Well, I’ve run my mouth a bunch but not really provided any concise hardcore information on a “plan” or steps that I am taking, or will take, to turn this into either a retirement home or a bugout location. So that is about to change.
What was the bottom line on our thinking?
- Did we need the property as a Bug Out Location (BOL)? Maybe. I don’t know for sure that the SHTF bad enough that we will need a BOL. And, I am not 100% sure that if SHTF that we would be able to travel the 350 miles to reach our property.
- Do we need the property as a retirement home? Yes. I know for sure that I simply can’t retire and put up with living in the large city that we do. Well, maybe it is only a moderate sized city, 100k people, but it is too big, too crowded, too much crime, too much gang activity, and just not the place I want to live out my years.
- Do we want the property as a great place to go on holidays and enjoy the fresh air, solitude, and awesomeness of the area? Absolutely 100% yes!
So it turns out that our priorities for buying the property are now different and more clear than when we started looking. Those priorities are now:
- Vacation home.
- Retirement home.
Does that make a difference in picking a location? Maybe. But, the whole exercise of figuring out what we really wanted helped clarify what infrastructure we needed, and what services we needed that would be nearby. I would suggest you do the same before running out and looking for, or buying, a piece of property in the country.
So what are the lessons we learned so far?
- Clearly identify what you want to use the property for and in what priority order. For us it was
- Vacation home.
- Retirement home.
- Know what you maximum budget is.
- Know how you are going to pay for it. For us it was:
- Taking out a loan against a 401k
- Taking a withdrawal from an IRA and paying he early withdrawal penalty as well as the taxes.
- Based on #1 above identify what features of the property are the most important to you. For us it was:
- Price – We didn’t want to have a payment hanging over our head. It is bad enough that you will always be a renter and never actually own your property (property taxes), you don’t want the bank to own the property too. Simply put, you must be able to afford what you are buying. We didn’t want it to become a financial burden and hence, a point of contention or frustration in our marriage.
- Location – We had some conflicting priorities at first, but once we got #1 figured out it really helped us with this issue. For us it was:
- We wanted to be away from even a moderate sized city, at least 150 miles from any major city. We wanted a small town of about 10k – 12k people maximum.
- We wanted access to pretty decent medical facilities.
- We needed access to stores that could provide: building materials, food, etc.
- We wanted to be relatively close to recreational facilities such as golf course.
- We wanted to be in an area where our church would be available and sizable. We are Latter-Day Saints and church life is important to us.
- Water – After going through many ways of looking at this we had to place the availability of water as actually the #1 priority of the land itself. Since wells are expensive, I tried to work out a rain catchment system to supply our water. However, in arid areas your are gambling. Gambling with such a priority turned out to be unacceptable for us. So that meant we wanted to have a well on it already or be able to put a well in at minimal costs.
- Topography – We do not like flat boring landscape, we like views. We wanted property that had some character, some personality…hence, topography. We did consider this as a fairly high priority in case we did have to use in a SHTF scenario. We needed to be able to defend the place and to be fairly concealed to the average passerby. We also wanted trees. They didn’t have to be towering pines but we wanted trees. Tress could provide us with shade, enjoyment, and firewood.
- Accessibility – We wanted the following:
- Less than a full day’s drive from our current home. About six hour drive maximum.
- Accessible enough to be fairly easy in and out with a 4-wheel drive truck, but car access was not desirable.
- Less than a 30 minute drive to the nearest town.
- Identify if you want a place that you could enjoy right now with minimal expense or work to do so.
- Know if you want an existing house or not. Do you plan on or want to build a house. For us we knew that our budget would preclude any piece of property having a livable house on any property that we could afford. Besides, we want to build.
- Security – Know the area and what crime is taking place. Moving into a crime infested rural area is NOT a good idea. In many rural areas of the country right now meth cooking and use make property crime intolerable.
- Knowledge – We spent hours and hours and hours online pouring over different areas of the southwest that might workout for our purchase. I am telling you that we viewed hundreds and hundreds of listings via multiple different realty websites. While they did help us to know more about areas and what was available it didn’t help us to track down the property we eventually purchased. What was the most help was a realtor agent that we liked and who worked hard to find us the right property. He was not out to “sell us” some piece of property, he was dedicated to helping us find our new home that fit our needs and wants. He was worth every single penny of his commission and more!
I hoped this information helped. In the next article I am going to go into what we did first on the property after we purchased it.
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