Ask Matt: Finding Land

I wanted to continue our semi-irregular feature with another commenter question. Reader Sarah wrote:
Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. My husband and I have giddily been reading your posts because we've been inspired to go the tiny home route as well, and are specifically interested in NC. Incidentally, we found you on the Tiny Life blog by googling "North Carolina small home"). :)

Right now we're in the process of trying to find land (beginners!), and I was wondering if you'd mind sharing how you went about searching for your land. We're not in NC now, so looking online remotely and getting in touch with brokers who actually have parcels available has been a bit challenging. I would greatly appreciate any advice you could offer.

Thank you so much
And Matt says:

We took our time with our search for land. Before we began, we did a lot of soul searching to make sure this was something we really wanted to do. We also tried to determine some of the specifics. We considered, in no particular order: privacy, distance from a town / city, road access, cost, size of the parcel, availability of water, and climate. Since we had already decided we wanted to be in the mountains, we also had to consider slope, sun exposure, accessibility and a host of other attributes. Our decision to be off the grid allowed us to look in places that conventional land buyers might not, which also meant that some lower cost options were available to us. We thought about our impact on our neighbors. It is very important to us that we take the people around us into consideration and do our best not to disturb those who, like us, are just looking for a little peace.

The actual search took about a year. We spent a great deal of time driving around different areas, talking to locals, reading everything we could, and keeping an eye on real estate listings (several real estate sites have free MLSsearches), classified ads, and for sale signs. Because of our jobs and the three hour drive to get to the mountains, most of this work took place on the weekends. A few months into our search we decided to talk to a few Realtors to see if it made sense to get some help, and we found one who was excited about what we were doing. Having a realtor accelerated our search, because he could do some of the preliminary searching and provide insights that saved us many hours and many gallons of gas. Each property we saw gave us a better idea of what we wanted and what we could afford. We learned what things we could be flexible on and what things were absolute requirements. It took us another several months of weekend trips, but the right piece of land finally came on the market at the right price and we made our purchase.
This is some other beautiful land we found but it didn't have the privacy we were looking for.
And this is from the day we found the land that would become Mt. Matt.
The view form our mountain.

 We'll be back with more building updates after this weekend.  Keep reading and please, keep commenting. We're happy to answer your questions. 



  1. Matt- Another couple of things to consider. Friends: Close enough that they can come and visit and help. I enjoy community, and it has enriched our lives to come up there.
    Nearby Medical: Remember, that building things with tools is actually a fairly dangerous activity, and you could actually die if you are hurt and you don't get emergency help in time (I don't mean to get dramatic, but it's true). And... I have to tell you, as a guy who is getting older, I have actually wondered more than once before we left home to visit you, "where is the closest hospital". It could be anything from anaphalectic shock from a brown recluse or a snake bite, or tripping over a chunk of quartz on the way to take a pee. And At 53, I am not too young to have a heart attack. I think your place is a good mix, not too far from Asheville.

    A nearby ice supply is a good thing ;)

  2. We enjoy your blog. Thank you!
    We may have an opportunity to purchase some land in a rural area south of Asheville where we would build a Tumbleweed. Can you tell me how you handled the zoning/permitting issues in your county? Since your square footage is 120 square feet, does zoning/permitting apply? Thanks, Mike


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