Should We Buy Mountain Property?

in property •  8 months ago

For over a year we’ve been looking at properties. We looked in the Northwest and even into Alaska but came back to Boulder, Colorado and have decided that the place we started is the place our search will probably end. We love it here. The climate is amazing. The opportunity is abundant. And this place is gorgeous. Of course there are negatives but you’ll have to deal with some imperfections no matter where you end up. The people can get a bit nauseating, nice to have around and nice to get away from. And prices are stupid here. But that’s what we’re willing to deal with.

We found a killer piece up on Sugarloaf Mountain the other day and went to take a look. We fell in love with the 9 acres the realtor showed us. It had two creeks, a mix of trees, and open beautiful meadows all 18 minutes from downtown (I timed it). Then we went home and I looked at the property boundaries myself…


The one in yellow is the property. But that’s not the property we were shown.

We were shown the property beside it to the North.


The one fully in the picture in yellow is what we walked. Not even close to the same kind of property. The one we walked has those gorgeous areas of meadow, was south facing, had water, and wasn’t particularly steep. The property we were shown and fell in love with was National Forest Land.

We went back and saw the real property this weekend. Mostly North facing, densely treed, and with little to no access to water. A small steep section of meadow is their attempt at a selling point. Lets just say we were disappointed and a bit pissed off. Especially when the realtor asked, “So it’s about the same, really close, there are a couple other people interested, wanna put in a bid?”

“HELL NO!” How absolutley idiotic. From now on we will look at the properties alone with our own well researched maps! If we are going to spend $200k on 9 acres we better really really like it.

We saw another property with this gorgeous view:

The problem is that a beautiful view usually also means exposure. This property was steep, south facing, and had the beginnings of a house on it…

4 acres 30+ minutes to town and highly exposed to wind and the eyes of others for $340k. No thanks. But our realtor obviously loved it. He couldn’t stop trying to sell us on it like picking at a scab it was gross and sleazy.

After we gave up on that we found a nice property by Gross Reservoir that we walked ourselves.

More our style, a mix of trees and open space, south facing, and less exposed, more hidden. But no water and only 4 acres. They’re asking $225. It’s about 25 minutes to town. Again, we’ll pass.

We swing from getting a piece of bare land in the mountains, to a small investment property, to waiting longer until we can afford a few acres in town. We’ll decide someday, before we’re dead!

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Come to WV, you could get hundreds of acres for what they're trying to charge you for 4 acres in Colorado!! :)

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We were out on the road for a year before this (only in the western US) but we worked really hard to find a place that worked right for us. We learned a lot about ourselves doing it and we are so torn by the choice of living in a larger town or a smaller one. Work wise, we worry about the availability of jobs in a small town. What's your experience with that? My husband is an engineer and we have doubts he could find that kind of job in a small town. Hence a draw back to Boulder, the town we know.

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You're right to be concerned about that! I guess it would depend if any major corporations have planted facilities in or near small towns...you might be surprised...for example we've got manufacturing facilities for both Rockwell Collins and UTC within a 1.5 hour radius of where we live, both of them seriously out in the boondocks; and I remember the Husband talking about engineers on staff at the RC one (he worked there awhile). Our town is small, but it's right off the interstate and is kind of a hub for the rest of the county as far as medical, shopping etc so the opportunities here are better than your stereotypical one-horse town. So, best of both worlds really. The drawback is that if you pinned all your hopes on the one big place to work in/near a small town you wouldn't have many backup options if it didn't work out! That's where a bigger city could be a safer, but then again more expensive, bet. Hard to say! I think that when a place to live and work are the right fit for you, you'll feel at home and know it :) if Boulder feels right, there you are!

I forgot to mention earlier that I was impressed by how you caught that the realtor showed you the whole wrong piece of land. Seems slightly shady if you ask me. I wonder if he'll sucker some poor unsuspecting person into purchasing that lot after showing them around Forest Service property?! tsk tsk

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Oh jeez, sitting up relaxing with a cup of tea turned me into a blabbermouth. Sorry to ramble/hijack!

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haha no I love it! Sounds like you found a good spot! We're thinking we might do a sort of "snowbirding" situation where we come stay here in town for a certain amount of time (we have a home in the suburbs)... and then the other half of the time we have a place in the boonies that we can go and be without worrying about working because we did that for the other half of the year. Choices, choices...

$225K for 4 acres of raw land is outrageous. I think that land values are way overvalued again and there should be a correction soon if you can afford to wait. Sorry you had to deal with such a sleazeball realtor and best wishes to you in your search.

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I agree. I think it's outragous and believe that the prices will correct, however I'm worried about waiting too long in my own life. I feel that I might have to drop out of the waiting game and suck it up. The price of land is insane but so is it's worth. How much do I care about dollars when I can use them to get something so much more valuable it I trade those numbers in?
Where do you suggest by the way? I'm always interested in what other people think about this. We spent a winter in Northern Oregon, 30 min outside a small town. We didn't like that lifestyle. Of course we didn't own the land but felt that the small town and the drive weren't worth it. Everyone's different though.

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I can only tell you that I'm happy in southern VT. Abundant water, old mountains, progressive ethos....But I know that the Rockies are so much more dramatic and you have lots more sun! Still, I am happy to have put down roots here. We also have nice access to more urban settings - 15 minutes to Brattleboro, 45 minutes to Northampton, MA, 2 hours to Boston, 3.5 to NYC, 4.5 to Montreal....

It sounds like Colorado is really speaking to you though. You know about the Central Rocky Mt. Permaculture Institute? Maybe Jerome would have some insight. Are there any land grant opportunities you could take advantage of, if you are going to farm or anything?

I have faith that you will find land that is right and I'm sure there's some marginal land that isn't TOO marginal like your north facing slope...

Have you looked into

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That's where I got my PDC! I should get a hold of Jerome, especially to check in on him after the fires up there.

The property looks like a better investment then the old house you were looking at. I hope it works out for you.

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Yeah , the old house... such diverse choices. I can't figure out which way life should go. Each choice leads down a pretty different path. What advice do you have? I can't seem to figure out where the best place to live/own really is, despite having traveled for a year to learn just that.