There are many ways to achieve the same goal of creating a homestead. You can begin right now wherever you are learning the skills you will need. Cooking homemade foods from scratch, canning, and freezing excess food you find in season at farmers markets. Learning simple things like healing herbs and how to use them. Making your own soups and stews, bread, and pasta.
It all starts with a mindset, you begin thinking about picking your own fruits and vegetables, and harvesting your own eggs and meat. You may wander into a feed store, an unknown territory, even though you don't own farm animals. Seeing baby chicks, and rabbits, smelling the farm smells that are non existent in the city. You may begin to dream of a new life, a life where you're profoundly in touch with the seasons, and what the earth brings forth at different times of the year. You will most likely yearn for more simplicity in your life, and will be excited by a trip to the country. As you drive around looking at farms, the coal that is the homestead dream gets fanned a little more, until finally you say enough I want this enough to make a change.
The first skill you will need is a hardworking ethic, (if you have this it will provide you with a job and money), and the drive to work on your homestead in the evenings and on weekends to create your dream. The second is the ability to learn as you go, and the third is to pay as you go.
When looking for raw land here are some biggies to consider;
1. Usability~ how much land is flat or rolling hill and usable, how much is unusable, ie. on a steep hillside or deep ravine. How much do you need, even A small yard can be well laid out as a mini homestead.
2. Water ~ you must have water, or know you can put in a well or hook up to city water, or a community well. Look up the well logs of surrounding homes, this will show you what the average depth of the wells. Water is Important!
3. Septic ~ Does the land perk to put in a septic system. There are different types of drain field designs that work for a variety of situations.
4. Power ~ How far to hook up, is it close on the road, or are you planning to be off grid. How much will it cost to get power?
5. Sunlight ~ Southern Exposure or SW exposure is the best in my opinion, especially if you want to garden.
6. Trees ~ trees are a good thing, especially if you have enough to build your home with, along with enough to have a woodlot for firewood. We are lucky in the NW, there are lots of big trees.
7. Sloping hillsides are not good for drainage, if your home is situated on a hillside in the NW you will have drainage problems most likely.
8. High speed Internet, and cell phone service ~ This is important if it's necessary for your work. There are a lot of places in the country that do not have these services, and you will have to use a satellite dish.
I will probably think of more things and add to this list.
If you don't have the money to buy your land yet, keep working and saving. If you really need and want a loan, talk with a local lender, and see what kind of programs you might be able to qualify for. Usually you need to be at the same job or similar field for at least 2 years. Try not to have a car payment, or any big credit cards debts. Banks like to see people come in with good debt to income ratios, and car payments really through this off.
Vacant land typically needs 20% down, regular loans 3-5% down, some are even zero down. Remember you need to pay this back with interest, so what you qualify for, versus what you have planned to spend, may differ quite a bit. If you can buy through an owner contract, make sure you can pay it back within a few years, make it a priority.
If you are just starting off here some thoughts that may help. To really get a head start on saving money, live as cheaply as you can, work extra hard and save your money. Make more than your spend, try to save every extra dime, plan cheap or free entertainment. Live by the motto "Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, Or do without".