Buying land in East Texas... (newbie post)

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by John_in_Houston, Nov 26, 2003.

  1. John_in_Houston

    John_in_Houston Well-Known Member

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    Hi all, I've been reading the 'Homesteading Questions' board for about a month now and have noticed that there are several folks on here who live in East Texas.

    Can anyone give me advice on where to find reasonably priced land in East Texas? Since we are from Houston, Highway 59 is sort of our reference point. We think we would like to be at least as far north as Moscow/Diboll, but no further north than Nacogdoches.

    I'm also curious about the characteristics of the different counties in the area, especially as far as any land use regulations and permitting goes?

    As a bit of background, the plan is for my wife and I, along with her family (mother, brother, sister, and niece) to share the property - but with separate buildings so that we can get out of each other's hair when needed.

    My wife has an internet bookstore and her mother and brother draw SSI disability income, so we are pretty confident that we will have enough cash coming in to take care of basic, basic, expenses. I'm confident that I can bring in some sort of income, worst case would be working temp in Houston for a few weeks at a stretch.

    I think I'll be able to raise a grubstake of around $70k by selling my house, which is in Houston's Inner Loop. I'd like to be able to pay cash for the property and still have enough left over to develop water, septic, and solar.

    So far I've only looked at prices for around the Nacogdoches area. I've seen listings for property at $1000/acre, but the writeups emphasize good hunting with hogs and deer. That doesn't put me off, but does make me wonder if the property is subject to flooding, or might be swampy. Any listings that show houses or utilities seem to start at 80k and go up fast. Like everyone else, I'd like to have lots of acreage, but from reading the posts it seems like you only 'really' need to work a few intensely used acres for homesteading. Still, I'd like to have at least ten acres - a really big wood lot would be nice too, but I also suspect that, especially in the Big Thicket area one can get wood pretty cheaply.

    I'm very interested in building a cordwood structure and smaller earth-sheltered structures.

    Are properties cheaper in some of the more south eastern areas, like Polk county?

    I'm looking forward to hearing what you folks already there have to say!

    John
     
  2. TedH71

    TedH71 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I used to live in both Nac and Lufkin. www.peddlernet.com/ is a good resource and you can look and see what you like. I've been wanting to move back myself but my ssdi doesn't cover what I need to survive yet. Jobs are hard to get thereabouts and have to have really good connections because alot of places will hire relatives and friends before they'll hire you even though you might have better qualifications than they do.

    Ted
     

  3. texican

    texican Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Carthage, Texas
    I'm right off hwy 59, between Marshall and Carthage, in Panola County. I went to school at SFA in Nacogdoches. Most of the rural E Tx counties have zero rules for country dwellers, no permits (except for septic lines, I think every county in Tx has to abide by those rules) or inspections. Land here goes from 450 to 1200/acre, depeding on location. Most of the floodable land is in the hands of timber companies, and they rarely sell. The more you buy, the cheaper it is. My land is valued between 800 to 2000 an acre. My neighbor, who has developed his land with a private lake, has 'lots' going from 70k to 500k.

    Don't take a sellers word for wetland status. If it's low, flat, and fertile, it probably floods each year. Check with the neighbors, or walk the place. I've got trees that tell me where the floodline is, a visible mark on the trees lichen pattern. If it has hills, or is slightly hilly, you're probably safe from flooding.

    There are plenty of jobs, or at least plenty of work in all the towns around here. Now if you're looking for some white collar sit-in-an-office, pondering the meaning of life job, well, there aren't many of those...I've been looking for one of those for years :) . If you have a skill, can get a job any day of the week.
     
  4. andrew3d

    andrew3d Well-Known Member

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    Moody, Texas
    I don't know if Crockett is near the area you are interested in, but I always did enjoy looking at this Realtors website. www.patdickey.com
     
  5. pcwerk

    pcwerk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hi,
    I have always liked the Rusk and Jacksonville area. Land is
    fertile and fairly cheap as well. My uncle Earnest could grow
    just about anything in his garden near Overton. If I could
    talk my wife into moving, I would move in a heartbeat. [She
    says Texas is too hot and too conservative--and she is
    right on both points!]
    Stuck in Houston,
    James
     
  6. havellostmywings

    havellostmywings Well-Known Member

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    We are just starting to look for a piece of land around houston also... we are stuck here for a while because of work ... blah!...

    Now we havent really been looking out east texas way, we keep going south on 59.... i like rosenberg, victoria, etc... but.... we did go up and finally drive around Cleveland and such... i loved all the trees... but like you am leary of the cheaper prices for acres, because I am afraid it will either be swamp or so steep it will be unworkable.

    Our looking has been suspended for the moment... I have been working 6 and 7 days a week .... so I am hoping after the holidays we can start looking again.

    Lynn in Texas
    .... also stuck in Houston
     
  7. John_in_Houston

    John_in_Houston Well-Known Member

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    Yep, thought about looking South of Houston, but the trees and rolling land of East Texas really sold me on the area.

    We are going out the weekend after this one to take a look. Would have gone out this weekend, but it is the busiest hunting time of the year and the property owners didn't want the risk of folks wandering around their wooded areas.
     
  8. LynninCA

    LynninCA Guest

    Reading this with interest! My dh and I fly to TX next week to drive some of the areas we are considering. We are looking at eastern TX, mostly Piney Woods area....

    Our hope though is to find land with a home already on it as we will be moving next year from out of state with several children including a newborn.

    We will have money to buy outright and hopefully several months expenses. This thanks to the absolutely ridiculous home prices in Southern CA where we are coming from... ahh equity can be a very good thing!
     
  9. havellostmywings

    havellostmywings Well-Known Member

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    Lynn.... hmmm I was born and raised in Calif... but got to texas as soon as I could...

    it is beautiful here.. but... nothing will prepare you for the humidity.. I was surprised.... the heat and stickiness will seriously drain you of energy. So be prepared for that.

    One other thing.... it is almost impossible to live in east texas with out an AC.. so you electricity will be higher... so you might want to look at your budget a little closer... We do as much as we can to live without the AC.. but.. there are times you just cant... but.. the use of ceiling fans and box fans help, they use a lot LESS electricty and keep the air circulating...

    We had swamp coolers in calif... because it was so much dryer... but they dont work here in east texas...

    I would say that is the ONLY draw back to the area... the rest is soooooooooo beautiful. I still Marvel at how green it is .... Southern Cali was always so brown... and even the green in Northern Cali isnt as rich and deep as it is here.

    Anyways.. Welcome to Texas... its Great!

    Lynn in Texas
     
  10. Georgiaberry

    Georgiaberry Member

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    Location:
    SW Arkansas
    Anybody who wants to give E Texas a try can PM me - We are actually in Arkansas but about 15 mi S of Texarkana and I have a house/homestead for rent. You could sure take your time looking for your ideal location from here!

    Handmade house, wood heat, two barns, hen house, 4 acre pasture, in a large wooded area, no neighbors in sight, . . . just me a quarter mile up a private road.

    The Ark-La-Tex (that's what they call it here) is a great location for country living, I think. Alot of people with small livestock around, and plenty of room to spread your legs. I do think that property values (or expenses, depending on your point of view) are rising.
     
  11. John_in_Houston

    John_in_Houston Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the info, GB. Your place sounds really great, I just wish it was furthe south.

    How cold does it get in winter up your way?
     
  12. Ray_Scheel

    Ray_Scheel Well-Known Member

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    I'm near Huntsville, but used to drive that way doing computer support at the prisons in this region and have friends near Groveton and Kennard.

    There is a *big* wet spot on 59 just south of Diboll, but like others said, it will be obvious if a place floods, but this region is hilly enough where most places you can find a safe spot to build and still ahve enough flat spots to work with for other uses. If you find a place you like, stop and talk to some folks that live on the drive in and find out if hte roads become impassable, and understand that any property access that depends on National Forest Service roads is going to occasionally require 4WD. Give your property itself a good looking over to see where teh water runs, I've got a problem on the place I bought keeping the runoff from the road up the hill away from the foundation - I'm getting there, but its taken a series of frenc drains, ditches, and earthen berms to fix it.

    Look at the map and locate the big lakes, then focus on areas located off-center from between the major roads accessing the lakes directly.
     
  13. chickflick

    chickflick Well-Known Member

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    Texas
    Now don't get mad at me... but what you poor little Houstonians (and surrounding areas) THINK of as EAST Texas is a sad comparison to what we have up here. NorthEast Texas.

    I don't feel like I'm even getting near home (i.e. "East Texas") from Houston til I GET TO Nacogdoches! And I still have two hours further north to go!! :):)

    When I bought my place 4 years ago I had a choice of anywhere in the US; and believe me.. I LOOKED!! :):) (Die hard Texans just can't survive happily for long anywhere else, I guess!:):) I am in an area called "Tri-Lakes" and it doesn't get any better for looks of the land! (I belive the Oct. Issue of Texas Highways highlighed our area. Good pics, etc.)


    I am trying to sell and downsize at this point. I keep looking.. but I just can't seem to get enthused about much else. I DID, however, take a recent trip through the Rusk area... VERY NICE.. but looks like maybe it's all owned by forestry/paper mills?

    Those are my pics: Nacogdoches area, Rusk area, and Tri-Lakes (Camp, Titus, Franklin Counties plus a few more!)

    Let me know if I can be of ANY help. I am not a real estate agent.. but I am obsessed with LOOKING!!:):) Sounds as tho' we're after the same idea for property. If I find something I can't use.. I'll let you know if you PM me.

    http://www.unitedcountry.com/ IS A GOOD LINK TO SEARCH!

    Here's My place: http://www.winnsborotx.com/search_properties.htm

    (Hey... maybe we could work out something???)

    Happy Hunting!
     
  14. Georgiaberry

    Georgiaberry Member

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    Location:
    SW Arkansas
    We do have seasons here, John. It is kind of nice, actually. I lived in New Orleans for years and I missed having seasons. I'm not sure what winter in Houston is like, but I know you can grow alot of tropicals there that we can't.

    Winter is not bad. It froze finally about 10 days ago. This week the lows are upper 30's, highs upper 60's. There actually isn't enough chilling time to grow something like cherry trees. It rarely gets down to the teens for a night - not every year. Doesn't snow but every few years. Winter is usually very wet.

    Summer won't be too bad for you - you should be used to intense searing heat!
     
  15. LynninCA

    LynninCA Guest

    Lynn in TX - thanks for the reply...I have heard about the humidity, but I am sure nothing can prepare us for it....dh is not thrilled with humidity, but then he does not want snow (or at least much snow) either so something must give.

    We are not considering any homes without a/c.....everyone I have corresponded with says their electric bill is about $150-200 a month in eastern TX..... here in San Diego ours is $300-400 a month.

    We had a great drive through as much of eastern TX as possible...dh decided he does not want to work in Dallas or Houston and really does not want to live near Houston.

    Huntsville area seems ok.

    Diboll into Lufkin was ok to good.

    Cushing and Douglass outside of Nacodoches dh really liked! Alto we did not see, but it is just a bit farther out in the same area. So these towns around Nacodoches are ON our list.

    We both liked the Marshall area.

    Texarkana had jobs, but neither of us cared much for what we saw of the area....although leaving it heading southwest a bit was ok...

    From Gilmer I think headed into Tyler was really nice. It is on dh's list along with Nocodoches area. It was ok up to Athens as we left also.....

    but pretty much Athens into Dallas is off. Dh really did not like Kemp.

    I think we are leaning most towards Nac area with Marshall and Tyler areas tied for second.

    We still have tons of questions....I encouraged dh to come post here, but he gets to the computer rarely.
     
  16. SteveD(TX)

    SteveD(TX) Well-Known Member

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    Now.....you are getting into my neck o' the woods. My place is just outside of Athens. This is a town of 11,000 with tons of beautiful land surrounding it. Rolling, heavily wooded land (hardwoods with some pines). Beautiful ranches (about the prettiest ranch I've ever seen is just across the road from me). Cattle country...horse country. Friendliest folks on the face of the planet. Land is still fairly cheap. Close enough to Dallas area (75 mi.) if you REALLY want to commute. Or to Tyler (35 mi. -about 80,000 pop.) if you want malls, nice restaurants, etc. There are many other beautiful areas around Tyler - Edom is beautiful; Palestine, Jacksonville, etc. I had a place on Cedar Creek Lake just south of Kemp for many years. I agree about Kemp....not great but to the south and southeast you will hit paydirt. We looked at places ALL around this part of E. Texas for 2 years before finding our perfect place near Athens. Good luck.
     
  17. MsTrish

    MsTrish Member

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    Texas
    You guys are making me even more homesick! I am moving back to the central Texas area in May. My parents are getting older and would like me to move back and help them out on their place. It's about 10 acres and my dad has a big garden and lots of fruit trees, chickens and goats. I don't really have much to keep me here in Florida except a good job...but I am ready to make the move! Glad to see all of you Texans here.


    Trisha