BY: DANIEL KORN
My generation is faced with an unparalleled financial crisis. Real estate costs are on the rise—a detached home in Toronto now has an average cost of just over a million bucks—at the same time that we’re projected to be the first generation who makes less money than our parents. As such, home ownership is a distant dream for most of us—a desert mirage that disappears the closer we get to grasping it.
It’s enough to make you want to give up the idea of urban living altogether and go for something a little bit more rural. Making the switch easier is the fact that there are several places in the United States where you can get homestead-appropriate land for the low price of, well, completely free.
Now, keep in mind that this doesn’t equal a free house—in fact, a lot of these come with stipulations that require you to build a house on the land with your own cash. You should also be aware that these places are typically “growing communities,” which means that there won’t be many other people around, and you may have to do without modern conveniences like, say, a gas station. But hey, you won’t have to pay property taxes, and you’ll be living off the grid, often surrounded by nature. Not a bad deal for a certain type of person.
The Marne Housing and Development Corporation has three lots available for free, to be used as residential space only. So long as you’re building a house that’s at least 1200 square feet and aren’t raising any livestock, you’re golden.
Many small towns in Kansas offer lots for free, including Atwood, Marquette, and Lincoln. Each town has its own requirements and application processes vary, but all focus on building up their small communities.
Muskegon is a bit different than the other places mentioned here, as it’s actually looking for job creation rather than higher population. A program called “Muskegon 25” rewards new and existing industrial businesses in certain “industrial parks” for creating 25 or more full-time jobs. Qualified businesses will receive a certain number of acres of free industrial property based on how many jobs they create, have their state, local property, and income taxes waived, and receive reduced water and sewer costs. As a kitschy added perk, “businesses”—which here must mean the CEO—will also get a free boat slip or season hockey tickets at the local arena.