Maybe you're looking to buy land for the first time; maybe you're looking to expand upon what you already own. But so often asked is...
How much land should I buy?
How much continuous land should it be?
How much should I invest (pay) for the land?
It's a common question, but one without an exact answer. What you most likely hear (from respectable professionals) is:
It depends WHAT you want.
It depends what you want it FOR.
It depends on your LOCATION.
Here are some questions you should be asked AND be able to answer confidently for yourself.
1. What do you want to do with the land?
Do you want to grow timber for income?
Do you want hunting (if so what type of hunting)?
Do you want a serene nature escape?
Do you want a nice combination balance of all of the above?
Knowing what you want to do with the land will firstly eliminate land sales you should NOT consider (not matter the "deal"), but also the acreage size range you should be looking into.
- Land for ONLY a timber investment (in the Southeast) should be a minimum of 50 plantable acres. This is the common operationally manageable size for most operations to note consider you a "small landowner" and "squeeze" you into their schedule. This is not necessarily a 50 acre land sale either... (it might be though), but be sure you are looking at 50 acres of operational ground to plant timber on. You should remove right of way acreages, hardwoods you would keep as hardwoods and drainage ways. Your 50 acre land sale MIGHT be only 30 acres of operational plantation ground....
- Hunting. What wildlife are you wanting to hunt for? Deer, duck, turkey, other? If you want to duck hunt....don't buy a 40 acre upland thinking you'll just "dig a pond" and it'll work out in your favor. You'll also likely be wanting at least 40+ acres with a diverse habitat (or one that can be managed diversely). A 40 acre pine-straw raked tract, although could be converted back to various hardwoods and ideal wildlife habitat, probably isn't exactly the right "fit" to fulfill your hunting desires.
- A serene escape. YOU are going to have to decide what serene and peaceful looks like to you. In this case it could simply be a 5 acre riverfront lot, a 15 acre wooded cul-de-sac of a neighborhood, or a 300 acre old hunting ground. Because hunting and income are NOT your primary reasoning for owning the land, you have a wide range to choose from that can meet your minds eye... just be sure you have your ideal vision before you start land shopping.
2. Where do you want to own land? (It depends on your location!)
A lot of variables can change across regions, state lines, even neighboring county lines. But location IS is important to pay attention to.
I'm not likely to find a timber investment tract, for income, 50 acres or more in the Blue Ridge Mountains that would satisfy my economic desires... BUT... I would likely find a variety of 10-20 acres of hardwood tracts for wildlife viewing and "nature escape" that I might get some income off of, but wouldn't "shop" there for my economic, income-stream purposes.
Likewise, I most likely would not "shop" for a 15 acre hunting and nature escape in the swamplands of North Florida... It would be more advantageous (for land investment) to buy 50+ acres of diverse habitat for timber and hunting purposes in this region because of the market availability.
You should also consider "how far" you wish to live from your land. Do you want to live on site? Within the same county? Or maybe you don't mind a 2-3-4hr drive? This can help narrow in any temptations of "good deals" that turn into a thorn into your side simply because of the distance and travel time to get there...
3. What is your budget? How much can you realistically pay for land (total)?
In both of the above examples though you have drastically different price per acre expectations too. The Blue Ridge Mountain acreages can be expected to be much higher (per acre) than the swamps (per acre). But also keeping in mind, as much as you WANT to own 500 acres, if its valued at $1,000,000-$3,000,000... it simply may not be feasible option for you (at this time). Don't ever overstretch yourself financially (this is true in all aspects of life too though). I will be the first to tell you "land is worth it", but nothing is worth investing into if at the end of the day you end up in bankruptcy.
How much land should you invest in?
Only you can answer what is right for your desires and situation. But hopefully now you have the ability to answer the most important questions that can lead you to your answers:
1. What do you want the land for? 2. Where do you want your land? 3. What's your budget?
*I ALWAYS recommend working with a qualified land sales agent for your area*