How Far from Civilization Should You Buy Land? | Rethink:Rural

Posted by Nancy Dorman-Hickson on February 15, 2018

When buying land, how close do you need to be to civilization to ensure distance isn't a problem? A land broker offers advice to help you choose what distance you want between your property and the nearest town.


How much distance between a land tract and the nearest town should a buyer consider? First, decide what you want to get out of the land, says Ryker Carter, owner of Carter Group Real Estate near Jesup, Georgia. Carter has specialized in land sales for almost 30 years.

“One of the first things I always do is question what they’re trying to achieve,” says Carter. “When someone first calls, we try to find out what their end-goal is, especially about whether they are looking at the land strictly as an investment or if they want a recreational or investment property.”

What to Consider When Buying Land

The questions differ if the buyer is looking to live on the property fulltime.

“Then we try to make the questions home-site specific,” he says. “‘Are you looking for something close to town? Do you have kids?’ If they have kids and family, they generally like to stay a little bit closer to town.”

Others who decide they want to live in the country have considered the pros and cons of greater distance from conveniences. They may have opted to raise their kids on a farm or with horses or cows.

“We’ve had good success with what we call ‘gentlemen farms,’” says Carter.

These properties are not large acreage, a 40- to 50-acre tract. Purchasers are able to buy affordable land, but with enough space to accommodate a mini farm.

What is your end-goal for your property?

Land for a Getaway


Some people want property strictly for enjoyment.

“We sell a ton of these types of recreational properties,” Carter says. “They may have a place in town and their first priority is having something out of town for a getaway. They may like to ride ATVs or have horses or just like the outdoors.”

Some of them are somewhat investment-driven, but it is often not the first thing these buyers consider.

If the property is for recreation, buyers don’t usually mind driving out. In fact, he says, “Typically these guys want to be out in the country a bit because they like to shoot their guns for hunting or target practice and don’t want to worry people near them.”

People who buy land for a getaway may pull a camper onto the property or even build a cabin, but “most of them aren’t living onsite full time. They’re driving up and enjoying the property.”

If the property isn’t meant as a primary residence, buyers vary in terms of what type of distance they’re willing to travel. Carter cites the last few Georgia-based sales his own brokerage has made to Floridians looking for recreational tracts.

They’re “willing to drive 3 ½ or 4 hours just to get away from the hustle and bustle and have a place to deer hunt and enjoy the outdoors.”

On the other hand, in his experience, in-state property buyers “don’t really go that far. They generally buy about an hour or hour and a half out.”

Land for Homes May Need to be Closer to Town

Others seek property they can reach in much less time from the nearest town.

“Those are the ones who generally are looking for home sites,” Carter explains. “The sweet spot for those people is around 15 to 30 miles for a nice home out in the country. They will drive 25 to 30 minutes to have their own private 5- or 10-acre place.”

Larger Acreage Likely to be More Remote


Sales of larger acreage typically involve a buyer “looking to do some recreational hunting or timber investment. It starts somewhere around 40+ acres. That gives them a little bit of room to do hunting but not have a massive cost.”

For those wanting to buy more expensive, larger tracts in the $100,000 to $200,000 range, Carter says he and others at his company will “sit down and draw a plan out for them.”

“We educate them on timber, farming, whether they want to grow blueberries or something of that nature,” Carter says. “We give them an idea of the cost and the returns on certain products and commodities and show them how they can potentially have an income with the property.”

Those larger tracts are, naturally, easier to find in more remote locations.

Finding the Perfect Place

Carter looks to a buyer’s intentions for buying property when helping them decide how far removed they want to be from urbanization. But, ultimately, someone seeking country acreage is looking for at least some distance from civilization.

Whether it’s a potential homeowner or recreational user, he says most people “just want to be out in the country for the serenity of it.”

How to buy your rural hideaway

Nancy Dorman-Hickson

Nancy Dorman-Hickson grew up in Sturgis and Starkville, Mississippi where she roamed woods, rode horses, and fished muddy ponds. Now she is a writer based in Birmingham, Alabama who was with Time Inc.’s Progressive Farmer and Southern Living magazines for 19 years. She’s been a newspaper desk editor and co-authored Diplomacy and Diamonds, the best-selling memoir of Joanne King Herring. Dorman-Hickson and her husband are the parents of college-age fraternal twins. For more, see www.NancyDormanHickson.com.

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