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Looking at buying some land....

npaden

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Okay, this is probably a can of worms on a public hunting forum but I really think there are some smart folks here that can help me think through my conundrum. Sometimes just typing it all out helps me think things through so here goes....

I have been looking at buying some land out west for a few years now with the thought of ultimately retiring on it and in the shorter term enjoying hunting and recreating on it.

Wyoming has been high on my list for several reasons including no state income taxes as a retirement option, but I have been looking for years and just can't seem to find something with what I want in my price range. The pandemic hasn't helped anything as prices have jumped up and nice properties are getting bought sight unseen.

Colorado, New Mexico, Montana and Utah are all on my shopping list along with Idaho, even Oregon and Nebraska have been looked at a bit.

I'm about to give up on finding "the property" and realizing that I may end up needing to buy a couple different places that between them have what I want. Getting a place big enough that I can hunt on it in a place that is really pretty and has all the other boxes checked is really expensive. So I've started looking at more of an ugly place that is big enough to hunt on and a smaller place that is pretty and has the creek and the rocks and ponderosa pines and all that fun stuff.

Another big part of the thought process is resident vs. non-resident tag allocations and structure. New Mexico has the glut of landowner tags that currently go with the property whether you are a resident or not. Colorado has that for deer, but not really for elk. Wyoming has non transferable landowner tags. Right now Montana doesn't have any landowner preference at all. Utah gives out deer tags pretty easy but actually you really need to own a ton of property to get an elk tag. Wyoming probably has the best resident hunting in the lower 48 so between that and no state income tax, that is a big part of why I've looked pretty hard at Wyoming for property. Retiring to a smaller place in Wyoming and owning land in another state for hunting could be the best of both worlds with the great resident public land opportunities in Wyoming and being able to hunt the property that I own in another state.

So... after looking for a few years and prices continuing up I'm thinking about "settling" for something that isn't exactly what I'm looking for but does check several of the boxes. I'm thinking that I'm not marrying the place, I would just be buying it and I can always sell it if the ideal property comes up sometime down the road.

One nice feature about it is that it is closer to where I live now than most of the places I've been looking at and I am 9 years away from my current planned retirement date so being a 6 hour drive away instead of a 10 or 12 hour drive away really will add up over those next 9 years.

So... I'm actually going to put a link up of the place I am looking at buying.


580 acres just outside of Trinidad Colorado. Decent number of elk on it and something that I wasn't looking for but this property has plenty of bear on it as well. I don't think it has much in the way of deer on it but it gets a landowner deer tag and there are probably some deer on it, but I am more interested in elk anyway. I see this as a place where I could hunt elk every year and not have to wait on the draws and also a place where I could take people that haven't ever shot an elk and give them a chance. I wouldn't expect there to be very high quality bulls, but they just uploaded some new trail camera pictures and got a picture of a pretty good bull to boot. Elk tags are OTC for this unit for 2nd and 3rd seasons. This area is nearly all private property so there seems to be limited hunting pressure although that could change based on the neighboring property owners.

Negatives are no electricity and no well. I think with the generator and some solar you could get around the electricity issue and as a recreational place, having someone haul water for the small amount that would get used wouldn't be too terrible. The realtor said that there was a service that charged like $75 for 1,000 gallons to fill the water tank or something like that.

I have the money to buy it outright if I sold some stock or have asked about an installment sale option where I could spread it out over 2 or 3 years. I may also look into financing it so I don't have to pay tax on my unrealized gains on my stock.

So that's it. I'm open to any and all comments, questions, suggestions, etc...

Thanks, Nathan
 
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Just a thought. I have a recreational property with no electricity from the grid. That said, we did drill a well. The ROI on drilling a well vs paying $75 to have 1,000 gallons of water hauled up would be hard to justify, but burning through 1000 gallons would not be hard, and not worrying about conserving water when we are there (everyone taking showers as needed, the ability to water the yard in the case of a wildfire, etc) is pretty nice. For power, we utilize a large propane generator that runs off the tanks buried in the yard, and the cabin also has propane heat, and it is plenty to run the pump on the well, the hot water heater, the lights, etc.
 
Okay, this is probably a can of worms on a public hunting forum but I really think there are some smart folks here that can help me think through my conundrum. Sometimes just typing it all out helps me think things through so here goes....

I have been looking at buying some land out west for a few years now with the thought of ultimately retiring on it and in the shorter term enjoying hunting and recreating on it.

Wyoming has been high on my list for several reasons including no state income taxes as a retirement option, but I have been looking for years and just can't seem to find something with what I want in my price range. The pandemic hasn't helped anything as prices have jumped up and nice properties are getting bought sight unseen.

Colorado, New Mexico, Montana and Utah are all on my shopping list along with Idaho, even Oregon and Nebraska have been looked at a bit.

I'm about to give up on finding "the property" and realizing that I may end up needing to buy a couple different places that between them have what I want. Getting a place big enough that I can hunt on it in a place that is really pretty and has all the other boxes checked is really expensive. So I've started looking at more of an ugly place that is big enough to hunt on and a smaller place that is pretty and has the creek and the rocks and ponderosa pines and all that fun stuff.

Another big part of the thought process is resident vs. non-resident tag allocations and structure. New Mexico has the glut of landowner tags that currently go with the property whether you are a resident or not. Colorado has that for deer, but not really for elk. Wyoming has non transferable landowner tags. Right now Montana doesn't have any landowner preference at all. Utah gives out deer tags pretty easy but actually you really need to own a ton of property to get an elk tag. Wyoming probably has the best resident hunting in the lower 48 so between that and no state income tax, that is a big part of why I've looked pretty hard at Wyoming for property. Retiring to a smaller place in Wyoming and owning land in another state for hunting could be the best of both worlds with the great resident public land opportunities in Wyoming and being able to hunt the property that I own in another state.

So... after looking for a few years and prices continuing up I'm thinking about "settling" for something that isn't exactly what I'm looking for but does check several of the boxes. I'm thinking that I'm not marrying the place, I would just be buying it and I can always sell it if the ideal property comes up sometime down the road.

One nice feature about it is that it is closer to where I live now than most of the places I've been looking at and I am 9 years away from my current planned retirement date so being a 6 hour drive away instead of a 10 or 12 hour drive away really will add up over those next 9 years.

So... I'm actually going to put a link up of the place I am looking at buying.


580 acres just outside of Trinidad Colorado. Decent number of elk on it and something that I wasn't looking for but this property has plenty of bear on it as well. I don't think it has much in the way of deer on it but it gets a landowner deer tag and there are probably some deer on it, but I am more interested in elk anyway. I see this as a place where I could hunt elk every year and not have to wait on the draws and also a place where I could take people that haven't ever shot an elk and give them a chance. I wouldn't expect there to be very high quality bulls, but they just uploaded some new trail camera pictures and got a picture of a pretty good bull to boot. Elk tags are OTC for this unit for 2nd and 3rd seasons. This area is nearly all private property so there seems to be limited hunting pressure although that could change based on the neighboring property owners.

Negatives are no electricity and no well. I think with the generator and some solar you could get around the electricity issue and as a recreational place, having someone haul water for the small amount that would get used wouldn't be too terrible. The realtor said that there was a service that charged like $75 for 1,000 gallons to fill the water tank or something like that.

I have the money to buy it outright if I sold some stock or have asked about an installment sale option where I could spread it out over 2 or 3 years. I may also look into financing it so I don't have to pay tax on my unrealized gains on my stock.

So that's it. I'm open to any and all comments, questions, suggestions, etc...

Thanks, Nathan

Cool place, hope it works out for you! Buy it, shoot a couple elk or whatever, and then decide if it's a long-term or just not quite right. Having more of the creek bottom would be nice, but it is what it is...
 
This is one of my "counting sheep" exercises when I can't sleep: Think about what your ideal property would look like.

I'd be more interested in finding a spot that doesn't need a ton of work to make it what I want since it's a retirement dream, and not a dream of turning something into a continuous wildlife habitat improvement project to get it to where you want it. Location, species on the property, habitat quality and ability to build an off grid house/cabin along with a quality fishery either close by or on the property. Unless the properties are close together, I'd not go for the split idea. I've gone back and forth on that as well as undeveloped land prices w/o structures are much better than a developed ranch/farm, but the extra costs associated make it a moot point, IMO. If you do go with the split residence/property route, they'd have to be at least in the same county as to ensure enough actual quality time in the field as opposed to driving all over the west. You'll always have the out of state hunts for other adventures, and if somewhere like the place you listed has the cornerstone species you want to hunt, and the possibility of increasing other species like deer, I'd opt for a single spot to call home.

Put in a house, go with geothermal for heating/cooling with wood stove back up and solar/wind (there's some really good 25KW turbines out there that would be perfect for a small ranch operation in conjunction with solar). Drill two wells (one for stock, one for residence) and enjoy your time afield and in a nice spot without worrying about the $1 million views.

That property you posted looks like it's got about 85% of what you want, and the price ain't bad. MT land prices are nuts, I don't know about ID. WY, SW CO or NM seem about right. AZ would be in that mix as well - quail, deer, elk, javelina, etc.

Good luck Nathan!
 
Have you been on the ground to look at it? Access issues? Psycho neighbors? Land is a good investment right now with the dollar being devalued. Don't see an end to that anytime soon. The only thing that could devalue this investment is a bad wildfire, which is a good possibility looking at the pictures. Lot worse properties for sale for a lot more money right now, so it will probably go quick. What are the property taxes on it?
 
I do live on 75 acres here and very much enjoy getting up and looking off my balcony for deer during the season. Have even shot a few from the balcony. That part is something I would really like to continue with a retirement type property. I wouldn't have to be able to actually shoot something from my balcony, but looking at wildlife from your home is a wonderful thing. I watched a 10 point whitetail buck this morning. He was a 3 1/2 year old but doesn't have very good tine length. Hoping he will make it to next year and grow some more antler.

I also own 160 acres that is 100 miles to the southeast that I consider my hunting property. We probably get down there 4 or 5 times a year right now but there have been times where I've gotten down there as much as 10 or 12 times. It is a pretty good whitetail and pig place, but that's about it. It does have quail but I just haven't ever really gotten into quail.

Another other option is just spending the $ for a landowner tag in New Mexico, doing a RFW tag in Colorado or a CMWU tag in Utah... If you did the math it wouldn't probably be that much different than the lost opportunity cost on having $800K tied up in a chunk of land but for some reason I just can't seem to get my head around spending that kind of money and not getting anything tangible out of it.
 
Have you been on the ground to look at it? Access issues? Psycho neighbors? Land is a good investment right now with the dollar being devalued. Don't see an end to that anytime soon. The only thing that could devalue this investment is a bad wildfire, which is a good possibility looking at the pictures. Lot worse properties for sale for a lot more money right now, so it will probably go quick. What are the property taxes on it?
We are looking at making a trip to go look at it over Thanksgiving. It is in 3 tracts. The largest is assessed as agriculture use and the 2 smaller are assessed as recreational property. Current property taxes are just a smidge over $2k. It has deeded access from the north and some type of HOA access from the south that has the "gated" access. Per the realtor the neighbors are really good currently.
 
We operate on very different financials and economies. I wish you luck. When I dream about lands I’ve always been interested in what I would be able to hunt on the land with over the counter tags and not relying on draws or landowner tag situations
 
Cool place, hope it works out for you! Buy it, shoot a couple elk or whatever, and then decide if it's a long-term or just not quite right. Having more of the creek bottom would be nice, but it is what it is...
This is one of my "counting sheep" exercises when I can't sleep: Think about what your ideal property would look like.

I'd be more interested in finding a spot that doesn't need a ton of work to make it what I want since it's a retirement dream, and not a dream of turning something into a continuous wildlife habitat improvement project to get it to where you want it. Location, species on the property, habitat quality and ability to build an off grid house/cabin along with a quality fishery either close by or on the property. Unless the properties are close together, I'd not go for the split idea. I've gone back and forth on that as well as undeveloped land prices w/o structures are much better than a developed ranch/farm, but the extra costs associated make it a moot point, IMO. If you do go with the split residence/property route, they'd have to be at least in the same county as to ensure enough actual quality time in the field as opposed to driving all over the west. You'll always have the out of state hunts for other adventures, and if somewhere like the place you listed has the cornerstone species you want to hunt, and the possibility of increasing other species like deer, I'd opt for a single spot to call home.

Put in a house, go with geothermal for heating/cooling with wood stove back up and solar/wind (there's some really good 25KW turbines out there that would be perfect for a small ranch operation in conjunction with solar). Drill two wells (one for stock, one for residence) and enjoy your time afield and in a nice spot without worrying about the $1 million views.

That property you posted looks like it's got about 85% of what you want, and the price ain't bad. MT land prices are nuts, I don't know about ID. WY, SW CO or NM seem about right. AZ would be in that mix as well - quail, deer, elk, javelina, etc.

Good luck Nathan!
That is probably the biggest drawback for this property from a hunting perspective. That canyon bottom in the southeast corner seems to be the high traffic spot for elk. Looks like the thicker bedding area is south of that. Would be nice to have just a little more of that going southeast.

Arizona is a great place but has very little private land for sale at least in my price range.
 
I do live on 75 acres here and very much enjoy getting up and looking off my balcony for deer during the season. Have even shot a few from the balcony. That part is something I would really like to continue with a retirement type property. I wouldn't have to be able to actually shoot something from my balcony, but looking at wildlife from your home is a wonderful thing. I watched a 10 point whitetail buck this morning. He was a 3 1/2 year old but doesn't have very good tine length. Hoping he will make it to next year and grow some more antler.

I also own 160 acres that is 100 miles to the southeast that I consider my hunting property. We probably get down there 4 or 5 times a year right now but there have been times where I've gotten down there as much as 10 or 12 times. It is a pretty good whitetail and pig place, but that's about it. It does have quail but I just haven't ever really gotten into quail.

Another other option is just spending the $ for a landowner tag in New Mexico, doing a RFW tag in Colorado or a CMWU tag in Utah... If you did the math it wouldn't probably be that much different than the lost opportunity cost on having $800K tied up in a chunk of land but for some reason I just can't seem to get my head around spending that kind of money and not getting anything tangible out of it.

That's a valid point.

I think it all comes down to how you want to spend your time. That's the one piece of the puzzle that matters the most to me, while the monetary issue would be second. If you crave the experience of hunting, but not the hassle of owning prime elk land that's a money pit in terms of taxes, upkeep, etc, then the decision becomes a bit easier in terms of tags. If your desire is to retire to a spot that you are eager to wake up too every morning and that you feel you can call home for the next 10-30 years while hunting it for the species you enjoy the most, then buy it.
 
For me, every time I look at buying any recreational land, I think about all the trips I could afford with that money instead. I don't think there's any place I could buy that I would spend enough time on it to be worthwhile.

But you're living the dream right now, looking at properties is a favorite past-time, even if I'm just a window shopper.
 
Not sure that I could ever find the ideal property. Even the homes we have owned, including our current one are not perfect but have met the majority of what we were looking for. So if it meets the majority of your requirements, I would say buy it.

We are currently under contract for a small lot, it is not the property that I had in mind. But once we saw it we saw a lot of potential. Small lot with river access, community water and sewer, electric and a small garage. Also potential for a small cabin that would do well as a Airbnb during summer months due to location. OTC elk, deer, bear, grouse, fly fishing and great access to hiking/backpacking.
 
might as well swap out realtor for satan, the meaning is the same. Don't trust anything they say. 1/3 of my time is trying to help people solve water right issues due to realtor lies.

I have some good friends that have been realtors for years and it is ridiculous how little they know if it is not on one of their templates. We are working through some water rights stuff right now and you would think realtors that handle rural Idaho properties would have some general knowledge or at least know who to talk too.
 
One of the other thought processes is that if I buy something like this now, then in 9 years when I actually do retire I could sell it and my current house and land and maybe my other hunting property and with that all combined I might be able to look at some really nice properties.
 
For me, every time I look at buying any recreational land, I think about all the trips I could afford with that money instead. I don't think there's any place I could buy that I would spend enough time on it to be worthwhile.

But you're living the dream right now, looking at properties is a favorite past-time, even if I'm just a window shopper.
I look at it as an investment that you can recreate on. I bought my whitetail hunting land 14 years ago for $136,000 for 160 acres and feel pretty confident I could sell it for $200,000 today pretty easily. Not a spectacular ROI but considering that I've been able to recreate on it for 14 years while it appreciated in value I think it is a win. A hunting lease of a similar piece of property would be somewhere around $3,000 to $5,000 per year X 14 years = $42,000 to $70,000 savings on not paying for a hunting lease. If you add that to the slight appreciation in value then the ROI is pretty decent. That piece of property actually pays for itself with some CRP payments also so it actually has a negative holding cost.

The one I'm looking at now doesn't have any income at all so it will have an annual holding cost, but I'm guessing the recreational value of it would be at least $10,000 per year between bear hunting and elk hunting. It's hard to recreate with the stocks in my portfolio right now and I'm getting old enough I probably shouldn't be as aggressive in my investments so buying some land might minimize my investment risk a little.

I'm pretty much set on buying some land, it's just picking which land to buy that is the struggle right now.
 
I wish I had your difficulty of decision making. I'm still trying to make something like that an option. But it is fun to dream.

My reality is that what may force me to follow that dream would be Estate planning difficulties of my parents. If I had to give up the 100 year old Family farm , I'd have to leave the state to get what I need to exist, while working in my career another 20 years.
 
I often go down the mental rabbit hole of real investment could'a/should'a/would'a's & ultimately conclude that what was expensive to the point of economic sacrifice and risk stays the same as time stacks calendars. I'm ok with living the dream in Mother Texas and renting paradise.

Best of luck Nathan...different strokes
 
It seems like a fantastic price and that makes me wonder why. I would call a title company (not one reccomend by the realtor) and get a preliminary title report. A couple hundred bucks will shed some light on the property's history.

$75 for 1,000 gallons of water delivered? I doubt that. Sorry.

HOA? Get a copy of the CCR's. What restrictions or requirements involve the property?

Get a prelim. It will be money well spent.

My .02.
 
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