A few posts ago I broke down the approximate costs that would be required if I decided to remodel my house in town before I put it up for sale and if the ROI was worth it to me to do it. In the end (at least at this point) I’ve concluded that it really is not worth the extra year and many, many hours of work during that year and the additional $20,000 to invest in the materials (I would have to do the work myself which is also a problem to be factored in), to only realize an $18,000 profit at best (if everything goes perfectly along the way and I can actually find a buyer who will pay $100k for a house with no foundation and will pay cash – I doubt any lender will give someone a mortgage on a house in this dead beat town). In the end, I’ve decided it would be better to just clean the place up, run a broom through it, take down some of the cobwebs, maybe even plant some grass in the front yard (right now I spray the entire property since I’m not here much anyway to do maintenance), and then throw it up on Craigslist in hopes I can hook a young couple who are smart enough to realize they can buy a small starter house in a sleepy coastal town with just a 30 minute commute, put $20,000 in over the course of just a few years, and either live in it for the rest of their lives or wait 2-5 and catch the market at a peak and sell it for cash and then roll that over into a bigger house down the road.
But, say I’m able to do this and I can sell the house in the next year to a cash buyer and I then can move to the Eden property full time (dependent of course on how this summer and this fall go on getting the property prepared for winter living), there is then the question of what improvements do I want to put into the Eden property.
I figure it would be a good idea to lay these options out as well and that’s what I plan to do with this blog post. So, let’s jump in and see what options are available and what exactly I might want to do with this paradise property in the future….
Why I Bought the Property
Just as a background, the property in question is a little more than three-quarters of an acre split into two lots (.15 acre and .70 acre) of hillside that are separated by a lake (lot on each side of the lake), that is boat access only and only one has lake access (the other sits behind the railroad track).
I currently use the .15 acre lot which has a dock and a few decks and used to have a useless shed (really unusable in winter due to condensation) until a few years ago when a tree fell and killed it. It has one temporary shelter on it which is really just a covered deck with a tarp roof and screen netting for walls, and then a large hole in the ground where a small dugout used to be (I pulled this out a few years ago because it was build before I was sleeping in a hammock full time).
The .15 acre lot is north facing and sits in a bowl. Needless to say it does not get any direct sunlit through most of winter. It is usually 10 degrees colder on this lot than the surrounding area.
The .70 acre lot is on the other side of the lake, behind the tracks and is a rather steep hillside (with some flat spots scattered throughout. But, not only is it much more land (almost an acre) it is surrounded by private timber on 3 sides, there is a secluded pond at the bottom of the property (that is not really accessible from the lake) and then the neighboring timberland has an extensive hidden swamp meadow near the pond, and then what I call a hidden forest which is a little valley between my property and the main ridge to the west. The major benefit of this property besides not having neighbors and being secluded and relatively inaccessible to lake goers, is it is southern facing and gets sun whenever the sun is out. It is probably 15-20 degrees warmer year around compared to the north facing property. Additionally, it has a build site about half way up the side of the ridge (nice little flat spot that is carpeted in 5-6 foot ferns, that has a ridiculous southern view of the lake and the mountains to the south. It has less tree-fall risk than the other property as well, plus there is at the base of the hidden forest a natural creek that appears to run year around (I cannot hook anything permeant to this since it is not my property, but I could easily fill up 2-5 jugs at a time and pack them back up to my camp site. This water source is much cleaner than the lake itself and though I wouldn’t risk drinking it due to pesticide use by the timber company, it could easily be adapted for all other uses. It would also take nothing to bring in a few 55 gallon barrels and collect rain water. My barrel on the other lot has nothing set up, just a crack in the lid and it fills up every season after the first few rains just sitting out in the open, which I currently use for washing my composting bucket and gardening efforts. I would not feel comfortable using the water in the pond, but it is quite a spectacular view from the shoreline with its own private beach area that is inaccessible to lake goers and even from site of the lake.
It really is the perfect piece of land for someone like me who appreciates near absolute solitude. I could go about my day pretty much anywhere on the property (save for getting in and out of my kayak at the lake short on the other side of the tracks) without anyone being the wiser that I’m even there (save for smoke from a fire or using my generator – but generator would most likely be traded in for an electric inverter solar back like a Bluetti. This lot also has the option of connecting the ridge (which already has a sporadic game trail around the ridge) to a skidded road that winds down to a cove on the lake, where I could technically launch my kayak (whether it would be easier is debatable – it is a mile walk and still just as difficult without a dock as going across the tracks and down to the shoreline).
Originally, this property was purchased for just what I’m attempting – develop it to the point that I could comfortably live on it, grow my own food, fish, and make trails throughout the surrounding woodlands, live off grid with solar for my laptop and phone, etc. This has been accomplished for the last few summers, as I spend M-F on site and then F-M at my house in town for the days that I work. Winters have proven difficult since tree fall on the other lot have caused problems and higher risks during storm season. Some years I have no trees fall at all (like this last winter) while other seasons I see 2 and maybe even 3 trees come down or partial come down (which is even worse).
In the end, I would like to be able to develop one or both properties, divide them up (they are currently on the same deed which is rather bizarre) and sell one off to add to my nest egg from the sale of my house (if I can find a cash buyer for that), so I have plenty of cash to live on for another 15+ years until social security kicks in while still working at my current part-time job saving over 50% of my income each year to add to the cushion, until that job is no longer available (or I decide I no longer want to work).
That’s pretty much my properties in a nutshell. Now let me discuss some of the ideas I have (some of which I’ve already outlined) and what options I have depending on my future circumstances.
As a single individual going forward I definitely see myself moving full time to the lake. I really only need a place to set up my hammock stand and hammock system. I think my current hammock system (untested) will be able to weather even winter for most everything (sleeping and lounging during the day using my laptop and reading) though it does not protect me from tree fall or really strong winds. Adding a small dugout that is approximately 10×7 or a deck that has a 10×4 dugout at the back side with a slanted plexiglass frontface with a small camp stove should serve my needs for protection while inhabiting my hammock setup. Right now the temps in winter get down to the high 30’s and low 40s and about 10 degrees colder on the north facing lot. This is just too uncomfortable for day to day living when out exposed. It is my hope that a small dugout shelter will cure this by allowing me to build an envelop with a wood stove to bring up the temp to 70’s easily.
I’m debating the work involved with the .70 acre property, though it is much more suited to my disposition of greater solitude. As already described, it is much greater space, south facing which means I should be able to grow food year around (but I think I can do this with at least salad greens on the other lot as well), plus there is better access to better quality water, and it is more difficult for people to get to, where as currently at the north facing lot I have had to chase off trespassers several times.
Developing the current north facing property will cost me very little. I have much of the lumber on site already from previous builds. It would cost probably an additional $100-$500 to get a permanent shelter finished and sealed up with a new stove installed. I have all the materials I need for the dock, plus additional docks for even more heavy duty materials in the future for decks, raised beds, etc.
The .70 acre lot will require some leg work and additional cost, though the end benefit and lifestyle would be far superior to the other lot.
1. I would need to gain right of way access from the company that operates the railway. From the figures I received from the seller when I purchased the lots, this should cost around $800-$1500 to get a pedestrian crossing put in and then an additional $250 / year for permission to put a dock out in front of the railway property. I would then also have to get a dock permit which comes out to about $5 / year. Then there is the added cost to have a dock and ramp put in which I’m hoping will not cost more than $3000. If it costs much more than that it might be a non-starter for me, given that I have a functional setup across the way. The other option would be to Frankenstein the current dock setup from my existing lot, which has a ramp, newer dock sections, leaving just the attachment of the dock to the shoreline (a small platform is really all that’s needed, or even just a small concrete footing). Then I would want a small trail the 2-3 yards to the pedestrian crossing, then a trail into the property, up the hill to the build site where I would build a large deck in the carpet of ferns with the back end going into the ground with a dugout area that would be about 5 ft in depth, with a plexiglass front set at an angle (which would capitalize on the expansive view which is really one of the main reasons for developing this lot to begin with, plus it would lessen the need especially in the winter time for use of the stove since the sun would heat up the inside of the shelter greatly). It would then cost an additional $2000-$3000 to have both lots surveyed, and hopefully no more than $500 to have them put on their own deeds so I could sale the .15 acre lot (I don’t want to deal with trespassers) and add that amount into my nest egg, leaving me with $80,000 to $100,000 in savings to live on for 12-15 years while I wait for social security to kick in. But, of course, with that amount in savings, as long as they can curb long-term inflation and keep from destroying the country, that money would last me until I’m 74 (not counting the savings I would generate while working my part-time job – I save >50% of my income each year so every year of work extends the length that nest egg will work by 2 years since my job pays for not only that year’s expenses but also puts an additional year of expenses in the bank).
All that would be left would be a battery inverter at about $600-$800 and also a new kayak for commuting at around $1000 (used) and I would be set. I could live on the .70 acre lot with a small dock, a large open deck space with a small dugout shelter in the back hillside with a million dollar view, no neighbors, a private paradise lot with expansive additional land to use from neighboring private forest land, a neighboring creek for fresh water, rainwater collection, and a year around growing season as well. I would be able to keep my car at the public dock for $30 / year which would give me access to Walmart prices when I go to town each week for work, a local pharmacy that is an Amazon delivery/dropoff so I could receive packages, etc.
I’m almost afraid to think about it, it sounds too good. But, with that said, it is completely possible. There are a few hurdles, though, that I need to be able to clear first.
1. The railway company needs to play ball and the figures the previous owner got were from a different company that went out of business. The new company might have new prices or might not allow rightofway at all. If not, I’m pretty much dead in the water unless I want to try and execute without legal right of way and hope they don’t catch me crossing the tracks, have no dock, and no one on the lake turns me in. I think I would rather just stay on my .15 acre lot, dig my shelter a little deeper into the hillside, maybe even insulate the ceiling, and enjoy the benefits of northern slope living.
2. The building/planning department/county will need to play ball on dividing up the two properties and put them on separate deeds. If the fees to do so are out of my price range or they won’t do it at all, then I’m stuck with the .15 acre lot. The alternative would be to lease the lot out to someone who wants to use it during the summer, but I’m not certain I could find someone that would do that. It’s possible. Not sure I would want to. The other option would be to sell both lots to someone who wanted to use the .15 acre lot with a 99 year lease back to me for the .70 acre lot with the annual price of the property taxes for both lots. This not only puts additional money in my pocket but I get to keep use of the .70 acre lot until I’m dead but also don’t have to worry about trespassers on the .15 acre lot. This option is not perfect, since I want to own my land and only pay taxes on my property which are currently $23 / year on the .70 acre lot (the .15 acre lot is $300 / year). Now, of course, if I put a dock in, put it on its own deed, and get right of way, the taxes will most certainly go up to $300 or more, plus I will have the added yearly expenses of right of way, which I’m hoping will not exceed $300 / year + $300 / year for dock fee permission.
Developing the .70 acre property would cost roughly about $5000-$10000 to get a dock, right of way, and separate deed. This would be worth it for me if I could sell the .15 acre lot for $20-50K. It would be the preferred site for a hermitage, all things being equal.
The alternative, of course, would be to keep both properties, since the .70 acre site is difficult for trespassers to access, there is really nothing there to draw them, and it cost me next to nothing to keep while I develop the north facing site and enjoy north face living (which is really not bad even in the winter time if I can build a shelter that keeps me warm, dry, and relatively safe from tree fall). Really, either way is a win win for me, so, if I’m honest, I’m really looking at this point for a reason not to develop the .70 acre site since the .15 acre has much of the work done already.
Is There a Married Option?
If you follow this blog at all, you know I’ve experienced a shift the last few months in that I’ve been given the conviction (how ever arduous that might be) that God might be preparing me for a future wife. I would say at this point about 70% of me thinks that these convictions have absolutely nothing to do with an actual relationship with another human being, but have everything to do with deepening my relationship with my creator and savior.
But, in the off chance God is willing to circumnavigate all my emotional and psychological damage, and can produce a woman who is truly comparable to me, then these are the options pertaining to the lake property going forward if I were to marry in the next year or two.
1. I would imagine our best option would be to develop the .70 acre property either to live on or (I think) better to resell. It would really be up to her in the end. We could live in the house in town while we are remodeling it and choose to live in it for the long term. As described in my previous post on remodeling costs for the house, it is big enough to live in and even raise kids in with some creativity (again, she would have to be of like mind on so many contrarian ideas I can’t imagine God would subject someone to that – but you never know what God will do in any given situation). At the same time we could do all that I stated above on the lake properties, dividing them, putting in docks (or just dividing them), and then put them both on the market for $50k each. I paid $40K for both. If we could get $100k for both of them that would be a big turn around and would be a great nest egg to put into the house in town (or even sell the house in town for $40k and have a $140,000 nest egg to either retire on or use to buy a different house that we both really like for cash. Really would be up to her. Personally, I would like to keep the nest egg and keep the current house we have since it is more than ample size, has a great deal of potential inside and outside to turn it into the dream house in a nice, quiet neighborhood that is close to shopping, a mile from the beach, and has endless options for hiking trails, lakes, kayaking, etc. With my job we could easily live a simple life and even save $300-$400 a month. My future wife would have to be someone who wanted to stay home, homestead our property with me (even in town), garden together, and want to spend 5 days a week with me at home, study the Bible together every day, read our favorite books together, etc. Again, I really don’t have a dog in this fight. It’s really up to God what he decides is best for me. If he determines that it is not good for this man to be alone, then I’m fully convinced that he will bring me a helpmate that is comparable to me in every way. If he determines that I am one of those individuals that it is best I be given (and have already been given) the gift of celibacy and singleness, then I embrace that as well. I know what is absolutely best for me is what God designs, not what I can hobble together out of fig leaves.
I choose his plan over mine.
Personally, I think living in town in the house would be preferable if God brought me a wife. I’m not certain why I think that. I would certainly lay out all the options before her and then we could reason them through together. She might prefer living on the .70 acre property in greater isolation. If she is like me she might prefer the solitude, the solace, the isolation from the world – just the two of us in our own edenic paradise. Then again, she might prefer the idea of running water and unlimited hot water (I can’t really argue against it, especially if marriage and kids are in the future). I don’t know her yet so I couldn’t estimate a guess as to what she would want. Maybe she doesn’t care about money at all, knows and trusts in the Lord that he will provide and she would leave the decision up to me as to what we do with the assets I’ve accumulated thus far. It’s entirely possible that she already has her own career, her own assets, and we sell everything we both own, move to Hawaii and the entirety of this post becomes relegated to a mental exercise in futility. I leave those kind of fanciful ideations to God and I simply wait and trust and do what I think is best with the resources I have been given.
Costs for Both
Obviously, just developing the .15 acre lot and leaving the .70 acre lot is less expensive overall. It does come with a lesser quality of life comparatively, but how much I’m not really certain is quantifiable. The views everyday would certainly be better up on the hill overlooking the lake (but for how long I can’t be sure – such things tend to lessen in their intensity over time and as familiarity increases). The solitude would necessarily be greater over there. But it does comes with more developmental costs:
1. More annual expenses.
2. Dividing property fees.
3. Dock fees unless using existing.
Though, it also comes with the potential of getting my initial investment back and then some while still keeping the greater asset. That just might be worth it. Greater access to fresh water. More solitude. Greater view. Warmer micro climate. Private pond. Secret forest. Can hike to neighboring lake (which I’ve done once before in my 20’s, it was fun).
Overall, I think I’m looking at $1000 – $10,000 investment, with a potential $40K-$50K ROI. It’s carries a much better potential return than does the remodel on the house in town (unless, of course, I’m remodeling to live in the house, then the ROI is what kind of enjoyment and quality of life will I get on that $20k investment – with a wife it would be exponential, as a solitary it would not be worth the cost). The lake, though, even as a solitary, the $10k investment would be potentially worth it, even if it only returned a $20k return. That would double my investment, plus I would be able to keep the better asset to enjoy into perpetuity.
In the end, there is a lot to digest, even more to think about, a lot of work and ground work to do in the coming weeks and months. I’m pretty certain liquidating the house would be the best option, putting no more money into it. If something happens that God brings me a wife or it appears that he might be increasingly preparing me for such, then I might hang on to the house a little longer, maybe through the winter with the aim of putting it on the market next spring – which would allow me to more thoroughly test the Eden property through a full winter to make sure it’s really what I want and am capable of doing long term. It cost me $2000 a year to maintain that house. That is $166 a month. While I’m working that is not a problem to hang on to it. Even if the market drops and houses lose even 50% of their value in a bubble, I’m still underpricing the market at $40k. It might take me longer to find a buyer with cash, but I don’t care. I can wait it out. I’m in no rush. I have no debts. I have 2 years of liquid savings stashed in my mattress (not literally). Not to mention, God has always provided for me throughout my 47 years of life. I am not rich. But I live like I am. I have the freedom like I am. I can do as I please. I can travel as I please. I can buy what I please. I know he will make it clear what I should do in the coming months and he will prepare me accordingly. May his will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Until my next update…..
Excerpt from The Light Aurora:
The door’s lock released and Dr. Lewis looked around at each of them.
“Stay close, and be ready for anything. I’m not sure if they’re all in the Command Center or if they are trying to secure Level 4. Hell, they could all be evacuating.”
He stared at Scott as he came up onto the landing.
“Let’s go,” Scott said.
Dr. Lewis pushed the door open and walked out into the hall, followed by the others – in ones and twos. Level 2 was similar to the other level, with a long corridor, doors on either side, all with security displays recessed into the wall next to them.
But, as they entered the corridor, Scott’s breath caught in his throat. As he stood there with the others, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. In front of them, probably no more than a few yards away, were three bodies lying on the floor. One was sitting up against the wall, the side of his face melted, exposing his right eyeball and a good portion of his right skull. Another one was laying face down, his entire back opened up at the spine, as if his spinal cord had been ripped out of him from behind. The last one was a few more feet away from the others, on his back, his eyes seared from his head, black, burnt flesh where his eyes used to be.
The intercom came back to crackling life.
“Professor?” Derrick said over the intercom.
“Don’t worry. You can answer,” he said. “I can hear you.”
Scott looked up, then fixed his gaze on the security camera at the end of the corridor.
“Yes?” Scott finally asked.
There was a pause, static.
“What are you doing, Derrick?” he asked. “Did you do this?”
“Indeed,” Derrick said, coming back on.
“They refused to help me.”
“What are you trying to do, Derrick?” Scott asked.
There was another pause.
“I want to go home, Professor,” the boy said.
“Yes,” Derrick said, his tone soaked with some other-worldly confidence that did not belong in an innocent, ten year old boy.
“I want to go home, Professor,” he said again. “Would you be interested in coming home with me?”
Buy the entire story The Light Aurora today and get ready for the thrill ride of a lifetime! What is this foreign and hostile place these strangers find themselves in? What does it all mean? Will all of them survive?
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