Cheap Land in Klamath Falls

“There’s the price of your lot, and then there’s the price of your well….”
Gary Gardiner, the mustached realtor whose name adorned the most for sale signs in the area broke the news to us that $5k for 2.5 beautifully wooded acres was just as it seemed – too good to be true.

sweet photo in the realtor's office

We’d been thinking about getting a cheap piece of land in order to establish a US base and were looking at Northern California and Southern Oregon primarily. While camping in the half finished cabin of a friend in Klamath Falls, South Central Oregon, we looked into land prices and were drawn to advertisements of large lots for less than $10k.

Totally ignoring the fact that we were considering buying land a full five hours (at least) from the coast, we drove through old growth pine forests in large lot developments divided up back in the 60s and were amazed at all the for sale signs on empty lots. We saw a few houses, a few trailers, and some big barns.

While stopping to look more closely at a for sale sign, a white bearded potential neighbor pulled over to see what we were up to. It turns out the problem is water. Land is so cheap because the wells are so expensive. Friendly white beard warned us it may cost a minimum of $50k to reach the life sustaining liquid, and perc tests for a septic system could also be a problem in the rocky earth.

No problem, we figured. We’ll catch rainwater and use a composting toilet. Back to the earth, sustainable living. Eco-friendly and cheap too!

Then we visited the county planning office and were told about the permitting process. “First you need a well, then you need septic, then you can think about building.” We thought about trying to camp out on the land in a yurt or straw bale structure, but were told the rules against camping even on your own land were being enforced much more strictly than in the past. You can build a 200 sq ft. “shed” un-permitted and we figured we might be able to live in that and use it to store our stuff temporarily, but it wouldn’t be a permanent solution.

Helpful cartoon for visualizing 2.5 acres

Why can’t we catch rainwater and compost our waste? You’d think the city would be encouraging those practices. But of course, it’s the lazy or just incompetent that were incapable of doing those things correctly that had to be protected from themselves by the city and the rules.
We did see a few nice houses with what looked like water catching systems and wondered how they got around the rules. We were tempted to buy something and figure it out later, but it just seemed not worth the hassle, especially considering it was so far from the ocean. Maybe it would be better to buy something where the rules aren’t so strict.

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13 Responses to Cheap Land in Klamath Falls

  1. Heather says:

    You’d be stuck with undevelopable land and paying the property taxes on it for years. Hold off for something on the coast. The surf is really bad in Klamath Falls.

    • Jacek says:

      North America (the US and Canada) along with Australia and NZ have become so overregulated. Some rules are good but nowdays you practically can do nothing. You may not realize but that’s one of the reasons you moved to Nicaragua. I am a disgruntled North American engage in the exodus as I don’t like so many rules. I’d like to sleep on the beach if I want to or have a bonfire on the beach once in a while. Can you imagine trying that in the US or Canada? (Hefty fines or jail.)


    Back to beer pong… Hay!

  3. Mike says:

    Hell there are some great breaks when the wind gets whipin’ It gets pretty knarly when the weather gets chilly, Maybe just maybe you can come see mid September will be a gas! Maybe Wildfire can come join us and we can tell fish tales and go to the Rodeo! Update on how the project is goin’ would be nice been thinking about you sweatin’ and slavin’ alot!

    Be well

  4. Marcela says:

    It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d most certainly donate to this outstanding blog! I guess for now i’ll
    settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
    I look forward to fresh updates and will talk about this site with my Facebook group.
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  5. sam says:

    Anybody still here?!!!? What about multiple 200sq foot “sheds”?

  6. Ginger Morely says:

    I know a lady who lives in the county area of Klamath. She says Klamath Falls {the city} can’t enforce anything in the County. The county has so many cut backs, there aren’t enough officers. She has lived on her land two years in a travel trailer with rain catcher and compost toilet. She says there are homes like that for the past 30 years of some neighbors. The county can’t cross private land with no easement rights. Neighbors have gates, guns, and dogs. I know one of the county workers. He told me there is an illegal bar that OLCC can’t get to because of gates, dogs, and guns. “More power to the Hillbillies of Klamath County. Yeehaa”!
    Sincerely, Klamath County Oregon Resident.

  7. Stace says:

    Thanks for the info! I have also been looking into cheap land around Kfalls to do the same thing- composting/ greywater and rain catchment- living off the grid I am still considering it though with just a 200 SF structure.

  8. Andy says:

    That sucks I wanted to move there and park an rv and burn my crap and get water somehow, so annoying to pay $2k for land and then big brother says you have to buy septic and well and blah blah blah

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