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The Ten Year Countdown…

My ‘retirement era’ has appeared on the distant horizon, and accordingly I have entered my ten year planning and setup phase for it.

Yep, a decade of preparation; I don’t do anything without proper evaluation and orchestration. 🙂

This last month has seen me looking over land options in southern Colorado, specifically around Huerfano County, for both business ventures and building a home. The area is beautiful, the seasons are mild, and the land is inexpensive – and this meets certain criteria.

I have a few friends that just moved into the town of Gardner, so they have become my canaries for the area and I am learning about how this thing called life pans out in the valley…

My ‘retirement job’ will most likely be the small-scale ranching of bison on 70+ acres, which can be had down there for around $80k if you want a stream and good grazing, though there is an opportunity for a slightly more high-tech income…

Huerfano County isn’t really “remote”, it’s about an hour south of Pueblo on interstate 25, and is home to about 6500 people. The areas I am looking at though are in the valley about 30 minutes west of Walsenburg. There is no terrestrial internet service in the valley, and 2000 or so people who live there tend to use bi-directional satellite – which is workable, but can be slow and spotty depending on the global situation.

I’ve been brewing a plan to bring a thing called WiMax into the valley. Now this set of ideas is brought about primarily for my own use; I like high speed-internet – but I figure if I can resell some of the bandwidth, then at a minimum I get cheap high-speed internet. 🙂

Given my freakish knowledge of cold-war era AT&T towers, I knew that there was one called “Red Wing” up on the western ridge of the valley, on the line between Huerfano County and Alamosa County. And this old tower looks right down into the town of Gardner, so it would be a great location for a WiMax transmitter… The complication is ‘who owns it?’. The county line literally goes right through the building, and the BLM annexed pretty much everything on the Alamosa side for the Great Sand Dunes National Park. So I opted to take a trip and have a look…


(County Highway 69 into Gardner Colorado)

(One of the many 'residential' roads in the valley…)

(The view from a potential property. That's Blanca Peak in the distance.)

(The Red Wing tower looking down into Gardner.)

Like I said, beautiful area down there…

It does appear the site is owned by the BLM, which puts my chances of using the site right above launching myself into orbit – but I don’t know this for sure, and am pursuing it still… This has required a lot of telephone time with bored and disinterested government drones, but I’ve not gotten a “no” yet – so I soldier on.

I have a ‘plan b’ that rents tower space on a couple of cell towers to do a similar thing, but any profits in the venture will be eaten up by monthly tower rental…

As for housing I have two plans; the first one is to build on the property I pick up for the ranch. This will probably be a 35×12 Liscott “APH-503” which is 389 square feet and can built to my exacting specifications for about $60,000.

I know that sounds ridiculously small against the US “requirements” for giant houses that are 80% empty space, but I’ve always been happiest in small places… My apartment before the ginormous house I live in now was about 700 square feet, and I pretty much lived in just the living room because it was too much space.

And the master suite in the house I have now is about 700 square feet, and I pretty much live in the office end of it because it’s too much space.

See, I’m not a hoarder by any stretch of the imagination, and everything I actually care about still pretty much fits in my car. That and imagine for a moment how easy it is to clean and how inexpensive it is to heat and light a space that small… I plan to be retired remember, and Social Security only goes so far…

The benefits to this are living in the wilderness away from people, and not having to drive to tend the herd.

The complications to this idea are power, water, and unimproved roads…

Water is pretty easy in the Valley; you just have to dig for it – which can be expensive. Power is also pretty easy; you just have to get it run to the property – which can be expensive.

Then there are the “roads”, which aren’t bad, but do require high-clearance at all times. I own a Fiat race car, which is pretty much anti-high clearance – so I have to buy a 4-wheeler of some sort, which can be expensive.

The other option is to pick up a small fixer-upper in Walsenburg for around $60k and spend the next ten years paying the loan off and improving the place on weekends.

Walsenburg is quaint and kind of a neat little town, right on I-25, so it has amenities like city water, sewer, power, pavement, and high speed internet. And I can score a fun little 700-1000 square foot house for around the same price as the brand new modular above.

Once paid off, a house in Walsenburg, figuring $300 a month in upkeep and repairs, would be about $5-$6000… Per year!!

That’s pretty easy to do on social security.

The benefits to living in Walsenburg are, well, civilization. It’s small-town enough to appeal to my need to get away from humanity, but still a town – so it has gas stations and grocery stores.

The complications are no land, so if I want to pursue this bison plan I have to get land elsewhere and commute.

Anyway, I’m spending this year just researching the area and getting a feel for how things work there. This requires weekend trips down to the area, but given how nice it has been so far – this is not a hardship. 🙂