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Old 11-22-2012, 01:36 PM
 
9,830 posts, read 19,523,464 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by db4570 View Post
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!

David
The hard part everyone runs up against is they want cheap, scenic, away from people, but close enough to have amenities of a population base.

In order to make all that happen you have to cut out the cheap in most cases.

For instance in a lot of parts of rural Colorado getting contractors to do work can be difficult and then if you add in a significant travel time from a town and you've got issues. Same if you need to get supplies from a place like Home Depot or Lowes. Few seem to realize that once you get beyond I-25 and west of Denver, there is only one city between Denver and Salt Lake and that is Grand Junction. The rest of the population areas are towns or big towns, that often have minimal or expensive services and frequently cater to tourists more than anything.

The property management industry in Colorado is big business. Even the one man property managers I have known charge a pretty penny. Fees can run up close to 50% of the rent in some cases.

I would say a big issue you will have with "hobby" development of slowing building a building or property is theft and weather. Places that are left unbuilt or half finished are prime targets for theft by unscrupulous people. Law Enforcement in rural Colorado outside of towns is sparse. In addition you have wind and weather ravaging whatever you are working on. Especially at higher elevations, summer is short and temps drop to freezing, even in summer.

Colorado mountains are a wide variety of microclimates. The mountains and elevation shape the weather in the mountains to the point you can be a mile away from a different zone of weather. Being on the north slope for instance might mean almost no sun in winter. The wind can be unceasing and relentless. High UV rays at elevation attack things like wood. The cold can wreak havoc in freeze/thaw cycles, especially on sunny days in winter. Snow and ice can pile up on roofs and damage them if they don't have maintenance and good design and materials.

If you choose to live in high desert at 5000-7000 feet, many issues will be easier. If you choose to live up in the trees at 9000-10000ft it will be tougher.

Realistically from what I have seen and what I know about from relatives, people in your shoes that want to do it over time in a hobby like manner and on the cheap, fail most of the time. And fail big in some cases. Much of the lots under $50K in the Colorado mountains are actually what I would call worthless. And they are worthless because they are either inaccessible, near impossible to build on, or cost so much to make livable the costs way exceed the raw land costs and what it would ever be worth. In fact I have some relatives that have laughed all the way to the bank making big 6 figures yearly selling land and lots to folks like yourself that have big dreams and don't have the big bucks, time and commitment to make it work. Eventually those lots and land end up back up for sale, wash, rinse, repeat and sell onto the next dreamer. There are whole ranches and other big chunks of land all over mountain Colorado that were decades ago subdivided into lots, few of which have ever been built on.

Going back to the beginning, I think the huge mistake people in your shoes make is they think mountain Colorado is something that it is not and spend money on something they don't understand. If you have never lived in mountain Colorado before, I would stop butt cold in your tracks right now and actually move out there for 6 months and rent or starting spending blocks of time like a month here and there out in Colorado first. You will learn first if you really like living in the middle of nowhere in a wind swept cold crusty place with thin dry air and you'll learn so much more having your feet on the ground. You might find for instance there are towns in southern Colorado you like better than northern Colorado and vice versa.

A lot of people sink money into land or homes in mountain Colorado only to realize they can't stand it and their bodies don't like it either.

So try before you buy.

Whatever you decide to do, stay in touch on this forum as others can learn from your experiences.
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Old 11-22-2012, 01:39 PM
 
9,830 posts, read 19,523,464 times
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Quote:
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.
There are great reasons why almost all of the population is living in Colorado down on the flat prairie and there are not big cities up at 9000ft.

I don't think most people realize that much of Colorado is still the frontier and just as unforgiving and relentless as it was 150 years ago.
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Old 11-22-2012, 09:07 PM
 
Location: Eastern Colorado
3,767 posts, read 4,617,316 times
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Quote:
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 think it is funny when people who have never lived in the Colorado mountains come on this board and tell all of us Coloradans how easy it is, or how it is comparable to a completely different environment.

Let me ask you how much you have to pay to have power ran 2 miles to get into your build site when building a house? What about the phone lines? A friend of mine was quoted $30,000 just for the power lines, and that was considered cheap in some areas.

Have you ever had to find a new access road IE drive way because the land you bought was only accessible through someone else's property, and they never granted you the full rights so when they sold the new owners would not allow you access.

Have you ever lived on a mountain road so steep that you had to park a mile down the road and hike back and forth to get to your vehicle when the snow falls and the road is to icy?

Have you ever had to take a 5 hour trip through the snow and ice to get to the nearest specialist that can help you with your medical problems?

Have you ever had to turn down your thermostat and heat you living room with a wood fireplace/stove because the road is too icy for the propane delivery truck to get there for a week?

Have you ever had a car problem and had to walk and hitch hike 25 miles before you could get cell phone service to call a tow truck?

Have you ever had to go out and stumble through the 2 feet of snow that are remnants of a June snow storm just to clean off a satellite dish so that you could get internet service long enough to send in reports required for your job?

You ever drill a water well and only after they have drilled down to where they thought the water was did they figure out that they were off a few hundred feet and it would cost double to get you water?

Have you ever driven down a highway in the mountains for 50 miles and not see a single vehicle?

In your old area have you ever had to pay 40% more for building materials and subcontractors to build a house because the drive time and additional costs for contractors and the additional delivery charges for the building materials effectively make it that much more to build a house?

Have you ever had to have your own 1 ton pickup with a plow to not only plow your drive way but also plow the road down to the highway, so that you and you neighbors could get to work, knowing damn good and well that your county only spends the money to plow the resorts areas or the highways leading to those resort areas of the counties?

How many days have you seen the temperature at 30 below zero? I am guessing it is less then I have, or my buddy who went to college in Gunnison (at times it is the coldest temperature in the continental US) has seen.

Now these things do not happen to everybody I know but each one has happened to me or someone I know personally, I used to live above Central City Colorado at about 9,300 ft above sea level. Some things were great, some of it sucked, but I knew the drawbacks before hand. It is only right if someone who has spent a few days in Colorado has this dream of moving here and living in the mountains should at least know some of the facts of what it really takes to live like they seem to want. Personally I live at 5000 ft above sea level right now, and we consider that flatlands, and while that climate is much different then the one you have lived in, you should understand the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, Wyoming, and even Montana are a different world.
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Old 11-23-2012, 05:47 PM
 
Location: Le Grand, Ca
858 posts, read 1,336,011 times
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I'm not even going to get started, but yes to most of your questions(literally), and for all the construction issues/costs you talk about. My family runs a mountain based general contracting company. So yes, I am VERY WELL versed in all of the issues with mountain living. If there's a will there's a way. I grew up in the highest town on Mt. Hood(Government camp).. I also currently live at almost 7000 feet with an annual snowfall of close to 400 inches.

Also I have done EXTENSIVE backcountry overlanding and backpacking all throughout Colorado. I used to be in Colorado for a month or two every summer up until about 4 years ago... I know that has nothing to do with winter there, just letting you know i do have experience with the Rockies.
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:01 PM
 
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This is all very useful. I will definitely have to look hard to find the ideal place.

I don't want to go too extreme. I like the idea of having a 5 acre chunk of land where I can hike around and target shoot and have a nice clear view and not have someone right on top of me. But I also really like socializing with friends, so I don't want to be way out in the middle of nowhere by ourselves.

We have a cabin in the woods now that's ideal in many ways, except it's back east. We have a lot of acreage, friendly neighbors who like to socialize and also keep an eye on the place when we're gone (which is most of the time), a small town with a gas station, bar, and diner about 10 minutes away, and a decent lumber yard and grocery about a half hour.

It seems out west it's more extreme; you're either in a city/suburb, or on your own out on the frontier. The happy mediums seem few and expensive. And water and winter access are more of a challenge.

One thing that surprises me is that construction contractors are expensive. Where our current cabin is, it seems everyone knows a good masonry guy, or a floor guy, or framing guy, or a guy with a steam shovel. Up there it is very easy to hire skilled construction trades, as well as grunt labor, for a decent cost, and they're eager for the work. So, again, it's probably all a matter of how remote I really get.

I also need to narrow down my needs. Do I want a remote cabin that is basically comfortable camping that we vacation at, or an actual house with all the amenities we eventually move to full time, and do I want it to be close enough to rent out to someone?

David
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Old 11-25-2012, 04:56 PM
 
Location: Betwixt and Between
463 posts, read 978,412 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by db4570 View Post
One thing that surprises me is that construction contractors are expensive. Where our current cabin is, it seems everyone knows a good masonry guy, or a floor guy, or framing guy, or a guy with a steam shovel. Up there it is very easy to hire skilled construction trades, as well as grunt labor, for a decent cost, and they're eager for the work. So, again, it's probably all a matter of how remote I really get.

David
Generally speaking, people don't move to resort towns in Colorado to work. They come to party and ski. I've never found anyone worth hiring so plan on doing your own work. When I first got here, a contractor who was on his way out of state gave me the most valuable piece of advice that I ever received in Colorado: never take on a job that you can't finish yourself. Sadly, it turned out to be completely true.
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Old 11-25-2012, 05:43 PM
 
9,830 posts, read 19,523,464 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by db4570 View Post
It seems out west it's more extreme; you're either in a city/suburb, or on your own out on the frontier. The happy mediums seem few and expensive. And water and winter access are more of a challenge.

One thing that surprises me is that construction contractors are expensive. Where our current cabin is, it seems everyone knows a good masonry guy, or a floor guy, or framing guy, or a guy with a steam shovel. Up there it is very easy to hire skilled construction trades, as well as grunt labor, for a decent cost, and they're eager for the work. So, again, it's probably all a matter of how remote I really get.
A lot of people from back east have their paradigm about the lay of the land and their expectations of similar population density are never met. Back east you have large cities, medium cities, smaller cities, large towns, medium towns, small towns, villages, crossroads. Out west it is very much either cities or very rural areas with not a lot of spread in between. So much so, you can go to the edge of the suburbs on the Front Range in Colorado and look out onto prairie with nothing on it. It's almost like one step you are in the city and one step you are out.

As I pointed out the only thing you can classify as a city between Salt Lake and Denver is Grand Junction with around 90,000 people. In between once you get off of I-70, it can be sparse to absolutely nothing. There are lots of places you can walk for 50 miles and see no one.

I have a few relatives in the construction business on the Western Slope. Due to the high cost of living, up and down economy and lack of population as well as a lot of transient people, finding good people costs $$ and it's a struggle. Probably whatever you think your costs are going to be, take that number and double it.
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Old 11-25-2012, 08:03 PM
 
178 posts, read 487,992 times
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I saw where somebody suggested Kingman, Arizona. You should look into it. Look up Stockton Hill Road on Google Earth where it goes North from I-40. There is plenty of shopping off of I-40 on Stockton Hill Road and within 6 to 8 miles of the shopping you can find 5 or 10 acres at the price you want. Kingman is high desert and doesn't get too hot in the summer and has a mild climate the rest of the year. During June, July and August you will get a few days above 100 degrees but it usually cools off at night and the humidity is low. There are a number of canyons where you can find properties at reasonable prices, have your privacy and isolation and even do target shooting on your property. In the summer when it gets hot you can drive up to Hualapai Mountain Park in the Pines to cool off. If, occasionally you want some excitement, Las Vegas is only about an hour and a half away. I lived most of my life in Arizona and If I were to move back I would seriously consider Kingman. Of course I recommend you visit and check out Kingman on this site as well as go to Kingmandailyminer.com.
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Old 11-25-2012, 08:44 PM
 
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
7,764 posts, read 16,834,005 times
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wanneroo wrote: 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.

I was thinking the same thing.....a headache that tylenol and ibuprophen won't put a dent in. But it would make living in upstate New York seem like the good life.
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Old 11-26-2012, 07:58 AM
 
825 posts, read 1,603,774 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CosmicWizard View Post
wanneroo wrote: 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.

I was thinking the same thing.....a headache that tylenol and ibuprophen won't put a dent in. But it would make living in upstate New York seem like the good life.
Folks, lets not get carried away; Colorado is not a totally trackless wilderness. Yes, people do buy properties that never work out - that is why he is asking questions. Yes, there can be problems with vacation rentals, but many, many people do it successfully to just defray expenses, and some even make money at it. Since this is an area he does not know he is on these forums asking for direction and help.

What he is proposing is, for the most part, possible - I know because I did it (except for the rental part). It is not easy. You need time, education, and good advice. He came to these forums looking for the education and advice.
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