How To Get Free Land (Yup, It’s Possible)

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You may dream of being a homesteader in the classic Kilcher family mold. However, with the Homestead Act having been repealed in 1976, that avenue for acquiring free land has dried up. But as several states and towns still encourage people to settle by providing free or nearly free land, you don’t have to give up your dream. Find out which communities still offer free land, how to get it and of course the strings that are attached.


The 11 towns and cities offering free land in the United States are below, read on to see the full list!

Key Takeaways

  • The federal government no longer operates any homesteading programs. Any program that purports to offer free federal land is illegitimate. Do not be taken in by any marketing copy that attempts to convince you otherwise; you do not want to fall for a scam.
  • Several small towns and rural communities, especially in Midwestern states, offer free land as an incentive to attract householders and businesses to them. They often do so to address population decline and static job markets in these communities.
  • You will generally be required to fill out an application providing details of where you are currently living, who will be living on the land provided, and what you plan to do with the land.
  • Most schemes require you to pay for the land by building a house on the land or creating a certain number of jobs. Most require you to take up residence. Doing so ensures that you will meet their needs as a community, which is why they are providing this land in the first place.
  • In many cases, towns provide utilities. However, you will have to pay to bring utilities to the property in some cases.
  • Once the town has accepted your application, you will need to prove that you are financially in a position to carry out the required development of the land. Such finances could be in the form of cash or a loan. Some communities offer tax rebates to make it easier to build on the land they offer.
  • In most cases, you will have to sign an agreement that stipulates that the land is forfeit should you not carry out the agreed-upon improvements within a certain period (typically a year).

Table of Contents

Where To Get Free Land In The United States

You may be wishing that you owned land but find the cost of land prohibitive. It can be a challenge to raise enough capital to realize your dreams of owning land.

It is possible to get free land in the United States, entirely legally, without any form of illegal squatting that would result in you being turned out of your home.

Instead, you can have a home (or a business) in a caring small-town community.


Several communities in the United States are offering land for free, provided you build on the land and live in their community. They are generally offering the land as an incentive to encourage settlement.

Let’s look at the towns and cities in the US that still offer free land. We have excluded those whose programs have been suspended.

1. Lincoln, Kansas

The City of Lincoln offers free lots in a residential development within the city limits. The plots are located at the east ends of School Street and Lost Street (two cul de sacs) and are supplied with water and sewerage lines.

These residential lots, which range from 14,000 to 35,000 square feet, are offered to individuals and families who would like to move to the area and build a new home. These lots are near to all the amenities a family would need.

When applying, you must submit proof of financial means and plans for the new residence. If the council approves your application, you must pay a refundable deposit equal to $0.08/square foot and comply with the terms of the agreement.

For more information, visit here.


2. Mankato, Kansas

The Johnson addition on the east side of Mankato currently has 26 free lots on a horseshoe-shaped drive with utilities. These lots are near amenities. No assessments now exist against the lots.

To apply, you must submit a home plan and be pre-approved by a lending institution. The city council will interview you.

Construction must begin within six months of taking possession of the lot and be completed within two years. The minimum size for homes is 1,200 square feet, excluding garages and a basement.

For more information, visit here.

3. Osborne, Kansas

The City of Osborne offers free residential housing lots in the Sunset Addition, on the western edge of the city, north of Main Street.

You will have to fill out an application and meet with the city council to form an agreement.

Construction of a home with the required specifications must be completed within twelve months of application approval, and you must take full occupancy within twenty-four months.


The houses must be a minimum of 1,400 square feet on ground level, have a crawl space or basement, and may not be mobile homes.

Upon signing with the city, you must pay a refundable $500 deposit.

For more information, visit here.

4. Plainville, Kansas

The city of Plainville in Rooks County, Kansas, is offering lots for new construction in an area between Colorado and Wyoming streets and 2nd and 3rd streets.

All homes must have a full foundation and must be begun within twelve months of the agreement between the city and the buyer commencing and completed within eighteen months.

You will be required to meet with the city council, have plans for the home approved by the council, and pay a $500 refundable deposit.

The property is deeded to the buyer once the contract’s terms are completed. Rooks County provides rebates on property taxes for the first ten years. There are no special assessments; however, you will have to bring utilities to the house.

For more information, visit here.

5. Flagler, Colorado

The town of Flagler, Colorado, does not offer any free land for residential purposes. However, the town is offering free land for business or industry.


The town has around 480 acres of land available adjacent to the railroad. The size of the lot that the town will allocate to you depends on the number of people your business will employ. This land is without utilities, and you will have to bear the cost of bringing utilities to your lot.

The town requires that you submit a detailed business plan and three years of tax returns and financial information. You must also stipulate how much land your business will need.

If the town council approves your initial application, you will have to pay a $10/acre deposit and submit it to a public hearing so that the community is involved.

For more information, visit here.

6. Curtis, Nebraska

The city of Curtis offers free lots with all utilities on paved concrete streets. Construct a single-family home to the required specifications within the necessary time, and you will pay nothing for the lot.

The town offers down payment assistance for new home construction for up to $4,000 and a cash incentive of up to $1,000 for families with children. Local businesses also offer substantial incentives.

Commercial lots are also available for free in and around Curtis for building commercial or industrial buildings.

For more information, visit here.

7. Elwood, Nebraska

Elwood offers free lots on the west edge of town in Wheatfield Addition. These 110 by 115-foot lots are available to construct an owner-occupied residential property.

You must submit a floor plan to the town council for approval. Construction must begin within twelve months of approval, and the home must be occupied within twenty-four months. A refundable $500 deposit is required, and a $50 building permit fee (non-refundable).

The Village of Elwood offers down payment assistance of 10 percent of the construction cost, up to $25,000, upon completion of the home.

For more information, visit here.

8. Manilla, Iowa

The first phase of Manilla’s Sunrise Addition is complete, with twelve new homes, but the Second Addition offers 16 residential lots free, provided you build a new single-family residence.

Paved streets serve the lots, and utilities are on site. The City of Manilla offers a five-year 100 percent tax abatement. First-time home-buyers may qualify for down payment assistance.

The community offers a full range of services and amenities.

For more information, visit here.

9. New Richland, Minnesota

New Richland, in southern Minnesota, is offering free 86 by 133-foot lots for residences on the northwestern side of town. These are near to amenities and services.

To qualify for the land, you must build a home within one year of receiving the lot. Some lenders will allow the land to be used as equity for a construction loan. You will need a pre-approval letter from your lender to begin the approval process with the City of New Richland.

Assessments apply to cover street development, water, and sewerage costs, with the estimated total cost per lot being $25,000. If your income is under a stipulated amount, you will qualify for a reduced assessment of around $14,000. This money is collected with your real estate taxes.

For more information, visit here.

10. Grafton, Illinois

Grafton, a small town in western Illinois, offers lots on a bluff at the intersection of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers.

These lots are selling for $5,000. However, if you build your home on a lot within three years, the council will reimburse you for this money, meaning that the land is free.

Grafton offers a full range of amenities and services and is located just under an hour from St. Louis, Missouri.

Visit their website here.

11. Buffalo, New York

There aren’t many opportunities if you are looking for free land in the northeast. However, if you are keen to get free land in an urban location rather than in any small towns mentioned in this list, consider Buffalo’s urban renewal homesteading program.

This land is not one hundred percent free, but it’s a fantastic deal that comes close to being free land.

Properties in designated Urban Renewal Areas may be available to you under the Urban Homestead Program, as long as the city does not require the property for public purposes and no buyer is attempting to buy the property (sales take precedence over homesteads).

You can acquire property for $1 and the required closing costs.

To participate, you will need to complete an application form and submit it for review by the Division of Real Estate, who will pass it on to the Land Use Planning Committee for release.

If this committee determines that they cannot release the land, the Division of Real Estate will notify you accordingly.

You can participate in three ways. Either you can acquire a vacant lot next to your existing primary residence in the City of Buffalo, obtain a vacant lot to construct a new home, or apply to rehabilitate an existing residential structure for use as a primary residence.

Financial qualifications apply to all applications. In the case of applications to build a residence, construction must be finished within twelve months, and you must occupy the dwelling for at least thirty-six months afterward.

In the rehabilitation of existing properties, repairs must be completed within eighteen months, and you must occupy the residence for at least thirty-six months afterward.

For more information, visit here.

Will Alaska Give You Free Land?

Although Alaska was the last state in which homesteading land was available, there is no longer any free land in Alaska. The tiny town of Anderson in the borough of Denali was offering free land, but they have since suspended their program.

Which States Offer Free Land?

No state governments are offering free land. However, small communities in Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois offer free land. Buffalo, New York, also has an urban renewal program that provides land almost free. Some other towns in these states and towns in Texas and Alaska were offering land but have since suspended or ended their programs.

How Can You Get Free Land?

The general process to get free land is to apply to the community in question and go through an approval process whereby they assess your ability to build on the land and take up residence in their community. There may also be a refundable deposit that you will have to pay (which you will forfeit if you do not meet the terms of the agreement with the community).

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