Do you have vacant land that is just sitting there? Find out how to make it work for you by generating income from your vacant land.
Depending on how much money and effort you want to put in and where it is located, there are many ways to make money from your vacant land. The easiest, no-hassle thing you can do is to lease it to someone else to use. It could be used for advertising, farming, solar panels, and timber.
Land is a great investment, but it doesn’t have to just sit there. There was a time that my parents had land that they wanted to turn into cash, but they didn’t want to sell it. Below, we will go into what they did to make money plus several more options that you can consider.
- There are lots of ways to generate income from your vacant land.
- Find out all laws and zoning ordinances affecting your land before you start.
- For a passive income, lease your land to companies that will handle all upkeep.
- Some popular uses of land are for entertainment venues, vending machines, and fairs.
- If you have time and money to invest, you can turn your land into a full fledged business.
Table of Contents
How to Generate Income from Vacant Land
Before we get to the business ideas, let’s look at some practical matters that you will need to take into consideration when deciding what to do with your vacant or raw land. It is important that you know these things before you even begin.
- What are your local zoning regulations?
- What are other laws and local regulations governing your property?
- Will community members support or oppose your project?
- How much are you willing to develop your land?
- How much money do you have to spend?
If there is an issue with any of these items, don’t despair. There are workarounds for almost any problem that you have.
Problems with Zoning
If there are zoning ordinances that limit what you can do with your land, there are ways to still get your project off the ground. To change the zoning ordinance or to get an exemption, you need to file a petition with the zoning office. A public hearing will be held before it is approved or denied.
How to Get Community Support
Community support is very important for a business, especially if you need to get a change in zoning ordinances. Speak with the neighbors of your property and address any concerns they have. Keep the lines of communication open, and do your best to consider their needs in everything you do.
Lack of Money
If you don’t have the money to make a lot of changes to your property, we will have some ideas below for you. You can also consider alternate funding like loans and grants. If you can show that your business will be profitable, there will be someone out there to help you make it happen.
Sell Your Land
The easiest way to get income from your vacant land is to sell it. Land is a great investment. Sometimes it is hard to know when it is time to let go, but if your area is having an economic boom, then it is the best time to profit from it.
Use Your Vacant Land for Animals
Animals are a large part of life for many people. Lots of folks own pets or even raise livestock. There are ways for you to make money from this trend.
Lease It Out for Grazing
There are many people who are looking to lease land for grazing purposes. This is what my parents ended up doing with their 12 acres. If someone needed to move some cattle out or let a field rest, they sent cows to my parents.
If you can build and maintain fences this can work for you. You will need to provide a watering area for the animals, but most owners will take care of their own feeding. All my parents did was provide water and the fenced area. They called the owner if there were any problems.
Build Horse Stables
If you are willing to do some construction, you can build horse stables and a riding path. There are lots of people in the city limits who would love to own a horse but have nowhere to keep one.
This venture would require more start-up and more maintenance. Most stable owners are responsible for feeding and watering the horses. You would even need to have an exercise plan set up for the horses in your care.
Make a Pet Park
If you’ve ever been to the public dog park, you know it can get pretty crowded. There are lots of owners that would be willing to pay to bring their beloved pet to a private park. You just need to maintain the grounds and put out some pet play equipment.
To make your pet park more inviting, you could do it on a membership basis. Then require your members to have current vaccinations, letters of recommendation from vets, and anything else needed to make your members feel safe and secure.
Water, Ice, and Vending Machines
Another great way to make money from your vacant land is to put in self-serve vending machines. If you are in a good area for it, then ice machines, bottled water machines, and food vending machines could be a perfect investment.
You can get your own machines by buying or renting them. If you want to be as hands-off as possible, you can even have a machine owner pay you rent to put their machines on your land. With this venture, you can be as involved as you want to be.
Parking Lot for Passive Income
One great way to earn money with unused land is to create overflow parking lots. Of course, this only works if you have land near the town center or by a busy restaurant or something similar. With all the areas buying land for parking, your lease should be in high demand.
If you think your area will support this plan, you just need to gravel or asphalt your property. You can either have the businesses that need the parking lease it from you or set up automated arm guards where people needing business in the area can pay for parking.
Put a Billboard on Your Raw Land
If you are looking for a no-hassle way to bring in extra income with your vacant land, you can see if any outdoor advertising company wants to place billboards on your property. Depending on the size of your land, you may be able to fit more than one!
This is something that is great for raw land that you don’t want to develop. You just need a tree free advertising space, and you're ready to go. It would be truly passive income. The advertising company takes care of installing and maintaining it.
Easy Money with Forest Timber
Not too long ago, I went out to where my grandparents' old farm was. I was shocked to see that there were pine trees in all the pastures. The new owners of the farm had leased out all the pastures to a timber company.
If you have cleared land that you don’t want to bother with, timber companies are always leasing land for new trees. Timber companies will pay good money to have somewhere to grow their trees for 30 or 40 years.
Renewable Energy for Your Vacant Land
As a landowner, you can cash in on the push for green energy. If you have raw land that you don’t mind clearing, or if you have cleared land already, you could make money leasing your land.
If you have enough space, your tract of land may be perfect for harnessing wind energy. If a wind company is in need of land, then they might lease your land for wind turbines. This is another passive way to turn your land into money.
Another great way to generate income from vacant land is to lease it to solar companies. More and more areas are transitioning to solar power, and the companies providing this form of energy need places to put their solar panels. A solar farm can be placed on a relatively small area of land.
Rent Plots to Hobby Farmers
In this day and age, there are lots of people wanting to become more self-sufficient, but they don’t have the space to do it. Start a community garden by renting out plots from your land.
There are many people who would love to have a vegetable garden for personal use, but they don’t have the room. You may even find local restaurants that want to make a restaurant garden to grow their own produce.
Another way to make money and create a community asset is to rent lots for beekeeping. Bees are necessary for crops, vegetables, and flowers to grow. The Earth can’t survive without them! Beekeeping is becoming a popular interest. Turn that interest into a monthly income.
Lots of people want to have an herb garden or a kitchen garden, but again, they don’t have the room. If you own land somewhere with a short growing season or harsh winters, you can build greenhouses. You can then make money renting greenhouses to people who need them.
Create a Local Farmer’s Market
Like kitchen gardens and beekeeping, a lot of people are trying to get back to the basics by shopping at farmer’s markets and buying local produce. Start making money by providing a place for local farmers to sell their wares.
Not only do these markets cater to local growers, but they also provide a place for other items to be sold. At our local market, people sell quilts, honey, homemade soap, seasonings, and more. You can even rent stalls to local artists.
Ideas for Sticking to a Natural Environment
Some people just want to enjoy nature as it is. If you have raw land, and you want to keep it in its natural state, there are still many ways that you can turn it into an income producing asset.
Where I live, a lot of landowners make money by turning their raw land into a hunting lease. It is up to you how far you want to take this venture. Some people provide land only, but some landowners have campgrounds, cabins, guided hunting trips, and meal services.
Open a Campground
Another thing you can do with your raw land is make a campground. My family loved “roughing it”. We would camp in tents in places with no running water and no electricity. There is definitely a market for wilderness camping that you can use to your advantage.
Outdoor Art Gallery
One unique business idea for your vacant land is to create an outdoor art gallery. There are thousands of professional and amateur artists that would love to create art on your raw land. You can charge admission for people to hike through your gallery. It would even make a great space to host art classes.
Sanctuary or Park
If you are interested in starting a non-profit to benefit your community, you can turn your raw land into an animal sanctuary or park. If you build a conservation center you can host field trips and other educational activities.
Many local businesses donate funds to these types of places, and many people will pay to visit a community park that is benefiting the area. You can even develop it into a community land trust to ensure it is preserved for generations to come.
Make Use of Temporary Fairs and Festivals
If you are in an area that needs some entertainment for all ages, you can host fairs and festivals on your land. You can start a couple of new local festivals, or provide space for others to host them.
One way to make money on your land is by allowing it to be rented out for political and religious rallies. Many churches like to host tent revivals, and political rallies are also popular. This is especially popular in rural areas.
Many of these just need spots for parking and a tent. They will have a generator and port-a-potty for necessities. With little needed from you, this could be a profitable business for raw land.
If you are in a rural area, then you know we love our festivals. They are an important part of local culture. You could organize a new festival or provide space for others trying to start one. Provide a place that your community will enjoy, and turn a profit.
Where I live, they have several fairs a year in area malls and shopping center parking lots. You can host traveling fairs. Combine this with a major annual festival, and it will turn into a lucrative business in no time.
Get Some Towers
Another no-hassle way to generate passive income is by leasing your raw land to a cell phone company. You can reach out to their corporate offices and let them know you are available for future cell towers or hire a realtor to help.
This is even a great idea for local radio and tv stations. Many stations want to expand or build new towers. Just get the word out that you have land available for use. Also, keep your eye on any new projects that local developers have coming up.
A Natural Party and Wedding Venue
A great atmosphere is always in demand for outdoor weddings and other parties. What better atmosphere than what Mother Nature provides! Turn your raw land into a beautiful celebration destination.
You can just provide the parking lot and open area, or you could invest in some facilities. Add a restroom, pavilion, and walking trails for a highly desirable area for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, and family reunions.
Host Sporting Events
Some other great ways to make money are by hosting sporting events. Your land could have permanent fixtures for dedicated events, or host temporary sporting events.
Turn your unused property into an outdoor shooting range. Many people enjoy shooting for the sport of it. You can just have the ranges with the backstops, or go further and offer equipment for skeet shooting and lessons.
Dirt Bike Riding
A favorite pastime of my family was dirt bike riding. This is where we did a lot of our bare-bones camping. If there were great dirt bike trails around, we were there even if it was an area low on amenities. If your land has natural hills and obstacles, then you don’t need to do anything.
There are many organizations that hold competitions such as archery, animal showings, target shooting, and building contests. Get in touch with your local schools, girl and boy scout troops, and other organizations to see if there is a need in your area.
Outdoor Fitness Classes
The concept of getting in touch with nature is becoming more and more popular. Offer outdoor fitness classes or just allow your land to be available to rent for this purpose. Local studios like Crossfit and Yoga are excellent places to market your land for use.
Large Item Storage
We live in the age of “stuff”. We fill our houses up with stuff, our attics up with stuff, and our sheds up with stuff. People have more stuff than they have places to put it. That is why the storage business is a lucrative market right now.
You can divide your land into plots for RV storage and boat storage. If you are willing to put some money into your venture, you could also build indoor and outdoor storage. If you are looking for more ways to make money, you can even add a moving service to help people get their stuff to your storage units.
Affordable Housing for Your Community
A way to make money and help your community is by providing a place for affordable housing. The market for tiny houses is booming. By providing lots where people can park their tiny homes and RVs, you will be doing good while you make money.
If you want to take this a step further, you can engage local developers and create some tiny homes that you can rent out. You can gain clients by networking with your local RV and mobile home business. For more of an impact, you can talk to local homeless shelters to find people who are employed and trying to get back on their feet.
Provide Land for Pop Up Events
Some events aren’t permanent, and they just need a place to rent for a short amount of time. Your empty lot can make money providing that place. Food trucks, fundraisers, and craft shows all need places to set up.
If you like to socialize and network, this is a great venture for you. Just get out there and start talking people up. By finding out what is going on in your community, you can start to funnel some of that business your way.
Run a Junk Yard
One thing that you may not think about as a way to make money is running a junkyard. I have even seen some people use their raw land as a junkyard. Depending on your local laws, this may be a great way to generate an income.
It may be surprising to you, but junkyards are a valuable asset. People are willing to give away their large items if someone will just come and haul them away. Junkyards make money by selling in-demand used parts and by selling scrap to recycling centers.
Start a Car Washing Business
If you are looking for a career using your land, start a car wash business! You can do personal auto detailing with just a few electrical outlets, some water hookups, and a covered parking spot. If you have the energy, this is a business you can get started.
As your business brings in more and more profit, you can even build some self-service bays. Lots of people take more pride in their vehicles than they do in their houses. There are lots of ways to make money by playing into these preferences and desires.
Micro Wineries and Microbreweries
If you have raw land, and you are looking to start a full-fledged business, then you should consider a micro business. Think about how fun it will be to go to work every day and make your own wine or your own beer. You will have new best friends in no time!
You only need about 5 acres to start either a microbrewery or a micro winery. The only thing you need to decide is if you want to garden or not. To increase your profits and name recognition, you can add a restaurant or gift shop. You can even hold tasting events and charity banquets.
Landscaping and Plant Nurseries
Do you have a green thumb? If so, you can turn your vacant land into a landscaper supply store. You can raise trees, shrubs, flowers, or all three. When you are ready to expand, you can even make money selling equipment, supplies, and decorations.
Many people begin their landscaping supply company in their backyard, so it is something you can start with very little and be able to build from that. If you already own the land, then you can make money in no time doing what you love.
Check the Mineral Rights
One way to make an excellent income is by leasing your land to a drilling company or a mining company. If you own the mineral rights to your land, then you can have it inspected by a geologist to see if you have any valuable minerals there.
While they may not be interested in mining your land at that moment, your land will be added to the records so your minerals can be sourced at a future date. Since the drilling and mining companies take care of all the upkeep once operations start, it is a great opportunity for raw land.
Keeping It Cool with Water Activities
Places with a warm climate love water activities, and if your property is located somewhere like this, then you can make money with recreation. With a public swimming pool, a splash pad, or water slides, you can start beating the dog days of summer by raking in the cash.
Make sure you do plenty of study for your local laws and regulations before starting this venture. You need to know what the lifeguard requirements are, what type of facilities you need, and how to keep everyone safe.
Start a Full Business on Your Land
If you are ready to go all in, there are many businesses you can start on your empty lot. Depending on your location, you could build a shopping mall, a gas station, and a fast food franchise.
About THE AUTHOR
Brittany has been in the land business since 2020 when the world was starting to shut down. Since then, we’ve sold to dozens of people from ATV weekend warriors to camping enthusiasts to retired truck drivers. Our inventory spans mostly in the western United States. We’ve been trained by experience, land acquisition courses, and hundreds of hours meeting with county assessors and clerks, zoning officials, realtors, and land investors. We’ve answered hundreds of questions from people regarding the buying and use of land.Read More About Brittany Melling