Where Free Land Can Be Found in the USA

Taylor Roatch
By Taylor Roatch April 19, 2018 06:47

Where Free Land Can Be Found in the USA

Once upon a time, early American settlers who were willing to move west were given the opportunity to scoop up a parcel of land and use it to make their own destiny. Known as the Homestead Act of 1862, any adult citizen who had not fought against the United States in armed conflict could travel west and claim a 160 acre plot of land, so long as they were willing to stay and farm that land for at least five years. Soldiers who fought in the civil war could count the time they served as time spent on the land, so they had even easier access to free land.

Of course settling out west in the mid-19th century, even on free land, didn’t come without hardships, but the Homestead Act fast tracked settlement of the western frontier and brought to life the homesteader spirit that is such a prevalent part of U.S. history. It removed a large barrier that many people came up against when it came to carving out a place of their own, a way to make a living and feed and care for their loved ones – not to mention a legacy they could pass on to their children and grandchildren.

This seems like a complete and total pipe dream these days, doesn’t it? Don’t give up just yet, though. There are still places out there where you can get a plot of land for free or pretty close to it. Take a look at the opportunities below and decide if any of them might be right for you and your family.

Curtis, Nebraska

The small town of Curtis, NE offers free lots for the building of single family homes on paved streets with all utilities provided. With a population of under 900, Curtis claims to be a great place to raise a family or retire. Curtis also offers the unique opportunity to get a free lot on which to build a business, as well.

Beatrice, Nebraska

Unlike a lot of places you’ll find on this list, Beatrice is not super rural – nor is it a very small community that needs an influx of new faces and businesses. The city uses their Homesteading Act of 2010 to keep lots in the city from becoming run down. Like the Homesteading Act of old, people must build a home on the property within a year and stay for at least five years. While there aren’t any lots currently available, it’s worth checking regularly to see if any new ones come up.

Other Towns in Nebraska Where Free Land Opportunities May be Available

Loup City, Central City, Elwood,  and Juniata may all have free lots available as well, according to a Nebraska state government website.

Related: How Much Land Do You Need to Be Self-Sufficient?

Marne, Iowa

The small farming community of Marne, Iowa has free lots that it will give away to people willing to either build a home or place a modular home there, assuming that home meets some basic requirements laid out by the city. The lots are fairly small at approximately 80 ft by 120 ft, but they are free and you can’t really beat that. Marne is located east of Omaha, NE and west of Des Moines, IA. It may be just the place if you’re looking for a new place to put down roots.

Marquette, Kansas

The town of Marquette offers free lots on the western side of town for people to build homes on. The town prides itself on its great sense of community and the safe environment it provides for everyone, young and old.

Plainville, KS

The town of Plainville, located in Rooks county, has free lots available for new construction homes on full foundations. The lots are 155 ft by 93 feet. Along with the free land, they also offer their free land homeowners a property tax reduction to help making living there even more affordable.

Lincoln, Kansas

Among the picturesque hillsides of Lincoln, KS, you’ll find several free lots to be had in their new subdivision. Along with the opportunity to snatch up a building lot for free, Lincoln boasts recent improvements to their school facilities, updated parks, and access to medical care right there in town.

Mankato, Kansas

Located in Jewell County, Mankato is giving away free lots for building. You’ll have to have finances in place to build your new home, and an agreement with a contractor to get it started within 6 months, plus they require an interview with the city council. Homes have to adhere to some basic standards set out by the town.

Osborne, Kansas

While they boast about their fiber optic communications network that provides high speed internet access to the community, the town of Osborne also offers free land for both residential and commercial purposes. You could build a home and a business without paying for land in this cozy little town, and the town itself may even be able to help you with financing your business through their revolving loan fund. They’ll give you a couple years to build your home – which must be at least 1,400 square feet – and get settled into it.

New Richland, Minnesota

With a population of about 1,200, the city of New Richland has a free land program that requires you to build a brand new home on your free 86 ft by 133 ft lot. While the lot itself is free, you will be charged a fee to cover the development of the streets and utilities to the subdivision, the estimated cost of which is $14,000 which can be paid over several years.

Related: Mini-Farming on 1 Acre

Cuyahoga National Park, Ohio

This is a really unique opportunity that will allow you to potentially farm a portion of the land in the Cuyahoga National Park. This program, called the Countryside Initiative, started in an effort to rehabilitate the dilapidated farms that were already located on the land and turn them into working, productive farms again.

Other Free Land Opportunities

There are several more opportunities for you to build a home or plant your homestead on a free plot of land in the United States, assuming you’re willing to abide by the regulations set out at various sites. While you’d still have to come up with the cash of financing to build a home or farmstead, it’s maybe not as far away as you’d once imagined.

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Taylor Roatch
By Taylor Roatch April 19, 2018 06:47
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  1. andy April 19, 08:32

    Yeah, we’ll ‘give’ you a tiny 1/4 acre lot complete with a bunch of hoops to jump thru in an area where you better bring your own job with you so the town can collect property taxes off you forever.


    Reply to this comment
  2. dp April 19, 15:24


    Nailed it! lol

    Reply to this comment
  3. Wannabe April 19, 15:26

    Let me see, sign a contract with a government entity that will regulate how you live, what to build, when to build, and how long you have to live there and locked into property taxes at their whim all for a free piece of property. A very small piece of property. As the great handy man Al Boreland use to say,” I don’t think so Tim.”

    Reply to this comment
    • NDY April 19, 17:55

      Yeah….buddy of mine married a gal and her daddy split off a piece of the farm and gave them several acres. He used to complaint all the time about in-laws in their business. I’d remind him “Free land is one of the most expensive things you’ll never buy, dude”

      Reply to this comment
  4. Mountain Man April 19, 19:42

    I have been through Kansas several times. Even if you gave me 100 acres free with no taxes I could not bring myself to live in a flat treeless area where the wind blows.

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    • dp April 21, 03:22

      I broke down in Kansas once. Scary situation. I have never seen that much corn in my life. Driving through corn fields for hours with just the scattered town, or farmhouse to break the monotony.

      I’m sure that Kansas is a wonderful place for people that like that kind of landscape.

      Reply to this comment
    • BBailey April 21, 22:19

      LOL. I grew up in Nebraska … almost as bad! But I disagree with you on Kansas having “No” trees. Their State Tree is the Oil Pumping Stations!

      Reply to this comment
    • gale July 17, 02:39

      So you been in western Kansas, give me a break,Middle to Eastern Kansas is a great place to live

      Reply to this comment
      • dp September 30, 22:32

        gale – Actually, I was going from Arkansas to Colorado to pick up a wrecked car for my sister in law, so yeah, east to west all the way across the middle of the state, and then back again…

        Of course it was the early 1980’s, so maybe things have changed. 🙂

        BTW, I never said that it wasn’t a great place to live. I said that the landscape wasn’t for me. Flat land for as far as the eye can see does not interest me.

        Reply to this comment
  5. mbl April 19, 19:57

    I didn’t realize any places in the US were doing this. As others have mentioned many of the lot sizes are small, and there are ordinances one needs to follow as well as a certain time period one needs to stay. Even so, I could see where this may appeal to someone; I can think of several people I knew who were laid off from jobs and wondering what to do next.

    If you could get a place to live or in some cases a lot for living on and another for a business, or stay where you are where nothing seems to be going your way, a move might indeed be in order.

    The one that intrigued me most was rehabilitating the old farms. For those who’d like to try it out but don’t have the money to spend on acreage, that could provide them with an opportunity to try and several years to practice, learn and then assess if they wish to stay put or go someplace else.

    Most municipalities in the US have governmental regulations regarding zoning and building, so almost no matter where you go, you’re likely to run into a municipal government providing you a list with do’s and don’ts. You just have to ask yourself which are deal breakers and which you can live with.

    And I think pretty much all land is taxed; again, you need to find what your threshold is.

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    • dp April 21, 02:15

      mbl – the farms did look interesting until I saw that it was a lease deal. Who wants to invest that much into land that you will never own, and that could be taken away at any time? It makes no sense.

      I would take some free or low cost land in Alaska if it was away from the cities. An old mine would be ideal for me as I have always been fascinated by underground houses anyway. 🙂

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      • mbl April 21, 16:42

        dp, that’s not all that different from farmers who have mortgaged their land to the hilt, and then find they can’t repay the loan, so the bank comes in and kicks them out.

        If you want to try homesteading and don’t have a lot of capital or experience, I can see where the leased farm deal could work. You cut your homesteading teeth, and when the lease is up, you can decide if you want to renegotiate to stay or go and farm someplace with the skill set you’ve mastered.

        Most of Alaska is away from cities; even dividing it in half, Texas would be third biggest, but the extreme light and dark seasons would likely be challenging. Cost of living is higher since many readymade products are shipped from far away. And until about 10 years ago, there were more planes in AK than cars.

        I went there once on a hiking and paddling trip. I loved it, and understand the appeal, although I don’t think anyone in my family was keen on the idea of moving there. And I was there in summer. Family members kvetch about winter’s short days where we are now, which is an appreciably lower (higher number) latitude.

        I’m happy where I am and don’t feel called to move someplace else. But, if I’d been one of those who really suffered during the 2008 recession, upside down on a mortgage, job loss, trying my best to get my head above water and sinking fast, I could see where this would be appealing.

        It looks as though many of the towns are places that don’t want to become ghost towns, so they want to encourage people to move there. If there are good natural resources nearby, I could see someone making a decision to move there, live the requisite 2 or 3 years and then build something more to their liking on a bigger piece of ground.

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        • dp April 21, 18:04

          I don’t deal with banks – they are evil incarnate with their compound interest on money made with the stroke of a pen.

          Every property that I have ever bought has been a private contract between the owner and myself. The place that I am now was contracted out on a 10 year payment plan with 20% simple interest, and 20% down.

          Of course, I have seldom worked for someone else’s business since I left high school either…

          Most folks buy into the whole modern day slavery BS. It probably comes from watching TV, and falling for other Jedi mind tricks. lol

          Reply to this comment
        • Homesteader April 22, 15:05

          I lived in Alaska for a few years. Would love to go back but, at this time, I am unable to do so. The winters there are not all that bad. Sure you have to prepare more for them than in the lower 48 but unless you’re really out in the bush, they’re no worse than say most winters in New England, this year is the exception though.

          One other advantage to living in Alaska is no income tax. The state pays its residents a dividend each year from the oil revenue. Residents aged 6 moths and older are eligible for the dividend. That’s a great way to start a college fund for your kids. While things do cost more there, incomes are also higher.

          Also, up there, you learn to live by the clock and not the sun. Sometimes there’s almost no sun. Other times, almost no darkness. When the sun is out, you have to make it a point to get outside, no matter the weather, if you want some sunlight. Rain, snow, doesn’t matter. You just dress for the weather and go on.

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  6. TwogunBruce April 19, 21:27

    If a couple are retired with a modest income there is another place to look into as I did. Long Lake, SD isn’t the warmest place in the Winter, but with a sound and well insulated structure as home, it can be comfortable. Look at the town on Google Earth, and zoom in on the far West end of town. There you will see two city lots just North of the last house on Main St (North side) that can be had for chump change…annual property tax being less than $10 for both.
    This place is a well kept secret regarding “cheap living” for anyone not requiring a job for an income. Job opportunity hopes are slim, but retired folks can actually get by nicely. My little 4-bedroom house sets on 1 ½ city lots, and taxes are less than $304 annually.
    For the sports-minded folks, this little town of only about 25 residents is in the middle of some of the Nation’s best pheasant hunting, and very good duck and goose hunting also…pothole ponds and lakes abound. Fishing (Winter, on the ice, and Summer) is noteworthy also. The area is known very well for its Whitetail deer hunting too.
    I would encourage anyone who is looking for a quiet life away from the hustle and bustle of the big city with its greedy property taxation to inquire about Long Lake, SD later this Spring or Summer. It’s the real deal!

    Reply to this comment
    • twogunbruce April 21, 23:41

      I forgot to mention, SD is another of the very few “no State income tax” States. After retiring in CO, I accepted the fact their Dept of Revenue wanted to collect State income tax from my retirement income. But, when I moved to AZ, I hated that their Dept of Revenue wanted to take even more from my retirement income in spite of my not retiring from a job in that State. I was happy to find that SD didn’t want any State income tax from my retirement income, or any other income I might have gained by starting another job. Yea!!

      Reply to this comment
      • TwogunBruce April 23, 01:54

        You may email me @gmail.com, and if you looked at the far West end of Main St on Google Earth you would have seen my two story white house.

        Reply to this comment
    • Eagle April 23, 01:02

      Can you tell us where to find out info on Long Lake, SD – who or where to call, write, text, e-mail – ANYTHING? I looked it up on Google Earth, used the street view, and contacted one business there, they don’t seem to know anything about any land deals (which doesn’t mean they aren’t there), and aren’t much help – so far.

      Reply to this comment
      • TwogunBruce April 23, 02:01

        I would be very cautious about who you contact in Long Lake until you have talked with me directly. One couple there are determined to own the entire town…a few of us are equally determined to stop that from occurring.

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        • Nicksname September 15, 17:46

          I would be very cautious of anyone who says “Don’t talk to anyone until you talk to me”. hmmm I guess others don’t have the ability to make an educated decision on their own. That tells me all I need to know.

          Reply to this comment
  7. Ben April 20, 15:26

    I will pass on this offer. I have no desire to pull stakes and move to any one of these towns just so they can collect taxes from me and regulate how I use the property. You have to be cautious of these types of “too good to be true” schemes.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Frank April 20, 17:03

    While getting free land is a major step towards the acquisition of a home or homestead for many, nothing is entirely free or without some limitation, fees or restrictions.
    I think these are nice opportunities, but people need to understand they are not necessarily prepper or survivalist type situations.
    I wouldn’t discount them until I see for myself. How often do people make plans to move to some place and then they complain it’s not exactly what they envisioned or they did not know about some law or restriction.
    Research and an actual visit is the way to decide.

    Reply to this comment
    • mbl April 21, 16:58

      Agreed, Frank.

      As far as not being best for prepper or survivalist situations, they might not be as bad as many other places. Take the case of Long Lake, SD, for instance, the town’s population is very, very small so in a shtf sort of situation, they might be more likely to work together precisely because there are so few and not much around them.

      I actually prefer small town living, which is where I am, but I don’t have to go far to get a more rural setting. For people used to a lot of infrastructure, more rural settings could be challenging even in regular, everyday circumstances. In the places not far from me, this translates to no high speed internet unless you have a satellite connection, and the best you can hope for cell phone coverage is spotty.

      Dear friends of mine who are city dwellers think it a hardship that I cannot get takeout foods delivered. LOL

      Reply to this comment
  9. BBailey April 21, 22:37

    I have lived in Michigan for 31 years now. It is beautiful but ridiculas on taxes and road maintenance and just about everything else. So I started to look for a REAL place where I can start a Homestead. Wanted 20 Acres to start. NOT realistic, everybody is way too high. So I started looking for 10 Acres. I found 3 properties in a Western State that has 8 and 9 Acres with $595.00 Downpayment for $24k to $39k wooded, meadows, virgin ground. That’s what my Dodge RAM 4 Dr, 4×4, HEMI costs used. Check into “Deals” like these out west. No other requirements. I can use as hunting only, I can put an RV on it. I can build a cabin, I can raise chickens, rabbits, goats … electrical, phone, and cable already there. I don’t know is cell coverage is there yet, but I an FREE to live and breath. I can go back to an old landline for that.

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  10. Bill June 2, 16:46

    Someone once said, ” nuthins free “. Everything costs you something. The deal is to figure out what your cost will be and if you want to pay that price.

    Reply to this comment
  11. JohnB September 30, 21:44

    I want to know how the “Alaskan Bush People” got their building sites. They seem to go where they want and set up shop. Yeah, nice if you can find that. I’d like around 3,000 acres if you don’t mind.
    This year those “people” even have bull dozers, chain saws, and other comforts which I can’t afford.
    It must be “who you known”.

    Reply to this comment
    • Ben September 30, 22:20

      I’ve been wondering about that too.

      Reply to this comment
    • Homesteader October 1, 00:22

      The Browns were probably using some of the Permanent Fund Dividend that the state pays each resident to buy some things. However, they have been in trouble with the state over that dividend, and one or two spent time in jail, for acquiring it fraudulently. There’s also the money from doing the show.

      The only “Alaskan bush show” people who are the real deal are the Kilchers on “Alaska: The Last Frontier”. They’ve been homesteaders on the Kenai Peninsula near Homer since Yules Kilcher first acquired 600 acres there in the 1940’s. Sure some of the things on the show were probably done for the camera but over all, they’re real. The singer Jewel is from the Kilcher clan.

      Unfortunately, homesteading on free land is no longer available in Alaska. That ended in 1976.

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