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Any school child is likely to be familiar with the Oklahoma Land Rush. This event occurred in 1889 and allowed new settlers to claim free land to set up homes, farms, and businesses. However, you may not be aware that there is still free land up for grabs today.
Here I will help you to discover where you can find free land and what the requirements are to qualify.
Is There Still Free Land in America?
First, a little history, the Homestead Act became law on May 20, 1862. This was necessary because settlement was necessary primarily in the western regions of the U.S. Essentially, the Homestead Act allowed an American citizen to file a claim. This was for territory up to 160 acres in size for free. This allowed many small scale farmers to build a home and business.
At the conclusion of the Civil War, there were around 15,000 homestead claims made. This increased later. The U.S. government went on to approve more than 1.6 million land claims. This totalled up to 420,000 square miles or around 10% of U.S. government managed land.
During the initial period of the Homestead Act, it dealt with around 200 million acres of land. The final approved land claim was processed back in 1988. It was for around 80 acres of land that was located in Alaska. But, if you’re not keen on free land in Alaska, there are many other opportunities.
The Homestead Act of 1862 has now been dissolved. You may be surprised to learn that there are states and provinces all over North America that have free land for homesteaders.
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How to Get Free Land?
As I will detail below, there are lots of places where you can get free land. To get your hands on some free land, you will need to take some steps.
- Research the options: There is no point in moving to a town or state where you will be unable to work. Likewise if you don’t have access to the resources you need. So, do your research.
- Check the requirements: Each land grant comes with its own set of requirements. So, you will need to check the individual requirements to ensure that you can meet them.
- Contact the administrator: If you’re confident that you can meet the requirements and you would be happy to live in the area, contact the administrator to get the ball rolling.
Places to Find Free Land
1. Marquette, Kansas
Marquette is a peaceful town located in the heartland of America. If you want a great place to raise your family, this may be an ideal place. The town has a very laid back vibe. Lush rolling fields and beautiful views, surround the area, especially at sunset.
Another key benefit is that Marquette has a fantastic school system and surbanan development style. If you want some free homestead land in the town, you need to start your home building within 180 days of the acquisition. The home must be complete within a year, and it must meet local occupancy and design standards.
2. Lincoln, Kansas
Lincoln is another picturesque town located in the center of Kansas around an hour’s drive from Witchita. The population of Lincoln is 3,500 and there are plenty of green rolling hills. For at least a decade, the Lincoln government has been trying to entice new people to move to the area by offering tax incentives.
There is a lot to like about Lincoln. It has a quaint downtown area, a relaxing pace and the people are friendly. There are many suburban lots available and some of them are located near the Lincoln baseball field. There is also plenty to do in the area. There’s a golf course nearby and a pair of major shopping malls. The utilities are in place, the streets, curbs, gutters are all complete. All that’s necesary is new homes that meet the local residential requirements.
3. Osborne, Kansas
Osborne is the third and final Kansas town on our list. The state is a popular choice when people search “how to get free land” as a topic. The town offers free land for commercial and residential users. There are also business incentives and low-interest loans. The local government is committed to boosting local economic activity and increasing the population.
If you have an interest in free land in Osborne, you need a $500 deposit. This is returned when your new home is complete. Every new home must be complete within 12 months to qualify, and you need to move in within two years. Each new home on free land must be at least 1,400 sq, ft. in size.
4. La Villa, Texas
If you’ve always liked the idea of living in Texas and you’re looking for free land, maybe La Villa is your ideal location. This is an attractive and sleepy town is Southern Texas. It currently has 91 residential building plots available for new residents.
The land is available for free, but as a home builder you will need to pay the property taxes. A 5 year lien attaches the lot. If you sell the land during that period, you’re liable to pay the local government the value of the property. La Villa also has income requirements in place for prospective free land recipients.
5. Flagler, Colorado
Flagler, Colorado, is an attractive town located to the east of Denver with peaceful neighborhoods and great schools. At the moment, the local government has 480 acres of free land available for commercial development. The exact size of the land that you can get will vary depending on the number of new jobs that you can bring to the town.
6. Elwood, Nebraska
Elwood is a quaint village located in the southern area of Nebraska. It has a charming ArtDeco courthouse and wonderful local stores with an authentic feel. The village currently has free land available for residential building, and a $500 deposit is needed to get the deed.
All new homes built under this program must be at least 1,400 sq. ft. in size. All construction must be on a foundation. If you want to escape to a wonderful village with a real old-fashioned appeal, take a look at Elwood, Nebraska.
7. Beatrice, Nebraska
One of the interesting facts about Beatrice, Nebraska, is that it actually has it’s own Homestead Act!
This is known as the Homestead Act of 2010. The law was enacted to replace the now defunct homesteading legislation for land in the local area. You can obtain free land in Beatrice if you intend to build your home in accordance with certain conditions.
Beatrice is a lovely city with a population of 12,000 people. It’s located 40 miles south of Lincoln, which I mentioned earlier in this article. In recent years Beatrice has undergone a facelift to improve the city There are new benched, flower gardens, and a wonderful park to enjoy.
8. New Richland, Minnesota
New Richland, Minnesota is a small town with plenty of activities to keep outdoors orientated people busy. There is a great bike trail, a large lake, and an extensive golf course. This is a rural farming settlement with a brand new suburb that needs new homes, and you can get a free lot. The primary condition is that you need to build your new home within a year.
This is from the time when you acquired the land title. This is a great place to raise a family, and the local high school football program is well regarded.
9. Marne, Iowa
In recent decades there has been a significant decline in the number of smaller family run farms and businesses in the southwestern area of Iowa.
One of the most affected areas has been the small town of Marne, which has suffered a dramatic population reduction. The town is making efforts to grow, and they want to attract new residents with some wonderful suburban lots.
The area really is lovely with green grass and shady trees framing the entire area. Marne would be a great place to put down roots. You could raise a family away from the hustle and bustle of a larger town or city.
10. Buffalo, New York
All of the free land opportunities that I’ve covered up to this point have been in villages and smaller rural towns. But, what if you enjoy city living? If you want to continue living in a city, take a look at the Urban Homestead Program. This is running in Buffalo, New York.
This program has been designed to regenerate areas in the city in accordance with the Urban Renewal Areas project. The process of getting free land is a little more complicated than any of the other areas I have mentioned in this article.
Firstly, each lot included in the program cannot be intended for public use. A buyer cannot be intending to purchase the property. Secondly, if a buyer is found for a lot, this will take precedence over any plans to engage in homesteading.
One of the best things about this program is that you only need to put down a single dollar to get started. You’ll then need to pay the closing costs to qualify. The free land program is part of the Rehabilitation of Existing Residential Structures. This is great if you find an existing property within the eligible area. You could remodel it as your primary home. Investors are encouraged to use the free land program to create housing for low to moderate income families.
In order to qualify for this free land program, you must have an interior inspection conducted on your property. Each applicant must have $5,000 on hand and prove that the money can be accessed immediately. The city inspector must be shown rehabilitation plans for the property and proof of finances to handle the costs of rehabilitation.
11. Curtis, Nebraska
The Curtis, Nebraska website has named the Arrowhead Meadows Golf Course as “Nebraska’s best kept secret”. This may seem hyperbolic, but free plots of land are available on the local nine hole golf course.
This would seem to be a dream location for golf enthusiasts. The only stipulation is that the home must be completed within a set timeframe. All of the free lots are available on paved streets, and the utilities are already connected.
12. Camden, Maine
Camden, Maine is a wonderful coastal town to live in and take vacations. But they are struggling to find permanent residents. At the moment, you can get a 3 acre plot of commercial building land for free. The condition is you need to start a profitable business within a 5 year period. This is a risky proposition because the prospective business owners needs to pay $175,000 in advance! This fee is reimbursed if the business owner can create at least 24 new jobs within the 5 year window.
This is the least attractive option on our list. It should come as no surprise that this offer has been in place since 2010 with no takers.