Finding Our Homestead

Oct 24, 2012 by

We are getting closer to living on our homestead full time. The next step? Actually finding and purchasing the right permanent property. We figure that may take a year or more, and I wanted to use our time here in the Northwoods most effectively by establishing a personal relationship with a regional real estate agent.

The Northwoods Shrouded In Fog

I’m a list-maker by nature, and a reader. I just finished reading Strategic Relocation by the Skousens, which reaffirms our choice of general location. It has some tips for things to look for in a retreat property (which we shall call our homestead), as do sites like What follows is my list of what we, the Wild River Rogues, are looking for in a retreat location. I wrote it out on paper to both put my thoughts down firmly and get feedback from our group, and to share with a trusted local real estate agent. A strong relationship with your real estate agent can not be overstated, and the more specific you can be with them about what you are looking for, the more they can help you.

Non-Negotiable “Must Haves”

  • A year-round water source on the property (lake, pond, river, stream, brook or spring) or on public land within 100 yards.
  • 3 acre minimum.
  • NOT on a main road. Prefer a side road off a side road.
  • Minimum of 3 miles outside of a town.
  • Flexible zoning for 2+ residences, a hobby farm and property improvements without a billion odd permits required.
  • Max price of 120k with buildings, prefer 70-90k.
Rivers And Valleys in the Northwoods

There are beautiful waterways sprinkled all throughout the region. Our homestead will be alongside one (and not alongside a major roadway, like this otherwise stunning property was).

Strongly Preferred “Would Likes”

  • A habitable building of at least 500 sq feet.
  • A basement.
  • 5-80 acres, part open field, part wooded with arable soil.
  • A high capacity well.
  • Adjacent to public lands (and not adjacent to popular recreational trails).
  • Electric, water, sewer/septic are nice, but all negotiable.
  • Preferred minimum of 5 miles outside of towns of 1,000 and a minimum of 30 miles from towns of 6,000. 
  • Honorable neighbors.

Just Icing On the Cake

  • An outhouse.
  • A hand-pump well.
  • Some elevation (e.g. a hill, a valley, some ravines).
  • Existing outbuildings (e.g. chicken coop, barn, shed, etc.)
  • Mature fruit/nut trees or berries.

There are some less tangible things that are much harder to put to paper, and harder yet to explain to a real estate agent (nor would it be advisable to try), like whether a property is in a defensible location, whether the local politics are prepper friendly and whether the local religious and social climate is suitable for your group/family. Some things you can look up on your own, like gun laws and homeschooling rights. Others you just have to spend some time with your feet on the ground and find out.

It is almost Winter here, which is a notoriously bad time to look at property, and that is ok. We have a temporary place in the Northwoods that isn’t ideal, but it’ll do until we find the right homestead. We are going to take it slow and make sure we find the best property we can, as we intend for it to become the primary residence of at least 3 of our family groups.

But for now, we have made a list, met with our agent and started the search.

Your feedback on this is welcomed – do you have any advice or thoughts on retreat selection you would like to share?

~ Sandy Taylor


  1. Dairy

    Hi Sandy, That is a beautiful part of the northwoods your looking to settle down in. It will be fun to follow your progress to completion and wish you all well.

    • Thank you Dairy. It was an outstanding visit, and I feel so much more… at peace, just being close to the woods again. 🙂

      ~ Sandy Taylor

  2. Hemlock

    Great list. A couple others I have on mine.
    I would do a little digging to see if its sand, clay, gravel. Its always nice to grow things without needing to fix the soil.
    Another item that I just added to my list. Find out if a pipeline runs nearby. I just saw an article about Jackson WI a gasoline pipeline burst and contaminated wells all around the area.
    Best of luck in your search.

    • Thanks Hemlock – I’ve updated the land section to include arable soil. That was on my mental list, but it needed to be written down. If only there were MLS categories for all of the above!

      ~ Sandy Taylor

  3. Dairy

    Hey Sandy,

    How goes the search? Things have been quiet this month on your site. Hope you are getting settled and all is well.


  4. Margaret

    In terms of a reputable real estate agent, next time I buy property I am only working with an agent who understands the securitization of mortgages and the mess MERS on the loan as beneficiary throws your ‘title’ into. I want an agent who will fight the title company to keep all references to MERS out of my loan/title documents. Here in Oregon a great organization Project REconomy is fighting for homeowners to get clear title. They can refer you to reputable agents with integrity who know the issues. Good luck!

  5. Must have got lost…how you doing Rogues?

  6. Heya! We’re still here. Been adjusting to life in a new town – gonna pop back up out of the wood work any moment now! 🙂

  7. Nice to hear you are still going….thought you may have gone dark. Catch up with you when you climb out of the woodwork…:-)

  8. Justin Lock

    That is a very nice list.

    I am in the process of trying to find my own homestead as well. I was thinking that I wanted to be as far from civilization as possible, but the thought that I would have to make the occasional trip to resupply made me reconsider my choices.

    Thanks for the great article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *