The Best Counties to Buy Land in New York

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The Best Counties to Buy Land in New York

Bart Waldon

Spanning over 47,000 square miles of sprawling meadowlands, dense hardwood forests and rocky slopes teeming with rushing streams, New York State offers diverse landscape allure from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean and Canada to Pennsylvania. Given geographical variances and development pressures across regions, pinpointing finest NY counties proving optimal for land buyers requires weighing several dynamics that impact real estate investment attraction differently in respective zones. Beyond studying simple valuation metrics, understanding localized comparative advantages stemming from terrain advantages, proximity benefits and sector economic drivers paints a clearer picture of highest utility lands poised for retention or improvement upside over elongated ownership horizons. Here are top NY counties shining currently for prospective land buyers seeking property suited for agricultural, recreational, residential or merchantable timber extraction usages over the long run.

Northern New York Offers Abundant Raw Acreage

Blanketing the rural swaths along U.S.-Canada borders, New York’s northernmost frontier counties provide affordable large acreage buys ideal for outdoor enthusiasts thanks to abundance of lakes, rivers, and state parks carved between Adirondack and Tug Hill forested foothills. Budget-friendly lands rich in natural resources but distanced from metro centers foster self-sufficient living comforts. Specifically alluring options exist across:

St. Lawrence County 

Blessed with over 1,100 miles of streams plus active mining and lumber industries amid 1 million acres of woods, St. Lawrence lands balance homesteading appeal near smaller towns like Canton and Ogdensburg.

Jefferson County 

Lands surround popular Thousand Island River tourism, wine trails and Fort Drum ArmyBase while providing farmers ample crop and dairy production soils at affordable rates.

Lewis County 

Boasting New York’s preeminent inland waterway access via interconnected Black River canal system and containing 30% public lands for hunting/fishing, Lewis lands offer perhaps the state’s top recreational/agricultural mixed usage lure.

While Adirondack purchase prices see premiums from southern vacation home builders lately, values remain attractive for vacant land investors exploring New York’s gorgeous yet more remote North Country ambience.

Finger Lakes & Western New York Farmlands Flourish

Transitioning climates toward Lake Ontario and Pennsylvania border south of Buffalo breed different land investment allure. Abundant fertile soils dotting old glacial lake bottom plains nourish bountiful orchard harvests and row cropping operations across flats stretching between gradually sloping hillside vineyards thriving thanks to ideal growing conditions. Regions prospering currently include:

Wayne County 

Peppered with over 100,000 acres of apple orchards and fruit farms netting owners annual gross yields averaging $15,000 per acre thanks to muck black dirt soil richness, Wayne County anchors New York’s fruit basket nickname.

Niagara County 

Aside beckoning Niagara Falls tourists, enough viable grape growing conditions exist supporting robust wine trail dotted with at least 50 distinct winery estates amid picture-perfect patchwork quilt hilly fields and pasturelands.

Genesee County 

With corn, soybeans and wheat complementing dairy farming bounties, Genesee offers relatively flat and stone-free acreage containing well-drained loam soils perfect rotating traditional commodity crop cultivation.

New York’s westernmost counties certainly warrant consideration from land investors seeking fields for cropping or grazing uses promising reasonable annual yields and reliable farm rental income streams.

Southern Tier & Hudson Valley Offer Diverse Options

While ski resorts and wooded hills thrive toward the Catskills westward, microclimates downstate fostering produce and livestock outputs help smaller landowners earning supplemental income from specialty crop cultivation in the rich valley corridors as land prices remain less than areas closer to NYC. Additionally, Pennsylvania border counties farther south provide exceptional values given abundant state game lands and agricultural infrastructures already established. Noteworthy land locales to evaluate span:

Orange County 

An hour north of Manhattan, equestrian estates dot the Black Dirt Region where perfect soil conditions yield bountiful onion harvests generating annual gross revenues exceeding $30,000 per acre thanks thriving muck lands.

Ulster County 

Varied topography allows apple production thriving around New Paltz to coexist near hardwood timber stands further west and dairy pastures encircling Ashokan Reservoir and the former Woodstock site.

Broome County 

Homesteading farms, maple syrup timber stands and emerging hemp industries share land around growing Binghamton economy and superior Susquehanna River access compared to other regions statewide.

Delaware County 

Traversing the southwestern corner, Delaware boasts over 70,000 acres of state forest preserve while also containing Brooklyn’s early water supply watershed acres keeping exurban developers at bay.

For buyers seeking diversified lands with valuation upside near denser populations long term, downstate New York counties warrant consideration before metro growth expands outward more.

Final Thoughts

Determining “best” New York counties to prioritize land investments relies on aligning individual buyer intentions with location-specific advantages spanning soil productivities, commercial infrastructures accessibility, tourism outlooks and development pressures that influence myriad land usage demands differently across respective regions statewide. Northern wilderness massive acreage provides perfect hunting and homesteading isolation. Western NY muck croplands and sloping vineyard stands deliver ideal agribusiness income flows. While southern tier specialty crop options complement mixed usage wooded acres still conveniently accessed from NYC metro. Weigh unique characteristics offered differently across New York when searching for ideal land ownership locales matching planned objectives.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which New York counties offer the most affordable large acreage tracts? 

The northernmost North Country counties like St. Lawrence, Jefferson, and Lewis feature plentiful sub-$2,000 per acre vacant lands with great recreational appeal thanks to abundant lakes, streams, and woodlands in the state’s least developed region along the Canadian borders. 

What Western NY counties provide ideal farmland investment opportunities today?

The legendary muck black dirt soil regions spanning central counties like Wayne, Niagara, and Genesee foster bountiful apple orchard harvests, successful vineyards, and traditional commodity crop cultivation that helps New York anchor its longstanding fruit basket and wine trail esteemed agricultural reputation nationwide. 

Why do downstate and Hudson Valley NY counties near NYC offer unique land investment opportunities? 

Microclimates nurturing specialty crop farming around Orange County’s Black Dirt Region plus Ulster and Delaware’s mix of dairy lands and hardwood timber stands help smaller landowners earn supplemental income from niche agricultural markets as growth encroaches upstate gradually over the long run. 

What resources help evaluate NY counties on metrics important for prioritizing land buys?

Online property records detail recent sales for value comparisons. USDA crop surveys confirm harvest productivity data. State park sites detail public land access options. Development forecasts help project localized metro creep. And Farm Bureau testimonials provide area agricultural infrastructure conditions. 

Beyond pricing differentials, what other decision factors help determine best NY counties suited for land buyers' needs? 

Intended uses steers priorities balancing crop/livestock outputs or timber harvest objectives versus just recreation/leisure acreage demands. Also consider isolation preferences given proximity from metro regions and suburbanization rates expected over decades of intended ownership periods factored against goals. 

What strategies help land buyers negotiate attractive pricing even within premium NY counties today? 

Leverage flexibility agreeing to seller financing terms when advantageous rate spreads exist over traditional bank loans or offer non-refundable cash down payments securing rights of first refusal on future adjacent plots primed for divestment. Approaching owners directly open negotiating permutations unavailable through public listings.

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.


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