I've been researching this area a lot. Let's get the obvious out of the way: -cold, long winters; short hot summers; dry, windy all the time (good for wind power) -poor area w/no commerce
There seems to be a rift between long-time residents and newcomers living "off-grid." It appears the biggest issue is that the newcomers do not want/can't afford septic tanks, water wells, and 600 sq ft. homes; all required by the county. Maybe I'm oversimplifying it, but that's what it seems like.
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I have plans to do all that so I'd assume I'd be a welcome addition to the community. But I only have $8k max budgeted for a well. I've seen in some places that it can be way more expensive than that and there may not even be water in some places.
Anybody have input on this? Anybody know of similarly priced land in other states or areas of Colorado with better growing soil? Thanks all.
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I'm not too familiar with Costilla County but I LOVE the Alamosa/Monte Vista/Del Norte areas. I don't think you'll find cheaper land in the U.S. but maybe. Dry land can be conditioned to be productive but bear in mind that it can take years or even decades for soil to really get going. There should be state or county resources to help you know if a lot has water, how much of the water rights are yours and how deep you'll have to drill. If all else fails, try
Have you searched the state's website to check on the depth of wells near the property you are looking for? For reference, it cost me $12K for a 620' well cased and capped--but no pump installed. My impression as that most of the wells in the valley aren't all that deep. When you pay to drill for a well, you are paying to drill for a well--no guarantee on hitting water. That's just how the system works. No two ways about that. But a good well guy (hint: look for the guy the oldest truck, probably a bit beat up) will have a pretty good idea on what to expect.
Can you explain more about the vibe you are getting of a rift between long-time residents and newcomers?
Either way, it's something for you to consider. Because if you settle there these people will be your neighbors, and you will need their help in ways you can't imagine.
The septic is a BIG issue, as water rights in general are a big deal--and if you aren't putting in a septic system correctly you could easily screw up your neighbors hard won well. I'd be pissed if someone moved in near me and then tried to build without a septic system.
My suggestion to deal with such things would be to go talk to the neighbors before you buy the land. At least make that a contingency once you are under contract, IMHO. You will learn a bit about them and how willing you are to live near them. Other neighbors will also tell you about other neighbors. You'll learn pretty quickly if there's a feud or if some of them are prone to feuds. But more than that, by showing that you are trying to "fit in" to the area, they'll be much more accepting. Knowing that you are putting in a septic system, for instance will put them at ease, and knowing WHERE you intend to put it would make them even happier. Just scoping it out will also help you ensure that there aren't just a bunch of meth cook houses out there--they make TERRIBLE neighbors.
Input I've got is to look for sun. If it's sunny, it's warm. If it's not, it's frigid. Even in the middle of the winter when it's so windy. It really does boil down that simply.
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Other areas? IMHO, you're looking in the right area of the country to find affordable land to set up a homestead. I'd look in Conejos County (immediately west), and south as far as Espanola, NM. Once you go south of Espanola it gets more expensive being so close to Santa Fe.