Questions and thoughts about buying land

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by Xtina, Apr 10, 2012.

  1. Xtina

    Xtina Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    Hi all! It's been a while since I've been to the BYC and I'm liking the new site redesign!

    My thoughts today are centered on buying land, and there have been questions rattling around in my head for quite a long time, mostly about land zoning and also land costs. The thing that has been puzzling me is an event I remember from a trip I took during my teenage years to Greece, where my uncle, who lived in a tiny condo in a big city, took me to see a small parcel of land he owned for his gardening. It was just outside the city - not a far drive at all. Close enough to visit a few times a week after work and not feel burdened by the commute. The lot was small, probably a quarter acre to a half acre and he had made it into sort of a food forest, with fruit and olive trees and I don't remember what else.

    I've been wanting to expand my gardening horizons for a long time. But I live in Portland and I like my urban lifestyle. I'd love to have a plot of land that I could easily drive to, but when I look at vacant lot listings close-in, they are all zoned residential and I don't know if it's legal to use them for a garden. They are also expensive.

    If I look further out, land is more affordable, but then it comes with all kinds of other details. Like, if I can find something vacant, that's not residential zoned, there's always some big warning label, like "BUYER TO DO OWN DILIGENCE," "contact county courthouse for land use," "not a buildable lot," "no utilities!" or something of that nature. I really don't want it to be this complicated to get a bigger garden and to maybe put a shed or a camping cabin on there. Even a cob house. I don't want to run afoul of any regulations, but honestly just finding out what the regulations are seems to be a bit outside my skill set. I have no idea where to look.

    If I had my wish, I'd get a quarter acre on Sauvie Island, which is just a 15 minute drive from my house. It would cost less than $20,000 (is $80,000 an acre around here really too inexpensive to hope for???), and I'd be able to put in a well or build a greenhouse if I wanted. Obviously, anyone from here who knows about this would be helpful, but I'm also interested in what people around the nation have to say. Is it ever possible to just buy an empty lot anywhere you want and use it for your personal garden? If so, can you put goats or chickens or rabbits on it? Does anyone have any stories of doing this that they'd like to share? I'm all ears!

    I should also ask: where do you guys search for land? I go to Landwatch and Craigslist and a local realtor's website. But each has drawbacks and I just can't find what I'm looking for.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012
  2. Mattemma

    Mattemma Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 12, 2009
    If I were looking for just land I would check the county auditor tax page.It would list what a lot is zoned for. You could stop by the zoning office for this too,and also be able to inquire on being able to get(if needed) a permit to drill as well.Find out about putting a shed up.If the shed is small enough you often need no permit.Would be good to have it for your stuff.

    I think wells like spetics need to be a certain distance from a property line.Another big thing is the lot line locations.You might have to pay a surveyor to mark it out even before you buy it.In the least get a boundary survey.A mortgage survey just goes by records and will not really hold up in court.Need to know those lines,and don't take anyones word for it.
  3. hooadefender

    hooadefender Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 14, 2012
    ely, vt
    zoneing isnt a big issue most towns have a clause for agriculture when your looking into it just stop by the town hall and talk to the zoning administrator they will be able to help alot. in our town if the princaple use for a plot of land is ag your dont even need to apply for building permits the ZA will be able to help you out greatly
  4. Yetti

    Yetti Chillin' With My Peeps

  5. BlackBrookPoultry

    BlackBrookPoultry Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 15, 2010
    Western Wisconsin
    $80,000 an acre! I could be a billionaire if prices ever got that high here. Lol!
  6. chickened

    chickened Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 2, 2010
    western Oregon
    Check the county auctions for land. A lot of times they are non buildable and small plots.
  7. Xtina

    Xtina Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2008
    Portland, Oregon
    Thanks for all the responses guys! I only got notification of one and I thought that the thread was DOA.

    So, I was sort of exaggerating when I said $80,000 an acre, but sort of not. I just figure I can't find any quarter acre parcel of land anywhere near my house for less than $20,000, which would turn out to be $80k if it were multiplied out. But there just aren't available parcels of land in a place where people want to live (like Portland), so it's kind of an unfair way to assess value. People just don't sell tiny parcels for personal gardening use.

    Anyway, thanks for the info. This is sort of a half-baked idea of mine, but one that I very much wish could be a reality. Who doesn't want the ideal combination of city and country life? My family in Greece have this because their land values were different there, but here it just doesn't seem to be possible.

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