“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.
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.
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.