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Free Land in the United States Today (Many Options)

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In today’s world, it seems as if nothing good is free.

While this is true to an extent, I have proven time and time again that some freebies do exist.  You just need to know where to look.  (HINT:  You are on the site right now!)

In the past, I have written mostly about freebies that cost a few dollars, such as free stickers and free Steam codes, and have never dived into something pricier than this.  I wanted to change that in today’s post.

Today, I wanted to talk about the many ways you can get free land.  Yes, I’m talking about land where you can build a house and call it your own.  I promise you that this isn’t a scam in no means and truly works!  There’s a lot to absorb, so be prepared to read, and yes, there are restrictions as well.  Generally, as long as you’re willing to move to the city/area offering the free land, it’s yours as long as you meet the guidelines.

So, if you’re looking for free land and you’re more than willing to move, this may work out for you.

Let’s begin!

Starting the Research

In the 1800s, the federal government used to grant free land to its citizens as a way to encourage them to come out West and start a new life.

What was known as the Homestead Act of 1862, one of the laws written allowed someone to apply and acquire government-owned land.  In return, the government gave up more than 150+ acres of land as long as you lived on it and took care of it for more than five years.  Because of this law, more than one million farmers were able to claim more than 250+ million acres of land.

Unfortunately, this came to an end in the mid-1970s since the Federal Land Policy and Management Act passed.  This doesn’t mean you can’t still find free land, however.

Today, there are a ton of cities located throughout the United States that are more than willing to give you free land as long as you meet the guidelines, similar to that of the Homestead Act.  You can search for “free land in the United States,” but I will try to cover most of what I found here.  And, while it may seem odd to give away free land, you have to look at it from a city’s perspective.  If you come to their cities, you may be able to provide jobs to the citizens and/or even contribute to the economy.  Every person matters.

Watch for the free land scams.

Now, the reason I mention the Homestead Act of 1862 is that you will find a lot of scams online claiming you can get free homesteading land from the government.  This isn’t true!

This program doesn’t exist anymore and in buying the information to learn about this scam is just making the promoter richer.  The eBook you buy will tell you the same things I’m about to tell you and you will be out your $20 or whatever you had to spend to learn about it. There are a lot of scams online and I don’t want you to fall for this one.  Just remember that the government does not give out homesteading land for free.

Applying for the Land

If you’re interested in applying for free land in the United States, most situations work in the same way, wherein you will be asked to fill out an application, prove your financial means and even commit to staying for so long, etc.  It’s not going to be as easy as applying online and moving in on the land.  If only it were that easy…

In this section, I just want to quickly break down how the process works just to give you an idea as to what’s expected of you if you were interested.

Filling Out an Application

Almost every city I have researched will require that you fill out an application.  And, in this application, you will usually have to fill out the following:

  • Who’s going to be living on the land?
  • Where are you living now?
  • What are you going to do with the land?

These applications are very important as the cities want to know what you plan on doing with their land and if your goals meet their criteria.  As every city has its criteria, such as creating jobs, etc, they just want to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Prove Your Financial Worth

If your application is accepted, it doesn’t stop here as the city will want you to prove that you’re going to do what you’re going to say you’re going to do.  This means proving that you have the financial means to back up your claims.

Depending on the free land and the city you’re applying with, the may want to see the following:

  • your house blueprints
  • financial means, such as a bank statement, etc
  • a pre-deposit (yes, this deposit will be held until you meet the requirements)
  • a pre-approval loan letter

Now, keep in mind that you don’t always have to have cash on hand as a loan is 100% acceptable, just like a mortgage is when purchasing a home.  Simply put, you just have to meet the financial means to say what you’re going to do.

Be Prepared To Sign an Agreement

Almost every city I have researched will have some sort of restrictions, and you just can’t say, “Sure!  I will do that” and never live up to the word because you wanted the free land.  These cities will hold you accountable if you don’t say what you’re going to do.  This is why you will have to sign an agreement 99% of the time.

When you obtain your free land, count on signing an agreement that holds you liable for taking the actions you say you will.  This can include building a house within a certain time frame or bringing a certain number of jobs to a town.  They all vary, but I will briefly touch upon what each city wants from you below.

NOTE:  Be sure to understand your obligations!  You need to know your deadlines as well as what’s expected of you.  As with any legal document, it is always best to get a lawyer involved just so that they can let you know the ramifications in case you cannot meet your obligations.  Even though you’re paying for free land, investing in legal representation is always a good idea.

Where Can I Get Free Land?

Now that I touched upon what’s usually expected of you, this section is designated to the good stuff — free land across the United States.  There is a lot of opportunity out there, most of which I cover, but there could many more opportunities.  If you ever have a specific area in mind, a quick search plus the city name may yield some results.

NOTE:  I included the AreaVibes score, which creates a “livability” score with its unique algorithm.  It’s a cool website that will take any city in the United States and combine seven different categories, including cost of living, amenities, crime, education, etc and come up with a score out of a 100.  The higher the score is, the better the city will be.

Free Land in Buffalo, New York
[population:  256,304 | AreaVibes score:  62/100]

Quite possibly the largest city on the list, Buffalo, New York, is offering free properties that are “within designated Urban Renewal Areas.”  Referred to as the Urban Homestead Program, this program allows you to participate in one of three ways.  You can acquire a vacant lot if you already own a home as your primary residence or you can request a vacant lot for new home construction.  Lastly, if you wish to acquire one or two family houses in an eligible area, they can provide opportunities as well.  You will need to fill out an application to qualify as well as meet some requirements, depending on the option you choose, but you can find all of the information you need to know via the official site below.

Free Land in Claremont, Minnesota
[population:  538 | AreaVibes score:  54/100]

The city of Claremont, Minnesota, created the Claremont Buildable Lot Program to encourage individuals to develop their own housing units.  At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be many lots available, maybe 12 at most.  In fact, the program didn’t appear to be popular at all, but it doesn’t mean you can’t apply for the free land.  Lots are available for free, but it depends on your income qualification.  As long as you meet the income requirements, which can be found on the application linked below, you can qualify.  You will also have to go through the application process as well, which requires you to complete your home in 18 months from the purchase date, for example.  Refer to the application to learn more about how you can take advantage of free land in this small Minnesota town.

Free Land in Curtis, Nebraska
[population: 885 | AreaVibes score:  64/100]

The city of Curtis, Nebraska, home to the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture, would like to see your land thrive with its free land for commercial business owners.  According to the site, they not only have free commercial/industrial land available, but they also have generous start-up funds available as well as tax increment financing through a “progressive” City Council.  Aside from free commercial lots, the city also offers free residential lots as long as you agree to building a single-family home.  All lots are on paved roads with utilities available.

  • Website:  Curtis, Nebraska

Free Land in Elwood, Nebraska
[population: 638 | AreaVibes score:  77/100]

Elwood, Nebraska, said to be a “great place to find a home,” is offering 100 feet by 115 feet lots that are part of the city’s home ownership program, which makes lots available to an owner for an owner-occupied residential property and home.  These lots are 100% free, but they do ask that you place a $500 deposit that’s refunded upon completion of your home.  Construction must commence within one year and your home must be occupied within two years of your purchase date.  The official site has pictures of the properties as well as links to the official application.

Free Land in Flagler, Colorado
[population: 551 | AreaVibes score:  48/100]

The town of Flagler is 110 miles east of Denver and is known as being a farmer and rancher community with 650 people residing here.  Recently, the town acquired more than 480 acres of land and it’s being offered to businesses.  How much land you receive will greatly depend on the number of jobs you bring to the city.  Ideally, with the land being located next to the railroad track, a business that can take advantage would make the most sense.  The city is willing to help in any way possible, with more information available via the official link below.

Free Land in La Villa, Texas
[population: 2,807 | AreaVibes score:  72/100]

Unlike a lot of the cities I mention, the city of La Villa, Texas, doesn’t have a website you can browse.  Rather, they ask that you call the South Texas Economic Development Corp at 956-969-3024 for more information on how you can claim land in this southern Texas town.  From what I gathered from third-party sources, the city will give you free land, but you will have to pay the property taxes.  On top of this, there’s a five-year lien attached to the lot that prevents you from selling in the following five years after ownership.  For more information, you can call that number or refer to the news article linked below.

Free Land in Lincoln, Kansas
[population: 2,807 | AreaVibes score:  71/100]

The city of Lincoln, Kansas, is offering free build-ready lots to individuals interested in moving to the community.  These lots are available in a residential development complete with all of the necessary hookups.  You’d be blocks from the local schools, the hospital and downtown with several amenities.  The residential lots range from 14,000 to 35,000 square feet and are open to individuals who agree to build a house on the lot within an agreed upon amount of time.  Refer to the link below to see the general process as well as what’s expected of you.

Free Land in Loup City, Nebraska
[population: 991 | AreaVibes score:  78/100]

Recently, the Sherman County Economic Development Office and the City of Loup City created a unique subdivision wherein all lots are free to anyone as long as you build within a designated time frame.  As I write this, there were only six lots available, three of which were deemed “workforce homes,” whereas the other three were classified as “market rate home.”  If you want to qualify for a workforce home, you must meet income and asset requirements, whereas a market rate home is only available to individuals looking to build a home but are not qualified for a workforce.  You can learn more about the program as well as how you can apply via the link below.

Free Land in Mankato, Kansas
[population: 807 | AreaVibes score:  61/100]

The city of Mankato, Kana is offering free lots, giving you the change to build a home and live in a small-town atmosphere.  The city only has a pinch more 900 people and its industry relies heavily on agriculture, health care as well as hunting and fishing.  As I’m writing this, there are more than 26 lots available, with all of them close to the high school, hospital, motel, and a half of a mile from a shopping district.  If interested, you must fill out an application and be pre-approved for your new home construction.  A city council interview will be required as well.  For more information in regards to housing restrictions, refer to the official link below.

Free Land in Manilla, Iowa
[population: 766 | AreaVibes score:  70/100]

The Manilla Economic Development Corporation, in cooperation with the City of Manilla Municipal Utilities, is offering more than 16 lots to qualified individuals.  According to the city, these lots feature an “excellent” lot size, pave streets, utilities on site with no hook up fees, a 5-year 100% tax abatement and covenants designed to protect your investment.  To learn more about the program and see what the city has to offer, you can refer to the official city site linked below.

Free Land in Marne, Iowa
[population: 113 | AreaVibes score:  77/100]

Marne, Iowa, has a free lot program as long as you’re willing to build a conventional construction or modular-based home.  The city is located about three miles south of I-80, which is about 45 minutes east of Omaha and an hour west of Des Moines.  The lot sizes are approximately 80 feet by 120 feet.  If interested, there are requirements, all of which can be read in the PDF file located on the city’s official website.

Free Land in Marquette, Kansas
[population: 603 | AreaVibes score:  58/100]

The community of Marquette, Kansas, is offering free building lots to interested families who are looking for a “small extraordinary small town.”  If you’re interested in obtaining a building lot, the city asks that you fill out an application and mail it to the city.  If the city is interested, they will allow you to choose an available building lot and then ask you to sign a developer’s agreement to hold the lot of your choice.  House requirements need to be met.  Lot sizes range from 11,000 to 25,000 square feet, but if one lot isn’t big enough, they may be able to issue you an adjoining lot.

Free Land in Osborne, Kansas
[population: 1,290 | AreaVibes score:  75/100]

Ah, yes, another city in Kansas willing to give you some free land.   The city of Osborne is offering both commercial and residential lots, sometimes offering low-interest rate loans to get you to relocate and start a business.  The website has an application for both commercial and residential lots.

Free Land in Plainville, Kansas
[population: 1,837 | AreaVibes score:  71/100]

Plainville, Kansas is a city with just over 2,000 people in a county with only 5,000 residents.  The city offers a variety of lots as long as you’re willing to commit to building a new home.  Lots are 155 feet wide and 93 feet deep, and as with most of these cities, an agreement will be entered between yourself as well as the city if interested.  You will have to complete your home in 18 months after you sign an agreement as well as provide a $500 deposit to the city, which will be deposited if you meet the terms.  Refer to the link below to receive an application as well as learn more about the program.

Free Land in New Richland, Minnesota
[population: 1,191 | AreaVibes score:  66/100]

New Richland, Minnesota, a city located about 75 miles south of the Twin Cities, is offering free subdivision lots as long as you commit to building a home within one year after the property is deeded to you.  They do note that you will be assessed for part of the cost to develop your property, which can cost an estimated $25,000.  They can reduce this cost to $14,000 through the use of Tax Increment Financing, however.  For more information as to how to qualify as well as learn more about this smaller city, refer to the official city link below.

Final Thoughts

And, there you go.

Free land is available as you can see.  Generally, as long as you’re willing to build a home within 12-24 months, cities are more than willing to deed you some land.  The only problem is that you have to build a home and in many cases, you will be one hour+ from a major city.  This may work if you’re retired or work remotely, but it may be turn off to some families.  With this big of a move, I would assume you would do your due diligence before considering it.

As mentioned, if you are seriously considering any of these free land options, first research how much it would cost to build a new home as almost all of these cities require it.  Next, read over the requirements to see if it’s something you’re comfortable with.  Remember, if you don’t follow the guidelines, financial repercussions can follow.  I strongly encourage you to get a lawyer to help you with the process.

Now, I did try to research free land opportunities in popular states such as Texas, Alaska, Montana, Colorado, Florida, Arizona, California, and Tennessee, but I came up short.  If you know of any options I didn’t find, do let me know and I can add it to the list.

So, while the land is free, you still have to set aside some money.  Sure, it could save you five figures, but it won’t be as easy as receiving a deed and enjoying a land.  Restrictions will apply, just keep that in mind!

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Tom Nathaniel

Hi! My name is Tom Nathaniel, and I created LushDollar to help share my honest thoughts on everything money. You won't find gimmicks here. It's the Internet's most honest money site after all. I graduated from Arizona State University, and I have worked in the finance industry since 2006, consulting with multiple Fortune 5000 companies.

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