Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
I hope you get some good feed back on this topic because we are interested in the same thing! I can tell you what we have learned.
We are market gardeners who will expand into pastured poultry.
We currently live about an hour and half east of Atlanta. I know this area well having lived here in the past. We are interested in three states, Georgia, North carolina, and Tennessee. We love the great Smokies and would like to be close. North East Georgia is beautiful but can be pricey because it is mostly resort towns. Its not to far from Atlanta or Athens to get goods to market. Eastern Tn offers the best land prices and has little to no building restrictions and has good markets in Chattanooga and Knoxville. W. North Carolina is really beautiful....but pricey land and some very wealthy resort towns....Highlands, Boone, Asheville is very nice. I think if we won the lotto we would go to the Clayton Ga/ Highlands/Cashiers area......
We lived in mountains in the past and really want to get back to the cooler temps, and a little winter.
We did a job last summer in a remote area of Virginia. The land is super cheap there. We planted a garden and carted it off to market and found that we could not sell a thing! So while cheap land is nice.....if you can't make a living farming then its just not worth it. Its finding that happy middle!
As far as schools I don't know. We are looking for a place to retire and farm and our children are all grown. I homeschooled so in the past it was not an issue. Homeschooling children on a farm was a blessing for me.....we loved it.
I think all in all we have decided that a smaller piece of land near an area where we can be successful selling is better than a thousand acres to far away to get to a good market. We have considered a remote area and being completely self sufficient but even old grouches like us like to go to town every once in a while!
Good luck and I will be interested to hear what others have to say!
After looking all over Southern Ohio and Eastern West Virginia, we settled on southern Virginia as our ideal location. Unfortunatly, most of the properties in Ohio we could afford had houses ready to fall down or the soil was too played out for us, we're not spring chickens any more and I don't have the time or inclination to rebuild a house or renew the fields, if you do though, there are bargains to be had up there. West Virginia had some nice properties, but it seemed like every one we looked at had sold their mineral rights, I don't really want to become an oil or gas barron, but I really don't like the idea of someone else doing it on my farmland. We decided against going further south than Virginia, because we personally believe the climate is getting warmer and I'm warm enough already in VA. You mentioned that you liked the area around Staunton, is price the reason you wouldn't want to buy something near there? I couldn't afford that area myself, but I was looking for 40 - 50 acres and a solid farm house. Joel Salatin seems to do pretty well there with his Polyface Farm. If you want to find more reasonably priced land in Virginia, the Cumberland, Appomattox, Buckingham or Charllote county region is worth looking at. I cannot really speak to the local markets, but Lynchburg is not too far West and the capitol, Richmond is about an hour or so away. As an added bonus seven of the wealthiest counties in the nation are in virginia, a few hours to the north, with plenty of farmers markets and restaurants (not to mention Washington DC). It's a distance to be sure, but it's a huge market with lots of people who both want (and can afford) quality food. So if you have the ability to get there, theroretically you would have a larger market for more specialized/profitable items like frozen meats, berries, cheeses, jellys/jams, pies honey etc.
That's my 10 cents, good luck on your search.