Wednesday, July 23, 2014

How We Chose The Land We Bought

J Farms asked via email, "How did you decide to buy the particular piece of land for your homestead farm?" 

There were a lot of criteria that the land had to fit before we would have considered it. 

1- We wanted something at least 8-10 acres. More was fine, but less was not. Our farm is 20 acres, so that fit the bill. We had lived comfortably on 7 acres before, so from experience we knew that we wanted about that or more. To be truthful, hubby could have been happy in a condo, but I wanted to farm. 
2- We wanted to be away from the highway. Our place is about one mile above the highway, which turns out to be ok enough. 2 miles would have been better in order to eliminate all highway noise, but we can live with what we've got just fine.
3- It needed to be within a 30 minute drive from a town for basic shopping, banking, medical, restaurant, gasoline, and farmers market. Turns out that we are 10 minutes from town. 
4- Big trees. Not a stringent requirement, but it was a significant bonus that the property had lots of tall trees. Hubby likes trees to look at. I like trees to utilize, besides look at. 
5- Affordable real estate taxes. A must! Planning on being retired, we had to be able to afford to pay the taxes. 
6- Privacy. The more private, the better. Although we are within a few hundred feet of our neighbors, the land offers privacy due to trees and terrain. Our privacy is important to us. 
7- Unrestricted fee simple title. We did not want leasehold land. And no covenants and restrictions. 
8- Unimpeded access. A paved road wasn't a requirement, but we wanted to be able to reach our land without too much difficulty. When we purchased our homestead site, the road was gravel/cinder. It has since been paved. Unpaved was fine by us. 
9- At the time we were looking for land we wanted access to electricity, telephone, and county water. Our land had none at the time we purchased it but the ability was there to acquire them. But since then, we have no desire to hook into the power grid nor hook up to county water. And we've ditched the land line since it cannot provide us with high speed Internet. Dial up is just not acceptable. 
10- Had to be in a low crime area.
11- Had to get adequate rainfall. The area of the homestead farm is always green even during drought years. Average annual rainfall is 60-80". 
12- Had to be suitable for agriculture, especially vegetable production. This particular piece of land turned out to be a guess on our part, but it panned out. Veggies, fruits, and pasture all do well on this land. Drainage is decent. Has enough soil to work with. Temperature range is good for most crops. Amount of sun is adequate. And very important to us, the soil wasn't contaminated by previous owners. Old sugar cane land is notorious for chemical contamination. Any previous crop growing is suspect for chemical residues. Our land had been cattle pasture as far back as the locals could recall. Rumor has it that Kahuku Ranch used it for horses way back. Since I sometimes dig up old style horse shoes, there may be truth in that rumor. 
13- Had to have decent neighbors. Every neighbor we met seemed fine. Perhaps odd, a bit crazy, or downright loony, but all pretty much ok. 
14- The neighborhood had to be halfway decent looking. No line up of junk cars, no mountains of trash. I don't mind stuff laying around, but the abandoned junkyards that we saw over in Puna just weren't our cup of tea. By contrast, we really weren't interested in having one of those ultra compulsive landscaping types next door. They surely wouldn't be happy with my casual farm style, so no need in making enemies from the get-go. Turns out that one next door neighbor was a compulsive lawn mowerer, but he never held it against us that our front field wasn't kept neatly shorn. We hit it off fine and spent many a visit shooting the breeze for hours. 
15- Had to be buildable. We looked at some parcels where we would not be able to build a house, or place the house in the spot we considered acceptable. We wanted no hurdles to have to battle and conquer. 
16- Had to be a location that wasn't going to have adverse changes in the near future. We didn't want to move then discover that a sewage treatment plant was scheduled for next door, or that a highway was planned to go through the center of the land. 
17- We had to be able to buy it and have any loan paid off within 3 years. As a pledge to ourselves, we needed to be debt free in order to move here. We knew that having any outstanding debts would jeopardize our ability to successfully make the transition. By having the seller hold the mortgage, liquidating all our assets, working as many hours possible prior to moving, we were able to achieve this, just barely making our deadline. We looked at plenty of properties that fit all the other criteria except this one. Some were absolutely marvelous pieces. But alas they were beyond what we could afford and still make our moving date target. 
18- And finally, it had to be in Ka'u. This is the spot that we liked the best that was in the affordable range. 

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