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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
preparing your BOL/retirement land, prior to actually moving there?

I'm winding down on paying off my mortgage, and once that is done my next big purchase will be a BOL/retirement land. I live in a suburb, and unless something drastically changes in my life, I estimate that it may be around 15 years between the purchase of the land and actually living there 24 * 7.

Between the time I actually find/purchase land, and the time where I am actually residing there permanently residing there on site, I am trying to put together a list of todo's and don't do's.

This will probably be a generic list both for me, and anyone on this forum who might get any value from it. It's generic for me, because I don't even have any land yet.

I have researched this in the forum archives, and although I haven't turned up anyone who has asked this exact question, several people have 'beat around the bush' in other discussions.

These are some of the things I have picked up so far, and they are pretty obvious.

* do - plant fruit and nut trees - they will take a long time before they produce anything.

* do - guerrilla gardens - theses are good to see what will (and will not) grow on your land. Protect from wild animals if possible

* do - plant blackberry/thorn bushes along a perimeter, if it makes sense

* don't - don't leave anything of value out on the property that can be easily ( or not so easily ) stolen. If you aren't on site, assume that others will be there and take anything easily stolen.

* do - assuming your land is in a new town for you, make sure to frequent local businesses during every visit to your property, so locals will know you are local.


This is what I have put together, from comments from other posters.

Any additions to this list are appreciated.
 

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As soon as you finalize on the land, do a layout and play with it until you know just where everything is going, in terms of placement of well, septic, antenna tower, house, shelter, root cellar, gardens, orchard, fencing, driveways, out building, etc.

Once you are quite sure you know where you do want everything begin with what you listed. I would also start the perennials' beds, asparagus, strawberries, blackberries, etc.

Along with your fruit and nut orchard, I would start a coppicing woodlot, either by selective cutting of existing trees, or inter-planting with existing trees, or best option, pick the spot where you want it, clear it and dense plant ash trees. In 15 years you'll be able to produce a cord of excellent firewood per acre per year, and if well managed, pretty much forever or until the new ice age hits.

As soon as it can be put in the budget, I would go ahead and get at least one well drilled. Go for quantity of water, not necessarily quality, though both would be nice. Water can be treated for quality, if there is plenty of it. It could be difficult, depending on where you will be, but shoot for an absolute minimum of 5-gallons a minute production. That will require a multi-tank/multi-pump system, which is expensive. If you can get as much as 60gpm to 100gmp, even if it means going to a larger, more expensive well, I would suggest you do so. Water is a key to survival.

A powered pump at this time is optional and probably not a good idea. But have the well driller, a plumber, or if you can do the work yourself, have the well capped off with heavy steel, boxed in, and covered over so it isn't obvious that it is there. Do a little landscaping/camouflage work to make it even less noticeable, especially if the ground has been disturbed very much. Don't just stub it off above ground. It will not be usable when you need it if you do. It has to be well protected, to coin a phrase. Do it as soon as possible after obtaining the land. It will be a major advantage if you have to, or decide to sell the land, and it will most probably be several times the cost in 12-15 years when you are ready to move on site, not to mention, wells could very well be heavily restricted in the future.

You might want to get an appropriate hand pump for it, and stash it inside the box, but not installed. Make plans for a solar driven pump, but don't install it.

In the same vein, install a cistern or two, preferably at the same time as the well goes in so they can be filled to avoid floating out if left empty.

Ditto the septic tank and disposal field. And oversize it significantly. Consider a polymer tank and the new Infiltrator types of disposal fields rather than the pipe/gravel/permeable barrier type.

Any other underground structures, except the shelter and house basement, such as a good root cellar can go in as time passes, with them left either covered over with no access or totally open with only the shell to minimize the vandalism.

If at all possible, every two or three years, do some work on your wooded areas, including the woodlot. The woodlot shouldn't need much work if it is a newly planted one, but start getting rid of bad trees, unwanted trees, poorly placed trees, and anything that will be in the way of future structures, and alternative power set ups. You might sell the cleared trees as firewood when it is cut, or just stack it and cover it for future use. Might or might not be there when you move in.

You want the place ready to begin major construction at the time you plan to move in so you don't have a lot of work left to do once there and can build, move in, and take immediate advantage of the place.

But the main things are the plantings, and the water well.

Just my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hello Jerry,

Thanks for the comments. They were all good focus points.

Water is always a subject a subject near and dear to my heart, and it is at least my plan to find land that has a river, large creek/stream or spring.

I don't have anything tying me to any particular area, and a person limits themselves significantly without a steady source of water.

The cistern is definitely on the plan list, but I am hoping that I can avoid the well. Plans and requirements will probably change between now and when I ultimately plunk down money, and the well may become unavoidable.

Good comments on wood/trees and tree management. I plan to use wood for heating, etc., so I am planning to find a location that has a large percentage of wooded area. In your post, you focused on ash trees. I was planning for a mix, including ash trees. Can you expand further on why you focused on ash?

I have been gardening for about 5 years now and I plan to have a much larger garden once I move out of town. Even as little as I do now, it has been a learning experience. Some things I just stuck in the ground and they grew like crazy. I have been incredibly successful with strawberries. Other things that should have been easy stuff to grow has taken several years just to get a modest output. I think the point I am making here is (ideally), a person approaching retirement is not the ideal time to become a farmer. I have known one or two in real life and it takes a lot of smarts and know how, in addition to the (given) hard work.
 

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me and my brother spent a little over 4 years clearing and getting our family cabin built and the land ready for the families, we took the wood from the trees we cut down to help built our deck and frame of the house and any wood left over was used for fires. the cabins is a 3 bedroom with loft (with queen sized bed) wood burning fireplace, we will be installing solar panels and converter this summer. the cabin has two water sources a small creek with fish and a lake about 250 to 300 yards away and there is plenty of natural wildlife like rabbits, squirrels, deer and foxes for hunting. I have enough room to make a good sized garden for herbs and other stuff.
 

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Hello Jerry,

Thanks for the comments. They were all good focus points.

Good comments on wood/trees and tree management. I plan to use wood for heating, etc., so I am planning to find a location that has a large percentage of wooded area. In your post, you focused on ash trees. I was planning for a mix, including ash trees. Can you expand further on why you focused on ash?
I like ash for coppicing firewood for several reasons. It isn't really the highest rated for any of the factors I looked into, but it is very high on all of them. BTU content, high heat burn, low creosote, length of burn, ash production, moisture content, time to season, fresh cut burning characteristics, coppicing cycle, coppicing production rate.

Ash, I found, has about the best balance of all of these factors. Low moisture, can burn green, can dry in a single season, low ash production, hot fires, low creosote, good burn times, coppices well with a cutting cycle of 7 years or so, producing a cord per acre per year.

Normally I like a variety of things, rather than single crop situation, but I find introducing multi-breed coppicing to someone that isn't familiar with it complicates getting the benefits of it across. And personally, I would probably grow mixed breed coppicing woodlots myself.

Most likely I would add hickory/pecan, Live oak or white oak, and black walnut. Probably hickory and white oak. Just seems like a waste to have pecan and black walnut trees used for firewood when they can produce so much more as nut, lumber, and fine wood sources. Plus, they are much longer coppicing cycle, though both are good firewood. The live oak and white oak produce good acorns, which is a plus, but are long cycle regrowth, too.

By adding the hickory and white oak to the mix, you have some redundancy there you wouldn't otherwise, both are excellent firewood, and with the nuts they support a wide assortment of wild life.

If you have any other questions feel free to ask. I have quite a few ideas on what a well laid out, mostly self-sufficient homestead, can be.

Just my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Do post NO TRESPASSING signs at the proper spacing, otherwise you have no legal recourse for people coming on to your property.

Hello outside the box,

Thank you for your post.

You have breached a subject here that is worthy of a thread or three of its own.

I have a friend that lives in a suburb about 25 miles away from me. He has (or will have (inheritance)) 30 acres of wooded area that is inside the city limits. "People who would cause mischief" for lack of a better term have turned it into a 4x4 wonderland within city limits. They set bonfires, tear things up, leave beer bottles and other trash, etc.

He has spent a fortune in "no trespassing" signs and repairing fences. They keep tearing down the fence in various spots and take down the no trespassing signs, no matter how high get gets them in the trees.

Repeated calls to police and law enforcement fall on deaf ears. One time he flagged a cop down, and the cop told him that he would rather have all the riff raff out here than causing trouble somewhere else. If you have cops in your area that are worth anything, be thankful.

Sorry to go off on a rant, but I just feel sorry for my friend. He will ultimately probably end up selling of this particular tract of land off to developers, who will in turn, probably end up building apartments and strip mall(s) on it.

......

Back on topic, in my head at least, I am hoping to be far enough out that a stray hunter here and there is the worst I have to worry about. Who knows what the future will hold.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
[STUFF DELETED HERE]

If you have any other questions feel free to ask. I have quite a few ideas on what a well laid out, mostly self-sufficient homestead, can be.

Just my opinion.
Hello Jerry,

Thank you for your comments. Its an honor just to have your posts here in my thread.

I have gone through many of your stories, and I have pulled out a lot of good ideas and have stored them in a spreadsheet.

.........

I think that maybe I got a little wordy in my original post, and maybe that turned some people off.

In short, at some point in the future I will buy some land. Once that happens, I estimate that I will have 10-15 years between the purchase and when I take up permanent residence.

I kind of view that time like an IRA or similar. Its not as much as what you put into it that counts, but what that compounded time can do for you.

Trees, plants, etc. are the pretty obvious given.

I am hoping that this thread will generate comments from those who are already further ahead than me in acquiring property, and I can generate list(s) to maximize what I can do with said property.
 

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I understand. I do believe that one of the benefits in doing as much as possible early on is the much lower costs you will have when you do move in. Anything done within the next few years, will, unless the economy turns completely around, be much cheaper than doing the same things later on. You will get much more value now than you will later. And if something does happen that would prompt you to sell and go for something else, any improvements are going to make it much easier to sell the property, and should ensure a much higher price than you would get for unimproved land.

Since I haven't been able to swing anything myself, about the only other thing I can do is respond to questions, except post the list I've come up with for ideas for such a property. It is very high end in concept and much of it won't be applicable, but it might give you some ideas.

Just my opinion.
 

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I have been doing small things like fencing and barrier evergreen trees............. and putting 4 foot tall wire woven through the evergreens........ very effective because it is invisible yet wont let you through.......
 

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Even is you can't drill your well or build your septic system now, if your lot is size limited see if you can register the locations as they need to be certain distances from your neighbors and they could build one or either before you do yours and prevent the location you'd like.

You may want to get the soil tested for your future septic field as sometimes the soil is not right. Similarly you need to make sure you will have a sufficient source of potable water.
 

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Digging a well would be priority #1 for me. A creek or river can easily be contaminated, diverted or otherwise rendered useless. And it may be far more difficult/time consuming/expensive to dig a well later on. Do it now while you can.

Planting and grooming is a good idea. Grape vines or maple trees are often overlooked but very valuable, if they'll grow where you are.

Also, routinely thin brush to encourage healthy growth and reduce fire risk. This is an ongoing work in progress, but the sooner you start, the better.

Also, you can foster the growth/development of wild life. Bats, owls and native snakes are all good for pest/insect control. Breed some wild turkeys, and fish (if you are lucky enough to have a pond).
 

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TonyDedo -- I actually have found that the water that comes up in my sump (about 20 gallons a day) is completely potable (tested) and is coming from an underground spring.... so thankfully water is not an issue -- we may actually have to dispose of water at times so we don't end up with excess coming into the basement
 

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I'm sure you thought of this but in 15 years almost any area of this county can do a 180 .

Open land can all be devolved or turn into the new meth capital of the area and so on.

Choose wisely and hope for the best.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I'm sure you thought of this but in 15 years almost any area of this county can do a 180 .

Open land can all be devolved or turn into the new meth capital of the area and so on.

Choose wisely and hope for the best.
Hello third pig,

Thank you for your post.

And your comments are absolutely correct. There is no place that things couldn't turn around like you stated. However, I think that there are some places that are more likely than others that this could happen. Only time will tell.

I'm currently located in south central CONUS. I wouldn't be unhappy finding rural property here, but the only thing tying me to where I'm at is a job. In my much thinner youth, I was fine with any amount of heat, and no tolerance for cold. Now, many years later, and 25 pounds heavier, I could do with some cooler summers, possibly further up north.

(Planned) land goals are:

* partially forested land. Something bordering up against a national forest might be nice. I have seen many previous post where others have done this and came out well.

* I'm not looking for flat/farm land, but enough space to have a large garden shouldn't be too much to ask for.

* some water source bordering or running through the property. Where that might be a lake, river, large stream/creek.

Aside from these (3) things, and not tied down to any particular area, I feel that I am being pretty open. Aside from the expense, I continue to see issue after issue with rural folks on this site where their only water source is a well.

I don't think that these goals are unrealistic, although I am focusing on the water. If you think I need a reality adjustment with the water thing, please let me know.

Both me and my wife are pretty healthy. Both of our family histories going back a few generations reflect this also. If it was any other way, I might try to locate a place close to good medical support.

We are planning to be kind of remote, or at least that would be a plus in both of our books. My wife is a big ATV person, and we both have capable 4x4 vehicles for bad weather. We aren't necessarily at the "Happy Joe" level, in regards to having mudders or rock crawlers, but non-the-less, we have planned accordingly from the vehicle perspective.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Digging a well would be priority #1 for me. A creek or river can easily be contaminated, diverted or otherwise rendered useless. And it may be far more difficult/time consuming/expensive to dig a well later on. Do it now while you can.

Also, you can foster the growth/development of wild life. Bats, owls and native snakes are all good for pest/insect control. Breed some wild turkeys, and fish (if you are lucky enough to have a pond).
I guess I am just going to have to see what happens regarding the surface water thing. However, just the fact that surface water exist greatly improves the odds that wild game for food will be there, stay there and thrive.
 

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I have owned my ranch land in the Ozarks for 7 yrs now, while I continue to work my last few yrs in California.

The most important priorities for me were:
Access roads, water well, electrical power, and clearing brush and seedlings, restoring decent pasture grass.

Security is not possible until you live on site. The riff raff will steal any little thing they can for no reason at all.

I will be rebuilding the access road again next spring. We had 12" of rain one afternoon and much of my prior efforts washed into the creek. I suspect this will be an ongoing problem so I plan to buy my own dozer.

This also allows me to construct several bass ponds where I want them.

I plan to build the main shop building first so I will have lockable storage. Since my ranch is located on a soft dirt road, I will be moving my livestock, 5th wheel, and my household goods myself.

The nationwide moving companies I have contacted will not drive their semi directly to such a location, they would charge me big $ to transfer everything to a small two axel delivery truck. Similar story with the Pod companies who operate nationwide.

My response is to sell as much as possible and move the rest myself.
 

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...
* some water source bordering or running through the property. Where that might be a lake, river, large stream/creek.

...
This item here might cause you much heartache. If you buy land that is recreational in nature you can expect tons of trespassers. People and water go hand and hand. It takes a pretty remote roadless location before surface water features are somewhat devoid of people.

Springs or wet weather creeks are not near the problem. Ponds (so long as they are not the locals favorite fishing hole) work out ok also.
 
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