How to get free land and (nearly) free houses in the United States

BY Marshall Brain / POSTED December 2, 2010
Hammerbrook - City can this really be true?
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The economy is tough right now. Unemployment is persistently high. Jobs are hard to find.

What if you want to start over, sort of like the homesteaders of the 1800s? You stake your claim to free land and create your life from scratch.

It can be done today in two different ways. This article points out that there are towns giving away free land:

7 Towns Where Land is Free

Do you get 40 acres? No. But free is free, and the best on the list may be this one:

Homestead Act 2010

The City of Beatrice currently has three residential lots available. The lots are approximately 83 feet wide and 140 feet deep. The lots are located on the west side of Beatrice. They are within the City limits. The lots all have access to a street, water, sewer, and electricity. There are no buildings on the lots. If you fulfill all of the terms and conditions of the contract you will receive the land at no cost from the City.

Beatrice is a reasonably sized small town and is fairly close to major cities:

[googlemaps http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Beatrice,+NE&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=51.089971,56.601563&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Beatrice,+Gage,+Nebraska&t=h&ll=40.268055,-96.74697&spn=0.022922,0.036478&z=14&iwloc=A&output=embed&w=425&h=350]

If you read through the terms and conditions, you will not be able to build a sod house. But, again, free is free.

If you don’t want to build a house on a lot, what about buying a house that is nearly free? I tried this search at Realtor.com: Detroit houses between $0 and $10,000:

Search Results – Detroit, MI Real Estate and Homes for Sale – $0 to $10,000

I am seeing 1,600 homes that fall into that category. Try it in other cities. You may be surprised.

What did homesteading look like 140 years ago? This video includes summarized instructions for building a sod house.

What does homesteading look like today? This could easily be done on any suburban lot:

This page describes the original homesteading act:

Homesteading

In 1862, Congress passed the revolutionary Homestead Act that sent thousands of Americans west in pursuit of free land. Any man 21 years of age or over was eligible to stake out 160 acres of land for less than $20. After filing their intentions, homesteaders were required to live on the land, build a residence, and farm at least 10% of it within five years before a legal patent for the land was issued. After Alaska was purchased by the U.S., homesteaders began claiming land in Alaska. Homesteaders ranged from dairy and agricultural farmers to miners and wilderness pioneers living a subsistence lifestyle. Though homesteading in most of the U.S. began to rapidly diminish in the early 20th century, it remained a viable method of settling Alaska. The Homestead Act was finally repealed in 1976, though Alaska was granted an extension until 1986. In its 114 active years, 10% of U.S. land was settled under the act, including significant portions of Alaska.

See also:
- Need a new hobby? Need extra income? Want to be the ultimate locavore? Consider urban farming
- How to keep chickens in your backyard and have fresh eggs every day

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