Free Real Estate? Here’s Where You Can Buy Land for $0 in the U.S.

The beauty of beginning the home-building process lies in the abundance of options available, including the land you’ll be building upon. Depending on your plans for the property and flexibility with location, you may be interested to know there are places in the United States where you can purchase land for next to nothing — if not absolutely nothing! Though many of the cities that offer free or cheap land aren’t exactly giving it away out of the kindness of their hearts, there are plenty of benefits to glean from building in these hidden gem rural areas. If you’re the type that loves sprawling countryside, small towns, and great deals, continue reading below to see where you can acquire real estate that, quite literally, pays for itself. 

Lincoln, Kansas

Lincoln, Kansas, known as the “Post Rock Capital of Kansas,” isn’t just rich in limestone resources; this small town of about 2,900 people also offers plenty of desirable residential opportunities. In an effort to boost growth, the city has started offering free home sites in a fully developed subdivision by a local baseball field, the city park, and a new junior-senior high school.

Located at the east ends of Lost Street and School Street, these residential lots range from 14,000 to 35,000 sq. ft. and provide hookups to all necessary utilities, making them ready for you to put down your roots. Although their eligibility criteria is sparse, the city outlines that buyers must agree to build a home that meets their timeline and design requirements and submit proposed plans with proof of income or a loan pre-approval letter as part of their application. 

For more information on their free residential lots, process, and criteria, visit their Housing Opportunities page here.  

Elwood, Nebraska

Elwood is a quaint small town located two-and-a-half hours west of Lincoln, Nebraska. The city offers free lots through its homeownership program to both in-state and out-of-state newcomers who wish to make Elwood their home. Again, the catch is that you need to start construction within a particular timeframe — that being one year — and occupy the residence within two years of the purchase date. However, Elwood offers a unique down payment assistance program that makes it especially attractive as a prospect. With this program, the Village of Elwood will pay up to 10% of the construction cost for a home costing $25,000 or more, at least until after construction has wrapped. 

For more information, you can visit the city of Elwood’s housing criteria here or call them at (308) 785-2480. 

Mankato, Kansas

Last but not least is the town of Mankato, Kansas — a city of about 900 people in the heart of Jewell County. This small town community offers free land for residential development, with these lots located in the Johnson addition on a horseshoe shaped cul-de-sac. As with Lincoln and Elwood, the city requires you to start construction within a designated period, ensuring that these projects contribute to community growth. That said, those willing to move to Mankato have the opportunity of a lifetime to make something special of their investments and add value to this small but promising town. 

For more information, please visit Mankato’s Free Land resource page here. 

Before getting too excited, remember to do your due diligence in researching zoning restrictions, sewage, water options, and construction access for each of these lots. Though these locations have taken significant strides to make their construction processes streamlined and less intimidating, it never hurts to understand the fine print behind your future land purchase. 

And while you may be thinking these opportunities sound too good to be true, remember that these cities are actively looking to grow and offer incredible incentives like free land to make that happen. Of course, building a house involves much more than simply finding a plot to build on. However, with the financial relief of acquiring land for free, you’ll find you have even more resources available for your dream home and can allocate any leftover money to making your new town even more alluring for you, your family, and other future residents.

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