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Semper Fi
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My wife and I will be retired two years the end of this month and we signed the papers on a property in AZ back at the end of May. We still have things to finish up here in CA and probably won't be totally moved for a while yet. I also need to get a shop built there to house all my stuff.

House is a 1452sqft 2bed/2bath log cabin on almost 40 vegetated acres, 9 miles east of a place called St Johns (pop:3400). The house sits at 6400' elevation and while technically still a desert it is cooler and wetter then 29 Palms and in a micro-climate that allows trees. Property cost us $160K and seller paid closing costs.

From horizon to horizon I can see (with bino's) eight other houses. Closest neighbors are almost 1000yds away with the next set of houses right at a mile. The property is on a County maintained gravel road, has electricity, well, septic and cell service (Verizon). Property is fully fenced (4 strand barb wire) which the realtor said the rule of thumb was $10K for 40acres. Still have to do something to keep goats in though.

The house is 14 years old but has never been lived in full time. First owner's wife got ill and needed to be closer to major medical before they even moved in. Second owner bought it as their future retirement place but after his wife spent the first nights there she refused to go back...saying it was, "too quiet"..."too dark"..."too isolated"...etc. They are from Los Angeles so I imagine St John's was quite a shock to her.

There aren't really any jobs there but we are retired so it doesn't matter. There is a small grocery/hardware store, a chain auto parts, a Subway and Dollar General. Two Mexican restaurants and two American (one of which doubles as the Italian place) and if I want pizza it's just a local place. The closest McD's, Walmart, Home Depot, etc is 60 miles away in Show Low. This wasn't such a change for us as Walmart is already 20 miles away here in 29 Palms, with the closest big city (Palm Springs) being 50+ miles each way.

Everyone we have met seems nice and even the teenagers were polite. We also didn't see a single person that looked like a gang banger or thug. Not to say the place is lily-white, just that we saw people and not scum. There is apparently a problem with meth in the area, as there WILL be in every poorer location, but my closest neighbor (ADOT cop) said there is rarely any issues out where we live. My house has been sitting basically unoccupied for a decade and has never been broken into.

That neighbor did come out with a gun to ask me who I was and what I was doing out there when we stopped by the property the night before the realtor took us out there...my kind of guy. We hit it off as we talked for an hour in the dark...and it is DARK!!! out there. He is former Phoenix PD that moved his family to St John's to get out of the rat race and now works commercial traffic enforcement on I40. We later met his parents (nice people) who live 4 miles closer to town on the same county road.

While the CC&Rs state "no shooting" on property, the neighbor says he shoots on his all the time with no problems. Apparently the Sheriff won't enforce the HOA shooting prohibition and the HOA has no way to do so either. HOA is really only for road maintenance. There is also BLM land a mile up the road that I can shoot on and a range in St Johns for about $60 a year membership.

We choose St John's (after over 2yrs of searching) because it is so out of the way. Though it's almost city living compared to some of the ones we were considering. Places where it was a 70 mile trip (each way) to simply buy a gallon of milk for instance. The longer we have been around people, the less we want to be. It is amazing how hard it is to actually get away from people now but not needing to worry about employment allowed us to really widen the possible locations.

We had looked for somewhere with the least chance of having or being affected by disasters. No earthquakes, floods, mudslides, tornadoes, hurricanes, forest fires, Black Lives Matter, etc. While also avoiding swarms of flying insects and high humidity. We didn't want to be in even a small city nor on the access/egress routes to one (didn't want to wake up one day to the zombie hordes).

Blue States were immediately off the list as well for obvious reasons. Though I am given pause by AZ's mere 4 point spread between Trump/Hillary and we did manage to pick one of the few blue counties in the state. Hopefully our two conservative votes can help. One benefit of the reason the county is blue (poverty) is that it is also the county with the lowest property taxes from what I am told. Mine are $500ish a year and I was informed that buying a similar property in the next county over would have tripled that.

We have been out to the property twice since closing and will be spending another 10 days there starting Sunday. With each visit we are liking it more and are looking forward to living there full time.
 

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Semper Fi
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Sounds like a great location!
It isn't perfect but does come close enough to meeting the slightly different standards my wife and I desired so that we were both able to compromise slightly to make the decision to buy it.

For instance she wanted greener and even more remote (she was originally talking about off-grid in Alaska) while I wanted better on-property shooting. She settled for less trees and an easier trip to town while I was ok with the BLM land and range as shooting back ups. Some properties were down such circuitous routes that I had real concerns for my wife's ability to be able to get to town if I happened to pass before her. So while we are a ways out of town the trip is easy as it is literally take a left out of our driveway and drive 9 miles to town without having to make any turns onto other roads.

Yet even with such relatively easy access it is still pretty isolated, as the road ultimately goes no where and only people who live or have business out there pass by on a daily basis. I believe that the single road access also plays a part in keeping the riff-raff out, as it's not like they could shake pursuit on that road if they got spotted doing anything out there.
 

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Welcome to Arizona.

I live in the Far North Phoenix metro area and would like to retire in the Northern part of the state and trade the cactus for pine tress. Still have a decade or so before that happens.

Show Low has a lot of meth heads, drug dependent people and basic trailer trash. Always a good idea to carry a gun, anywhere you go. Kinda like comparing 29 Palms & Palm Springs vs. Mecca and Thermal. with Show Low being closer to the later two.

The only other issues I see in the North is that the crimes per capita are higher than in Phoenix generally. Flagstaff has a lot of college kids and does get the reservation people coming into town to go on alcohol benders, as the res is dry.

You should be O.K. in St. John's area.

One thing to prepare for is the heat and the snow. Make sure you have a way to make it at least overnight or longer, if your car/truck breaks down on a rural road in the mountains or the desert. Stuff happens and we have a lot less people here than in California, so getting help could take longer. if you venture off road or on the back roads, invest in a SPOT system.

https://www.findmespot.com/en/

I've been here over 5 years now and I don't miss California at all. You will love living in America.
 

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Semper Fi
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Going to the big city of Show Low would only be a once a month or so proposition and my neighbor said the new Walmart in Taylor (and the area in general) has a better clientele. That is where he prefers to take his family for shopping.

The heat is actually less in our area of AZ then we have been dealing with for over 30 years of living in 29 Palms. While the cold in AZ will be worse, we still get below freezing here in 29 as well so do have experience and clothes to deal with both temp extremes.

In 29 we are the last gas for 100 miles and have always had to prepare for breakdown contingencies. Also have extensive experience with four-wheeling out in the middle of no where and the self-help aspects of doing so.

We just got back from spending 12 days at the property. Had the house further plumbed for LP (previously only a heater used it) and a 1000gal tank installed.
 

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Welcome to Arizona we live down south but have vacationed in Pinetop for the past dozen+ years and we are planning another trip in February, I have thought about buying a vacation/retirement cabin in the Pinetop area for a long time but after being acclimated to the "real" Arizona weather I'm not sure I could handle a normal winter.
 

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Semper Fi
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
While in AZ this last time I also discovered there is a move afoot to carve a new County out of parts of Navajo and Apache Counties.

They want to take the relatively small parts of both counties that actually pay property taxes and combine them to form a new county called Stigreaves. Leaving the respective reservations as the only remaining parts of the existing counties.

I am torn by this because while one of the biggest attractions for people in the current Navajo part of the new county is the claim of lowered property taxes (currently approx 3 times what I pay), I foresee my already lowest in the State property taxes here in Apache County being raised a bit from the deal.

The upside is it might create a new Red county, though I don't think it matters during a Presidential election.
 

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Semper Fi
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Welcome to Arizona we live down south but have vacationed in Pinetop for the past dozen+ years and we are planning another trip in February, I have thought about buying a vacation/retirement cabin in the Pinetop area for a long time but after being acclimated to the "real" Arizona weather I'm not sure I could handle a normal winter.
While coming from the Phoenix Metro area (I'm guessing?) must make Pinetop seem wide open to you, it is WAY too crowded for our tastes. I would venture that with the trees and National Forest restrictions on growth the property there isn't cheap either.

There is a nice State Park (Lyman) with a lake about 20 miles south of St John's we can use if so inclined.
 
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While coming from the Phoenix Metro area (I'm guessing?) must make Pinetop seem wide open to you, it is WAY too crowded for our tastes. I would venture that with the trees and National Forest restrictions on growth the property there isn't cheap either.

There is a nice State Park (Lyman) with a lake about 20 miles south of St John's we can use if so inclined.
I'm actually 200 miles south of Phoenix so not too crowded but a lot less seasonal than St. Johns.
 

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Semper Fi
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I'm actually 200 miles south of Phoenix so not too crowded but a lot less seasonal than St. Johns.
200 miles? You must be darn near on the Mex Border then. Yeah definitely much less crowded there but that area has other issues that kept us from considering it.
 
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200 miles? You must be darn near on the Mex Border then. Yeah definitely much less crowded there but that area has other issues that kept us from considering it.
Yeah I think all area's have "issues" ours is the lack of good jobs/industry, some people that don't know the area have concerns about water or illegals but as a native of these parts for over 30 years both concerns are relatively minor.

St Johns seems like a good mix of rural living yet a lot of the conveniences of a good size community only an hour away, for Arizona it's about as close to Alaska as you can get. How did you find that area and have you spent much time there before buying?
 

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Semper Fi
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Yeah I think all area's have "issues" ours is the lack of good jobs/industry, some people that don't know the area have concerns about water or illegals but as a native of these parts for over 30 years both concerns are relatively minor.

St Johns seems like a good mix of rural living yet a lot of the conveniences of a good size community only an hour away, for Arizona it's about as close to Alaska as you can get. How did you find that area and have you spent much time there before buying?
I originally found it while looking for bare land. All those "ranch" developments around AZ had caught my eye. The ranches are a bit of a scam but if you know what they are/aren't you can find land there that meets your needs.

I had been looking for places that fit the criteria I outlined in my OP. LOTS of time spent looking at satellite views in Google, discarding listings that were too remote or too crowded or unusable land or....you get the idea. As I mentioned this was an over two year process and involved properties in ID, MT, TX, UT as well as AZ.

We actually almost bought a place NE of Kingman but it had a prior offer on it that the realtor didn't bother to inform us of the day we went to look at it. It was in a micro-climate on the side of a mountain range that saw the majority of the rain fall on it as storms passed through and so was VERY green even in summer.

We spent less then a day in St John's before deciding to buy the property and had actually made up our minds prior to making the trip. Only something blatantly disqualifying that didn't show up in the research would have changed the outcome. The internet is a REALLY handy thing for researching an area, weather, crime, demographics, maps, land use, satellite views, flood plains, etc...

Something that helped cinch the deal was meeting my closest neighbor as I mention in the OP and finding out they weren't some liberal douche bags who had moved out there for the "country life". As I later found some of the other ranch residents to be when I attended the property owner's meeting (where they were complaining about people shooting, etc on their own property) but they are well away from my property and out of my hair. For the record, those complainers were AZ residents and not CA transplants, so not everything is CA's fault it seems.
 
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Semper Fi
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
This was the view from my front porch when we were at the house in August. And yes as a desert dweller already I am well aware that it will brown up once the rains stop.



 

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Semper Fi
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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Thanks That is all pretty much State Trust Lands so I won't have to worry about it filling in with houses.

For those thinking that my back porch might only have a view of other house...this is the view from my back porch looking north. Full disclaimer if I look northwest there are some houses to be seen (but the closest is almost 1000yds away) and looking northeast the rancher's house is the only one in sight and is about a mile away.

 
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Semper Fi
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
a BOL without a reliable, consistent supply of water is just a grave waiting to be dug.
Oh look my stalker is here and he was in such a hurry to post his drivel that he didn't even bother to read the OP before posting a comment that adds nothing to the thread.

Even a person with minimal reading comprehension would have seen that in my OP I clearly stated the property is on a WELL. What did you think...I depended on rainwater or something?

Plus where did you get the idea that this is a BOL? Once again reading is fundamental and would have revealed this is where we will be living once we tie up our loose ends in CA.

Now go back to your safe space as I'm sure those facts have hurt your feelings again.
 
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