My wife and I recently became landowners. After several years of searching for the ideal piece of property, we found sixteen acres in Ashville, Alabama. It was the perfect balance of features, location, price and potential. Getting to this point was not an easy road. We began as complete amateurs with no clear vision of what we wanted, and no idea of what our needs really were. The process was quite an education.
As we begin the next phase of our lives shaping our little patch of heaven into something useful, I thought it might be helpful to share some of what we learned along the way. We are not farmers or real estate developers. We’re not hippies or eco-warriors. We’re just a family of four in Alabama who was bitten by the bug to own land and build something meaningful and lasting.
If you’re going to delve into our story, you would probably be interested to know a little bit about who we are, but first, I’ll start with who we aren’t:
- Organic Food Advocates – While the process has taught us a lot about gardening and live stock, we don’t really buy into to whole “Organic” food craze. “Organic” has become little more than a trendy marketing buzzword. I’m not personally convinced that there is any difference between food labeled “organic” and the other stuff because it’s all coming from the same corporate monoculture producers. However, I do believe that food produced from polyculture/permaculture models is better tasting and better for you, so we intend to grow what we can along the way. Leigh and I are both hopelessly addicted to Diet Coke and Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
- Environmentalist Whackos – The organized Green movement has less to do with the environment than with Marxist ideology, mainly re-distribution of wealth. Earth Day is celebrated on Karl Marx’s birthday for goodness sake! That’s not a coincidence. I do believe in the idea of sustainability as defined by most permies, but not as the globalist UN machine defines it. There’s a simple selfish motivation behind my idea of sustainability: I worked my butt off to own a piece of land, and I’ll be danged if I’m going to ruin it with practices that are unsustainable.
- Vegetarians – Vegetables are condiments. Meat’s a meal. Scripture is clear to me that we were given dominion over the animals, and man is made to eat meat, among other things. However, I also believe Scripture is equally clear that we shouldn’t go about it in an inhumane way. The way meat is commercially produced today is abhorrent and disgusting. Google “fecal chicken soup” if you need a little help with this one. I eat mass-produced meat because I have no other options at this point. Part of our long term goal is to be less reliant on the commercial meat industry if we can.
What we are:
- Bible-Believing Christians – We believe the Scriptures are the inerrant Word of God, creator of heaven and earth. Yeah, we’re those guys.
- Capitalists – Each man should be rewarded for his work, and his property is no man’s but his own. A true free market is the least flawed system of commerce available to us while we’re on this Earth.
- Business Owners – Fifteen years ago, Leigh and I were founding owners of a small business in the technology sector that does work all over the country and employs about ten people. Leigh has a graduate degree in accounting from Notre Dame, and I attended the school of hard knocks. We both got great educations!
- Parents – We’ve got two young children – a 9yo girl and a 6yo boy. We homeschool, which gives us tons of time with them and loads of opportunities to explore the world with our children.
- Beginners – We’re learning as we go.
Buying Rural Land in Alabama
Buying land was a really intimidating prospect for us. We both grew up in the suburbs on small residential lots. While there is some farming background in my family line, I was pretty far removed from all things rural. We were clueless at how to even begin, but we dug in and started asking questions. I searched the internet. I questioned family and friends. I got more than a few strange looks from land brokers and extension agents along the way. In the end we learned so much that the process would probably be a breeze if we were to do it again.
So I asked myself, “If you were starting from scratch, what would you need to know about buying rural land in Alabama?” This article is the answer to that question.
I’ll post each part as I complete them over the coming days. The article will be divided into the following main topics:
- Finding Property – Time is limited. How do you weed through the prospects?
- Walking the Property- Let’s go see the property. What are you looking for?
- Due Diligence – This one may be the one. What could you be missing?
- Negotiating the Offer – This one is the one. How do you get the best deal?
I hope that the information can help you. Whether you find it useful or not, please make sure to comment, so I’ll know if this effort is a complete waste of my time!