Pros and Cons of Buying Land in Georgia

Return to Blog

Get cash offer for your land today!

Ready for your next adventure? Fill in the contact form and get your cash offer.

Thank you! We got your info and will reach out with any questions ASAP.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Pros and Cons of Buying Land in Georgia

Bart Waldon

Astute investors recognize fortunes build over generations often link back acquiring land ownership stakes matched with area expansion in earlier phases of targeted regions rather than already densely developed zones. And statistics trace nearly 85% of all land across the state of Georgia still falls into rural timber, agricultural use or conservation lands – suggesting ample upside. As the 8th most populous state with over 10.7 million residents that continues expanding both economically and through net migration, sound logic dictates buying land proximal to Savannah or other emerging zones like Albany near burgeoning solar infrastructure may offer prudent plays for those with longer hold durations. However, land buying also proves highly speculative given inherent development uncertainties and carrying costs that require thoughtful analysis. 

This guide examines core factors both for and against buying land in Georgia - from metro periphery plays to more remote timber and crop acreage. Key considerations include zoning, infrastructure demands, taxation impacts, deferred returns on invested capital and limitations buyers face attempting resales prior area maturation. Let’s weigh the evidence determining if putting down stakes proves savvy.

Lay of the Land - An Overview of Georgia's Real Estate Market

First things first, it helps to understand the different regions and price points for land in Georgia. If you want to live near the big city, metro Atlanta and its surrounding counties have plenty of suburban land in master-planned communities. Just expect to pay a premium, with land prices ranging from $100,000 an acre on up.

Head further out from the city and you’ll find exurban areas, where larger 5-10 acre parcels may run you $20,000-60,000 per acre. This gets you breathing room from the city without being too remote. Moving south and west, you’ll hit the rural countryside, with 500+ acre farms and woodlands typically priced $3,000-$5,000 an acre.

The climate varies from north to south as well, with cooler mountain temperatures and more snow in the northern valley regions. Towards coastal Georgia in the south, expect steamy summers and mild winters.

Average temperatures range from the 60s in January to low 80s in July. And being in the South, you can expect your fair share of thunderstorms and humidity much of the year.

Why Buy Land in Georgia? The Peach State's Sweet Perks

From an affordable cost of living to access to nature, Georgia offers homesteaders, retirees and families a lot to love. Here are some of the best reasons you might hightail it down here to buy your own slice of land.

It's a (Peach) Breeze on the Budget

No question, land in Georgia comes at a discount compared to other states. The average per-acre price as of 2023 is around $1,500 for rural land and $3,000 for exurban and suburban plots. From wooded retreats to rolling farmland, you get more bang for your buck.

If you’re paying California or New York prices for bare land - sometimes upwards of $10,000 an acre in desirable areas - Georgia will feel like a steal. The savings mean you can purchase bigger parcels or higher quality land.

Take a Hike Through Scenic Paradise

From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the pine forests of south Georgia, the landscapes here are stunning. Public lands like State Parks and National Forests offer waterfalls, hiking trails, fishing spots and campgrounds galore. Owning private land lets you access thousands more acres for recreation. Our temperate climate means you can enjoy the outdoors year-round.

Hit a Home Run with Homesteading

For self-sufficient living, Georgia is hard to top. Mild winters allow growing fresh produce almost year-round. Beekeeping, poultry and livestock do well here too. And with plenty of rural areas, there’s room to spread out. Zoning laws tend to be minimal outside of cities and developments.

Feel That Sweet Southern Charm

Another advantage is the slower pace and hospitality in Georgia. Drivers still wave, strangers say hi, and community is important. The picturesque small towns dotting the countryside let you breathe and unwind. After the big city grind, Georgia’s charm is a welcome change.

Retire a Peach in Peaceful Bliss

With Georgia’s low cost of living, especially affordable housing, it’s no wonder retirees flock here. The state income tax is a modest 5.75% with exemptions for Social Security and pensions. Property taxes average around 1% - that’s just $1000 annually on a $100,000 home.

Seniors can stretch their savings in Georgia. And with golfing, fishing, craft fairs and church communities, there are plenty of ways to stay active.

Grow an Investment in Land

Real estate remains one of the safest investments around. As metro Atlanta expands further outward with companies and residents, land prices rise in surrounding counties. Purchasing land now and holding for the long term pays off.

Within an hour of major job centers, your unused land can become a prime development opportunity or sell to residential buyers wanting their own acreage. The forecasts show Georgia’s population growing by 2.5 million over the next 10 years - so the demand is there!

Downsides of Owning Georgia Land

Land ownership anywhere comes with annoyances and expenses. Here in Georgia, you may encounter these issues:

Rocky, Hilly Terrain

Large areas of Georgia are hilly or even mountainous, with rocky red clay soil. While beautiful to look at, it’s more challenging and costly to build on. Flat, gently rolling land is scarcer. Be prepared for high foundation and grading expenses.

Sizzling Summers with Pop-up Storms

If you’re coming from a more northern climate, our hot, humid summers take adjustment. Triple digit temperatures are not uncommon. The upside is winters remain fairly mild.

Thunderstorms are frequent, though they help cool things off! Just prepare for power outages, flash flooding and tornadoes. Have an emergency plan and response in place. Hurricanes also impact Georgia when they come up the coast.

Out in the Boonies

In rural Georgia, amenities like grocery stores, doctors’ offices, and such are miles away. Be ready to travel for supplies and services or do without. Internet and cell service can be spotty too. Make sure to research what’s accessible from any land before buying.

Critters and Varmints Galore

Some creatures you’ll enjoy seeing on your land - like deer, turkeys and songbirds. Others - mosquitos, ticks, snakes, and fire ants - are pests. Plan to use caution and keep these risks in mind. Scorpions and even an occasional alligator down south are no joke either.

Jump Through Permitting Hoops

While Georgia leans libertarian in most matters, building does involve some formalities. Depending on location, you may need land use permits, septic system approvals, electric/well installation sign offs. In incorporated towns and cities, even more convoluted zoning rules exist.

Cough Up Cash for a Septic System

Since municipal sewer lines don’t run out to rural land, you’ll be footing the bill for a private septic tank and field lines. This runs $5,000-$15,000+ on average. You’ll also need to budget for upkeep and pumping every few years.

Beware Hidden Expenses

Beyond just purchasing the land, be prepared for all the setup costs. Building a road or long driveway, running power lines and utilities, clearing land, and prepping the homesite add up. Unexpected land attributes like high water tables that require drainage can really up the price.

Key Pointers for Buying Land in Georgia

If you aren’t deterred yet, congrats - sounds like you’re primed for Georgia living! Use these tips when researching land for sale:

Location first - Have a firm idea of which part of Georgia you prefer based on terrain, climate, budget and proximity to amenities. Casting too wide a net makes it hard to choose.

Access is key - Don’t assume that dirt road leading to the property is public. Verify legal deeded access in writing or you may end up landlocked.

Read the fine print - Know exactly what’s included in the sale - mineral rights, easements, structures, boundary fences and so on.

Check the terrain - Hilly sites make everything tougher. Focus your search on flat or gently rolling land if possible.

Be skeptical of bargains - Outrageously cheap land likely has problems like poor drainage or flooding. Do due diligence if an asking price seems too good to be true.

Scope out surroundings - Drive around to see what’s near the land and if development is heading that way. Farms nearby could become subdivisions later.

Prep your wallet - Budget 20% or more beyond the purchase price for infrastructure, fees, taxes and closing costs.

Patience pays - Moving hastily leads to regrets. Take time to find the right property for your needs and make sure it’s properly surveyed.

Pull permits - Before making offers, research what permits and approvals will be required for any buildings or use of the land.

Final Words

Well, that about wraps up this grand tour of the ins and outs of buying land in Georgia! I tried to paint an honest picture of the trade-offs involved - affordable prices and beautiful landscapes don't come without some challenges too. The best advice is don't let the hurdles deter you. Do your homework on zoning, utilities, and budgeting for fees. Take time to explore different regions and find the right spot. Talk to the locals to get the lay of the land. If owning a piece of rural Georgia is your dream, with smart planning it can absolutely become a reality.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are property and land taxes like in Georgia?

Georgia has some of the lowest property tax rates in the U.S., averaging around 1% of assessed value. For a $200,000 home, expect to pay about $2,000 annually in property taxes. Agricultural land is taxed based on productivity - the higher the yields, the higher the tax. Overall, Georgia is a tax-friendly state for landowners.

How risky is buying land in Georgia in terms of natural disasters?

While Georgia is susceptible to hurricanes and tropical storms coming inland from the Atlantic, major hurricane damage is relatively rare. Only 3 Category 3 storms have made direct landfall since 1900. Areas near the coast or rivers are most vulnerable to flooding from storms. The rest of Georgia sees occasional tornadoes and thunderstorm wind damage, but overall disaster risk is moderate.

What permits will I need to build and reside on vacant land in Georgia?

In unincorporated rural areas, regulations are minimal but you'll still likely need a land disturbance permit, septic system permit from the health department, and permits for any wells, utilities, or driveways that access public roads. Within city limits and zoning districts, restrictions and permitting requirements increase significantly. Always research the local ordinances.

How much can I expect to pay for utilities if I build a home on vacant land in Georgia?

In rural areas, expect to pay around $10,000 to have power lines extended to your property. Drilling a well costs $8,000-$12,000. Many choose propane instead of natural gas for around $1,500 in tank installation fees. Septic installation can run you $5,000-$15,000. And don't forget monthly charges once you're hooked up!

What are my land financing options for buying vacant land in Georgia?

You can take out a traditional mortgage if building within 12 months. For raw land, financing options are limited to land/lot loans, typically with higher interest rates and 20% down payments. Owner financing from sellers is possible but uncommon. Otherwise, you need the cash to buy land outright. Investing in land almost always requires good upfront capital.

About The Author

Bart Waldon

Bart, co-founder of Land Boss with wife Dallas Waldon, boasts over half a decade in real estate. With 100+ successful land transactions nationwide, his expertise and hands-on approach solidify Land Boss as a leading player in land investment.


Related Posts.

All Posts