When I went looking for a piece of ground I thought about it from a woman's point of view. Not.. how cheap can I get it... but rather what are the really hard bits to do and where can I save effort. While I may be able to shoot and defend the reality is as a woman I am a big fan of hunkering down out of sight.
Water was the main item on my list. And it had to be uphill from where I wanted to grow a garden and build my house. In other words I planned for gravity fed irrigation and plumbing from the beginning. I know how much a bucket of water weighs from watering horses etc... I do not plan to haul water now or in future hard times!
I found a nice meadow in Northern California foothills with a year round spring up the hill. The meadow itself is a surprise when you come upon it. There is a fairly inconspicuous road uphill through some scrub off a secondary road. It looks like you are on an old lumber road and heading into a mountian ravine, and then you cross a creek turn a corner and you come onto the meadow. There are no roads behind us or on etiher side. It can be defended... but the goal will be to hide the main driveway in a pinch and wait things out. We are 5 miiles from a small town and at about 2500 foot elevation.
The first season we buried a large cistern up by the spring and we dug a pond to to the uphill side where the spring/creek runs through the meadow. You always want to put water where water doesn't want to go naturally... ie: now our pond won't flood in a big rain year and fill with sediment.... rather we pipe into it from the creek and then out of it into irrigation. We have about 20 acres we can hay with another 10 we could clear.
The house has a few surprises. It looks down this valley and is southern facing. We desigmed it with internal sliding "barn doors" (steel) that close over the main doors. All the windows have shutters that slide over the windows, but it is very romantic and inviting. The old fence was here when we bought the place and our house sits on the site of what was the old cow camp buildings. This meadow was clearly used for summer grazing. There was an old gravity fed pipe from the creek (looks like 100 years old) to a small shallow well with a gate to an old ditch that ran above a grove of old apple and fruit trees.. This pipe was clearly the old water source. We have left it and it now pipes into a garden pond and we have put a gravity drip line to the old trees. Interestingly, some of the trees made it when we gave them a good prune. Others we have replaced. Since we have more water available in the new drip... we extended the line and put in a large area of bosenberrys and rasberries where we don't mind if they go wild.