings up another point that hit me while writing this.  I have been an advocate of bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. for goods to be processed, built, and sold here vs. being manufactured elsewhere.  However, when I look at the “dependency” on the city, town, or village with a manufacturing industry, I am not so sure I want my home or BOL to be too close to it for reasons of economic value.  It seems to me that rural, or “farm country” for lack of better phrasing would hold it’s value more effectively.  I know some of you might argue that independent farming has been destroyed by corporate farming and that there is not much of a difference today from “suburban land” and corporate farms.  You may be right.  I know many farmers who have sub-divided their property and sold off plots of land to would be home owners because they were squeezed out by the corporate farms.  It was the only way for them to generate income post “corporate squeeze.”

The Bug Out Location on rural land ultimately, as indirectly stated above in my “I want” list, will help reduce dependency on urban and suburban resources, and a “consumer only lifestyle.”  There is certainly a LOT of work involved with setting up a BOL, and doing it on the cheap can take more time than just spending the money to have someone do it for you.  However, doing so on the cheap isn’t necessarily all that cheap.  You must buy the property, and I do not want a loan on the property, I want to pay cash if I can.  Almost everything else you may do on the property in the beginning may cost “some” money, so there may be many hidden costs involved that I have not identified…

The (my) search continues and will further continue.  I know where I “think” I want to the Bug Out Location to be, and I have found a few (3) acres I want to go take a look at in the near future.  It has been on the market for over a year.  Unfortunately there is no running water on it, but there is a shed, and what looks to be an older camper on the property.  It has piqued my interest from that respect.  I am a little hesitant to use a Realtor as I want to conserve as much cash as I can, but beggars cannot be choosers.  I do not want to rush into something either.

This post really didn’t turn out the way I had expected it to.  I was supposed to be a “Things to look for” in your BOL property post, but turned into a more self serving post, helping me isolate the things I want in a piece of Bug Out property.