How to Get Free Land From the Government
First of all, in case you’re here looking for information on such, let me be right up front and dispel a myth that some people seem to believe: There is simply no such thing as totally free federal government land available anywhere in the United States, Canada, nor any other Western, industrialized country that I know of. So, if you’ve seen something on the Internet somewhere wherein someone is promising you that if you’ll just send them a certain amount of your money, they’ll then send you information on exactly how to get free land from the government, don’t believe it. They are either misinformed, delusional, or they’re deliberately trying to scam you. Either way, the information they have for you is useless and your money will be wasted if you send it to them.
It’s not the 1800’s anymore. There is simply no longer any such thing as totally free federal government land available in this country. There is, however, still some county and municipal governments that are offering “free” land. Notice, if you’d please, that the word “free” in that previous sentence is in quotes. Why? Because, when I say that this land is “free”, what I mean is that it can, at certain times, and in certain circumstances, be obtained for essentially no actual money. That doesn’t mean, though, that you wont have to expend something in order to take control of this land.
Whenever some governmental body is offering to give away land for essentially no money, they always want something in return — even though that ‘something’ might not necessarily be legal tender cash money.
How to Get Free Land from the Government:
There are municipalities and counties that are in trouble — they are either experiencing fairly rapid population decline, which is leading to an economic crisis in the locality. Or, they are sitting on government held property that is in unusable, unsaleable condition for some reason, it’s costing them to maintain it, and they are willing to hand over title to the land in exchange for an agreement from you that, under your control of the property, you’ll bring the property back to a desirable state within a certain time period, and at your own expense.
In the latter case mentioned above, the scope of such land acquisition is almost always outside of the means of any private individual. It’s usually only corporations who have the means to take advantage of such offers — as, usually, what’s involved in cleaning up the land, in the manner required, is so cost intensive that the current controlling agency — either a municipality, or county, or what have you — is unable, or unwilling, to undertake the expense and burden themselves. So, anyone who would acquire such land under such conditions would need fairly extensive resources, along with the means and will, to make sure that the outlay of such resources stood a good chance of resulting in a net profit somewhere down the road.
For example — in the county in which I used to live, back in the 1960s, a small, start-up energy company became convinced there was oil in a rural area not far outside the small city where I lived. They purchased a plot of about 600 acres from the county and set-up a drilling operation. As it turns out, they were wrong about the oil. Yes, there was some there, apparently. But, not enough to make the company’s efforts significantly profitable. The company scraped by for the better part of twenty years, alternating between years of ending up in the red, and turning a tiny profit. But, overall, not enough to make the long-term operation worthwhile.
In the mid-1980s the company finally went bankrupt and the county seized the property. There was a problem, however. The company had pretty much entirely destroyed the land in their 20 year occupation, and turned it into an environmental disaster area. The entire lot was littered with massive, useless, rusted out, rotting industrial machinery. The site had experienced twenty years of various spills of crude oil and other toxic chemicals at the hands of a company that was constantly struggling not to fail at their investment, and so, were consistently cutting every corner they could — which, of course, included neglecting any expense required to operate cleanly and in a manner not hazardous to the land itself. The land they operated on for two decades was now a bona-fide disaster area. It would cost the county untold millions to clean up the site and make it safe once again. And, that was money that the county just didn’t have.
So, what did they do? They gave the land away — for free! They found a large a corporation who was interested in obtaining that amount of land for some commercial purpose and they signed over title of the property to that corporation in exchange for a legally binding agreement that the corporation, within a period not exceeding ten years, would bring the land back into a state that met with EPA and county specified standards.
Those sorts of free land from the government deals (if you can call them ‘free’) can still be found from time to time. But, as I said before, taking advantage of such offers is likely not within the means of very many private individuals.
Oh, and, by the way — just for interest’s sake — in that specific instance I related above — the corporation that acquired the “free” land were good to their word, as it turned out. They spent what was probably many millions cleaning up the land and completely brought it back into a practically pristine state — far exceeding EPA and the county standards agreed upon in the contract — and, they did it well ahead of schedule. And, once they’d done all the clean-up, the county attempted to exploit a legal loop-hole in the contract to void the agreement and take back control of the land from the corporation. There was a giant legal battle over it that lasted years. The corporation did finally end up winning that battle, however. But, it was in the courts for years, and who knows what tax-payers ended up paying in legal costs to the county because of it — perhaps more than they would have spent had the county originally just undertaken the cost of the clean-up themselves?
So, it would seem that, for the average individual, such is just not a viable means when it comes to how to get free land from the government. Are there any other ways, then? Well, as mentioned above — yes. There actually are. But, as was also mentioned above, the ‘free’ part never really means entirely ‘free.’
For instance, the state of Mississippi has a number of counties that are currently experiencing a population decline. The state, and these counties, are somewhat desperate to increase the population in order to aid the declining economy, and to gain more electoral votes in their districts. So, they’re willing to give away *free* land to just about any takers. And, if you’re interested in obtaining any of this *free* land they might currently have on offer, you can get more information about it by contacting the offices of the Public Lands Division of the Secretary of State of Mississippi. Mississippi isn’t the only state doing this, by the way. There are a few of them — mostly Midwestern — and, the the land available is usually very rural.
However, I’ll caution you to take notice that the word *free*, written in the above paragraph, appears within cautionary asterisks. Yes, there are a number of counties in Mississippi, and other states, that do, from time to time, make available offers of granting land to individuals in exchange for no monetary purchase price. But, there are some things of which you should be aware: Usually, the land on offer is unserviced land — this means there is usually no phone service near the land, no electrical, no county, nor municipal water or sewer service, etc. And, in a lot of cases, in order to obtain title to the land, you’ll be required to enter into a contract with the county wherein you’ll agree to erect a residential structure and set-up residency within a certain amount of time, or else the title to the property will revert back to the county.
What this means, of course, is that you’d either have to be willing to take upon yourself the expense of building a house and actually living in it without running water, modern plumbing, telephone service, or electricity. Or, take on the expense of building a house and paying the county to extend such services into that area. And, such costs are exceedingly expensive.
I can’t say what the costs are specifically in every area today. But, I can tell you that back in 1994 I bought a small parcel of uncleared, unserviced land in a very rural part of Ontario, Canada (purchased in a private sale). I wanted to build a small cottage on the land, and, just for interest’s sake, really, I looked into what it would cost to get service run out the cottage I was planning on building. Just for telephone service, I was quoted a price, by the county, of roughly forty dollars per foot — calculated from the nearest existing telephone line they could run a tap off of. Which, in my case, was a little over three miles away at the time. So, just for telephone service alone, my cost would have been well in excess of a half a million dollars. Upon learning that figure, I abandoned my interest in finding out what electrical would have cost. I’m sure it would have been at least equally as prohibitively expensive.
So, how to get free land from the government, exactly? You can’t, really. It doesn’t really exist, I’m sorry to say. Anyone who tells you it does is handing you a line. That’s just the reality of it. You can, in some cases, get what is *virtually* free title to some sort of property from some governmental bodies. But, there will always be strings attached. And, in many cases, those strings will be very expensive, very thick strings, to say the least.
However your dreams may be dashed in how to get free land from the government in any absolute sense, it might do you good, though, to realize that cheap land from the government, as opposed to free, is another matter entirely. And, in fact, various governmental bodies do actually auction off parcels of land for various reasons that, in certain circumstances, can be obtained at exceedingly attractive prices — quite often at prices significantly below market value. So, perhaps setting your sites on more realistic targets, abandoning the question of how to get free land from the government and, instead, looking into getting land from the government at incredible bargains might be a wiser course of action.
Have a look in the ‘related posts’ area directly below this article to find extensive information on how to take advantage of government land auctions.