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Old 11-18-2012, 03:56 PM
 
825 posts, read 1,604,222 times
Reputation: 1239

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First, what you want is likely achievable. It does depend upon your budget. Many do not understand what you mean when you talk about sunshine, but I do - and I agree.

I suggest you start with airport locations that are reasonably reachable from where you are now. You can fly into Durango, Sante Fe, N.M., or Cheyenne, Wy., and many other locations, but only with layovers and multiple connections which may make the trip too tedious for your present purposes. The choices in the mountain west would seem to me to boil down to Albuquerque, Colorado Springs, Denver, and Salt Lake City.

The notes above concerning water should be heeded - everywhere between Kansas and Oregon water is more valuable than land - and it does not necessarily come with the land. Do your own investigation and do not take a realtor's word for water rights. Just an example: my four acres has a water permit (Household Permit) that does not allow any water to be used outside the house - not to water livestock, not even plants on the porch. Is it enforced that strictly? No, but it could be. As a practical matter, if you want even limited irrigation rights in Colorado you need at least 35 acres and a Domestic Permit.

Your comment about "ranchettes" is unfair. Any small rural tract is going to be part of a "development" by definition. Do you imagine you will find a single three acre tract nestled among 5,000 acre ranches? Your two, four, or even 35 acre piece of land is going to be a former ranch that has been subdivided. Yes, some are gated and have clubhouses and even golf courses, but most are going to consist of a series of unpaved roads that meander past modest acreages. Some developments have mobile homes, the odd fifth wheel trailer, and modulars. Some developments will require you to spend a $ quarter million up if you build. Many, maybe most are in between. And although you do find the occasional small acreage with a horse or two, few "play cowboy" here: feed, hay, and water are too expensive.

Shop available housing very hard. Although prices are starting to firm up a bit in some areas, you still cannot build for anything like what an existing house will bring. This, in turn, makes financing new construction very difficult as it will not appraise for the amount you will spend to build.

My initial thought is to use Colorado Springs as your center and look at the areas around Woodland Park, Divide, Florissant, Canon City, Florence, Cripple Creek, Black Forest, Palmer Lake, and a couple of places I am probably forgetting.
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Old 11-18-2012, 04:31 PM
 
66 posts, read 114,926 times
Reputation: 71
Wow. A lot of great responses. I'll definitely look into all the places that have been mentioned so far.

Here is some clarification on my needs/wants.

Affordability. If I could find, say 5 acres for under $50k, or 5 acres and a nice but simple house for $150k, that would be great.

Work. I am self-employed, and can almost live anywhere. I often drive a few hours to NYC to work for a few days at a time.

Water. We take water for granted back east, and I only mention it here because it seems to be an issue in most of the West. We don't use much water- for instance we wouldn't be watering a lawn or anything- but would just need some sort of reliable supply.

Amenities. I can't think of the last time I've been in a mall. So that sort of thing is low on the list. But a Home Depot and a Walmart and a good grocery store and a wine store and a decent restaurant or two, and a real airport, within an hour, and I'd be happy. But this isn't a deal-breaker.

I've been to Durango, and it was nice, but a bit touristy, and I agree- expensive. Ouray was cool. Colorado Springs seemed like a nice city, as far as cities go. So suburban or rural areas outside the Springs might be worth looking into.

Keep the suggestions coming! Thanks!

David
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Old 11-18-2012, 05:24 PM
 
Location: Bend, OR
3,296 posts, read 8,421,317 times
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Do you need reliable, high speed internet connection for your job? That is something that may be difficult to find in some rural areas. Many are still using dial up. Arrby's comment about ranchettes is very accurate. My parents own a place in a community called Ranch of the Rockies, between Hatsel and Buena Vista. They have 2 acres there. It was once a larger ranch that has been subdivided, but really it's not a vacation home area or anything like that. Basically, they live off a dirt road and the a few things are included/regulated, such as no hunting in the area and no fires, but other than that, it's like they live in the woods. It's going to be pretty tough to find what you desire, especially with a real airport within an hour, without living in some kind of mountain subdivision of sorts. I think once you really start looking at these types of properties you will see they are what you are looking for.
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Old 11-18-2012, 05:28 PM
 
825 posts, read 1,604,222 times
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Reliable internet service, or even cell phone service CAN be an issue. I get excellent cell phone service, two radio stations, no over the air tv, and decent 3g internet. 200 yards down the road you get nothing at all.

Five acres for $50,000, lots of choices. Simple house for $150,000, somewhat harder (although you can get cabins for that); more choices at $200,000. Most mountain houses in that price range will be a mobile or maybe modular. And, of course, some are quite decent.

As you search you need to define what you want for a setting. It is not uncommon to find properties "nestled in the trees", attractive if you live in Colorado Springs and look at the prairie to the left and Pikes Peak to the right. Maybe not so attractive if you want to see mountains and valleys. It turns out that the phrase "million dollar view" is not entirely a figure of speech.
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Old 11-18-2012, 05:35 PM
 
9,830 posts, read 19,525,426 times
Reputation: 7602
Quote:
Originally Posted by db4570 View Post
We are looking for our ideal place to buy a little chunk of land (3+ acres), maybe with a house already on it, and are looking for suggestions.

Our goal is to have a place with a modest little house where we may eventually move or retire, and visit on a semi-regular basis until then. I would consider buying a little chunk of vacant land to gradually build on, or find a house on a few acres. We are currently living in Upstate New York, where we are probably anchored for some years for job reasons. The taxes, weather, congestion, and general stress of the Northeast are slowly dragging us down. And we find the wide open vistas, sunny skies, and laid-back attitude of the West to be very appealing.

I was originally looking in New Mexico, thinking that it might be a bit less-discovered (i.e. cheaper) than other western states, and also warmer, being farther south. But the really beautiful areas in New Mexico seem to be sparse, and expensive. By contrast, Colorado seems to have a lot more classic Rocky Mountain towns, and real estate doesn't seem to be any more expensive than New Mexico, in some places. It's a bit colder, but the drastically increased sunshine compared to the Northeast could make a huge difference.

So I'd like to be out in the country, but not too far from at least a tiny town. Halfway decent shopping and an airport within an hour or so would be a big bonus, too. I really want to be on a hill with a view, and don't care if the terrain is a bit difficult, or if it's on a dirt road. I'd need some sort of reliable water, even if I have to drill deep for it. Water is more important to me than grid electricity.

Poking around on Zillow, it seems a lot of property for sale out west are these developments of tract housing, or semi-developed "ranches" or "ranchettes" (yuck), which strike me as bunches of city slickers trying to play cowboy. (I know that is exactly what I appear to be, but I did grow up in the hills in farm country, even if I am currently a suburban slug.) Gated communities, golf communities, neighborhood associations- big turn-offs.

So I'm looking for some general ideas on places to look. The outskirts of Denver (Conifer, etc.) look pretty cool, but maybe a little too developed, and I wouldn't mind getting cheaper. So suggestions on other areas to look would be great, including other states. For instance, I also really love the beauty of the Idaho mountains, but am afraid that might be getting a little too cold.

My criteria summarized:

Great scenery
Modestly priced
Low taxes
Low bureaucracy
Uncrowded, but not extremely remote

Thanks for any suggestions!

David
For starters any mountain real estate that is in the lower price range tends to have issues like access, terrain, water or is in high desert. The reason why you can go to any real estate agent in mountain Colorado and pour over book after book of property with thousands of lots for sale out there, is people like yourself. They have the dream, but don't understand and appreciate the costs and issues involved in living in a rugged, isolated, high elevation place.

I would say the possibility of getting land and a house turn key, old or new, that has good access and great scenery for your price of $150K is probably not going to happen.

What I would do first before you start sinking money into a money pit is actually come out to Colorado, find a remote, rural location and rent for a month and see how you like it. I would be very hesitant to sink money into something you will not be living in for more than half the year right now. There are ample vacation cabins, condos and homes out there for vacation rentals that don't have all the costs involved with maintaining a piece of property you rarely use.

Lets say you do build or buy a structure and only visit a few times a year. Well, how do you secure it in a remote location? Break ins of isolated cabins and homes are common. How do you heat it and keep it warm? Especially if you have a place above 8000 ft, you are looking at 9 months of winter weather. Otherwise you have to winterize it, which is a pain itself. Also if you live high enough, who shovels the snow and keeps access open?

You make fun of the ranchettes but understand that property owners associations are how people come together for services in isolated areas. It depends on the association, but they come together for water, security, trash, electricity, snow plowing, etc. Understand though there are significant costs upfront and on going, but it's more a plug and play situation. Otherwise on your own, trying to obtain water or utilities at some locations might be all but impossible.

If you want to be on a hill with a view, you might find that the costs to bulldoze out a road and get access might be prohibitive. In addition at higher elevation, you've got snow to deal with.

I'd also remember getting contractors out to remote locations isn't easy either.

The water situation is probably not what you think it is. For starters you have Colorado water law to deal with. Second, drilling doesn't necessarily mean you will have water. By nature in the mountains, water naturally runs off, it doesn't hang around, so you can spend a fortune to drill and find that especially in summer you end up with a drip of water of a gallon or two an hour or sometimes none at all. Hence again why people join up in property owners associations, so they can tap into a supply of water. Many people will install a 1500-2000 gallon cistern to hold water.

I would never, ever, ever buy any land unless you are sure of a consistent, steady supply of water.

Sounds to me like you are a neophyte that has no idea what they are getting into and you are cruising for a financial bruising. I would only ever rent for vacations and if you decide it's what you want, pick a locality and then rent and live for 6 months and see if you can hack it. If you do decide on land, the land price is only the beginning. I would do a total costing of what it will take to improve the land so it is ready for building and access, what it will take to get water(tens of thousands $$$ is a good baseline start), what it will cost to string out utilities to the property, etc. You will probably find all of that will be many multiples of the cost of a cheap lot.
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Old 11-18-2012, 05:46 PM
 
9,830 posts, read 19,525,426 times
Reputation: 7602
Quote:
Originally Posted by db4570 View Post
Wow. A lot of great responses. I'll definitely look into all the places that have been mentioned so far.

Here is some clarification on my needs/wants.

Affordability. If I could find, say 5 acres for under $50k, or 5 acres and a nice but simple house for $150k, that would be great.

Work. I am self-employed, and can almost live anywhere. I often drive a few hours to NYC to work for a few days at a time.

Water. We take water for granted back east, and I only mention it here because it seems to be an issue in most of the West. We don't use much water- for instance we wouldn't be watering a lawn or anything- but would just need some sort of reliable supply.

Amenities. I can't think of the last time I've been in a mall. So that sort of thing is low on the list. But a Home Depot and a Walmart and a good grocery store and a wine store and a decent restaurant or two, and a real airport, within an hour, and I'd be happy. But this isn't a deal-breaker.

I've been to Durango, and it was nice, but a bit touristy, and I agree- expensive. Ouray was cool. Colorado Springs seemed like a nice city, as far as cities go. So suburban or rural areas outside the Springs might be worth looking into.

Keep the suggestions coming! Thanks!

David
I imagine if you are self employed, you'll use the internet. It's another thing to consider. Many have to use satellite, which is not always reliable or super fast.

One reason I like living in Pennsylvania now is you never have to worry about water. Same as the rest of the northeast. It's just not a major consideration. It's 180 degrees different in Colorado and the water issue will break a lot of people due to time and money involved in dealing with it. You should not assume you can just sink a well and you'll have enough water to run showers, sinks, toilets etc reliably without any thought on your part.
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Old 11-18-2012, 07:06 PM
 
Location: Eastern Colorado
3,768 posts, read 4,618,092 times
Reputation: 4885
Quote:
Originally Posted by db4570 View Post
Wow. A lot of great responses. I'll definitely look into all the places that have been mentioned so far.

Here is some clarification on my needs/wants.

Affordability. If I could find, say 5 acres for under $50k, or 5 acres and a nice but simple house for $150k, that would be great.

Work. I am self-employed, and can almost live anywhere. I often drive a few hours to NYC to work for a few days at a time.

Water. We take water for granted back east, and I only mention it here because it seems to be an issue in most of the West. We don't use much water- for instance we wouldn't be watering a lawn or anything- but would just need some sort of reliable supply.

Amenities. I can't think of the last time I've been in a mall. So that sort of thing is low on the list. But a Home Depot and a Walmart and a good grocery store and a wine store and a decent restaurant or two, and a real airport, within an hour, and I'd be happy. But this isn't a deal-breaker.

I've been to Durango, and it was nice, but a bit touristy, and I agree- expensive. Ouray was cool. Colorado Springs seemed like a nice city, as far as cities go. So suburban or rural areas outside the Springs might be worth looking into.

Keep the suggestions coming! Thanks!

David
One area you may want to look is the Montrose Delta area, while not a perfect fit it seems to fit your price range and much of what you are looking for. There is high speed internet in some locations, cell phone service has been pretty decent when I was over there, the cost of the small 5 acres houses are not to pricey, and you have the Grand Junction airport that maybe expensive but it is a commercial airport with United, Delta, and American Airlines all flying out of there.
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Old 11-18-2012, 09:53 PM
 
66 posts, read 114,926 times
Reputation: 71
More excellent suggestions. I will be spending a lot of time researching all these places suggested. I also have a friend who lives in the outskirts of Denver, and I would like to visit him soon as a jumping-off point for my explorations.

I did not mean to insult anyone by being snide when mentioning "ranchettes." I had never heard that term before looking at real estate listings in the west, and didn't know it was legit term. I thought it was just real estate salespeople trying to sound cute. Is it just another name for a housing development? I saw some shady-looking listings that talk about these beautiful "ranchettes" you can buy, with all this outdoor beauty and recreation, and you Google Earth in on one real close and it is a totally flat uninhabited patch of hard-packed desert that looks like the surface of the moon. So I was a little suspicious and prejudiced.

It seems that the whole administrative boundaries and responsibilities for communities are so different than what I'm used to. I'm still trying to understand the whole community association thing. Wanneroo's description here is helping me start to see the value of them in many situations. I originally was turned off by them, considering them to be another layer of government-style rules and fees. But thinking about it a bit, a neighborhood association almost seems like a substitute for the most local level of government, with the same responsibility to provide some services, power to enforce rules and, I presume, the same ability of the residents to vote out a governing board that they feel is not working in their best interest. So what's the difference? Is once system better or worse than the other? Gotten off on a bit of a tangent, I'm afraid...

I do need internet for my work somewhat, but could probably get by fine with a cell-based 4G type connection, or satellite, if necessary. So I'd need to make sure one of those is an option.

Just to make things more complicated... Until we decide to move permanently and full-time, I have this idea rattling around in my head that it would be really great if we could buy a house to rent out in the meantime to generate some income. So I assume this means we would need to be closer to civilization for that to be plausible. I wonder if there is a market for renters who would like to live 1/2 hour from town?

Thanks for the help, and keep it coming!

David
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:09 PM
 
Location: Full time RV"er
2,403 posts, read 5,774,097 times
Reputation: 1472
Quote:
Originally Posted by db4570 View Post
More excellent suggestions. I will be spending a lot of time researching all these places suggested. I also have a friend who lives in the outskirts of Denver, and I would like to visit him soon as a jumping-off point for my explorations.

I did not mean to insult anyone by being snide when mentioning "ranchettes." I had never heard that term before looking at real estate listings in the west, and didn't know it was legit term. I thought it was just real estate salespeople trying to sound cute. Is it just another name for a housing development? I saw some shady-looking listings that talk about these beautiful "ranchettes" you can buy, with all this outdoor beauty and recreation, and you Google Earth in on one real close and it is a totally flat uninhabited patch of hard-packed desert that looks like the surface of the moon. So I was a little suspicious and prejudiced.

It seems that the whole administrative boundaries and responsibilities for communities are so different than what I'm used to. I'm still trying to understand the whole community association thing. Wanneroo's description here is helping me start to see the value of them in many situations. I originally was turned off by them, considering them to be another layer of government-style rules and fees. But thinking about it a bit, a neighborhood association almost seems like a substitute for the most local level of government, with the same responsibility to provide some services, power to enforce rules and, I presume, the same ability of the residents to vote out a governing board that they feel is not working in their best interest. So what's the difference? Is once system better or worse than the other? Gotten off on a bit of a tangent, I'm afraid...

I do need internet for my work somewhat, but could probably get by fine with a cell-based 4G type connection, or satellite, if necessary. So I'd need to make sure one of those is an option.

Just to make things more complicated... Until we decide to move permanently and full-time, I have this idea rattling around in my head that it would be really great if we could buy a house to rent out in the meantime to generate some income. So I assume this means we would need to be closer to civilization for that to be plausible. I wonder if there is a market for renters who would like to live 1/2 hour from town?

Thanks for the help, and keep it coming!

David
From what you seem to be looking for I would suggest a look at Kingman AZ or areas outside of it.
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Old 11-18-2012, 11:52 PM
 
Location: Littleton, CO
3,111 posts, read 4,881,407 times
Reputation: 5429
For your price point, I wouldn't expect much in terms of acreage or isolation. You can get most of what you want on a 1/2 acre or 1 acre lot.

Here are some more realistic places to try outside of Denver:
Bailey - a small town that is 45 minutes from SW Denver and about an hour and 45 min from DIA. It is about 20 min west of Conifer, which has some of the stores you are looking for.

Georgetown and Idaho Springs - two small towns along I-70 about 30 min and 20 min outside of Denver respectively. Most likely you would live in town, as the these towns are in the steep Clear Creek Valley and there is little open space outside of town that isn't completely vertical. These two towns are very small, quaint, and beautiful.

Indian Hills - a place that has homes far more expensive than you want, but I did see two on the real estate site below $200k. It is very close to Denver, and some properties there you have views of mountains to the west and metro Denver to the east.

Go to a real estate search engine like recolorado.com or cohomefinder.com to search listings for the any areas in Colorado.
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