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I didn't want to hijack another thread so I started one here. :)

Being that land is so cheap in the desert, I know you have to pay for that in one way or another. Water is obviously a problem. Can you just use one very large rain water collection system? I plan to have a few horses and a small number of other livestock. Maybe a few chickens and a cow. Do you have to drive hundreds of miles to buy your hay or is it possible to grow it on your property?

So this is my question to any desert inhabitants out there- How's life? Do you like living there? Would you recommend it to your friends and family? How do you get by?

Thanks! I don't know much of anything about homesteading, but I figure its best to pick your climate first, then research how to survive there. ;)
 

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I stayed a few months with my aunt out in a cabin in the desert a long time ago. They had water delivered to a water tank. I would not consider homesteading out there unless I had a GOOD well. There is water out there, believe it or not. I used to walk about a mile from home to a place where there was a little spring, just about two feet across pool, no lush growth around it or anything, just a small pool at the base of a srubby bush, where animals could refresh themselves. It was right near a main road, but seems like no one knew it was there. I never told anyone either.
 

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Deserts vary widely on what you can or can't do. Some get more rain than others, some are more fertile than others, and some are hot without alot of cold and some get both. Instead of picking climate I would look at areas and see what they do or don't have that works for you, then figure out how to.
 

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Heh. Any land that has water and/or is close to a city is $$$. I'm about 30 miles south of Phoenix.

Land values around here for land w/ rights to a proven well are about $30,000 an acre. Water is scarce and acreage is surprisingly scarce in Arizona and throughout much of the Southwest. Most land is government owned, reservation and of the remaining private acreage most has no potable water, is a long way from nowhere and/or has limited and difficult access or is way too close to the Mexican border for comfort.

If it's cheap? There's a reason for that.

Alfalfa hay is readily available, though. It's expensive -- $12 for an 80 lb bale -- but there's no shortage. The tribes grow it on irrigated land, and there are some privately owned farms as well (though fewer and fewer every year as developers grab them up.)

Gardening can be done if you have water -- soils tend to be fairly fertile, depending on where you are. However, there's a learning curve and it's not like farming back east. You plant at different times of the year, the pests are different and often much more aggressive (I have a severe loathing for pocket gophers), and there's only a handful of things that will grow through the summer.
 

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Every desert is diferent: High desert, low desert. I lived in the greater Phoenix area for too many years. You weren't allowed to have a well around there.

If it's desert - how do you think you'd collect enough rain water to raise hay?

Find out how many gallons of water one horse drinks in a day. Don't forget washing the tank once in a while.

Hauling water? or having it delivered - gets costly, even with gas prices going down & you won't be able to have enough to raise hay.

I live in the mountains & I dug my my last well down to 450 feet. (There's been a draught here for the last 7 years & the water table is going down pretty fast.) Pretty pricey, but I've got water forever - no matter how low the water table goes & it's potable!!

Good thinking that water is very important. BUT it's not only water - it's electricity too. How much will that cost or are you thinking solar, wind? If a well, how are you going to pump it?

Land prices may be cheap but there's always reasons why........
 

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Voice of Reason
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Every desert is diferent: High desert, low desert. I lived in the greater Phoenix area for too many years. You weren't allowed to have a well around there.

If it's desert - how do you think you'd collect enough rain water to raise hay?

Find out how many gallons of water one horse drinks in a day. Don't forget washing the tank once in a while.

Hauling water? or having it delivered - gets costly, even with gas prices going down & you won't be able to have enough to raise hay.

I live in the mountains & I dug my my last well down to 450 feet. (There's been a draught here for the last 7 years & the water table is going down pretty fast.) Pretty pricey, but I've got water forever - no matter how low the water table goes & it's potable!!

Good thinking that water is very important. BUT it's not only water - it's electricity too. How much will that cost or are you thinking solar, wind? If a well, how are you going to pump it?

Land prices may be cheap but there's always reasons why........
Water can be difficult in the desert, but as you said -- there are deserts and then there are deserts.

I lived in Salome, AZ for over 10 years. That's a remote town about 100 miles west of Phoenix. For those who know Arizona, it's about half way between Wickenburg and Parker. Water was difficult there. A lot of residential wells were as shallow as 250 feet, but the water production was too low for commercial farm use. Most agricultural wells in the area were more like 600 feet deep.

That's why I moved to Elko, located in NE Nevada. While it's still kind of a desert, the water situation is good. Most people find water around here at 100 to 150 feet, and production rates of 40 gpm are not uncommon. That's because Elko is in the Great Basin, so any water that falls here stays here.

Strangely, land is actually less expensive in Elko than it is in Salome. It's a supply & demand thing. With 50,000 vacant parcels in the county, land is super cheap. You can find large acreage (40 acre parcels) for $100/acre, and small parcels (1 to 2 acres) close to town for $200 to $400 per acre. There are even a few opportunities to get small parcels like that across the street from power, still at $400/acre, if you know where to look
 

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Hmmm, Elko sounds pretty good! I've lived in Phoenix since I was 9 years old, DH was born here. I'm quite partial to the desert, and if the water situation here in the Valley weren't what it is, I'd love to have a large chunk of land (yeah right, like I'd be able to afford it!)
 

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Voice of Reason
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I'd love to have a large chunk of land (yeah right, like I'd be able to afford it!)
You can afford it. You can find affordable land in Elko County near Montello, NV. You should be able to find 40 acres for around $4,000. Montello is more remote than Elko, but that's where you find the inexpensive land. Elko is located about 100 miles to the west, and Salt Lake City is located about 130 miles east. Those will be your closest Home Depots.

With gasoline coming down you might consider a vacation up this direction to look around. There's a little town about 30 miles south of Montello called West Wendover that's sort of a Laughlin want-to-be, where you can find affordable hotel rooms and nice buffets. (Hint: Avoid the pricey Peppermill & Montego Bay hotels and stay at the Red Garter. It will cost you half as much. Eat at the Peppermill, but don't stay there.)

Since I live near Elko and I used to be an eBay land vendor, I can answer most common questions about the area.
 

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Voice of Reason
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I stand corrected. I did a little research this afternoon on the area around Montello. Probably the best place to look for 40 acre parcels (actually, anything from 10 acres to 160 acres) in the Montello area is in the Gamble District, which is a huge area of parcels about 24 miles wide and 30 miles tall, located mainly to the west of Montello. The Gamble District was named after the Gamble Ranch.

The current going assessed value for 40 acre parcels in the Gamble District is $2100. I suspect that if you make offers of $2500 on those properties that at least one will take you up on it. The property records are online, indicating who owns the properties, what their mailing addresses are, and what the size & current assessed value is for each parcel. I also have the assessor's maps for the entire area in .tif file format.

Therefore, you should be able to pick-up a 40 acre parcel for between $2000 and $3000. Annual property tax for a vacant 40 acre parcel in the Gamble District was $52.68 this year.

Current county assessments for vacant acreage in Gamble District:

80 Acres -- $4200
40 Acres -- $2100
30 Acres -- $1580
20 Acres -- $1050
10 Acres -- $530

As you can see, acreage is assessed at about $50/acre in that vicinity, regardless of size. As I said above, a motivated seller will sometimes accept an offer of the county assessed value.

Here is some actually county data on some example 40-acre properties in the Gamble District, so you can see that my assessments are accurate.

http://www.elkocountynv.net:1401/cgi-bin/asw102?Parcel=01035I001
http://www.elkocountynv.net:1401/cgi-bin/asw102?Parcel=01035I005
http://www.elkocountynv.net:1401/cgi-bin/asw102?Parcel=01035I009
http://www.elkocountynv.net:1401/cgi-bin/asw102?Parcel=01035I018
http://www.elkocountynv.net:1401/cgi-bin/asw102?Parcel=01035I022
http://www.elkocountynv.net:1401/cgi-bin/asw102?Parcel=01035I026

Those are just a few. There are many hundreds of them, all vacant and much of that property distressed (it's owned by people who have no use for it).

I just want you to know that I'm not kidding or guessing.
 

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Suburban Homesteader
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Thanks for the info! I'm going to do a little research. I couldn't afford to touch ANYTHING here in Phoenix.
 

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Voice of Reason
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Thanks for the info! I'm going to do a little research. I couldn't afford to touch ANYTHING here in Phoenix.
If you seriously want to start researching property in the Gamble District to make offers, I'll need to give you a primer. The area of the Gamble District property alone numbers in the hundreds of square miles. I've created my own maps in pdf format to help organize the property locations. It's big, but that's part of what makes the opportunity possible.
 
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