The search is over, all votes are in. After two years and about 40 states, we’ve determined that Colorado is our favorite spot, and Fort Collins is our ideal town.
But many other people also know this, and real estate prices here remain high, even in a supposedly down market.
The search for our dream property has been frustrating and emotionally charged. After two months of hard searching here, we finally accepted the hard truth;
we have enough money to buy a few acres of land, but not enough to build the kind of house we want.
Living in our RV is fine, but the whole point of buying land was to put something on it that could hold our remaining stuff (presently in storage in California), while we continue roaming the country as digital nomads. We thought about just building a garage, but after doing so, it wouldn’t leave us with enough funds to build a future house too.
And so, we widened our search criteria to go beyond raw land, and include fixer upper houses and cabins. That’s when we walked into the sad new world of bargain basement foreclosed homes. Our realtors have tons of experience with repo properties, making the process less daunting.
Last week, we made an offer on a sprawling ranch house set on nearly one acre of horse property, about 10 minutes from town. The offer was accepted.
We instantly liked this place because:
- The area is rural and quiet, but still close enough to the fun stuff in town.
- It needs a ton of work, but extensive house rehabs are nothing new to us.
- The property is big enough to park multiple RVs on (hear that, NuRVers?)
- At the peak of the market, it sold for twice as much as we’re buying it for now.
- And the biggest reason we took the plunge: it’s a bargain, and we can stay debt free, even after repairs.
Surprised? So are we. It’s not quite what we had in mind when we first hit the road in search of Jerry’s Land. We originally had visions of off-grid living in some remote, rugged location like Lake City. But the last few months have been a good reality check. We’ve learned that:
If we want a seriously rural lifestyle, we’ll need a lot more money to do it comfortably, not Ted Kaczynski style.
We don’t feel like this is a compromise. We’re getting into this property because it’s practical; it fits much of our criteria, and everything indicates we can double our money after repairs.
The house won’t be livable for some time (notice the leaning chimney?). It’s stripped clean inside (Jim is standing in the kitchen area in this photo), and needs extensive repairs from new plumbing to a roof. While it looks scary, we’re not running away. At 1,895 square feet, the house isn’t exactly small, but not nearly as daunting as our previous fixer, a 3,770 sq. ft., 106-year-old Victorian.
In the meantime, we’ll spend the rest of summer here, go back to Texas in winter, and return in spring. We’ll live like hillbillies in our RV out in the horse pasture, and one by one we’ll knock projects off our punch list without a contractor. In-between, we might even start a small garden and grow some kind of specialty item to sell at local farmer’s markets. We’ll need the funds.
Escrow closes sometime around the end of July. Stay tuned. More adventures are sure to follow.