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Old 11-18-2012, 11:55 PM
9,830 posts, read 19,503,132 times
Reputation: 7596


Originally Posted by db4570 View Post

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!

Yes you pointed out these outsider city slickers moving into mountain Colorado to live the western experience and play cowboy, as though that is a bad thing, yet you'll be one of those city slickers yourself. In some of these small towns in western Colorado you'll be seen as yet another New Yorker interloper turning up to play cowboy. I don't think you'll "blend in" just yet, even if you have previous rural experience.

Yes I can tell you to be suspicious and do your research about any property you come across. The real estate business in western Colorado caters to dreamers. Most lots and land that get sold never get built on and then eventually the land or lot ends up back for sale again when people factor in the logistics and costs of living out in the middle of nowhere. Like I said before, if the land is cheap, then there is an excellent reason why. No water, flat desert, middle of nowhere, etc. Much of the cheap land is flat desert that is dust and scrub with maybe a view of some mountains or high elevation isolated land, that unless you are a hardy, crafty soul willing to hack something out of the wilderness, is going to be tough for most people.

The property owner associations. Some are great, some are terrible. For a lot of people that choose to live rurally, there isn't much choice if you want modern conveniences. A lot of these associations will pool together to gain access to water and other utilities, as well as essential things like snow plowing, roads and security. Again there are some upfront costs and on going costs, some, especially tap fees for water, might seem like a lot. But then you have to compare it to what it will cost to do it yourself. You have to think for instance if you buy a lot out in a rural area outside of an association, even along a county road, the county might not run a plow for days or weeks. So how do you get out? Or how are you going to source water?

One thing people I think should decouple themselves from is the desire to own land or homes in Colorado, just to say they have a place in Colorado. In terms of generating income LOL! The only people I know that make any money with rentals in mountain Colorado are those that do it as a full time, on location endeavor. If you expect to buy a place and then rent it out, your maintenance and taxes will eat into it. If you use a property management agency, the fees are pretty high. What do you do when the hot water heater fails or electrical panel blows in a remote house way out of town and you live 2000 miles away?

So I don't really understand why you would want to buy a property in an area you don't know and a home you will not use because it is rented out or might be rented out(assuming you can find a renter). You'll just get taken for a ride financially and it will be a logistical headache.
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Old 11-19-2012, 07:55 AM
Location: Betwixt and Between
463 posts, read 976,687 times
Reputation: 421
Originally Posted by davidv View Post
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.
-1 For Georgetown and IS. I think it's a good strategy to be close to Denver and those towns sure are quaint. Furthermore, Guanellas Pass scenic route would be in your backyard and that's some very lovely backcountry. The problem is I-70. I had a friend who lived there and he said every morning, his car was covered with a very fine dusting of brake shoe dust. I70 is a busy interstate and all those people hitting their brakes as they descend into Denver puts auto pollutants into the air. Now you cannot convince me that all that dust was from the asbestos on brake shoes or whatever unholy material that they use now that asbestos has been outlawed. Colorado is a dry and dusty place and it's not like he sent samples into a lab to be tested. But the larger point that he was trying to make was a valid one. When you live right up against a busy interstate in a tight valley, you are going to be breathing some pretty unhealthy air 24/7. Not to mention the semis engine braking at 2am when you're trying to sleep. If you care about air quality try to get a little further away from a major interstate.
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Old 11-19-2012, 10:05 AM
20,812 posts, read 38,988,898 times
Reputation: 18999
Originally Posted by Dreaming of Hawaii View Post
.....Please spend some time looking through the threads here about water in Colorado. It is in limited supply and strictly regulated. It's not simply a matter of drilling your own well; some pieces of land come without water rights.
OP: It's easy to search for existing threads, especially with the Advanced Search.

Once in Advanced Search, try these steps.

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The Search tool on here is easy to use and easily self-taught in a few minutes to anyone who uses google or bing search.

You should find at least one thread for each town mentioned. The threads with high posts counts are ones where I've merged several threads into one big thread that is info-rich about that town or topic.

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Old 11-19-2012, 11:31 AM
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
5,659 posts, read 9,391,450 times
Reputation: 2886
I think it depends on whether you want to live in a mountain environment or a desert environment. There's a really huge difference in price between them and Colorado has both.

For "cheaper" mountain living, take a look at the following towns:
* Collbran
* Cedaredge
* Bayview

For "desert" living (ie not in the mountains), take a look at:

* Cortez

In New Mexico, take a look at the Mora valley area, I think it's called Mora County, which is one of the most beautiful parts of that state and probably cheaper than the places you looked at.
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Old 11-19-2012, 12:49 PM
2,514 posts, read 3,475,972 times
Reputation: 5062
This won't help with town selection but you may find it informative. It is an excellent primer for living in the high country.

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Old 11-19-2012, 10:16 PM
8,928 posts, read 8,012,186 times
Reputation: 19401
A few facts of buying mountain property in Colorado.

1: If it is cheap, there is something wrong with it. Such as it is 5 miles to water, whether you haul it, or you try to drill for it which can cost thousands of dollars. It is impossible to access in the winter. Etc., etc.

2: If you want to build on a cheap mountain lot, it is much more expensive to build there than close in or in a reasonable size city. Example, is things like drilling for water if you can get a permit to do so. If you want off the grid (generate your own electricity, etc. it is very expensive to set up). If you want to have power brought to your property, $50,000 or more fee to get power to your place is not uncommon. If you want a septic tank for your sewage, you may have to dynamite the rocks to get a hole to put it in, and that is expensive and then you have to haul in dirt to cover the hole and trenches.

3: Access on a year around basis, may not be possible unless you are close to plowed roads that are major enough they get plowed in a reasonable time frame.

4: In today's market place, you can buy an existing property much cheaper than you can build.

5: A lot of the cheap homes you see advertised, are not weatherized and not insulated, etc., for use except in the summer as that is what they were built for summer living only. And it can get expensive to retrofit them for year around living.

6: Those problems are the reason that a lot of land/lots are bought and never built on. It could not be done on a practical basis or when they checked in the winter and found they would have had to snow shoe for several miles to get to the property in the winter.

7: Homes are bought, and when the new owner finds the problems due to not being winterized, etc., they put them back on the market as they are not a place to live.

8: That type of living is for people that are retired, if you want a cheap property, as it will be in areas with no jobs, and commuting is not possible especially in the winter.

Mountain homes are expensive, compared to other property in the state for a comparable property.

If you want ideas of what is possible, give a maximum dollar figure you would like to stay under for property with or without and you build a home. This is needed to help you.

I spent many years as a commercial real estate broker in Colorado, developed and built some homes. Lived in the mountains myself for years, so I am trying to show you what problems a lot of people had trying to follow the same dream you are. I am no longer in Colorado having retired years ago, but if you can give that one bit of information I am sure someone can tell you what you can expect to buy for that amount of money. And they can tell you if you have the ability to reach your goal.
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Old 11-21-2012, 11:15 AM
66 posts, read 114,780 times
Reputation: 71
This is all very useful information to me.

I have several criteria that may end up fighting each other:

- In the mountains, with a great view and sparse neighbors;
- Reasonable cost;
- Close enough to a population base that it could be rent-able until we move there full-time

Maybe I can only pick two of these.

But I have a few things in my favor that I am hoping will make this work, somehow:

- I am not in a huge hurry. If it takes me a while to find the perfect property, or develop it properly, or build relationships in the community with sub-contractors, potential renters, or perhaps an informal property manager, I can do that. I travel a bit, so going back and forth periodically doesn't bother me.

- I don't mind a bit of adventure. If the terrain is difficult, I don't mind tackling that with proper excavation and architectural design. If there's no internet, I hopefully can come up with a creative solution. Etc... This doesn't need to be an immediate turn-key situation. In fact, I am hoping it will keep me busy as sort of a hobby while it's coming together.

- I am fairly clever. I have worked in a construction-related business, and am comfortable dealing with sub-contractors, and have a good understanding of construction techniques.

- I have simple needs. I don't need a lawn, a nearby mall, city water, TV, or a 2400 sf house. I can rough it a little. I have camped in a tent for a month (OK, I was younger then), I don't mind buying a cheap tractor or beater truck if that's what I need to plow my driveway, etc. If it wasn't for the notion that I might like to rent out the property, I could keep it really small and simple. Originally I was thinking this would just be a nice camp. But, realistically, we will need some basic creature comforts.

So hopefully that provides a more clear picture of my goals, and illustrates why I am hoping to do something other than a traditional housing sub-division. Although I am starting to realize those come in all shapes and sizes.

What else do I need to be concerned about building or living in the high mountains? Any altitude challenges other than snow?

Keep your suggestions coming! Thanks!

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Old 11-21-2012, 05:41 PM
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
5,659 posts, read 9,391,450 times
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Originally Posted by db4570 View Post
- In the mountains, with a great view and sparse neighbors;
- Reasonable cost;
- Close enough to a population base that it could be rent-able until we move there full-time

You have to define what "reasonable cost" means to you, or say your budget and people can help you locate something within that budget. Costs of mountain places in Colorado vary widely from one area to the next. For example, in the foothills west of Littleton, the current value of an acre of land is about $200,000. Just the land, no house.
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Old 11-21-2012, 06:31 PM
Location: Le Grand, Ca
858 posts, read 1,335,040 times
Reputation: 233
I think it's funny how a lot of people who live in Colorado are so anti mtn living. I was born and raised above 5000 feet in Oregon most of my life and wouldn't have it any other way. Yeah, it can be tough, Everything can be tough in life. It's HOW you deal with the issues.
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Old 11-21-2012, 06:54 PM
Location: Bend, OR
3,296 posts, read 8,410,139 times
Reputation: 3321
Originally Posted by Xplorer View Post
I think it's funny how a lot of people who live in Colorado are so anti mtn living. I was born and raised above 5000 feet in Oregon most of my life and wouldn't have it any other way. Yeah, it can be tough, Everything can be tough in life. It's HOW you deal with the issues.
I don't think people who live in Colorado are anti mountain living, I just think they are realistic about the true costs of mountain living. All of the comments and advice on here has truth to it. As someone who was born and raised in Colorado, it's not easy to make it in the mountains, whether it's jobs, weather, altitude, remoteness, water, schools, social aspects, or a combination of these things. Sure, you can make it, but it's better to go in prepared, don't you think? I wouldn't say that's "anti" anything, just common sense.
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