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I'm kinda' laughing over the bulk of the above responses.
You see, we sold our last 5 acre property in unicorporated Weld County, just outside of Eric, in 1999 for almost a $1/2 mil. The house was 2,100 sq ft, three bedroom, 2 1/2 bath, brick construction; on city water and own septic. In one of the original 1970's subdivisions that still have farm oriented zoning. We had a chicken coop, 24x36 steel workshop, a three car garage, and a detached 2 car brick garage.
At the time, the area was on the verge of the land/housing boom of the front range. It's since blossomed and Weld county was recently the among the fastest growing places in the USA. Poorly platted out, you've got $mil prarie palaces right on the doorstep of high density condo's and townhomes.
The growth there was fueled by the (over priced) adjacent explosion in Boulder (and Boulder County), and by the explosion in property prices and development on the South East and South West side of the Denver metroplex.
Most all of the new development is zoned against ag uses.
I had a chance to buy 120 acres in the Elizabeth area with a grass airstrip back in 1982. The barn was falling down, the house was a decrepit rat trap previously used as a "boys home" business, and no system in the house was functional. It all needed to be bulldozed. All for $150K then. I don't believe you could buy it for less than $15-20K per acre today just for the land alone.
The Elizabeth to Franktown area is one of the highest priced "horsey set" locations in Colorado. It's where the folks with the high dollar arena horses have built there incredible barns and private arenas, and where the biggest (what is that, Five Star Farms?) and priciest equestrian facilities in the state are located. I doubt $650 K would buy a modest home on a couple of acres today.
The La Junta area of SE Colorado? It's all plains out there. Very dry, ranching country with almost no industrial base. Very economically depressed with the more recent droughts affecting ranching and dryland farming down there very badly. Your $650 will buy a lot of place down there today, but it's not what you're looking for. The mountains are close by only if you're using an airplane to head West. That's true for most of the state East of the I-25 Corridor.
SW Denver area? Give me a break. I was one of the first buyers in the KenCaryl area when it was $60K for a nice tri-level on a 1/5 acre lot. That house is now $350K in suburbia USA.
Colorado Springs? The center of original Colorado development and wealth, with a significant portion of Colorado's "old money". They're pretty quiet about it in a western sort of way ... but it's a very high priced area of the state.
We moved to our Wyoming ranch in 1999, when it was still possible. Your couldn't duplicate our place for a mil today.
Right now I 25 is under major construction but yes it does run from pueblo to Denver, with many Wall Marts Home Depots ect. There is land and homes available at good rates but developments are spreading fast.It is a good place to live but has many issues, as well as the large expansion of Fort Carson.
You might want to "hook up" with a realtor specializing in relocations in the areas you're interested in.
I'd be highly suspicious about a property that appears to be listed at the very low end of the market. Be very cautious about water/septic, zoning, easements, neighbor activity, access, possible upcoming major mill levy's, structural defects, soil quality, and so forth. Ask up front because it's a long road back to being whole if there's problems at the time of purchase, especially if it's big problem that a realtor should have, but didn't know about. Test wells for water quality/contamination and pumping rate. Be sure the septic is working properly and located correctly. Just because your neighbor has a good well at 300' doesn't mean you'll have good water or any at all on your place ....
Be aware that water is big deal around here and you may not necessarily acquire irrigation water rights for farming with your 40 acres; functionally, irrigation water may not be available at any price.
Your domestic well will be limited to domestic use, which could include a modest amount of residential landscaping, shelter belt trees, and livestock watering. Oh, and you did check to see if the zoning allowed livestock on your property, too, if that's what you've got in mind? Some plats don't allow livestock, or severely limit the number of horses per site.
Know upfront if your place is in a platted subdivision with asociation fees. You may be in for a surprise when the next major project is voted in by the majority. I saw one group vote in a requirement for the plastic white fencing around each property and it's pricey stuff per foot for a total of 40 acres. Saw another group decide that the septic systems or old coal mines were polluting a few domestic wells and voted for the entire association to join the local municipal water/sewer district at about $20K tap fee per site to the street frontage; it was your responsibility to connect from there to your house. Some folks were looking at high 5 figures to keep water and sewer to their homes ....
There's a growing number of activists, too, in the area who are shutting down traditional county land uses. They don't like the smells, debris, or noise from livestock or farming operations, and have gained enough power to affect zoning rules and decisions. Of course, they usually have enough acreage for themselves to meet minimum set-backs for exemptions from the rules.
Boulder County, for example, is very aggressive about this. I know of several large and historically successful Boulder/Longmont area equine operations that have recently been restricted on the number of horses they can board per acre. Restrictived enough to make the operation unfeasible, they've had to shut down the commercial business. So the only marketplace they had for all of the infrastructure and home was a wealthy private horse owner. Typically, the houses were not consistent with what a person who could afford the property would want to live in. It's interesting that the same folks who cry about the loss of the scenic and pastoral views are the ones promoting the zoning that destroys that view.
I've known of lots of houses, stick built ... in the 6 figure range ... throughout the front range area that were structurally unsound. Many built on bentonite soil with seasonal groundwater running through the place.
Bentonite soil is a big deal regionally and not even many industrial/commercial pro's know about it. Be sure you're not buying bentonite soil property or that, if you are, that the structures are properly erected on it to withstand the stresses and divert moisture away from the foundations.
La Junta is a nice little town about 60 miles east of pueblo located along the arkansas river. The nice things about the town are the low cost housing, the schools are good, and the water is the best in colorado as stated in several newspaper articles reciently because of the recent Reverse Osmosis plant .
There is a lot of history south in the canyons , The mountains are within an hour and a half, and the temps are usually warmer in the winter than front range areas. The area has a nice public use airport, for private aircraft , if you are a pilot, you would apreciate it, it was once a b25 base in the war.
It is multi cultural, agricultural area, amtrack train service, and friendly atmosphere.
The summer months are hot, But the 42oo ft. elevation, gives a dry climate, not humid as back east.
For your money, you could have a verry nice home, as the cost of building, ect is lower than most urban areas.
There is a good hospital,and utilities run comparable to other small towns.
Have lived here for a long time, and look foreward to seeing new folks move to our area. I can give you the city's website if you are interested.
What I've heard about Kiowa sounds like it might be a fit.
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