Tips and hints for land buyers

A land capsule is a piece of property that is not partially owned by a bank, is not purchased with the intention of resale for short term profit and has the potential to support you and loved ones if required.

The following advice is based on what I have gleaned from my own research while looking for my own land capsule. This includes communication with others and what seems to be personal common sense.

What does the future hold?

While none can predict exactly what the future holds, patterns, trends and social ‘chatter’ can cast some light down the path ahead. The type of future we are headed for should factor into your evaluation of any piece of land.

There is a growing consensus that climate change, peak oil, population growth and species extinction are real issues that will have serious implications for all. These issues deserve consideration when planning what and where to buy.

Try to imagine what it might be like to live at the location you are considering under these conditions:

  • Frequent power grid blackouts
  • Expensive and irregular fuel supplies
  • Civil unrest

How much land do you need?

This depends on what you plan to do with the land, what you want to get from it and how many people or animals you want to support.

Benefits of more land

  • Provides a buffer from your neighbour
  • Can support more people / animals
  • Offers greater potential (depending on quality of land)

Benefits of less land

  • Closer to small town / community
  • Generally costs less to purchase
  • Lower property taxes (rates)
  • Less to maintain

What to look for and avoid

The most important factor is what resources or valuable attributes the land has. Since every location offers a different ‘package’ it can be difficult to make a direct comparison.

Valuable attributes to look for (in no special order):

  • Running water (not too close to house location) for irrigation, drinking or power
  • Existing trees (shelter and fruit) as these take a long time to get established
  • Existing buildings (costs a lot of money and time to make buildings)
  • Not too close to cell phone tower (download my google map overlay that shows all towers in NZ)
  • Not too close to commercial grower who uses lots of chemicals
  • Close to small community for trade, support and specialisation of skills
  • Nearby transport networks (port, rail, major road)
  • No serious erosion or flooding
  • Available services - drinking water, cellphone reception, internet access (see this map tool) etc.
  • Good climate for growing (no out of season frosts for example)
  • Solar exposure for capitalising on the energy of sunshine. Consider visiting your desired area on the longest and shortest days to get a feel for the extremes of the seasons and any major shadows cast by land forms or trees. Google Earth is a powerful tool for viewing sun angles and resulting shadows at different points in time.
  • Abundant / renewable source of firewood


Different areas of the country offer their own unique culture, ecology and environment.

Avoid high density areas. Peak oil will play havoc with the economy resulting in high unemployment. Crime escalates. Government will become more and more ineffectual to control it and you want to be away from centres with groups or gangs of violent youth.

Old or historic small towns are obvious places to consider as they occupy positions of importance from a time of low energy and credit. The attributes that made these places attractive as a place to settle then may still exist.

Benefits of North Island

  • Climate is generally warmer making growing easier. However, climate change will upset traditional weather patterns
  • Slightly higher sunshine hours

Benefits of South Island

  • Population density is less than half that of the north island
  • Plentiful rivers for generating hydro power
  • A lot of good farmland
  • No active volcanoes

When and how to buy

The types of land worth considering will become considerably more valuable as the system refuses to return to ‘normal’. These bits of land have REAL value as they can provide all the things needed. The sooner you can secure your plot the better.

Pay as large a deposit as possible and pay down any mortgage as fast as you can.

It is probable that many large farms will downsize and split in years to come. This is because managing huge farms will become unviable when it is too expensive to run all the machinery currently used to farm them.

Scope out nice areas and then approach land owners and sound them out on splitting off a piece of land

Join forces

Another option (no doubt with its own problems) is joining with others to buy a larger piece together. There are legal frameworks for this such as "tenants in common"

General ambiance

As you will be spending most of your time on (and around) the piece of land you eventually settle for, make sure it is a location that is generally pleasing and satisfying to occupy.

Good luck!