Free land?
January 26, 2010 2:41 PM   Subscribe

How legitimate are the offers of free land from Western towns? Has anyone taken up one of these offers (or do you know someone who has)?

I know that the government no longer gives away land through any sort of Homestead Act, but I've read about some empty Western towns who would trade you enough land to build a house on in exchange for coming to live there and bringing a business with you. Sort of a grow-the-community thing. Not great land, and it would be in the middle of nowhere where they have trouble attracting newcomers.
I'm wary of the scammy "claim your free land" type deals that came up when I tried to find out more about these deals, and I know homesteading is dead, but some of these offers seems reasonable, especially for people with secure work-from-home jobs who want to own a house. Does anyone have any direct/indirect experience with them?
posted by ollyolly to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I have read this question.
posted by ollyolly at 2:42 PM on January 26, 2010

One thing to keep in mind is that if you work from home and need internet, you might not be able to have much of a connection in a lot of these places,
posted by youcancallmeal at 2:45 PM on January 26, 2010

One thing to keep in mind is that if you work from home and need internet, you might not be able to have much of a connection in a lot of these places,
posted by youcancallmeal at 5:45 PM on January 26 [+] [!]

never a truer word has been said. you'd be astonished how many places within 30 miles of civilization are still only served by dialup or satellite, neither of which is an option if you use a vpn or have serious expectations of telecommuting or using the real interwebs.

speaking as someone who learned the hard way - 20 miles from one of the largest public universities in the yewnited states may as well be on the moon, if bellsouth isn't ready to wire it up.
posted by toodleydoodley at 4:36 PM on January 26, 2010

I am 17km from the nearest town (in Canada) and totally reliant on point-to-point wireless, which bounces off my neighbor's grain silo, thence to a radio mast on the highway, thence to the water tower by the lake where it finally goes to a land line.


I also have 3G via iPhone tethering, which is a good back up but you may not be so lucky.
posted by unSane at 8:41 PM on January 26, 2010

Legit and more common than is likely known.

I know folks who did this in North Dakota (NODAK) and as soon as the time was (contracted business/residency requirement) moved - to another friendlier town down the highway. Many small towns in this country are filled with people who have been left behind on many levels, and conservative doesn't even capture the sad and impoverished desperate drama of these places. Other places are idyllic and charming, but remember these are small places with few people, so there isn't some other scene or a different school for the kids to attend.

Typically you don't need to build a joint, most of these places have many old abandoned buildings in their downtown core and many more neglected farm houses. I would suggest that a great many communities have surprisingly aggressive incentives to encourage someone to land in the their town and fix up one of their downtown shops - thats what my friends did and it worked pretty good. Apart from the cranky locals that is.

Additionally, after the big oil find - NODAK is filling back up with people and cash, so you'll be part of an influx of folks, the downside is that is not super cheap anymore. The first question you'll get in a small town is: "whacha doing here?" and the second is "where ya from?" the only variation is the accent.

On the DSL point - its not a total wasteland up in NODAK, companies like SRT, which is a telecom COOP (ie commies!) are providing great dsl access with their own copper to small towns all over.
posted by zenon at 10:15 PM on January 26, 2010

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