Many people have a dream of buying land and moving to the Golden State. Some may be moving from colder climates, having watched Baywatch on their television. Others may be coming in hopes of greater job opportunities. Still others may be coming from other countries. There are a lot of misconceptions about buying land in California that might lead potential buyers astray. This article will provide some important guidelines for prospective land buyers.
California has a Variety of Micro-Climates
People from foreign countries and some people in the United States may not realize that California has very diverse geography. California is not comprised of great sandy beaches that allow for year-round sun bathing. That is a very small and expensive portion of the state. Even buyers from the San Francisco Bay Area have been disappointed to realize that they really have to remove the snow from the driveway of their new Sierra property in order to have winter access. The county will only plow the roads; the rest is your job.
Other areas, like Sacramento and the rest of the Central Valley, can suffer from pea soup fog in the winter and pretty nasty heat in the summer. Areas on the east slope of the Sierra stay in the teens to 20 degrees Fahrenheit for a low most every night in the colder seasons, so one will need studded tires and have to deal with icy, deep frozen roads. Anyone who has a desire to buy land in California needs to not only do their research about the areas where they might buy land, but they should rent in those areas for a year to see if it is really for them.
Unless you are buying farm land and will raise the majority of your own food, you really do need to ensure you are able to reasonably get to work and/or supplies.
There are some great parcels for sale in Sierra County, for example, but you will likely have a 45 minute drive to the nearest services in Grass Valley, Nevada City, or Truckee. These are on a tedious, windy California “highway” that winds through the Yuba River canyon. The 45 minutes is one way in good weather on a road that is not snowy. The same is true for some otherwise really nice places to live, such as some places in the extreme north of the state.
If you are not a digital worker, you need to consider your timing about trying to get a job in certain areas of the state. Different areas require different types of workers with different skill sets. The Los Angeles area and much of metropolitan Southern California needs many different types of workers with a diverse set of skills, but other areas are enclaves of certain types of workers.
Obviously, the San Francisco Bay area requires many technology workers. Around Oroville, it is more a blue collar area, with many people working on the largest dam in the state. Some areas in the Sierra still employ more logging, fire fighters, forestry personnel. Some small towns may not have jobs available, so you might have to commute to the nearest city to find work.
Zoning and Regulations
If you are doing anything other than buying recreational land to visit in the summer,?Nolo?suggests you have to consider zoning and regulations. California counties often have very strict zoning and regulations about building. Everyone’s dream is to live on the land for awhile and build their dream home, piece by piece. This may not be possible everywhere.
Some counties allow you to live on the land with an RV to build your house only for a short period of time (like six months in?El Dorado County) and only once you have dug your septic system and paid for its approval. Then, you will likely have to pay for a permit in order to live in that RV and build. Some counties will not even allow you to live on the land while you build.
Water and Services
Potential land buyers need to consider the following: Is there water available on the land? Will you need to hook up to the county’s water utility? How much will that cost? How far away are your utilities? If they are not nearby (as in other nearby houses), you will likely need to pay exorbitant fees for getting your utilities on site. If there are other homes nearby, this will likely not be too difficult.
Much of California land is near or adjoining state, national forest service, or Bureau of Land Management holdings. There may be easements that might be on the land you would like to buy that may preclude your access to your own land.
Some land in snow country may not even be plowed in the winter, so you and other land owners will need to work together to pay for plowing the road. Many?national forest service roads?are not plowed in the winter. You have to ensure that you have access to your property when you would like.
The goal of this article is not to scare anyone off from purchasing land in California. Instead, it is to help people avoid costly mistakes in buying land that is possibly not suitable for their needs or lifestyle or land that is simply inaccessible or not suitable for building at all. The key two points are to do your research and to live for a year nearby and see your dream land in all four seasons.