8 U.S. Cities That Will Give You a Free House or Land

Towns in the Midwest are courting new residents by offering free land or a house.

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Updated June 6, 2024
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High housing prices make it hard for some Americans to buy their first house or move to a new one. Maybe you’re contemplating ways to help you pay your mortgage or rent.

But you may be surprised to learn that it could be a little easier than you think. In fact, some towns in the U.S. might give you a free home or free land.

Check out this list to see if moving to one of these places to take advantage of free options for your next place to live could be the answer for your dream home.

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Manilla, Iowa

Aphroditephotography/Adobe mason city iowa east park

Manilla has a population of less than 1,000 residents, but the town is trying to attract more people to the area.

The city, which is 98 miles southeast of Sioux City and 75 miles northeast of Omaha, will give you land for free so you can build a new single-family residence. The deal also includes tax abatements for five years, utilities without hookup fees, and down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers.

Buffalo, New York

Neil/Adobe buffalo new york adobe

You can live in Buffalo and pay only $1 for the land you want as well as closing costs — so it does cost a little more than free.

As part of the Urban Homestead Program, you have to build a home on the property within 12 months of purchase and then you have to live there for at least 36 months before moving, selling, or renting.

Flagler, Colorado

Jacob/Adobe larimer square after the covid

Flagler, a town off I-70, 125 miles southeast of Denver, is inviting companies to move to their town and get free land, but there is a catch.

You have to apply for the free land with a business plan and financial application to prove that you’ll be using the land for a business that will be beneficial to the community.

To be approved for the land, you’ll also have to present your case to the town’s council to prove that your business will improve the community and employ local residents.

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Lincoln, Kansas

Art/Adobe sunset in flint hills kansas

Lincoln is offering new residents free lots to build single-family homes with lot sizes from 14,000 to 35,000 square feet. Lincoln is located off I-70 and is about 150 miles west of Topeka.

You will have to fill out an application and put a deposit down for the land that you will get back after you live in Lincoln until the terms of the agreement are fulfilled.

Your home will also have to be constructed to meet specific design criteria as part of the agreement.

Elwood, Nebraska

Menyhert/Adobe mammatus clouds

Elwood is trying to attract new residents with free land for new single-family homes. The town has a population under 700 and lies about 180 miles west of Lincoln via I-80.

While the lots are free, there are some fees involved in the process, including a $500 deposit that you’ll get back after completing your home and a $50 building permit.

You’ll also have to complete construction within one year and the house must be owner-occupied for two years after the purchase date.

Claremont, Minnesota

Patrick/Adobe sunset in voyageurs national park

Claremont is welcoming new residents with free land to build a home on if they’re eligible based on financial criteria. Claremont is located about 30 miles west of Rochester, which is the home of the Mayo Clinic.

You have to fill out an application for a 1,000-square-foot modular home on your piece of land that includes two bedrooms and one bath for residents.

Plainville, Kansas

luchschenF/Adobe wheat field in kansas

Another town in Kansas with free lots for you to build a single-family home is Plainville. Plainville is north of I-70, about 280 miles from Kansas City.

You will have to agree to certain rules in order to get the free land to build a new home. The design needs to be approved by the city council, for example, and you need to have construction started and completed within a certain amount of time.

Loup City, Nebraska

MarekPhotoDesign.com/Adobe sunrise over dismal river

Another option in Nebraska is Loup City, which is north of I-80 about 170 miles west of Omaha. Like other areas on this list, Loup City will give you free land to build a home on the property.

You must meet certain income restrictions and you’ll be asked to put down a $1,000 deposit for the land that you’ll get back once your home is built.

Bottom line

Smole/Adobe father and son in front of a house

If you don’t want to move to one of these cities that offer free homes or free land, there are ways for you to get a new home.

Think about boosting your bank account with a side hustle or adjusting your budget to find additional ways to save money. You can make small changes that lead to big dividends if you’re trying to find ways to afford a home or land.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.