Call the Movers, We’re Home

North Fort Collins Fixer Upper House 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.North Fort Collins Horse Property

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.

North Fort Collins House KitchenWe like the home enough to live on indefinitely, but it’s still one more step we’re taking to reach our ultimate goal. Like Jerry would say, never give up!

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.

27 thoughts on “Call the Movers, We’re Home”

  1. Woohoo! Congratulations! Glad to read you found a house to call your own! Do you have big farmers markets in Fort Collins? We want to take Lucky Onion on the road and visit next summer! 🙂

  2. Looks like Jim will have to “retire” his sandles for awhile when he is in the construction zone. 😉 Congratulations Jim & Rene.

  3. We are so flattered with all of these well wishes! Wow! Thank you.

    But I really hope though that we haven’t jumped the gun by announcing it. I mean, anything can happen in escrow, so maybe I shouldda kept my mouth shut until the deal is actually signed. We were over there today and there are still some questions we need answered.

    Maybe my announcement was premature, but, as anyone who knows me can tell you, I’m pretty bad about keeping quiet. I would’ve exploded if I didn’t share this news with someone!

    Thanks again, especially for being a part of our lives. What an honor. 🙂

  4. Congratulations! I know you’re relieved to finally find that place. We’re learning a lot also in our property search. I really don’t think we’ll find anything for a few years……but that’s okay in our book (I think). Prices will be better in a few years. We’ve been hit with sticker shock in a few places we’ve looked also.

  5. This is terrific news, J&R, and we KNOW you aren’t scared of a fixer-upper. Besides which, can you imagine what the previous owners would have had for kitchen cabinets and appliances anyway? Woof !!

    This is the happiness you’ve been trying so hard to find. Enjoy the ride !!


  6. Jim and Rene,

    Congratulations to you both. Colorado will be quite a change from Northern California. Got warm jackets 🙂 Will you be pouring a concrete pad for all those visiting RVs? I always joke with my friend who wants to build a house in the sticks of West Virginia – “pour the concrete, install an electrical pedestal and they will come!”

    Good luck to you both and we’ll be following along your new adventure.

    Connie and Art

  7. Congratulations!! I know it is a big step, but we are really happy for you guys! Please feel free to call anytime you need home improvement advice! You know I dispense it readily! First tool you need…a Sawzall! Best remodeling tool I ever bought! Well, we can’t wait for the running blog on the new adventures of Jim and Rene and their newest project! Good luck, and how far away did you say the Hardware store is?? You will learn the path well! Congratulations again! Oh, and also for your Oscar!

  8. Yay!! Congratulations to you! We’re so happy that you’ve found your perfect spot and I’m sure it will be amazing when you’re done with it. AND…you’re less than 9 hours from Bozeman! I’m sure we’ll be swinging through to see you. Can’t wait!

  9. Wow! I’m so happy for ya’ll! With the extensive search you guys did to find a place, I bet you could just about write a book about searching for & buying property in Colorado for those of us who might be following your path in the future (hint, hint)! Seriously tho, I’m sure I’ll be picking your brain when it’s our turn to head that way. We’re in the process of fixing up a VW camper van in hopes of a vacation up that way in October. Ft. Collins is probably a little further north than we intend to go, but if we can make it up that far we will definitely give you a holler if you haven’t headed to TX yet. And when you get back to the Lone Star State, if you ever want to check out the eastern part of the area, give us a holler…would be pleased as punch to have you visit us! Congrats and best of luck!

  10. muy happy aqui ! can`t wait to see it, willour “suite” be south facing ??
    hammers? we don`t need no esteenkin hammers !! lol the volk

  11. Whoo Hoo! Party at your place!

    Many congratulations. Sorry you won’t be closer to us, but that just gives us an excuse to travel north from time to time. Can’t wait to see the new digs.

  12. Gosh, I feel like we just won an Oscar or something. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    Come anytime, as long as it’s during spring or summer, because we’re keeping our Texas residency and headin’ south come winter. Can’t wait to have visitors and show you all Fort Collins, you’ll love it.

  13. Congratulations you two!!!
    Whoa, what’s that sound coming from Colorado, thems is banjos!
    Good luck and good fortune – Enrico!

  14. Hey, congrats on the new digs guys. I can feel your excitement way over here in Ontario. We’ve been through a few fixer uppers ourselves & I’ve always found it a great time for new ideas & new beginnings. Change is what keeps us RV’ers all young at heart…..Enjoy:)) AL.


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