The idea of a “free land from the government” meme is one I hear once every couple of years. Usually I file the idea under the “tin foil hat” category in my mind, along with the list of other crazy schemes I cook up, whose extent perhaps only Jimbo is aware of. Anyway, I encountered a reference to getting free land once again in an article at GetRichSlowly, and thought, why not? Why is it so implausible that Uncle Sam would give you free land? God knows he hands out enough other entitlements. So I turned to my old trusty friend, T3h G00gl3s, to find out the truth once and for all if one can actually get government land for free.
The first article I read, No Cheap or Free Government Land at About.com, was pretty discouraging.
No matter what you may have heard or read, there is no such thing as “free land from the government.” There is no federal homesteading program and public land the government does sell is sold only at market value.
Ouch. Well, I wasn’t quite ready to give up hope yet. The GetRichSlowly article referred to Kansas, so I figured, even if the Federal government wasn’t giving land away, maybe state or county governments were.
“It’s good to own land.” [Stewie Griffin]
So another search led me to KansasFreeLand.com, which got me excited. Looks like we’ve hit paydirt! The site linked to several county/local Web sites in Kansas which are apparently offering free land. I clicked on to one of them: Discover Osborne.com. Sure enough, there was a link to a “get free land” application for the City of Osborne. Of course, the program has restrictions (but what government entitlement program doesn’t?):
The City of Osborne is excited to offer no cost residential housing lots in the Sunset Addition, north of Main Street. To be eligible for these lots, you must fill out this application for review by the City of Osborne. Once the application is completed and returned, the applicant will be required to meet with the City to form an agreement. Once the agreement is signed, construction may begin within the timeframe designated in the agreement.
Rather than summarize each of the cities’/counties’ programs, I suggest you just check out the Web site yourself: Kansas Free Land.com. You can also read more about getting free land in Kansas in this CNN article, or skip to the end of this article for even more resources.
There’s a Reason It’s Free, Right?
You’re not going to get free land from the government in Manhattan. Or in Boston. Or in LA, Chicago, Miami, Key West, or even Columbus, Ohio. Normally local or state tax breaks (well, free land isn’t a tax break, but it’s the same principle) are given by areas with depressed economies and job markets. Think about it: if they’re bribing people to move to a certain place, that means demand to live in that place must be pretty low.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad place to live. The article at GetRichSlowly which I referenced in the introduction discusses at length why it may actually make sense to live in Kansas. And before you make fun, or claim that a lower salary in another state would more than cancel out the cost of living decrease, please read about the top 10 most hated financial tips at FreeMoneyFinance:
1. Moving to a lower cost-of-living city — This one really puzzles me. Not only is it that people don’t like this idea, but they REALLY don’t like it. As in “you’re the stupidest financial blogger ever” sort of don’t like it. But what do I care? I still have my day job.
It must be the fact that, in general, people love where they live. They like the area of the country, their job, and the fact that they have family nearby.
However, if you move from a high cost-of-living city to a lower cost-of-living city, you can literally save MILLIONS over the course of your lifetime. And yes, that accounts for the fact that you’ll probably make less money in the new city. But your living expenses will drop so much more that you’ll be way better off financially. I know — you don’t want to hear that. I’ll shut up now.
Enough about that. Either you’re open to the idea of moving, or you’re not. If you are, please read on.
Additional Resources for Getting Free Land
It’d be impossible for me to categorize each and every state or local free land offer in the United States. (Plus, I’m guessing a lot of the information on the Web is out of date–I’d recommend contacting the city or county government to confirm that offers you read about online are still in effect.) So, this list of resources isn’t intended to be exhaustive, but hopefully you can get an idea of what kind of grants and offers are out there.
- Alaska Government to Distribute Free Land: A news story at Wayodd.com with information on a free land offer in Alaska.
- GovernmentLand.com: This site claims to have a way to get you free land. They do charge a fee, though, so I’d recommend investigating further before handing them any money.
- KansasFreeLand.com: Links to various city and county Web sites that have free land offerings in the state of Kansas.
- Con artists are peddling bogus lists of ‘free’ government land or property for sale: This article on the LA Times’ site exposes that a lot of the ‘free land’ content out there, is, indeed, pretty scammy. You may want to read this one first!
That’s it for now. If you have any experience investigating free land offers–whether they turned out to be legit, or a scam–please let us know in the comments!