Affordable Colorado Mountain Property: Donations Greatly Appreciated

Affordable Western Colorado Real EstateWalking into a real estate office and meeting a new agent is akin to sitting your butt down in a dentist’s chair. It’s just gonna suck, whether you’re there for a root canal or just a cleaning.

Unfortunately, dealing with certain kinds of professionals that can rip your teeth out, make you bleed, and rob you blind, just seems like an evil fact of life.*

During our travels we’ve seen tons of great properaty listings, but we’ve never walked into a real estate office to learn more. Recently though, we got up the nerve to do just that, after learning that our neighbor’s daughter works for a Lake City broker. Thinking, “how bad could it be if we have an in with a local?” we went in.

We heard there was a 40 acre property just north of town, for sale at $200k, an unheard of price here. When we got to the office, we learned the property was actually listed at $299k, which is way over our cash-only budget, but still closer to it than anything we’ve seen for that many acres of western Colorado mountain property, with water rights.

We asked the agent if we could see it anyways (not mentioning that only a winning lotto ticket would give us a chance to buy it).

Oh sorry, you’d have to cross private property, only I can take you there,” he said.

Waterdog Lake City Colorado

Getting Taken for a Ride

Great. We gritted our teeth and got into his truck. After some small talk, he actually didn’t seem like too much of a scheister. As we drove to the property, he quickly informed us that 1) the property can’t be divided, 2) it’s only accessible by 4-wheel drive, and 3) you need to build a bridge to get to the only building site.

Scratch that “bargain” off the list.

The trip wasn’t a total waste of time though. After we came clean with our budget, the agent gave us a good reality check on what we can, and can’t afford to buy in Western Colorado.

Our Property Search: Another Reality Check

Aspen Forest Lake City ColoradoIn a nutshell, thanks to the influx of wealthy retirees in the region, we just don’t have enough cash to buy the amount of land, with the kind of amenities and zoning, that we want. Period.

A mortgage is not an option. Not just because no bank would be crazy enough to lend to two homeless people without a real income, but because one of our biggest goals is to stay away from the shackles of a mortgage and debt. As much as we want to live in Colorado, we aren’t ready to sacrifice our freedom to do it.

I’m not discouraged though. I think this means we’re making progress in narrowing things down.

After considering some areas we can afford, I accept the fact that we’re likely going to be sacrificing some of our “requirements,” and buying land in a place where we’ll either freeze our cans off in winter, or sit around sweating buckets in summer.

*Two exceptions are: the incredible agent we had in Eureka, and Jim’s brother, the dentist.

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9 Responses to “Affordable Colorado Mountain Property: Donations Greatly Appreciated”

  1. Hey Judy, thanks for the link to the Hermitage guy. And remember, if you ever want to get your hands dirty and build something, you can always come work on our property, whenever we find it!

  2. We got bit by that bug once-bought 4 log walls on 2 acres but boy was it pretty! Right down the mountain from LC near Creede. finished it and sold it but now this guy http://web.mac.com/leland1234/Hermitage2/Welcome.html gives me the itch to do it again. I love building!

  3. Eric Auckerman August 24, 2008 at 8:59 pm Reply

    Hola amigos!

    Hey, I’m with you and for you with regard to making this a successful Grand Journey (travel was always the finishing school for the well to do and well connected).

    Rene, I embrace the idea of you and Jim connecting with your family in Cuernavaca, and don’t let the statistics dictate your perspective on Mexico as it’s been said there are only two kinds of people in this world, good and not fun.

    Adios – Enreeko out!

  4. Auckerman, you are such a great idea man.

    Funny you should mention the ex-pat thing. . . . We’ve been discussing what we’re going to do this coming winter, where we’re going to go and all that, and so far, visiting my cousins in Cuernavaca, Mexico, ranks very high on my list. I’m trying to get Jim to buy into it. We are a bit nervous about going there with 75 percent of our entire belongings loaded into a trailer. Not exactly inconspicuous in a country with a 99% poverty rate, dontcha think? Still, we are open to the idea of visiting and checking things out. We need to do our research for.

    As for the long term plan, I know we could go to another country and get something really, really sweet. But here’s the reasons why I’m hesitant;

    1) do I really want to be looked at as another rich American who basically stole property out from under the locals? In San Miguel de Allende, as you mention, lots of retired Americans have moved in, and driven up the prices on everything from silver trinkets to real estate (my parents were there recently). It’s still cheap for Americans, but not for those that were born and raised there.

    2) I’m nervous about relocating to a country where we have basically no rights, and at the mercy of any dictatorship government that comes along.

    3) My family. As much as they drive me crazy, I like being on the same soil as they are.

    We aren’t entirely shutting the ex-pat idea out altogether. I know that if we stay in this country for the rest of our lives, we will not be able to retire the way we want to some day. I constantly tell Jim that if we want any kind of good quality of life when we’re old and decrepit, we need to get out of the U.S….Canada ranks high on our list, mostly because of Jim’s family ties there, but also because they actually give a crap about the health and welfare of its citizens.

    And as for moving to WI or MN . . . we aren’t back to considering that, yet. But if we did, those Midwesterners are the people that I would want for neighbors, especially during winter. They are some of the most kind, good hearted people we’ve met.

    I like your ideas, Auckerman, as always, they are greatly appreciated and we need to give them some serious thought.

    -R

  5. Eric Auckerman August 24, 2008 at 1:53 pm Reply

    Oh yeah, nothing wets my socks with sweat more than a sweet little volley around the pluses and the minuses of property acquisition. Because I know both of your natures well enough let’s take a walk beyond the borders of the US and consider truly alternate alternatives, ever thought about living overseas or off of US guarded soil?

    Americans live everywhere (though I know Rene you prefer to be called a gyno-American) and so can the two of you!? I’ve met foreign nationals living in some of the coolest and sweatiest corners of the planet. In Hong Kong I met expat Americans, Ozzies, South Africans, Lebonese, and so on and so on – try Lama Island, no cars and loads of good fun). I know someone living in Mexico who has a theatre with live music and English and Spanish plays performed weekly, he’s very happy. Has an internet cafe, rents pirated movies from China, and sells books on the side. How about Argentina? These people are very cool as I’ve only been impressed and reimpressed when I meet them (the contractor who worked on my house in Berkeley before I sold it was from Argentina – he was superb).

    Thailand will love you long time as I know someone there who just had a house built above a cove where he swims every day, very nice. I have friends also in Tahiti who are selling and moving back to Port Townsend, WA, but they’re glad for the time spent in Tahiti as they met some wonderful personalities.

    I know you two are looking to go raw and dust your chaps off at the end of hard day’s ride, but focusing too tightly on the US cash only buyer market is getting tough unless you are willing to live like those who already live there. WI, MN, what are you thinking? And what about Jerry, accidentally freezing your dog is a serious and punishable offense in five states.

    Juli and I are thinking about moving to the state of Washington (Bainbridge Island) but for you Rene I wonder, who would see your “Obama gives me the hope I can’t give myself” T-shirt if you’re bundled six layers deep from the L. L. Bean women’s catalog?

    However, if you considered Uruguay or Costa Rica you could open an eco B&B and print Obama (or McCain) T-shirts to sell to the many European tourists. One internet cafe owner I met on Mo’orea said he was moving to Chile. He said he could buy a house for $15K US on the coast above Santiago as he had been there several times and just loved the culture, wine, and water.

    You’d be surprised how nice people are out of the US (and in of course)? Case in point would be my visit to Tahiti to visit said friends. Everyone is very respectful and polite on Mo’orea, they may not like your politics or nationality or whatever but at the core and on the surface they were unbelievably polite, well spoken, and naturally joyous.

    So let me throw another compelling reason to possibly live beyond our borders down your craw, it’s cheaper. You could live in Mexico for a whole lot less than you can in the US while getting into a business that deals with Americans are looking to stay hip by visiting Mexico. Everyone wins!

    Yes, you will have to learn a new language but why not learn to thrive beyond our entitled and contradictory US ways and live among those who understand what it takes to survive and get things done yet know when to put up their collective feet and let their hair way down?

    You could buy a B&B compound Miguel Allende for what you’ve got in the bank and supplement your income with services and the like. Folks from all over the world congregate at this wee burg in Mexico as based on what I’ve heard from friends who lived there for six months, they said it rocks, desert yes, but it rocks all the same. I hear a lot of wealthy American widows live there.

    Hmmmmm, reverse immigration, I like it!

    Enreeko out!

  6. Kim; Thanks for the encouragement, I appreciate it!

    We would give just about anything to live in CO, but not at the cost of being chained to a mortgage. When we first hit the road, it hadn’t even occurred to me to NOT get into debt over a house. Huh? Pay cash? Then I met this great, debt free family at Cape Canaveral, who introduced me to Dave Ramsey’s philosophies. It changed our mindset completely (well, that and the mortgage crisis too).

    Now that we are committed to not getting into debt, our frame of reference for what we want and can afford has completely changed. That’s OK though. I know that by buying what we can truly afford, and not having a mortgage payment, we might actually be able to save some decent funds for our real retirement some day, and hey, maybe even pay for health care at some point too!

    And Jerry Critter, Colorado’s winters are cold, but stil mild compared to some places where land is more affordable, but winters are harsher. Take Minnesota or Wisconsin, or Northern Montana. Waaaaaay colder, and wetter too.

  7. You won’t “free your can off” in CO?!?

  8. Sorry to hear that CO is clearly not working out for you. You have a good attitude about it. This is just directing you in a different direction. The exact right place will come along in the future. You can count on it! 🙂

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