31 votes

2.5 acres in South Texas, I'm considering a break from city life. What would you do if this was your land?

What if someone gave you 2.5 acres in South Texas? Would you leave your city life?

We've all thought and dreamed about buying a piece of land somewhere and starting our own little homesteads, or just breaking free from the daily grind and trying something new. Well, I don't know how I've never thought about this, but my father owns 2.5 acres in South Texas that is just sitting there rusting away.

My father has tried once to sign over the property to my brother and I several years ago, but we balked at the extra responsibility of keeping up the property, as we were too young and irresponsible at the time, living hours away in the city...a clear opportunity missed.

I recently resigned my corporate America marketing job to pursue my entrepreneurial dreams, and I've been doing a lot of thinking about changing my lifestyle completely. I mean, could I really leave the city and move out to a small town, population around 5000, almost zero opportunity other than agriculture, government, or Wal-Mart...yep, there's a Wal-Mart.

I have so many ideas of how I might be able to use the property for business while also making a small homestead...and I wouldn't have to pay any rent or a mortgage! Of course, it would take some starter money to get going where I'd at least feel safe and comfortable.

Another really cool thing is, my brother and I have a 30 acre hunting lease no more than 2 miles away that we snagged up for only $600/year!

Let me tell you more about the properties, and a few ideas I have. Then I'd love to brainstorm on other ideas you might have of what I could do with it!

What would you do is someone gave you this?!

PROPERTIES

2.5 Acres

The 2.5 acres is actually two separate lots. The shop is my dad's 100' x 96' old hot rod shop, and it's full of old cars, old parts, and all sorts of junk. It would need a lot of cleaning up and some work securing the place, as the nearby neighbor hood is pretty bad. There is a decently refurbished trailer home that is liveable. The property is split by the city limit, though my father says there are talks of annexation. The trailer is currently being rented out, but my lease here in San Antonio doesn't end until October. They will be gone by then. It's city water and sewage I believe.

30 Acre Lease

The 30 acre hunting lease is something we kind of just randomly came across. We got a good deal, so we snagged it up. It's a small plot, but it's got tons of game running through. We're not big-time hunters, but we got the fever just after deer season ended this year. We've scouted the property, and it's got some outstanding brush, creeks, game trails, water and food sources near the property. We set up two small blinds, and we're trying to get ready for next season. We've seen whitetail deer, hogs, javaline, bobcats, dove, and rabbits. There's even an adjacent property that we're eyeballing that we're going to try to also lease out from the neighbors.

IDEAS

  1. Most definitely, I would love to do something like this!


    http://youtu.be/pwhRWpZVpos

  2. There are thousands of federal reserve notes worth of classic car and hot rod stuff in the shop. I want to photograph and inventory everything, and start an online business buying, selling, and trading old cars. My dad welds and vice grips them all together how the hotrod could look, and the people buy projects to fix up themselves. It's called Streetrod Projects. He's been doing this on and off for like 25 years. I just don't think it needs to take the entire footprint of the property, and he hasn't really being doing this for the past several years, and stuffs just sitting there, rusting away.
  3. Using sales from all the old car stuff, I'd like to set up some type of perpetual income for my dad's retirement, and with any extra from this business and my other businesses, fix up the property and maybe build something like this:

    Or something smaller and more mobile:

  4. I've written about the idea of an industrial incubator before, so I'll defer to the video in that post to describe the concept, but in the shop, I'd have a space to do just that. I could add in some office space.
  5. My bro has a small business doing automatic custom gates in San Antonio. He's always had a demo set up there at the shop that has people stopping asking questions, but we've never made a serious attempt to sell automatic gates and entry systems to all the ranches in the area. There's a market for this kind of stuff with all the big ranches. I could set up a nice display for the oncoming traffic and work straight commission for my bro.
  6. Fishy's commented reminded me of another idea: community outreach. It could be like a libertarian experiment in how to help a poor and desperate, rural community. The schools are terrible, and the neighboring town had to close their school and consolidate with surrounding districts. There would likely be a demand for a quality education, and also, how to start a business online...I'm sure people would enjoy a community garden too!

Those were just a few of the ideas I had...keeping with my dad's advice, "You don't have to make a lot of money from one place. You can make a little bit of money from a lot of places."

I'd still be selling Revolution Car Badges through the internet and at liberty events. I would still be doing design and marketing work through my new business Non-Network Creative. I just imagine a place with no rent, where I could build or grow what ever I wanted, a place where I could invite others to come develop their business ideas, a sort creative space for start-ups:


http://youtu.be/ldWzZlMj5w0

PROS & CONS

There are some obvious benefits and negatives associated with a major move like this. I'll start with all the cons:

Cons:

  1. I'm not so sure I could leave the city permanently, although, I might be able to do it for a few years to see if I like it.
  2. The town is very small, there's not much opportunity, and it's predominantly Democrat!
  3. I don't have a lot of money saved up at the moment.
  4. It's right on the highway
  5. The property needs a lot of work and cleaning up
  6. I don't know very much about what it really means to have a homestead, but I'd like one!
  7. The property is in a bad part of town.
  8. There's been break-ins in the past.
  9. Half the property is in the city limits.
  10. My dad is having hesitations of my plans!
  11. Did I mention it's a very small down, and it's extremely boring!

Benefits:

  1. I would own it, free and clear, well half of it. No rent.
  2. I would get to spend time with my dad and grandma.
  3. I could grow a super garden!
  4. I'm verifying this, but I think I could dig a well on the county side of the property, though it's pretty expensive.
  5. I could get a few animals! We used to have goats. Some chickens.
  6. I think there's money to made with the property...somehow.
  7. Being right on a major highway, there's millions of cars passing a year.
  8. There's already a home to move in to.
  9. We rent to a billboard company and a fireworks stand on small areas of the frontage.
  10. I could still run my other businesses via the internet.
  11. It might be fun to start a blog and document this escapade, perhaps start a YouTube channel!
  12. I could still come back to the city, and actually, I'd be closer to the beach and the town where I grew up!

I'm sure there's plenty more pros and cons. Help me find them. What would you do?

___



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If you do not have a spring

If you do not have a spring or year round running water from a river or stream I would not buy it. You must have water.

Do the easy stuff first.

You already have a large roof catchment in place. Set up your rainwater harvesting ... like yesterday. Not sure if you would be drilling into the Edwards aquifer at that location, but don't depend on that aquifer for consistent, quality water.

Secure the property with fencing, shrubbery and hounds.

Get the living quarters comfortable enough for you and your closest companion such that a quick day trip to the property could be extended several days if needed or desired.

Dream big but start with the baby steps.

This advice is coming from someone who left the city for 2.5 acres in South-Central Texas. I have zero regrets about my decision. It has been a tough few years, but I have managed to eke out a living and have built community with my neighbors.

Congratulations

on your property.

It all depends on what you want to do.

Things are still running rather smoothly right now. There hasn't been a major war or widespread civil unrest in the US for 150 years. The only guarantee is that, eventually, there will be. Perhaps it will be in a year, or perhaps it will be in 100 years. Really hard to say, although there are certain disturbing trends. So, either you, or your children, or their children, would benefit from having a retreat somewhere down the line.

If that makes sense to you, then I would put a priority in transforming your property into a place of safety and sustainability. You could occupy it part time, or full time. Mainly, you just want to develop the property, and your skills, so that you can achieve a certain amount of independence if you are forced by future circumstances to fall back to your safe haven.

To do so, I would concentrate on the obvious: independent sources of water, energy, food, and good physical security.

...continued.

Of course, none of this stuff is free. In fact, it will be quite expensive and time consuming, even if you are a good "scrounger."

In order to offset these costs, you have to have a "day job."

As you have mentioned, there are good "day job" opportunities right on the property.

All of those old cars and parts might just be junk. However, there are often nuggets of gold scattered in the junk. I have a friend who specializes in doing the sort of thing you are talking about with old cars. He inherited some old junk like this from his uncle. It turned out that one of the old cars had some minor historical significance (from a race, decades ago). He spent 4 years meticulously restoring the car, and sold it for around $600,000. There have been many other nuggets of gold in his junk. An old speedometer might be worth $1, or it might be worth $1,000. It depends on what it is. This requires meticulous research (serial numbers, etc.).

The more "practical" and ongoing idea is to develop the security gate business. People are becoming increasingly security conscious, and there is a growing market for this sort of thing. But it is already very competitive, so do your market research first! Security products can be particularly lucrative if you get on the government teat with your products. Government has a rapacious appetite for this sort of thing as the police state expands. And they tend to buy the best of everything. I have often thought that there is an opportunity for security products (windows, doors, locks, gates, fences, etc.) that blend well with conventional construction (i.e.: are not "obvious") for wealthy individuals and for governments.

Anyway, you have an (almost) 10,000 sq. ft. industrial building to work with. This is a lot of space! This gives you a real head start on doing something like this.

A final thought....

By the way, you need to make a hard nosed assessment of the area and your property. Is it really suitable for the sort of retreat you have in mind? I don't know, because I don't know the area and the resources that are available.

There are excellent resources on the Internet to help you evaluate the suitability of your property for your intended purpose.

Your best option might be to sell the property and buy another property in a more suitable location.

Just something to think about before you start devoting a lot of time and energy to the project.

What I would do.

1) Have a water source independent of the electrical grid. Whether that's [rain] water storage, hand pump on a well or filtered creek water, is up to you.

2) After starting the garden, I would start an orchard. You will have shade and fruit and/or nuts to look forward to.

Bare soil is dead soil, so bring in lots of organic matter. chipped trees from the power company or tree company, or composted manure will improve your soil and make your garden and trees more productive.
See Back to Eden Film for details.

If your planning on animals (2.5 acres is on the small side), Joel Salatin from PolyFace farms has lots of video on turning solar energy into food using Salad Bar Beef, Pastured Poultry, Pigs, Rabbits, Turkeys and more.

Aquaponics is likely better suited for your size lot. Fish and greens.

WranglerStar has a great series of videos on Youtube about Homesteading, showcasing many skills and projects.

3) proper fencing and security is a must as you improve your property to keep unwanted predators off.

Whatever you decide, good luck.

I agree ...collect rain water

south Texas is very rainy and great for growing but don't rely on the grid water. Check for wells and collect rain water for irrigation and emergency use.I can't stress enough the need for your own water...If you find a well make it connectable to a hand or bicycle operated manual pump.

If I had the money and skills

I would be gone in a heartbeat.

It would take a good deal of money and hard work for the first four years or so.

Find out how much cash it would take to live a four year plan.

And as a hot rod guy, don't sell the hot rods! :)

Do you have any experience as a mechanic? Old cars are not difficult to work on. My father and I barter and trade parts, often sending free stuff to young people my age or younger who are getting into classic cars. I work and learn and my dad reaps the benefits (none - break even - it's education)

One of my friends owns a garage for classic cars and is a realtor, working for himself and doing good while having fun. He's making good money and working on his own terms. I'm a fairly happy wage slave. He's a happy mechanic and realtor. His mom is amazing and she's my second mother. She's probably the only reason I could ever raise a child on my own. If she could do it so could I. She raised a whole family.

Maybe you could barter some parts for farming equipment. But know your stuff beforehand. Luckily, a lot of classic car enthusiasts and hot rodders are also into farming and many are very generous when it comes to trade, and honest too. But there are ripoff artists out there.

My dad told me he would come back from the grave if he found out I sold one of his rods and someone put a chevy motor in it.

I like classic old cars though, like the Model A. They are so simple and easy to work on. I learned starting from about 3 years old.

Aside from Tesla (other than the oncoming the battery disposal issue) and Lotus (not so much, haven't worked on one but guessing by compartment size it's definitely squeezed), I do not like new vehicles. Every new year they are harder to work on and more compact in the engine compartment. Too much computer crap too..

Tinkering on old vehicles is fun. And not too hard to learn. It's a good skill.

I can't say much but if it were me I would make sure I had enough cash for four years and then make a run for it, but my knowledge is limited. In the mean time I would sit on the property as property is actual wealth. With the exception of property tax (rent). Which I had to make a blood pact with my father that when he dies I do not refuse to pay property taxes. Personally I disagree with my dad on that issue as once you buy property it's yours and you shouldn't have to pay rent. But he insists upon rent. I honor my father.

ps, don't tell anyone about the fact us enthusiasts barter and trade, we might get taxed on it... :)

Oh, one other thing, about the hunting area. Here, it costs about $750 to hunt for a weekend. That's also a lucrative venture. Not sure about TX though. But I'm sure you could make money hand over fist.

Just some ideas. Maybe even start a small farm on the parcel and have people renting space in mobile homes until you have enough cash to actually farm, then boot them out, and make cash off the hunting area and possible realty. Not that booting wage slaves is a noble idea.

Both working on cars and realty keep my friend happy, and he makes darn good money. Follow your dreams. He did, and he also saved my life by running me over (well by hitting me with his car - don't ask.)

Get your food, clothing, shelter, and have fun at the same time.

I wouldn't mind starting a christmas tree farm, personally, and I may do that some day. That is also a four year plan in the least. The only problem is us wage slaves who might not be able to buy a christmas tree. The Christmas tree is dying.

I wish you the best. If you do want to get rid of classic car parts let me know. I may be able to help in some way. But I would advise you to learn each part. Do you go to swap meets? If not go to them for a year or two.

Great place

Consider underground housing. Those containers can be buried too. A few feet underground, the temperature remains constant, reducing environment conditioning bills (Texas has some extreme whether). Also, safety from storms is improved (as long as your door isn't buried by something).

Also maximizes garden space, you can have a garden on your roof. ;)

Skylights can improve the space so it doesn't even appear to be underground from inside.

Initial expense would be more, but overall, maintenance would be reduced. I bet there is some "gold" in those old hot rods. :)

Good luck.

Just open the box and see

Intermodal Shipping Containers cannot be buried.

Intermodal Shipping Containers cannot be buried. All the strength is in the corners. The thin steel of the walls and roof cannot support the weight of dirt and water pressing in on 320 square feet of surface area on the top and sides.

It's always about the math

Safety first.

I don't know the specs on the containers, but this is the moment they told us about in school, when algebra would save our lives. ;)

Just open the box and see

Modular Greenhouse Farming Units

Solar Panels

Storage Units

One thing that really aught to be done is to know the Law that applies to that Land.

This may help:

http://freedom-school.com/private-property-rights.html

If you plan on using any Electric Power, then making your own electric power may be a good way to start using the scarce power you have to make more power to use.

If you can make 1 Solar Panel at a lower cost than buying one, you can make that Solar Panel pay for 2 more in savings of Electric Power.

You can even make your own Coupons, which can be your own money, and you sell your Coupons for supplies, food, or whatever, locally, so that a buyer of your Coupons returns to you to exchange the Coupon for Solar Panels installed on their house, so that they too can pay less for more.

If you can construct a Modular Green House Farming Unit, to use yourself, then you can construct 2, sell one.

If you have room, and you have storage area, like that stack of units pictured, and like that idea of an industrial incubator, then that is another source of power incoming into your land, for you to use to make more power.

How much is "storage" selling for these days?

Another idea I had was Mobile Garage Sale Service.

If you have Storage Area, and you offer to buy "junk," or you offer a Garage Clean Out Service, negotiating who pays who for what, you could end up with a well organized, second hand, competitor for anything of value that is of no value to someone getting rid of it, but is valuable to you, because someone else wants it.

Joe

git you a couple of rotweilers and a shepard and you'll

have no problem with that bad neighborhood. They'll chill everyone right out. Build a rain collector and reservoir to get free of city water. In the SW all water will soon be like gold. Go solar for all energy. Can't wait to see what you come up with.

Release the Sandy Hook video.

Hemp for Victory!

Seems like you have plenty of business experience yourself but I didn't see this idea in the comments below:

You have lots of sun and lots of land. I'd support job creation and biodiesel production by growing hemp. Not sure if Industrial Hemp is legal to grow in Texas (I would assume so if you filed a license with the DEA/FDA to grow), though.

But, I have a hunch that your family still thinks "hemp" is "marijuana," and will hate the idea.

If you don't know your rights, you don't have any.

Awesome go for it!

Awesome go for it!

-----
End The Fat
70 pounds lost and counting! Get in shape for the revolution!

Get Prepared!

I was going to post a link to

I was going to post a link to Polyface also. I would love to do something like that.

Congrats Rob!

Check out Jack Spirko, r3VOL, Austrian, and full time prepper; he's done what you're planning to do, already:

http://www.youtube.com/user/survivalpodcasting/videos

http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/?s=%22Geoff+Lawton%22

http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/episode-224-the-one-year

About Jack Spirko and The Survival Podcast

The Survival Podcast is a daily online audio show about self sufficiency and self reliance in the modern world. I conceived and created this podcast because over the years I have come to realize how fragile the human condition and the United States economy really is.

From June 2008 – December 2009 I recorded the show during my 50 mile commute between Arlington and Frisco Texas. I now run the show as my full time business and record it each morning in my home office.

Some of the very earlyl editions of this Podcast don’t have the best audio quality but I over time I have updated my recording equipment. Recording a podcast while driving on the interstate was a challenge but I have found it both enjoyable and a way to reclaim some of the three hours I loose each day. I decided to give it a try after I found Think Future News a Libertarian minded Podcast hosted by Chris Future (who just plain kicks ass) who also records his show while on the road.

I regularly check John's page: http://www.youtube.com/user/growingyourgreens/videos

and r3VOL-leaning NW homesteader: http://www.youtube.com/user/wranglerstar/videos

And, Ernie Hancock's all over PermaCulture/Aquaponics/True Off-Grid Sustainability revolution:

Chad Hudspeth (EndlessFoodSystems.Com) met up with Ernest at the PrepperFestAZ event this past weekend, and comes in studio to talk about their aquaponics kits (Bob Anderson from Tonopah - Aquaponics)

Mp3: http://www.freedomsphoenix.com/Media/Media-Files/001-0429114...
Program Date: Monday, April 29, 2013

Chris Esparza (Zombie Shield) describes the popularity of his polycarbon windows for intruder/ballistic protection - Josh Foss (Solar2Survival) talks about their solar products - Glenn Cripe (Language of Liberty) on the Language of Liberty Seminar this weekend in Phoenix at the Goldwater Institute

Mp3: http://www.freedomsphoenix.com/Media/Media-Files/001-0430102...
Program Date: Tuesday, April 30, 2013

http://www.freedomsphoenix.com/News/133590-2013-04-30-op-ed-...
http://www.freedomsphoenix.com/News/133613-2013-04-30-food-a...

Predictions in due Time...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGDisyWkIBM

"Let it not be said that no one cared, that no one objected once it's realized that our liberties and wealth are in jeopardy." - Dr. Ronald Ernest Paul

Thanks for that, Mercenary.

Lots of new info in that post of yours. Thanks, Sir!

If you don't know your rights, you don't have any.

quite

welcome, MykeTheVet!

Predictions in due Time...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGDisyWkIBM

"Let it not be said that no one cared, that no one objected once it's realized that our liberties and wealth are in jeopardy." - Dr. Ronald Ernest Paul

Food Forest

check out the free videos that have been put up recently here:

http://www.geofflawton.com/

Check out the 5-acre guide and the urban guide and find the place in between.

Now, about some of your pros and cons about the area:

Money: Do you need to make money off the property? If so, I'd split the workable land into two, on one half start working on a food forest, on the other start producing an organic cash crop, find something specific to the region, something you can sell, etc. If it is all Democrats maybe there is a farmers market there. You might have to de a variety of stuff, but on one side do that: greenhouse, hoop house and garden.

Democrats: What I'd do; go to their meeting(s). Just say, "I just moved here, started a farm, I'm traditionally a Republican, I was a big Ron Paul supporter, but, well, to be honest, it's all Democrats here, and I just want to know my neighbors and be active with my government." Then see if there are any Republicans, or Libertarians, but really, just interact with the community and you'll find your voice anywhere. Maybe there is a church you like, or a gaming club, or something...

Nothing to Do: Don't worry about the town being boring, if you are broke with 2 1/2 acres to manage, you won't have any free time to worry about. Aside from that, if you keep that building, use it to build something to do in that town. Have music with food and beer. Pretty simple. Invite the cool people you meet, build a "scene."

Hunting Lease (and other lease): Awesome. Invite people. Get on couchsurfing. Make this property into a traveling Liberty house, invite/organize people from the DP to come out and help run campaigns for whatever you feel needs to happen out there.

Aside from that, have fun with some land. My own land is basically my #1 priority right now.

Jack Wagner

We have a food forest

http://noyofoodforest.org/

I double dug at least two of their beds, got them into the Grange.. and the property I tend is set up like that.. trees to the noth, fruit trees to their south, hay bale garden.. It's alot of work and why it's a community effort

ooh same wavelength,

was about to post this for Rob:

http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/?s=%22Geoff+Lawton%22

Predictions in due Time...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGDisyWkIBM

"Let it not be said that no one cared, that no one objected once it's realized that our liberties and wealth are in jeopardy." - Dr. Ronald Ernest Paul

3 BR 2 1/2 bath steel home wrapped in 28 tons of native rock.

Hey Rob if ya wanna really get away I`ll owner finance my little rancho (11 acres) 18 miles west of Uvalde , Texas for $1250 a month and it`s 3 miles down a caliche road off hwy 90 west towards Del Rio. Good place to raise goats lots of guajillo and purple sage.
plenty of deer and rabbits.The stone house stays cool in the summer.

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people that pay no price for being wrong.
Thomas Sowell

Cob Housing

would be far better than any metal building in south Texas. It's cool in the summer, warm in the winter and is cheap to build. They have cob workshops in Texas especially around Buda Texas. Check that out before you build anything. But, YES, Go for it! Would you rather be in a city with no resources or in the country with lots of resources? What better way to tell the government to go to hell?

skippy

Cob seems cheap until you actually start

Then you realize that plywood is waaaay cheaper and easier. Cob is super-cool but it requires PILES of clay and sand and lots and lots of straw. Then it takes forever to dry and flops around if you get too ambitious one day and build for more than 3 hours. I recently saw a plan for a huge cob house locally become a cob snowball stand when reality set in.
One thing I have learned for sure without a doubt, urban hippies really have no clue what they are talking about most of the time. My favorite was the guy who said straw is a useless byproduct of farming that farmers can't figure out anything to do with. Well, it probably sounds nice at the coffee shop.

Did You Call Me An Urban Hippy?

For your information I have lived on farms, worked on dairies milking cows, grown crops, rescued horses, raised chickens, grown Christmas trees, AND BUILT COB! I find it odd the way so many people on the net just ASSUME they know something about people that they have never even spoken to one on one. I have had good experiences with cob. Apparently you are not mixing the right amount of straw, clay and sand or it wouldn't "flop around" and it's not a project you rush at. It's more of a calm patient project. People that are all about rushing things should not attempt country living. It takes patience to deal with natural things like animals, plants, and COB! As for the straw, I have a neighbor that ended up practically giving away hundreds of bales of straw last spring so if you know how to find it you can get it really cheap.

skippy

"Did You Call Me An Urban Hippy?"

Absolutely not. I know that in the course of researching cob and other alternative building techniques there are no shortage of videos by urban hippies. I should have been more clear.
I have lived in the country all my life and have also built with cob and had good experience, but seriously, can you imagine building a house how much sand you'd need? He could build a house on one acre and dig a 40 foot deep pit for the other acre all in one shot. Then put a visitors center on the 1/2 acre and charge admission to see the house built from a hole! Hey, now we're onto something.
Your neighbor needs a bigger or drier barn cause we're getting $4 a bale up here ;)

Please Do Me AND Yourself A Favor

and get a copy of "The Hand Sculpted House" and read it. It is an amazing book!

skippy

Start a company

"Freedom Graphics"

You can sell t-shirts, posters, bumper stickers, revolution badges of course, etc. Your graphics and ideas are really good.

You can do that from anywhere leaving you the time to do all the "homesteading"

I lived in South Texas for 10 years.

The good: There are people there that really know how to do homesteading that can teach you about plants, farm animals, etc.

The Bad: Robbed 4 times. The "culture" is really violent and odd. Giant blatant drug culture. Plus all the white folks from outside South Texas that are there for work are wierdos.

I became a wierdo. Doing better now.

I have a friend who still lives there and owns an AC company. Had millions saved from frugality. He recently traded it all in for gold.