Really this started a long time ago with an idea between a friend and myself. For years we’ve been talking about living next to each other and sharing resources. We’re both technology and gaming geeks and he’s interested in gardening. Neither of us have kids (we both have significant others), so this was an idea for how to create our own community.
Then in the fall of 2013, Justin and I were talking to two of our other friends who had a similar vision. Living next to friends and sharing resources. Since we were already thinking about how to move out of our city into a more rural environment, it started our gears moving. We had been looking a bit into houses with land attached (5+ acres) but it’s very hard to find homes where you can build additional homes next door. Developments tend to use very small lots to divvy up the property. It was time to look at raw land.
My realtor thought we were on a wild goose chase because it’s so hard to find contiguous lots. You learn pretty quickly that location dictates the price of land. We wanted to live relatively close to the urban life. Just not in our backyard. But looking in the Metrowest area (within a commuter’s drive to Boston) means literally $40,000/acre in Bolton to $200,000/acre in Dover. Clearly out of our budget. We didn’t want to live in areas like North Brookfield either, where it’s about $5,000/acre but you’re a 30 minute drive just to reach the Mass Pike. The sweet spot ended up being in south Central MA. This provided us close travel to Providence (30 minutes), Worcester (20 minutes), and Boston (60 minutes).
We looked at many parcels of land in that general geographic area. There are a surprising variety of reasons not to buy particular parcels. We filtered out a lot of properties for the following reasons:
- Power line easements through the property
- Next to a highway or near a highway, or just plain noisy
- Next to a quarry
- Used to be a junkyard
- Really weirdly shaped or incredibly narrow
- Next to an outdoor rifle range
- On a 1% chance flood plain zone
- Can’t divide the property into multiple build-able lots
- Previous owner was charged for attempted murder of his wife
Yeah the last one sounds a bit crazy. The court system was selling off his property to pay off the settlement for his case. The land had a few other reasons to pass on it (could hear the highway and a very narrow shape), but we weren’t excited to own that bit of history.
I learned how to use GIS (Geographic Information System) maps for Massachusetts (Oliver – Mass GIS) and each town in which the land was located. There is a fascinating amount of information that’s publicly available regarding land. We could review the topography, agricultural soil distributions, flood plains, endangered species areas, and wetlands demarcations. There are even well water search engines (Mass DEP Well Drilling).
But finally, we found our parcel. It’s big enough for its own blog post 😉