Small Cabin Picture

Selecting a Property for your Cabin

Cabin Property Picture 1 This page summarizes information which can help you in selecting the right property for building your small cabin. The factors described below can influence your decision.

Location and Driving Distance

This is perhaps the most important factor in selecting the site for your small cabin. How far are you willing to commute to your property and how often are you planning to do that? If possible, try selecting a property within a 30 minute to 2 hours drive from where you live. From my personal experience:
  • If your cabin site is too close (less than 30 minutes), you may not get that hideaway / getaway feeling (i.e. it still feels like home)
  • If your cabin is too far (more than 3 hours), long commutes may deter you from going there as often as you would like.
This is a personal decision - some people don't mind driving, and they occasionally take different routes to enjoy the changing scenery. My cabin site is located a 2Ĺ hour drive from home - it's OK, but 1Ĺ - 2 hours would be better.

Property Price

How important is it for you to have your private hideaway cabin somewhere in the wilderness - vs. how much can you afford? This is also a personal decision.
Consider a possible geographical price advantage / a "sweet spot".
In most areas, there is a so-called "drive-to-price" relationship - the further from the major urban center you drive, the less expensive land becomes. "Under 2 hours" seems to be a common criterion people give a real estate agent when looking for a cabin or cottage property.
If possible, use this to your advantage. If, let's say, you live in the eastern suburb of a major city, then consider selecting your cabin property further east in direction. This way, you are already an hour or so closer to your site then others in the city, and a 2-hours drive for you would be a 3-hours drive for someone further west.

Access to the Cabin Property

  • If your area has snowy winters and you require access to your cabin property during winter months, check to see if the property is located on a serviced/snow-plowed road.
  • Is the road to the cabin site accessible with your type of vehicle or does it require off-road/all-wheel access?
  • Sites with boat-only access are usually less expensive and offer better privacy, but consider how you will deliver bulky items and building materials there, not to mention an obvious requirement for a boat.

Lot size and Privacy

Cabin Property Picture 2
  • My choice would be at least 1-acre wooded property.
  • Check for highway and other noise.

Terrestrial Features

  • Waterfront property is nice and scenic, but it is more expensive. At least a small creek or pond is desirable - it will provide a supply of non-drinking water, and perhaps allow for fishing and swimming.
  • Properties with steeper slope are generally less expensive.

Utility Hookups

  • Do you need electricity, water or phone line hookup? If yes, make sure this option is available.
  • Do you need/want cell phone service at your small cabin property?
In my case, I selected a cabin property where electricity and phone lines are at the property edge (road), but I decided not to hook up to them and to stay off-grid, at least for now - I didnít want to pay another set of utility bills. After all, it is meant to be a wilderness getaway cabin.

See other sections on options for having off-grid power and water.

Surrounding Area

  • Do you like the area? Are you planning to go on local exploration/excursion trips?
  • Investigate nearby amenities: grocery store, drug store, coffee shop, pizza, beer and liquor store, etc.
It is nice to have a building supply store nearby. Several times I forgot to bring some small thing or other (a set of nails for example), and I wouldn't be able to continue with my cabin construction until I could get it somewhere.

Aesthetics of the Small Cabin Property

Do you like the cabin property?
Does it appear to be comforting and pleasing?

Cabin Property Picture 3 An unobstructed view of the pristine wilderness is ultimately desired. Picture-perfect sites are usually out of the price range of most people, but you can find a hidden gem now and then.