When most people think about what can be done with vacant land, they have a surprisingly small imagination. Go ahead and tell anyone you’re a “vacant land investor” and you’ll probably see what I’m talking about. Many people struggle to see the practical applications and benefits of raw land, but with a little bit of creative thinking, there is a VAST world of opportunity for those who are interested in becoming landowners. When you understand what can be done with a property in accordance with your local zoning and planning administration, you’ll start to realize that there are A LOT of potential options on the table. Let’s explore some ideas!
1. Community Garden
If you own a plot of land that is smaller in scale, but still too big for you to manage on your own, it could be the perfect size for a community garden. This can also work for some vacant lots in the city. Get in touch with government officials to get the OK and then contact friends and neighbors to see if they’re interested in joining the movement! This is also a great way to increase the sense of “community” in your area. You can even pool funds from your neighbors and have everyone chip in to buy seeds and plants. If you grow more food than you can eat, there are always food banks that would be very grateful for the fresh donations.
2. Wildlife Preservation
One of the simplest things to do with your property is to simply preserve it. It’s your land after all, and you have the right to protect it. You can designate an area to be free from hunting, camping, logging and even fishing. Some landowners are happy to simply buy land and allow it to return to its natural habitat. They can even farm a small area of it and leave the rest of the land to the wild, with plenty of trails for kids and dogs to explore! If you have any inclination towards environmental protection, this could be a great fit for the property you
3. Tiny Houses
Have you heard about the tiny house movement? What was once a small hobbyist niche a decade ago has now exploded into an extremely popular lifestyle design choice while garnering a great deal of interest from the mainstream media and people from all walks of life. The great thing about tiny houses is that they’re almost always built on a trailer (not permanently affixed to the ground). Tiny houses are built this way because they rarely conform with any municipality’s zoning requirements (which typically require any legal residence to be 600 square feet in size or larger). The typical tiny house ranges in size from 69 square feet to a few hundred square feet and is extremely mobile. These houses can be placed anywhere there is land – whether it’s in a densely populated urban scene, or a remote setting far away from civilization.
Depending on the size of a property, type of soil, climate, demand for farming in the area and a host of other factors, some vacant parcels of land can be very well-suited for farming. Whether the property is currently being used to grow crops or if it could potentially be developed for that purpose – this may be one avenue worth exploring. Farmland in some areas of the world can be leased or sold for an extremely high rate per acre. Depending on the characteristics of your property, this could be a potential use worth inquiring about. If you’re not sure what to look for, try contacting an agricultural real estate broker to see if your property might be a good fit.
If you’ve got a property that is large enough, four-wheeling, snowmobiling, dirt biking, mountain biking, paintball tournaments, and other recreational activities – it could be in your best interests to simply use the property for various recreational activities. These types of properties require very little (if any) development and virtually no ongoing maintenance… and not to mention, they can be a lot of fun! Alternatively, if you’re looking for more of a laid-back recreational use, you can simply take your family and friends out for an evening to eat and have a bonfire. Not a bad way to have a night of good, clean (and inexpensive) fun!
Do you know how to live off the land? It may be possible to get a few clearances and use your land to teach kids and adults valuable life skills. It could be as simple as teaching individuals how to collect dry firewood, or as complex as building a small shelter entirely from natural resources. If you contact local Boy Scout or Girl Scout troops, you may also be able to offer your land to them for annual camping trips. Any kind of knowledge like that can be a valuable skill set to pass on to others, especially younger generations could be fair game. It could even be a profitable venture if you decide to charge a bit and run it regularly.
7. Harvest Timber
The vast majority of land buyers tend to look at land for what they can do on it, but they often fail to look at the abundant natural resources that can be harvested from their property. One such example is timber – and the funny thing is, this value of this timber (which can be substantial) is completely ignored in most standard real estate appraisals.
Along the same lines as using land for farming – another potential use would be to use the property as an orchard. Whether it’s used for growing apples, oranges, pears, grapefruit, lemons, nuts, or any of the dozens of other options available to choose from. Food production is a big deal in many parts of the world, and there is usually a high demand for this kind of produce in most areas. If your property is situated in an area with an ideal climate for this kind of purpose, why not take advantage of it?
9. Raise Livestock
If your property is situated in (or anywhere near) a farming community – there’s a good chance it could be used for raising livestock. Cows, pigs, horses, chickens, sheep, horses, goats… they all need a place to call home, and in some markets – grazing land can be easy money for landowners. If you’ve got a large tract of land that isn’t being used for anything else, why not lease it to a farmer in the area?
10. Off-Grid living
Similar to the tiny house movement, there is another (very similar) sub-culture of people who are passionate about living “off-the-grid”. People who go “off-grid” are those who want to reduce their carbon footprint, assert their independence and avoid reliance on fossil fuels. Many of these folks live away from society, and as the name implies – they aren’t connected to any public utilities. No electricity. No natural gas. No water. No sewer. Complete disconnect. People who choose this lifestyle typically have their own wells, septic tanks, solar and/or wind power and alternative sources of fuel. As a result, they can assert their independence and live without being tethered to expensive utility companies that run the show and determine the cost of living for most of society. If you’ve got a property without access to any public utilities, it could be a perfect fit for someone who wants to live off-the-grid!
11. Wind Energy
In most cases, land can simply be leased out to one of the big power companies, who will then place their turbine on the property and handle all the maintenance (so the landowner can simply collect the lease revenue, rather than hassling with the actual generation of power for the electric grid). In many cases, it can be a perfect fit for the property and its uses.
12. Solar Energy
Similar to wind energy, there are many areas in the United States and around the world that are in prime locations for taking advantage of the most abundant source of energy on earth – the sun. With the continually emerging technology of solar energy, solar panels can be rigged to power one house, or create an extensive power plant. If you’re interested in off-the-grid living, a few solar panels could be enough to power a house, and if you’re looking to start a larger operation, consider leasing or selling your land to a power company. The use of renewable energy will only increase in the years to come, so if you want to get into this business on the ground floor, it could pay to be an early adopter!
13. Pave a Biking or Walking Trail
Do you own a parcel of land large enough to contain a path (perhaps one that makes a loop or connects one notable location to another)? This option – while only ideal in certain, unique situations – could be a great way to create a pleasant atmosphere where you can spend your time and get exercise, or a generous way to give back to the local community. Many property owners find that the value of their land actually increases when a path is connected or runs alongside it. And on the subject of giving, that brings us to our next option…
14. Plant a Vineyard
You might be surprised to know how many areas around the world are excellent locations for grape and wine production. States like California, Washington, Oregon, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Virginia are all growing wine regions in the U.S. Likewise, many other countries around the world like France, Spain, Italy, Argentina, Chile, Australia, Germany, South Africa, and others offer similar climates and soil types that are very ideal for vineyards. If you own land in one of these global zones, this could be a great use for the property you own!
15. Community Park
Some properties are so beautiful, it would be a shame for just one person to have all the fun. If you’ve got a property that could be used and enjoyed by many, or perhaps if you’re in the planning phases of developing a new subdivision – it might be worth your consideration to set aside a small portion of that land as a community park. Outdoor community spaces can have a lot of value because their existence brings up the value of every other property in the area. When all of the nearby residents can have shared access to a portion of land that benefits all – it makes the community stronger and makes the neighborhood more appealing for all future property owners.
16. Horse Stable
If you’re a horse lover, you know the importance of giving your animal a great place to live. If you’re a landowner, you could own the exact type of property a horse needs to live a great life. By building a horse stable and/or some simple fencing around the perimeter of your property, you could create the ideal environment where horse owners from around the area want to store their horses. If you have a passion for horses, this could be a great fit for you!
17. Outdoor Obstacle Course
Some of the best workouts and team-building exercises happen entirely outdoors. Ask anybody who has been through a military training program and they’ll probably agree. That being said – you don’t have to be in the military to get in great shape or build a stronger bond with the people you work with. Simply by using your property as an outdoor obstacle course or even buying some equipment for an adult playground, you could create a great resource for people who are looking for a healthy, cost-effective way to stay fit.
18. Community Playground
Do the kids in your area need a safe place to have fun? Maybe it’s time to invest in a local playground! This can be a great way to attract young families to an area and to keep your neighborhood as a desirable place where people want to be. Playground equipment can range widely in expense – but most respectable playgrounds can be constructed for no more than a few thousand dollars of investment from someone who wants to improve their local community.
There are MANY other ways you can put your vacant land to good use, and if you’re willing to think outside the box and look at all the options (even the ones that might not be obvious), you might be surprised what can be done with a simple plot of dirt that would have otherwise been overlooked by the masses.