This article is part of Project Kamp, a One Army project prototyping a more sustainable life. You can learn morehere
With Project Kamp we are trying to prototype a new way of life that is more sustainable and in balance with planet earth. And what is the first thing you need to create such a project? A nice big piece of land where people can experiment new ways of doing things and living together.
Buying a piece of land can be scary. Especially if you’re buying it in a foreign country. It’s a big step. Tons of things to consider, challenges, lawyers, taxes, contracts and so on. We tried to recap the whole 2 yrs buying process in this 20min video to help other people out there that are trying to buy land.
Don’t rush it
One important piece of advice before you start, do not rush it! Take your time. Buying land is an important step that will most likely shape decades ahead of you. We know it is exciting and you want to move in tomorrow but make sure to take into account different options, view plenty of properties, in different regions and (very important) different seasons.
While developing Precious Plastic Version 4 we assembled a little team dedicated to find the perfect land for Project Kamp. For about a year Katharina and Adrian focused full time to scout endless listings online, calling agents, meeting people on the ground, visiting dozens of locations and finding the best options. Plus, Dave and Mattia also travelled a couple of times to help with the final decision. Not everyone might have the luxury of having a full team searching for a land but it is definitely very important to fully focus on the search.
Have a plan
At the beginning it was very useful to have a plan that showed what we wanted to do. This helped us to clearly communicate our idea and vision to friends & family, partners, town officials, lawyers and whoever crossed our paths. We made a video back in 2018 for this, but you could also make a simpler document or pdf (download our templates here). Whatever works for you as long as it illustrates your idea nicely.
Before you even start searching for land it is a good practice to figure out what type of land you want. This can help you focus your initial search and filter out lands that simply aren’t good for you. A few things in our list of requirements:
- size (how big? This depends greatly on plan and budget)
- climate (you like it warm, wet or cold?)
- soil (you want it fertile or not)
- electricity and water connection
- easy access
- nearby public transport
There is not right or wrong, just a series of considerations based on your plan that can help you search for your land. From this list of requirements we made a checklist that you can download from our Academy page.
Visit lands 🚐
Connect with locals
Crucial for our search was to connect with local Portuguese architects, designers, eco villages and permaculture projects. These people helped us a lot to understand the local context, culture and systems. And connecting locally with people is a super important thing you want to do as these will be your neighbours for the years to come.
Let the fun begin :) Once you’ve created a shortlist of lands fitting your criteria and checklists it’s time to go and visit them. Sometimes will be through an agent while some other times through the owner directly. The latter is always a better option but not always possible.
We borrowed a couple of vans and visited the most diverse types of lands - old chicken farms, many abandoned ruins, lots of burned down properties from the 2017 wildfires, mountain lands, ocean views and much more. What’s important here is to see a diverse range of lands to get a broad idea of what’s available.
To help us in the decision process and to remember the lands we visited we created a checklist document (you can download it here) to fill with each land visit. This was very helpful for the final decision, even though gut feeling still played a big role for us.
Meet people in the municipalities
While visiting properties we also tried to meet people in the councils and town halls (camera in Portugues) to get a feeling whether our project would be welcome in those communities. Plus sometimes they might have land available if they really like your project.
Pull the trigger 🤝
We visited dozens of properties, each with their own pros and cons. The final decision was a combination of technical, geographical and cultural considerations and our gut feeling & instinct. We eventually bought a 10 hectares land between Porto and Lisbon. We named it Treasure Stone as it has these big granite rocks locals believe are hiding a big treasure underneath. Cool 😎
Buying process 💰
Ok, the decision has been made and you are ready to buy the land. And this is where the fun part begins. All the paperwork, taxes, lawyers and bureaucracy. Prepare yourself with lots patience and a good lawyer.
The price of your land
The price of your land in Portugal is defined by a number of parameters. Some are more analytical while others are more blurry and subjective. A big factor is whether the land is Urban (you can build your house) or Rustic (used for agriculture) or Mixed. This can impact the price dramatically, like 100 times more expensive. Then there is the more subjective element of how is the land, if it has a nice view, good location, a treasure stone 🙃 etc..
And then of course there is the bargaining part, always fun.
Let’s have a look at the total price to get the land. These costs obviously will vary depending on your land and particular situation. This is what it costed us to buy a 10 hectares land with 2 ruins (meaning we can build on them):
Land: € 109,000
IMT tax: € 6,000
Building book: Free 😎
Fiscal number: € 5
Notary: € 1000
Total price: € 116,005
Owned by One Army Foundation
The land is bought and owned by our foundation, Stichting One Army. This was very important for us. We want to make sure that the land is not owned by any one or more individuals. As it could cause issues down the line. Having the land owned by the foundation makes it more like a shared place where we can prototype a new way of living.
Where did the money come from?
Let’s just say that One Army Foundation is not floating in gold. So we decided to pull together resources and money from friends and family with the promise to return the money within 5 years 🤞 Just to be clear no money from Patreon, One Army or its projects have been used to buy the land.
But if you feel particularly inspired or generous today and wanted to help One Army have a bit more cash to develop projects that tackle big global problems you can support us on Patreon or with a donation.
Land bought ✅
And almost two full years since beginning our search in August 2020 we finally bought the land. Watch this Monthly News below to see very rare Dave in excitement mode.
If you want to learn more about how we bought our land in Portugal visit our Academy page where you can find the video, checklists, templates, pdfs and more to help you get your land.
If you want to stay tuned with the ongoing development subscribe to Project Kamp Youtube channel where we share updates every few weeks about starting from zero, building things and dealing with the rain.
And finally if you ever wanted to support Project Kamp visit this page and be magic 💫