If you have vacant land or property that is currently not being used to its fullest potential, you might be considering how to simply make money or use it better.
There are lots of ways to make money off your vacant land. You can sell the property, view it as a long-term investment, or offer it up for dozens of different uses that can bring in serious dollars or allow it to be used for causes you truly care about.
We’ll unpack some of the many ways you can make money off of your vacant land, so you can decide on the right choice for your property.
- Your vacant land can make a little money or lots of money, depending on what you do.
- Be aware of any local zoning regulations on your land, and what permits you may need.
- Plan carefully, and think about who will own and maintain the facilities you run.
- There are hundreds of uses for vacant land - think about what strikes your passion!
Table of Contents
What to Consider About Selling or Using Vacant Land
The first thing you should consider when deciding what to do with your vacant land is its location. You can’t change its location, but knowing what is close by, or most needed or valuable in your area, will steer you in the right direction in making the biggest impact or making the most money).
Before going too far with your planning, you should first assess how your vacant land is currently zoned according to local regulations. Parcels of land have particular approved uses, and you should be fully aware of what you are currently legally allowed to do with your land. Changing this designation to accommodate zoning laws is certainly possible, but does require jumping through some legal hoops and getting the right approvals.
Depending on what you decide to do with your vacant land, you may also need to hire a management or maintenance staff. Selling the land outright removes that burden, but if you lease your land for any reason you will need to consider how you will provide for your tenants, whether temporary or permanent. Any services you host on your land may also require staffing or support of some kind.
How to Make Money Off Vacant Land
There are hundreds of ways to make extra income off your vacant land, but we’ve explored some of the key categories here with some examples of each. Any of these would lead to an incredibly profitable business from your raw land.
Sell the Land
This is perhaps the simplest way to make money from your vacant land: put a price tag on it and sell it. If you are looking to consolidate your portfolio, this can be a great way to make quick money and let someone else think about the logistics and requirements of what they want to do with it.
Should I Sell Now or Later?
You can make money now by selling outright, or you can also hold onto your raw land and look at it as a long-term investment. Property values will continue to grow over time, since land is a scarce resource. If you are able to keep the land in your name or your family’s name for decades or even centuries, you could make back hundreds of times what you originally paid for it.
If you still want to retain ownership of your vacant land, you could sell to commercial clients, or lease out parcels to numerous tenants for commercial use. This provides a more passive income stream than an outright profit, and puts business operations into the hands of others.
What Commercial Uses Could My Land Fulfill?
You could lease the land to retail franchisees who want to open a location of a store, gas station, or local restaurants or a fast food franchise. You can work with your city, county, or state to let them use the land for a roadway or other public works project. A retail development could even be as big as a shopping mall or amusement park. If you own vacant land near an existing road or highway, you could also sell advertising space through print and electronic billboards.
Rental-only neighborhoods are growing in popularity recently, with many homebuilding companies building homes exclusively to gain clients for rent instead of for sale. This option would give you the added role of landlord, which is not always the first choice for people simply hoping to make money off of their land.
That being said, if you already have existing houses or structures on your property, you can rent them out as timeshare or AirBnB locations. You can also build or convert a hostel, which is short-term housing for travelers. Those that are not able to purchase affordable land can rent instead.
Public and private utility companies are always looking for land for a variety of purposes. Think about how you can make the best use of your land in this lucrative market to provide needed resources to your community.
What Kinds of Utilities Could My Land Sustain?
- Clear your land to grow and harvest forest timber - which means you might also be able to use the lumber you produce to work on your own projects.
- Construct solar panels or wind energy farms to create alternative energy sources. Lease your property to a cell phone company to build new cell towers.
- If you sit on a water table, you could build wells for a localized water source.
- Some vacant parcels may be repositories for oil, ores, or minerals; consider bringing a research team to assess what might be available on your property.
Storage will always be a popular option for an array of reasons. People constantly run out of room in their homes or businesses, and need additional locations to keep their possessions.
What Can I Store On My Property?
Indoor and outdoor storage space, like boat storage and RV storage, can grant a quick and easy income stream with little setup or construction. These facilities could be climate-controlled and offer high security, or if you are remote enough you could offer simpler options for those in your area. You could convert or build storage facilities for personal or business use as well.
Beyond rental properties, there are other lucrative business opportunities to generate “rental” income for daily or nightly tenants.
If your raw land sits on an attractive natural landscape, you could open a campground and rent plots for those who want to vacation off the beaten path. Another option would be building horse stables for general care and housing, or go for other uses like horseback riding classes, competitive tracks, or riding trails.
You could convert your home into a bed and breakfast, or build a series of them on your property. An RV park requires utility hookups and some security presence, but not much else beyond an organized parking lot. Another recent trend is temporary lodging for tiny houses, which are towed around like RVs for flexible and mobile lifestyles.
Agricultural uses offer some of the greatest variety and versatility. You can easily parcel out small or large portions of your land for sale or for public use, depending on what you are capable of growing.
Would Agriculture Be Too Big a Project for My Raw Land?
Small-scale activities can be as simple as a community garden for fruits, vegetables, and herbs. These can be fun gathering places in the community, and are excellent places to educate children and students about healthy food options. Farm-to-table restaurants may also want to own and operate a restaurant garden to offer their own produce on their menu.
Farming takes many forms. It can look like traditional sprawling fields where local farmers can plant crops, or you may plant rows of fruit or nut trees. You could grow flowers to sell to your local florist or regional wholesaler. Sod and seed farms can be great options for local suppliers who need to expand their inventory. Olive groves and vineyards are other farming options that can specialize your growing ability and let you branch into wine or oil making as well.
In addition to plant life, raw land is perfect for those who are passionate about animal life. After all, animals need space, too.
Animal care on your vacant land can be as simple as offering a natural environment for pet-sitting. You can take on a couple of animals at a time, or move into larger groups of animals who need temporary housing. This can also include an animal shelter, particularly if you want to provide a no-kill facility in your area.
Beyond pets, you could also prepare to raise livestock on your property. There are quite a few financial benefits to keeping even a few cattle or sheep on your property. You can start a small or large breeding operation with cattle, horses, sheep, and more.
And not every animal has to be large, either. Beekeepers need space for new bee colonies, which also promotes a healthy environment. If you have ponds or rivers on your vacant land, you can stock and breed fish too.
What If I’m Not a Breeder?
Even if you don’t want to get into breeding yourself, you can lease your land as grazing land for other herders and developers who need space for raising livestock on their own. This can come at a premium for those who need additional grazing space, and offers great opportunities for business partnerships.
Athletics and sports
Athletes and sports groups could make great use of your vacant land. With some land clearing and work, you could create simple fields or entire sporting complexes for groups of various kinds.
How Much Work Would It Take to Make My Raw Land Suitable for Sports?
The most minimal work would be to turn your raw land into hunting grounds; a simple permit is all that would be required, plus any blinds or hunting stands you want to put on your property. Beyond that, hiking or biking trails could be created and maintained by volunteer groups or local clubs, taking the workload off of you as the landowner. You could also stock any ponds or rivers on your land with fish and allow people to fish on your land as well.
If you have the ability or interest, you could also welcome organized sporting groups to your property too. Paintball fields and shooting ranges require some upkeep, but not much. You can offer outdoor fitness classes or open an exercise center to provide a great workout option for community members, and open intramural fields can host little league clubs on up to adult teams. If you wanted to offer a sporting destination, you could sell your land to make a golf course or a minor league sports facility.
Lastly, a public swimming pool or community park with playgrounds, childhood learning centers, and walking trails provides a fun option for individuals and families to enjoy the outdoors.
If you are passionate about conservation, you could negotiate with a government agency to preserve your land as a state or national park.
Another option would be to set up a community land trust. This is a nonprofit organization that oversees land held as a community asset, and provides for things like long-term housing, civic buildings, commercial facilities, and more on behalf of the community.
Additionally, if you have abundant plant life, or live in an area suitable for growing a particular kind of flora, you could turn part of your raw land into a botanical garden or other natural museum.
Think about what causes are near to your heart, and decide if a donation of land would benefit that organization. Some startups or nonprofits may simply need a place to build their first center of operations, and a land donation would be the ideal gift for that organization.
There are a host of other community activities that require open space that is ready to develop, and your vacant land may serve any one of these purposes. If you have the means, you can build any of these yourself, or engage local developers to join in the work.
You could build an event hall for concerts, local festivals, or other community gatherings; or build a wedding venue (especially one that caters to a niche audience). If your land is in a populated area, you could build a local farmer’s market to allow local vendors to sell their wares, or open a simple food truck park with a few picnic tables to provide a homegrown dining option. An outdoor movie theater is another unique experience that many would enjoy, and a flea market will attract foot traffic for local vendors.
Another simple option would be to pave it over to create overflow parking. This is an ideal choice for an urban center with densely-packed businesses, or for more remote venues like racetracks or sports stadiums that are on the lookout for parking options.
Reach out to religious or community groups to see if they need additional space for a cemetery. You could also think about building a retreat center to cater to your community’s mental and spiritual health.
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