In many parts of the country you can get a house for next to free, these days.
True... but irrelevant. Neither I nor the OP live in a place where these are. If you want to live in a depressed rural area, then by all means, get a free house.
However, I live in Seattle, and the OP presumably lives in a rather urban area as well.
A free house is great if you do not have obligations outside of the area surrounding it. I would love the lifestyle, personally, but it does not work when you have a JOB!