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Can you live on vacant land?

May 12, 2020 Land For Sale

Can you live on vacant land?

For such a simple question, the answer doesn't follow suit.  Overall, the answer is maybe, depending on several factors.  Before you buy land intending to live on it, you need to do some research.  Start by assessing the overall value of the vacant land and any property or surrounding features. Next, you should also understand what type of dwelling you are going to be living in, and how you will get water and power. It is wise to do background research on the local zoning requirements on vacant land and how it applies to your property.


For starters, what are you going to be living in? It is legal to live in an assortment of structures from RVs to homes.  Your home can be made in a variety of ways as well, from log cabins or shipping containers to brick and mortar. The law may be different depending on where you live, so check with the local laws. The thing to remember is that more likely than not, and it will be illegal to "camp" on your property for more than a couple weeks.  If you're lucky enough to live somewhere, you can camp for longer, and you may need to apply for a camping permit to do so.  If you do plan to build something, basically everywhere in the US, you will need to get a building permit for it to be considered legal.  When applying for a building permit, your local city or county will base its approval on an assortment of factors—these range from the minimum square footage to minimum lot size.


Another consideration before starting to live on a property is to figure out how you will receive utilities in that local jurisdiction.  You may have a dream of buying land, installing solar panels, and living off the grid, but that is also illegal in many places.  To live somewhere and even get a building permit, you will need access to electricity, water, and a way to discharge wastewater.  This could be as easy as having access to street power, a well, and a septic tank, but it could be more difficult.  Understand the costs and rules associated with each when looking at property to buy.  Even if you just plan to hunt on the property, having easy access to these items could make your life easier and more comfortable.


The last thing, and one that could ruin all of your plans, is the zoning requirements for the property.  Every county and city predetermines the activities each property is licensed for use.  If you buy a commercial property, it may be illegal to build a home and live on it.  If this is the case, there's no point in trying to get any sort of living situation approved.  If you already own the land, and you find yourself in this situation, you do have some options, as long as your heart isn't set on that particular property.  Commercial property is usually worth more than residential property.  It also has more investment opportunities so you can either sell it and buy more land, or use it to fund the new land purchase.  Just be sure the next property has the correct zoning to allow you to live on it.


It is not uncommon for Americans to have the dream of buying some property and living on it.  Make sure to do your homework and understand local laws. Check building permit requirements, think about how you will obtain utilities and know the zoning of any property that strikes your interest.