Owning land is a key part of the “American dream”. The specifics of the dream have changed over generations, but it’s still important to have a place that’s all your own. Buying land in big cities like New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago, is often prohibitively expensive, but many states sell very inexpensive land.
To find the best place to buy land, you need to first consider what you want from the land. For many people, buying land is an opportunity to create an escape from their day-to-day lives by having a private and consistent vacation spot. They may want a waterside home, a place to go hiking or a quiet place to retire. They might also be looking for places to invest and hold onto as the value increases.
Regardless of why you want to invest, buying land creates a variety of opportunities, and it’s more easily accomplished than many people would expect. The challenge is in finding where you want to buy, and making sure that the investment matches what you’re hoping to get out of it.
The 5 Cheapest States to Buy Land in the U.S.
The American Midwest doesn’t have huge population clusters like the coasts, but the midwest states are still growing and changing at incredibly fast rates. Whether people are tired of the tight quarters that come with city living, or companies want lower overhead without sacrificing quality, economic shifts are creating a lot of opportunities.
Tennessee has a large amount of relatively inexpensive land despite its urban and cultural centers. Nashville and Memphis are both major hubs for American music, with Nashville being home to the famous Grand Ole Opry and Memphis’s history with the Blues and also the home of the late Elvis Presley, the “King of Rock and Roll”. The growth and expansion means your land has a great chance of appreciating in value. If you’re looking for a great place to live, Tennessee has a great mix of urban and rural locations that still have easy access to cities. Another great benefit is that Tennessee doesn’t have income tax.
The eastern side of the state is the home of the Great Smoky Mountain Range, which forms the border with North Carolina and is a sub-range of the Appalachian Mountains. A 3-acre lot in this area sells for about $60,000. In the center of Tennessee, this cost can drop by almost half that amount. There are lots of opportunities on the outskirts of Nashville, Memphis, and Chattanooga, so you can still enjoy the benefits of rural living while still being close to all of the conveniences of city living..
2. West Virginia
West Virginia is an increasing favorite for camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities since it is nestled entirely within the Appalachian Mountains. It’s home to the famous Blue Ridge Mountains, another Appalachian sub-range. Coal is the state’s largest industry, but their economy is rapidly growing. It has diversified as a global chemical hub and a national biotech hub, in addition to being a leader in energy.
Morgantown, WV won a place on the Forbes’ Top 10 list for best small cities to conduct business. 30 acres of land in the northeast part of the state can sell for as low as $44,000. Closer to the areas like Morgantown, 8 acres can sell for $140,000.
Arizona is a desert state located in the American Southwest. It’s known in large part for its tourism, with picturesque sites like the Grand Canyon and Painted Desert National Park. It’s also one of the fastest growing states in the country, due to its booming job market which is sparking a massive population influx. As of 2019, Phoenix was the fastest-growing city in the country, bringing in over 200,000 residents since the 2010 census.
Despite their growth record, there’s still an amazing amount of affordable land in Arizona. In Arizona’s south, between Tucson, AZ and Mexico, a 20-acre lot can be found for as low as $27,000.
4. New Mexico
East of Arizona and west of Texas, New Mexico has an incredible amount of its own wonderful sites. It is home to a large portion of the Chihuahuan Desert in the south and the Gila National Forest to the West, on the Arizona border. Santa Fe and Albuquerque are both thriving cities, boasting impressive Spanish colonial architecture and vibrant local cultures. Their economy is on the rise, following in Arizona’s footsteps. Land in New Mexico is still incredibly affordable, with 13-acre lots selling for as low as $35,000, even in areas on the outskirts of Albuquerque.
Arkansas has incredibly diverse geography, with a mix of forests, mountains, and a variety of wetlands, due to its abundance of lakes, streams, and rivers. You can go hiking, fishing, golfing, biking, and boating. It’s a fantastic place to build a vacation spot, especially since the cost of living in Arkansas is low compared to its growing economy and population. In some parts of the northeast, 6 acres can sell for $30,000. There are lots of small towns and cities, so it’s possible to find several acres for about $60,000 without sacrificing proximity to modern amenities.
Know Your Plan
Buying land always involves a certain degree of risk. Raw land has no liquidity in terms of its value, meaning its worth does not build quickly and it may take years to get a return on your investment. It isn’t a purchase to make without careful thought, and doing as much research as possible before purchasing is your best bet for success.
If you have something specific you want from your land, or are comfortable with less favorable conditions, like harsh winters, you can use those parameters to refine your search further. If you’d like to live near the water, Oregon and South Carolina have a lot of great land options on the coast. Upstate Pennsylvania and New York have many lakefront opportunities. Idaho, Minnesota, and Montana all have great land opportunities to purchase, but you’ll have to contest with the harsh winter conditions a lot, but for a summer home, they may offer exactly what you’re looking for.