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A Place to Park a House: Adventures in Buying Land (+ Free Guide)

February 26, 2017

 Lessons learned from 6 months of seeking and chasing after the land of my dreams. Almost as difficult as finding true love. 




Once I got the ‘grand’ idea of building my own home, I needed to figure out a place to put it.


I toyed with a couple of options:


Option 1: Buy land - but super expensive and difficult to find

Option 2: Lease land  - less expensive in the short term, less permanent and pretty feasible, though not easy to find either;

Option 3: Takeover a relative’s backyard in exchange for minimal rent or doing chores - almost free, but relative may disown me sooner or later, also not many relatives with big enough backyards…


I decided to work my way down those options, moving on to the next as I get more desperate. First up, buy land.




I already had an idea of the house I wanted to build and the kind of place I would want to reside in, so I jotted down a list of criteria to help with my search:


Size: Small plot, something that I can easily manage on my own. A 5,000 sq ft bungalow plot seemed just right: roughly 1,000 sq ft for the house, and another 4,000 for a garden, a little driveway and space for my future yet-to-be-obtained cats to run around in. 


Something like this.


Location: My life for the most part revolves around the city centre - that's where my family and friends are. That's where the hospitals, dental clinics, malls, and mamak stalls that I go to are located, and where work and interesting events typically take place. While I was up for exploring and living in an entirely new area, I didn't want to be too far away. My general rule was this: It should take less than 2 hours for me to drive or take public transport into the city. 


Characteristics: I like nature and animals a lot, so I wanted to be surrounded by beautiful scenery and greenery. I don't like masses of people very much, so I wanted as few of them around me as possible. It would also be really nice if I could find a chunk of forest to hide in, maybe even have a river or a little stream winding through the property where deer, fairies and unicorns would come by to drink... oooooooooh~


Cost: My fantasies aside, the land had to be affordable. I am allergic to loans, and was determined that I wouldn't borrow money for this purchase. That meant I was limited to the tiny budget of what I have thus far managed to earn and save from years of working. That pretty much ruled out the city - I doubt I'd be able to afford a city land big enough to build a toilet on, much less a house. Luckily, I've been wanting to get out of the city anyway, so that didn't bother me much. 



What buying property in the city feels like. Source





When I set out to buy land, I thought I knew what I was doing. I had a list of criteria ready, I had calculated the budget I could afford for it, and I had even prepared a timeline chart that confidently dictated that I would be a landowner in a month’s time.  I mean, it’s just shopping… How hard could that be?


Three months later, way beyond my self-imposed deadline, I was no closer to becoming a landowner. Not only was it a lot harder than I had initially (and erroneously) anticipated, but it was also extremely frustrating, exhausting and time-consuming. At the rate I was going, I wouldn’t have a place to park my non-existent house until I turn 80. 


The thing about buying land is that not many people do it, and those who do only do it once or twice in their entire lives (unless they are in the construction or land development business and transact property for a living, that is). Normal people don't have the moolah to buy up properties with 6-7 digit price tags every other weekend, so normal people don't have much experience or advice to give. 


So basically, I was running around blindly, wasting the first couple of months looking at the wrong places and chasing the wrong leads. I did eventually get better, and everything worked out in the end, but am not going to lie - it was a struggle.


When will this end????





I wish there had been an easy guide or resource to teach me the ropes of buying land, but since there wasn't, I decided to make one.


All the lessons I learned, I put together in a short guide for buying your first piece of land. So if you are interested in buying land, or just want to poke your nose around in the event that you become interested in buying land one day, definitely check it out. I chronicle my land search efforts and detail out what to do and what you need to look out for to make sure you're not making a huge mistake with one of the biggest purchases of your life.