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Old 12-06-2010, 10:40 AM
2 posts, read 10,741 times
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i have 5 acres off 12 mile road and 19th. halfway btwn Blanca and San Luis. 12 mile is a county road. i plan to 'pull my home' there for the summer months and pull it back to CA for the winter. i've been told about the winters, in the valley, by a local.
i also have a breakdown of costs for improvements. some are estimates, some are hard prices.
the local power company, Excel, gave me a hard price of $3750 to run power to my lot. maybe cause i'm a corner lot on the county road.
i've been told, by a local, that septic, if you do alot of it yourself, can run around $3500. that's for the hole, the tank and lines.
wells are estimated at 160' deep @ $40/foot. then, there's the pump and all the other things that you need. a 1000 ga tank will run around $500. maybe $8000? total.
my plan is to pull an rv on the land, put a tank in, have water delivered, and put a small septic in.
i am concerned about burgalaries also. as dad used to say, "locks only keep honest people out".
the local resident, that i have been talking with, raises llamas. interesting guy. and, he sells on ebay. he offers installation assistance for septic and solar. he runs his place on solar. nice guy. straight forward. i have his email if you're interested. i will ask him first.
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Old 12-07-2010, 07:42 AM
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My husband and I have recently moved to Blanca. We have property close to the base of Mt Blanca and are renting in the town of Blanca until we can build and have owned this property for years. The first month we were here the nights got into the minus double digits and I have never heard wind blow like that! For us these are not negatives because of the people and the valley itself. Yes, it is a desert, which we love, and the cold weather is not here yet as we have been told by our friends but there is a feel to the town of Blanca that reminds us of the days of old where helping your neighbors takes priority and being with friends is very important. It is not so much about the dollar but more of the feel of investing in people. You most likely won't find the type of job you might have had elsewhere and many of my friends have created jobs for themselves which shows the metal of the people here and working here can be done. The county is poor in dollars but truly rich in what really matters. So far we have felt that Blanca is the right choice for us and the landscape either in winter or summer is wonderful in our eyes as each has a beauty of its own. For those who are looking for seclusion with "amenities" then maybe Blanca isn't for you. Since we are from TX and the DFW metroplex in particular, a 30 minute drive into Alamosa or a 2 hour drive into Pueblo is not an issue because to get from FW, TX to Dallas TX can take up to 2 hours or more just due to traffic snaffu's and the drive here is much easier. Everything has perspective depending on what you are used to or what you are willing to compromise on. For us we wouldn't change anything and to have to go back to the "big city" would be very hard if not impossible. Sometimes the best things in life are the things you have discovered like on a treasure hunt and we feel that we have found a diamond in the rough and proud to show it off.
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Old 12-28-2010, 05:53 PM
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Reputation: 24
We moved to the SLV in July 2009. We are on the South side of the San Luis Valley Ranches off Hwy 160.

Yes, our 10 acres is flat as a pancake, but has not only sagebrush, but wild prairie grasses and cacti that bloom in the Spring. The wind DOES blow across the open desert prairie, but that is great for off-gridders like us, who depend on wind power for electricity.

We have AMAZING views of Mt. Blanca, the Sangre de Cristo's as well as other mountain ranges. The stars at night, at 7500 foot elevation are unlike I have ever seen.

Between the towns of Blanca and Ft. Garland (sister towns about 5 miles apart), there are multiple restaurants, 2 hotels, several campgrounds, full grocery store, laundry mat, liquor/convenience stores, gas stations, mini-storage, arts/antiques stores, and even a Wild West show!

Yes, they are sleeping, small towns, but as mentioned before, the residents, both locally born and transplants from other areas, are wonderful people. I serve on multiple committees including the annual Music Fest (Fort Garland Band Jam) and the Fort Garland Revitalization Committee.

We have a wonderful Community Center that offers a library, meeting rooms, commercial grade kitchen facilities, Olympic swimming pool, sauna, hot tub, free internet, work out room, billards room, and full court basketball court - all for a whopping $25 per person PER YEAR if you are a resident to the area.

Larger towns and cities offer the usual Starbucks, Walmart, movie theatres, etc. and if you want big city lights and the amentieis of a metro area, Denver is just a few hours drive and offers as much as Chicago, NY and LA. Outdoor activities abound both in and out of the SLV, along with really cool towns such as Creed, South Fork, etc to the West.

In our area, yes, the land is CHEAP and the taxes are LOW, making it an affordable place to live. Jobs are available, but at the wages you'd expect in a very rural area ranging from minimum wage to $10 for potato/farm work and up for skilled trades. Originally we lived 90 miles NW of Chicago, so I find the wages about the same as what they were in the Midwest in small towns.

Being 100% off grid, we were able to set up our ENTIRE infrastructure for about $10K which includes 3 48V wind generators, 24 deep cycle, sealed cell batteries, septic, well and a 500W solar system. Comparatively, our MONTHLY energy costs for an 1100 sq foot house in NJ was $350-400 per MONTH, so being self-sufficient in CO, we will have paid for our "normal" energy costs within 2 years and then everything is completely free + any maint/repairs needed over the life of our systems.

WINTER - Being Midwesterners transplanted to the East Coast, we find the winters to be quite tolerable as there is NO HUMIDITY. There are high winds, light snow, and so far, the worst wind chill we have experienced is -15, but NO HUMIDITY, so, it is a completely different type of cold and not really that bad. (FYI, we live in an older mobile home, so we don't have much in the way of insulation, and still find it easy and affordable to heat).

SUMMER - GREAT summer weather, not much rain, average high temp in the high 80's to low 90's and NO HUMIDITY.

High desert country is the best way to describe the climate, very much like Reno or Winnemucca, NV. It is not a lush, green climate, but the local vegetation is sage brush, trees, desert prairie grasses and low growing cacti and Spanish swords.

Like any area, there is crime, but ours is comparitively low, mainly domestic violence and petty theft. If anyone thinks they can have a house full of possessions left unoccupied for months or years at a time and not expect some kind of property damage, really is not being realistic, regardless of where in the U.S. you live. If you are going to be a part-timer in the SLV, get to know your neighbors. We are the kind of folks who will happily drive by to check on your place from time to time.

We love living in the SLV. It is gorgeous, plenty of activities and affordable. There are many many assets to living in the area. I guess it just depends on what you expect from a very rural, farming community.
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Old 12-28-2010, 08:37 PM
Location: Denver
1,788 posts, read 1,270,495 times
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I bought 40 acres north of 160 a few months ago. Closer investigation found that nobody can really see it from their house. I decided it was too desolate to build on.

I bought 5 acres that has some neighbors. I built a pole barn on it, I have way too much stuff. I bought some security equipment and friends keep an eye on things...to a point. I worry about break-ins. A lot.

I don't know what I am going to do. Uncertain times makes it hard to plan.

The valley is an acquired taste for many. Fantastic sunrises, sunsets, starry nights and long distance views. Plenty of sun...and wind.

I bought a wind generator and think about setting it up....
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Old 12-29-2010, 03:11 AM
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Wink SLV: roughing it or not

It is a beautiful and largely empty drive north from Tres Piedras, NM into Colorado on US 285. Shortly north of the border, and certainly by Antonito, CO and beyond, one will notice the change in the landscape. What was a relatively lush spur of the San Juan mountains, with green sage and pine trees, at Tres Piedras, becomes drier as one heads north. But particularly beyond Antonito all becomes relatively lush with green fields of agriculture, even some marsh. There seems in this a distinct divide between New Mexico and Colorado, although in whole that a deceptive impression. For there are verdant areas within New Mexico as well, such as the rich pastures in the vicinity of Taos.

For that matter, traveling up the east side of the valley will reveal a different aspect. Forest at Questa, NM, but soon of sage and drier. There are a few houses and not much else at the border, with NM 522 becoming CO 159, more notable for the speed limit increasing. It is obvious further north why the town of San Luis is there: water.

The impression of the greater San Luis Valley is of a flat sea of sagebrush, at times sparse, with high mountains on the near horizon. Of openness and space, even though the evidence of some small towns, fences, the odd house, and various scattered signs of man. Perhaps the most obvious at times the agriculture. There is no missing it when present, and conversely when absent. Much of it on the central valley floor is irrigated with deep wells. The traditional pattern is a central wellhead, with a long wheeled array of powerful sprinklers that circle it like the hands of a watch. The circular diameters covered are large, and green, the four corners not covered with water are as brown and dry as all else elsewhere. These contraptions do not exist everywhere, quite possibly due the exigencies of water. Also of an underlying aquifer which may well be declining from usage which exceeds natural recharge.

Crestone, removed from all else directly at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, is an oasis. Or was, not as much now. Some of its natural water has been diverted for other uses by agriculture. But if turning off CO 17 at Moffat and heading due east, in coming closer to Crestone one will notice the marshes on either side of the road. In a place as often arid as the SLV, this is notable. Indeed every ranch, town, field and most anything else is dictated by water, with the most viable locations long since adopted.

It could be that the vistas presently enjoyed will remain for a long time. Everyone thinking of a log cabin might be surprised if all their neighbors actually managed to build. This reminded me of various styles of architecture, and of those better suited to such a climate. There are log cabins even now scattered about that valley, although the more natural have weathered many winters, at times found in towns such as Del Norte, or at or within the mountains, such as South Fork and Creede. But that is different country. The Rio Grande River flows through, and the farms lining that smaller valley are fairly rich from the water they can use. There is also more precipitation, and a great deal of it in snow if venturing as far as Wolf Creek Pass on US 160. But, as said, if on the western edge of the SLV, in many respects different country.

That more similar, if at times wetter, is found at the far south edge of the valley near Taos, NM. Many people in that area have the same notions, something like 10 acres or so and their personal enterprise to furnish the rest. There are many examples of such creativity, some near palatial, with others far more modest. Like maybe an old VW van or camper with a flat tire or two. A good place to inspect such self-reliance on a somewhat more established foothold is the informal community of Tres Orejas, on the east flank of the three-peaked hills of same name, on the far side of the Rio Grande River from Taos. Kind of out in the middle of nowhere. Residences there sometimes exhibit not only four walls and a roof, but such amenities as small windmills and sufficient solar panels. Many people in Tres Orejas haul in their own water, there being no municipal water, or even electricity. Some other establishments make do with simpler solar arrangements, such as one minuscule solar panel large enough, maybe, to use a lightbulb for a few hours at night.

I digress. North of Tres Orejas, just east of US 64, are large communities of Earthship houses. These are more substantial, expensive, and practical. Also half invisible, with their northern aspect near dug into the ground, walls of windows facing south. Most all the design principles would easily translate farther north in the SLV. Some of the applicable laws would not, as Colorado still has an issue with grey water use, and New Mexico does not. That aside, these dwellings use a great deal of local material, such as adobe and used tires for the walls, and operate well off the grid. Their roofs are non-toxic, designed to capture and funnel all rainwater and snow into cisterns. Those considering the expense of wells might pay attention, as this is actually being done well in a dry environment. If vagaries of weather, supplemental water can always be brought in, but they do a marvelous job of recycling and using all water well. Electricity in many cases is solely from solar. At least in this area most all the homes are expensive enough to possess at least a basic minimum of solar power. Translation: they spent enough money to buy enough solar panels to have enough electricity. Some people scrimp, and anyone without a munificence of panels will quickly discover how much electricity a traditional American home uses, or what compromises they now must make.

Anyway, it might not be a bad idea for the intrepid Colorado pioneer to be to visit New Mexico for awhile. Taos makes a good home base for exploring, and perfectly civilized with most all the amenities. Many fine restaurants, as well.

For in intending to live within the SLV, briefly or forever, there are certain ways that could make the visit all the more pleasant . . . or not.
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Old 12-29-2010, 09:15 AM
Location: Denver
1,788 posts, read 1,270,495 times
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Default The weather

Due to the pre-dominance of clear skies, winter nights tend to be significantly colder than in Denver. The clear skies also mean that substantial warming takes place....starting around 9:00am from what I have seen.

One frequently hears tales of temperatures dropping down to -30. That is possible though quite rare. Blanca is warmer than Alamosa for some reason. I compared the yearly temperature data. I think that night time temps in Blanca are about 15 degrees colder than Denver. Day times temps being about 5 degrees colder than Denver. Summers are very nice.

I spend over 4 hours driving to Denver though aggressive drivers can do better than I. Pueblo is about 100 miles away and is halfway between Denver and Alamosa.

There are a lot of Mormons and Amish as well as a lot of illegals. The Mormons and Amish keep the crime rates more reasonable, you fill in the rest. Thats what I hear anyway.

Property taxes are low of course. A huge attraction. I could have built on a couple acres close to Woodland Park but the property taxes are over $400/year with nothing but a couple trees on the land.

I am a middle aged ex-wedding photographer. To be realistic, I need to keep my fixed expenses as low as possible.
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Old 01-22-2011, 12:19 PM
3 posts, read 61,517 times
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To all of you who are interested in The Blanca, Ft. Garland area. If you are from the suburbs or used to modern conveniences, you probably do not understand the concept of minimal thinking. If you have never farmed, built homes and mastered many valuable trades this is probably not the place for you, unless maybe you have a great pension or beefy bank account and like remote places with a certain peace that is unsurpassed like no other place. This is probably one of the top five best quality of life areas to live in the USA regarding air and water quality, living off the land cost effectively and a great place to raise a family who truly understands true old world country living. There is a reason why real estate prices are very reasonable, like the other people who replied in regards to water, electric and jobs, these are important factors in determining relocation. Being an off the grid Craftsman, Builder, farmer for almost thirty years with land in this area these are important tools you will need to survive comfortably in this country. If I can be of any assistance with building tips and off the grid, self sufficient living let me know Good luck to all.

Last edited by Mike from back east; 01-22-2011 at 01:26 PM.. Reason: Advertising / self promotion not allowed per TOS.
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Old 02-02-2011, 05:21 PM
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Reputation: 14
We want to move here as well. Anyone need a painter? lol....Any good deals on land? I intend to build my own log cabin. We are sincere honest hard workers from the foothills of the mountains in Granite Falls NC. How is the hunting here? Any elk? Bears? How do I get a guides licence? After residing there and hunting for a year I would like to become a guide in the fall of the year. Thanks email me folks!!! Tim
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Old 02-02-2011, 08:10 PM
Location: Denver
1,788 posts, read 1,270,495 times
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Originally Posted by tankpaintertim View Post
We want to move here as well. Anyone need a painter? lol....Any good deals on land? I intend to build my own log cabin. We are sincere honest hard workers from the foothills of the mountains in Granite Falls NC. How is the hunting here? Any elk? Bears? How do I get a guides licence? After residing there and hunting for a year I would like to become a guide in the fall of the year. Thanks email me folks!!! Tim
Cost of living is lower than other Colorado locations but the labor rates are, at least, in line with that. The area attracts a lot of self-sufficient types who are not keen on government managing their lives.

There is good hunting and fishing in the area. Plenty of deer and elk. Some bear. In order to become an outfitter, you must purchase the license from an outfitter who is retiring. You will looking at very expensive hunting licenses for the first year due to having out of state status.

The area is sunny, dry, and windy. It is not for everyone. The winters are long and cold, the summers are very nice. The views are excellent though the mountain ranges are about 40-50 miles away on average.

Lots of Amish and Mormons and, around San Luis in particular...plenty of illegals.

There is a small independent logging company north of Alamosa.

The water quality is good and it is hard to miss the water in the valley at either 60' or 180'. The Mesa is more scenic by far. It is also more expensive and very hard to hit water. The Mesa also seems to have a lot of rattlers I think. My realtor intentionally ran over two of them in one 30 mile trip. I got out and checked since they look like bull snakes.

The area is growing. They are completing three schools.
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Old 02-03-2011, 06:52 PM
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Thanks. I am very serious about moving there ans starting over with good honest open people as my neighbors!!! We are sick of the rat race ...back stabbing , lying people! If anyone has any advice I would love to hear it!! Thanks for the reply Mr. Adams
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