Is Cheap Desert Land Worth It?

Discussion in 'Other Homesteading' started by Colorado Prepper, Mar 21, 2019.

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  1. Colorado Prepper

    Colorado Prepper Expert Member
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    I have always been tantalized by the thought of starting a homestead on a large plot of land. And to my surprise, there are lands for sale that are large AND cheap. But is it worth it? I've seen 640 +/- acres with BLM (Bureau of Land Management) on 3 sides for around 50K+/-. My thoughts are to drill a well, even if it has to be 1200ft deep. There isn't any need for building permits. The taxes are stupid cheap. Seems to me with some TLC and a metric s-ton of hard work, you could turn a tract like that into the perfect homestead.

    What are your land requirements for a SHTF desert homestead?
    How big would you want it/need it?
    Is it worth it to dig such a deep, expensive well when water catchment systems can be adequate?
    Would you want to live simple, or have as many comforts as possible?
    Would you want to be by yourself, or have multiple families?
    How much food would you want to grow?

    What are your thoughts?
     
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  2. Keith H.

    Keith H. Moderator Staff Member
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    Firstly I would not choose a desert to make my home in. I have worked in the desert & I would not want to live there. I live in a forest & I would not want anything less. You also have to consider global warming climate change, desert areas are more than likely to become dryer! Not a good place to try & grow your own food with a lack of water.

    You do not need a lot of land on which to homestead & grow your own food, but again global warming is going to make this a lot harder. We live in New England NSW, & we are still in a drought!!! Our main dam is lower than it has ever been before & we have had to stop pumping from this dam for garden use!

    We used to have a well in the Territory, but the water level used to get pretty low at times. Global warming will mean extreme weather conditions, droughts in some areas, floods in other areas.

    We have been living off grid for over 40 years, 20 of those years without any electricity or water on tap. We prefer a simple lifestyle, but we do like some comforts. We do not use a lot of electrical equipment in our kitchen, just the fridge/freezer & a mixer. We have DVD players & computers. That's about it. We have composting toilets to save on water usage. All our gray water goes into trenches beneath out garden beds.

    We have two houses in this forest, one of our sons lives in the other house, & my wife & i in the main house. Having one of our sons to help out is a plus, but we have been managing on our own in the past very well. In a shtf situation, more people you can trust would be a plus, our other two sons & their families will be moving back here when it all hits the fan.

    You need to grow as much food as you can, nothing goes to waste here. We have chooks & ducks to feed, & we have compost heaps. Global warming is going to mean crop failures & food shortages worldwide. TEOTWAWKI may last a while before the end of all life on earth.
    Keith.
     
  3. TMT Tactical

    TMT Tactical The Great Lizard !
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    I like the desert and do not plan to drill a well. Rain Water harvesting and proper management makes it viable. The major requirement is not water but a natural fuel source. I don't buy into the climate change agenda but I do see a collapse of the grid. Solar and propane or other manufactured fuel sources will eventually fail or be depleted. Off grid / rural living is going to require a natural fuel source. High desert can meet that requirement without giving up the desert life style and it's nice temperatures (I like the heat). You don't have to live in a forest to have access to wood.
     
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  4. Old Geezer

    Old Geezer Legendary Survivalist
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    Desert land?
    No
    Only 2 acre of fertile land that sees rain often and starts off fertile is a better buy. Listen, the gardens I've started have all been small. I just truck in the dried horse manure and sand. Turn it over and go. I use pesticides in extreme moderation, but I lay the grub killer on in recommended levels. Lay on the grub killer and manure early on and turn the ground Cover all blooms before spraying -- must assiduously avoid killing bees of every ilk, for they are our friends.

    In any compost pile, you gotta have huge worms, night-crawlers, and a heap of them.

    Life does not catch on aggressively where there is an absence of water.

    If you plan, it is mind-numbing how much food you can get out of a small garden. A 20' x 20' turbo garden will provide you more food than you can consume or can. Our produce from last year wore us out.

    Horse ranchers, make friends with them.
     
  5. TexDanm

    TexDanm Shadow Dancer
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    I guess it is what you consider desert. There are a LOT of areas I the southwest that doesn't get enough rainfall to depend on rain for it to be a reliable water source and in those areas there just is no real available fuel either. 4" of rain or less per year just doesn't offer you much.

    Now, on the other hand... If you can provide a water source you have endless free energy in the form of sunshine. You won't have much to worry about in the way of unexpected visitors if you camouflage your place as far as painting over shiny things and such. If you have lots of food stored and a water supply you can supplement your food with small intense gardening and some patient hunting.

    It might not make a good forever place but it would make a great place to ride out the tribulations of a collapsing society. For a few years hunkering down may be about the best thing that you can do and out in the desert would be a good place for that.
     
  6. TMT Tactical

    TMT Tactical The Great Lizard !
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    Good catch there TexDamn. There is a minimum amount to the annual rain fall required. a 4 to 5 inch rain fall is not going to work. My location is 12 inches and that is about the minimum I would realistically consider, without having to have real good well. With the limited annual rainfall, typical residential construction is not advisable. You are going to need to maximize all surface space to collect and store water. Gray an Black water are also going to have to be maximized in their usage too. Thanks again TD. While I really love my desert spaces, I don't want o mislead folks either.
     
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  7. poltiregist

    poltiregist Master Survivalist
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    For a survival location I wouldn't consider any property that didn't have a reliable water source and didn't require electricity to have access to that water . I would hate to know if a dry year hit my catchment system would run dry . I would be looking for land with a stream , lake .spring or even a reliable pond . Look at the dirt , good soil is a plus . Look at the inhabitants in the area , what kind of minded folks live in that area . You will probably find more eatable wildlife near water , another plus .
     
  8. Duncan

    Duncan Master Survivalist
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    Well, I lived in a Southwest desert (the Sonoran ~10 in/year of precipitation) for 40 years, and I moved to the high desert of southern Idaho (~12.5 in/year of precipitation) six months ago. There is a huge difference; but rather than bore you with such, let's look at your putative section of land bounded n three sides by Federal land.

    You talk about drilling a well "even if it is 1200 feet deep" I just pencil whipped that depth (if you want, I can provide my numbers and formulas) and here is how much it would cost to have a driller drill and case a six-inch well, assuming 6 gallons per minute with no drawdown: $22,200 assuming $18.50 a foot another $5000 would probably cover the pump, piping, and the well-head, so you now have a working well for less than $30,000.

    Of course, getting the water out would involve a bit of electrical power. Based on a photovoltaic system and my own Excel Spreadsheet, here's how much power you'd need to pump six gallons of water per minute:

    Insert Static Level in feet 1200
    Insert Flow Rate in gal/min 6
    Insert Engineering safety factor in format 1.xx 1.15
    Insert Pump efficiency % in format 0.xx 0.5
    Insert Tank elevation in ft; otherwise, enter "0" 40
    TOTAL DYNAMIC HEAD (FT) 1200
    DRAWDOWN (FT) 30
    POWER REQMT IN ARRAY WATTS 2980.8

    So the three kW assumes that you will not have to use batteries, since you'd just pump when the sun shines, pump to an elevated tank, and use gravity for on-demand water flow. But it also doesn't take into consideration pump friction which could add five percent to your power budget. Given whatever out-of-date information I have, you could probably get a 3kW system built for less than $5000

    Of course, since you're sitting a bazillion miles from any other location, you couldn't be sure if there's even any water on your land, so here's a crap-shoot for you. (HINT: it costs just as much to drill a dry hole as it does a producing well).

    So, just for water, you've practically doubled the cost of your homestead, and you haven't built a house, strung fences, cut a road, irrigated your gardens, built the chicken-coop and the goat sheds, etc., etc., etc.

    And no, if you're living where the water supply is less than ten inches a year, any water catchment system just isn't feasible.

    Dawn and I are also building a homestead in the desert. But it's irrigated high desert, which means farmlands, a working house, a well in good shape, already surveyed and fenced land, a mile from a small town and less than 15 miles to a Wal-Mart and a Home Depot, and we've still dropped thirty thousand bux into it so far -- and that's been only six months!!!

    Here's the basic rule:
    EVERYTHING COSTS TWICE AS MUCH AND TAKES THREE TIMES AS LONG.

    I don't want to urinate in your breakfast cereal, but you might want to think long and hard about the desert homestead!!
     
  9. Hick Industries

    Hick Industries Well-Known Member
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    I lived in the high desert area of the Mojave for 30 yrs. The desert is very low on my list of places to try and survive when tshtf. So low that I sold the place when I retired, and moved 1500 miles away.

    It not just the very low rainfall, and the generally poor soil and growing conditions, it the heat. The unrelenting, mind bending heat, with daytime highs of 120F, and nighttime lows still in the hundreds.

    As long as line power is available, desert folks survive by air conditioning, often evaporative cooling. The only other ways to survive the summer heat is underground, or move to high elevation. Without the power grid, deep well pumps, and regular deliveries of food and fuel, every person currently living in the great cities of the desert South West will either move away, or they will die.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2019
  10. GrizzlyetteAdams

    GrizzlyetteAdams Crap Creek Survivor
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    There are LOTS of opportunities for (non-desert) land for self-reliant living that is blessed with ample water from natural springs/creeks/rivers/ponds, and/or reasonable access to well water without spending a ton of time or money to develop into something useful. And is also free of the need for building permits and taxes are crazy-low. Arkansas is only one of many examples of this. The land itself is pretty cheap there, too...ranging from less than $1,000 an acre on up to $2,000+ an acre.

    Bonus: the laws are very free and easy to live with, and many preppers live there.

    .
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2019
  11. TMT Tactical

    TMT Tactical The Great Lizard !
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    Yes I really, really do enjoy 120 F heat and do not need A/C to survive but then again, there must be some Reptilian DNA in my system. At 50F my hands go numb. The desert is not for every body and yes a drought is a dangers, thus I mentioned water management. My desert location will have the advantage of several years of stored rain water. Below grade greenhouses and a below grade room for extreme heat living, if it gets into the 130F. I will also have the advantage that nobody will be headed in my direction. All the city folks will be headed for the known water locations and that is far from me. Many American Indian tribes managed to live and thrive in the desert, I am pretty sure I can too.
     
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  12. Sourdough

    Sourdough "ALASKAN"
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    Someone in this thread mentioned "What type of people live in the area currently" ???

    This is a very important consideration, that is rarely discussed. It really disserves a new thread.
     
  13. Morgan101

    Morgan101 Master Survivalist
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    I love the desert. Love the heat. Grew up there. Would move back in a heartbeat. A reliable water source is critical. IMHO a well is necessary. I don't think a cache system would be sufficient.

    Duncan: Thank you for your input. That is very interesting, and really puts things in perspective. I have often wondered how much a well would cost.

    I would agree with Grizzlyette Adams. There are many other places that would offer more readily livable conditions; better soil; readily available water; comparable prices. I would love to move to that type of place. I wouldn't need a whole section. Ten acres would probably suffice. It would depend on how close other people were. My first preference would be seclusion. I don't think I could take the Winters in Wyoming, but one person per square mile sounds very attractive.
     
  14. Oldguy

    Oldguy Master Survivalist
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    Each type of location has its pros and cons
    If you get ideal land you WILL need to defend it OFTEN!
    If you get desert land you will not need to defend it often but you will need secure water and lots of it.

    I vote the desert but keep it well hidden!
     
  15. Colorado Prepper

    Colorado Prepper Expert Member
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    I have been watching you tubers on this for a few years. One desert family had a water catchment system that was literally a few thousand square feet of corrugated steel, like a low lying roof, that ran off into 6 to 10 1000gal above ground containers. They had them set up in such a way where each one would gravity filter the next. And I think that is a pretty darn good idea. So in my original post I mentioned 640 acres... I know I don't need that much land. But having one square mile of land instead of just 20 acres is like, springing for the fully loaded Ram 2500 Power Wagon when you, "could" , get by with a regular Ram 1500 V6. Why the heck not? Anyone catch my truck bias there? I'd be happy with a 60+ acres. The way I see it is, a stable, reliable well is worth the money it takes to drill it. Plus, money isn't the end all be all for me. I'm savvy, not cheap.;) I just don't want to be near anyone. And all the places that are green and fertile, are packed with people. I don't want to so much as see a roof line from my property. I want to be so far away that you wouldn't be able to make it to me on foot. If I have the land to be able to spread out large systems, then I still fail to see where the problem is. What I imagine is having a house, a well, a large water catchment system, a large solar array, a few windmills, a large green house, and all that, with all the fixins to make them run reliably for years and years. So, the charge controllers, rectifiers, batteries, water pumps, filters ect. ect. I think it can be done, honestly I do.
     
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  16. poltiregist

    poltiregist Master Survivalist
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    It wouldn't be my choice but you have made some valid and reasonable arguments for the desert location . Every one is different and if you have that much money to invest it could be the right niche for you .
     
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  17. Duncan

    Duncan Master Survivalist
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    No argument there; it just depends on how much money you are willing to spend.

    One thing I want to mention -- and this is my opinion only -- is this: If we ever get to an SHTF scenario, the VERY LAST THING I would want to be is alone. There are simply too many things that can go wrong when you're involved in building a homestead (or even just living in one). Any problems become catastrophic if you're a half-day away from someone to help you, especially if you're incapable of moving under your own power.

    This is why I designed my entire survival approach around a different set of considerations: I believe that the most important skill a prepper can have is the ability to make friends and get along with neighbors. I moved (as some of you know) to a populated place: farm country with a 3500-population town within a mile or so and a big town (~46,000 people) close enough so I have everything I need, including medical care, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, farm store and even a small college.

    Of course, I have a couple of acres with a good-sized garden and a fenced acre of pasturage for the goats and the chickens, and I have built (and continue to build) outbuildings. Heck, I even have a gun or two lying around somewhere. Once I get my supplemental hand-pump in my well, I can be pretty self-sufficient from a food-and-water point of view. But here's what I'm going to look at when-and-if things get stupid. Don and Angie, Ben and Jennifer, Brian and Victoria, Shad and Ellen, and Rex, along with the Anderson's down the road and maybe twenty other people either living in town or on farms near me, and all their kids (and they have a lot of kids!).

    In only six months I've gotten to the point where we drop by their place un-announced with fruit we put up back in August, and they might show up with a half-dozen guys when I put the roof on the goat-shed. Or Don comes by with the tractor, or Maybe Angie asks us to babysit their chickens for three or four days, and then tells me to come by and pick up the trailer whenever I need it and ... you get the idea.

    I don't worry about a defilade or a field of fire; I have a field of friends.

    Now this isn't peace-love-dove hippie stuff; these are farmers and other workers who don't abide moochers or freeloaders, but will help their neighbors in any way they can. Plus, they're all armed outdoorsmen who can get along out in the boonies better than 90 percent of the neo-preppers out there (including myself). I know Dawn and I would be a lot safer in our environment than we would anywhere else, whether downtown Phoenix Arizona or in a wilderness homestead with no one else around.

    It's something to think about.
     
  18. TMT Tactical

    TMT Tactical The Great Lizard !
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    Duncan. that is an outstanding approach and I do think it will work for you and your family. I do think if you are really a true people person (not the fake smile kind) then this approach could really work. It cannot and would not work for me. I would be willing to go out and help my neighbors and have in the past but I would not allow folks to just DROP BY. You are correct in that a single (1) person is at risk in case of injury or illness. That is why it is better if it is a family operation. I do think that for your family and for most folks, your plan and method is a very good idea.
     
  19. Colorado Prepper

    Colorado Prepper Expert Member
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    The town I live in now has about 100K folks. I've lived here in suburbia for 5 years now, in the same house, and the neighbor I rub shoulders with, I've never even met. Or spoken a word to for that matter. And I'm not a hermit, or unapproachable. I'm honestly the nicest guy anyone would hope to meet. Outside of that, I know my two across the street neighbors, but I'm not too close with them. I've never been to a BBQ at any of their houses. We're all working blue collars here. And work more than we honestly should to keep a roof over our heads. That's hard to change when you're wearing golden handcuffs. But we all do it. I would love to live in a community like you described, but I don't. One day I will get my ducks in a row to start things the way I like.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2019
  20. Hick Industries

    Hick Industries Well-Known Member
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    Desert folks might consider copying the water catchment system used to supplement wildlife know as a guzzler.
     
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  21. TMT Tactical

    TMT Tactical The Great Lizard !
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    Very good point and already included in my plans. I did not know that it actually had a name. I just figured to entice the wildlife hang around.
     
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