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Big Decisions - Land on Clark or Cowlitz Washington  RSS feed

 
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Hi, I'm deciding on moving to WA and wanted to know if anyone have any feedback about my land-lease option

I must decide between:

Buying land - It is super expensive, but I would recreate an eco-lodge I developed in Puerto Rico ( ficustemple.com ) . This may be a good idea because I could implement several integrated designs and have several sources of income but I would be in debt for a long time and my job is intermittent. There is a land I saw which has 7 acres but that is too big for me so I thought that I could lease 3-5 sections of this land for different types of products (bee-keeper / fungi-culture ). Of course, I may be limited on this by permits and zoning.

Renting land- I would build a movable shipping container tiny-home and I would make an agreement with the land owner to lease a small portion of a land (.25 acre max). I planned on offering monthly rent, permaculture services or both and all I would need would be access to water. The only thing I need is to be, at least, 50minutes max from Portland.

Any recommendations? I'm not sure if it is realistic to think I could find land that would open its doors to two people with a tiny-house and a car

Thanks
Piero
 
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I would suggest going to the building permit department of the counties you are considering, and present your designs and goals to them to see what the steps would be to develop a potential property the way you want, and what the costs would be. You might find the property itself is the least expensive part of the development.

Washington state passed a law in November 2016 that says even for residential use, new wells will not be permitted if it could impact existing water access, mostly due to the extensive development happening on the west coast of the state. So you might find that you are denied a well, and I've heard banks are less willing to provide loans on property where the well didn't already exist because of this law change.

So after checking into the rules and permits, you might find it far cheaper to rent some property for a while.
 
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Piero Soligo wrote:Hi, I'm deciding on moving to WA and wanted to know if anyone have any feedback about my 2 options:

Buying land - It is super expensive, but I would recreate an eco-lodge I developed in Puerto Rico ( ficustemple.com )
[snip]
Renting land- I would build a movable shipping container tiny-home and I would make an agreement with the land owner to lease a small portion of a land (.25 acre max). I planned on offering monthly rent, permaculture services or both and all I would need would be access to water. The only thing I need is to be, at least, 50minutes max from Portland.



So I'm curious - why are you considering Washington and not Oregon, if you wish to be within a less than one hour journey from Portland?  What sort of land are you hoping for?  Forested, sunny, flat, sloped. . . ?
 
Piero Soligo
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Mark- Thanks, I agree. I've been in contact with the county but the flow of information is slow.
I did not know about that regulation, thanks for sharing. I did find out that the cost of a well can reach 10,000 or above. This land has to be perked and it doesn't have a well. I thought that maybe I could start by transporting water tanks as if I'm in an RV and place a rain collection system but who knows if this is allowed, there are so many regulations. At the moment I'm waiting for answers on if composting toilets are permitted, I certainly don't want to spend any money on a septic system but would do if its mandatory.

Julia- Hi, I'm considering Washington (for buying land) because it doesn't collect state taxes. I just want to be near Portland so there are more employment opportunities for my family if I bring them with me at a later time. I'm looking for flat/ somewhat sloped land, forested is ok but with enough access to the sun for a solar system. Mainly, something that has an affordable rent that would allow for the use of the land.

An ideal site would be one in which I could develop a mini demonstration site where I could offer PDC once I get my Permaculture design diploma. Of course, for that it would be better to own the site.
 
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Hey Piero, we live in unincorporated clark county, out in the foothills. Its a great place! Real close to state forest land. Streams are healthy. Lots of trees. One downside is that most people seem to move out here to keep to themselves, something which i grow more and more confused about.

Where we are land is usually $30,000/acre. Yeah its super expensive compared to cowlitz but there is an upside of higher population densities(maybe this is a downside to some), and proximity to portland.

There are several properties within walking distance of our house that are for sale currently. Mostly 5 acre parcels without much improvements.  I'm always trying to attract more permie neighbors out here.
 
Piero Soligo
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Jahnavi Veronica wrote:Hey Piero, we live in unincorporated clark county, out in the foothills. Its a great place! Real close to state forest land. Streams are healthy. Lots of trees. One downside is that most people seem to move out here to keep to themselves, something which i grow more and more confused about.

Where we are land is usually $30,000/acre. Yeah its super expensive compared to cowlitz but there is an upside of higher population densities(maybe this is a downside to some), and proximity to portland.

There are several properties within walking distance of our house that are for sale currently. Mostly 5 acre parcels without much improvements.  I'm always trying to attract more permie neighbors out here.



Sounds great! Can you share the location address or coordinates? I can go on the Clark parcel map to see if I can find anything. I like the idea of community living, I thought of buying a parcel and opening it for woofing. I was ready to do that in my site in Puerto Rico but the hurricane came so everything is on hold. That site is only .5 acres and still managed to fit more than 40 types of fruit trees with a lot more space available. Small is ok for me.
 
Mark Tudor
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I think landwatch.com and/or landsofamerica.com will let you search for "clark county wa" and you can filter on min/max price, acres, etc. You'll definitely pay more per acre for smaller parcels, and sometimes a 1-5 acre parcel costs more in total than a 10 acre parcel, especially due to location or farm land versus "marginal" hillside.

If you live in a RV you usually have to show that you are dumping waste at an approved location via receipts, but that's if you are being hand-held by the permit folks. If you rent from someone on the down-low, then you could safely use a compost toilet/humanure setup with their ok. You might be able to drive around and ask about renting a small space on the edge of someone's property and pay them cash in advance which might entice them?

There appear to be several permies in the NE portion of Washington, I'm looking at property in Stevens county just north of Spokane right now as they are pretty lenient on building permits. Idaho County, Idaho is also a no-permit needed county, not sure how much of a drive to Spokane or Boise that would be for reaching a large city for employment opportunities though.

There are states that have very low income tax rates for lower income brackets too, so after exemptions and deductions you might be looking at a very low amount in a lower cost, fewer regulations environment. That's assuming you aren't rolling in the big bucks and paying a ton in taxes, if you are then of course income taxes add up!
 
Piero Soligo
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Great resources, I was using Zillow with several good results.


There are some useful tools I have been using, there may be better ones!

Elevation- http://veloroutes.org/elevation/
Review of the area- http://www.areavibes.com/
Clark Cty parcel search- http://gis.clark.wa.gov/mapsonline/index.cfm?
Cowlitz Cty Parcel serch- http://www.cowlitzinfo.net/applications/cowlitzassessorparcelsearch/(S(hffa5v45353w1g45ha4r4j55))/searchcp.aspx?Public=Y
Skamania- http://skamaniawa.mapsifter.com

 
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Hi Piero, there's also a pretty strong push for a state income tax right now, and definitely follow the observe rule for a year before building your Temple, we have a different climate than PR.
Check out the Bullock's homestead on orcas island, they've figured it a few things that you're considering regarding toilets etc.
 
Piero Soligo
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Erik Goheen wrote:Hi Piero, there's also a pretty strong push for a state income tax right now, and definitely follow the observe rule for a year before building your Temple, we have a different climate than PR.
Check out the Bullock's homestead on orcas island, they've figured it a few things that you're considering regarding toilets etc.



Wow, good to know, thank you so much!
Definitely, the time to observe before designing is essential, which brings us to another problem with regulations in some areas, I have read that some places don't allow you to live in an RV or a tent in a site that is zoned as residential. If you want to take the time to understand the site, you cannot just buy it and start building immediately.
 
Erik Goheen
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Most of Washington's land use code enforcement is complaint based, so if you're a good neighbor or invisible, the authorities aren't too big of a problem.
 
Julia Winter
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Piero Soligo wrote:I'm considering Washington (for buying land) because it doesn't collect state taxes. I just want to be near Portland so there are more employment opportunities for my family if I bring them with me at a later time. I'm looking for flat/ somewhat sloped land, forested is ok but with enough access to the sun for a solar system. Mainly, something that has an affordable rent that would allow for the use of the land.

An ideal site would be one in which I could develop a mini demonstration site where I could offer PDC once I get my Permaculture design diploma. Of course, for that it would be better to own the site.



OK, so the proximity to Portland is for family members to have employment opportunities - it's not that you plan to earn money in Portland?  Because, if you earn more than a couple thousand dollars in Oregon, you need to pay Oregon income tax, even if you don't live in Oregon.  You can read about that here. 

If you plan to travel to Portland with any frequency, your quality of life goes up if you don't have to endure the traffic on the 205 or the 5 trying to get across the Columbia River.

We have a farm, 40 acres, in Beavercreek Oregon, about half an hour south of Portland.  It's possible you could rent some land from us - we had a young man in a tiny house stay in our fourth pasture through the summer and fall.  He did carpentry work on the farm in exchange for the space for his house and car.  His work ethic, or more precisely his "clean up after himself" ethic left something to be desired, but anyway, opportunities exist in Oregon as well as Washington.  We're having solar panels installed on the goat barn - the panels are up, we still need to build a secure room inside for all the rest of the equipment - so a person with solar expertise is intriguing.  Our long term plan for the property is agro-tourism, we are refurbishing the main house on the property to be a vacation rental and possibly a meeting place and educational center.  Eventually we'd like to have multiple places to rent in various beautiful locations, kind of like your place in Puerto Rico.
 
Piero Soligo
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Julia Winter wrote:

OK, so the proximity to Portland is for family members to have employment opportunities - it's not that you plan to earn money in Portland?  Because, if you earn more than a couple thousand dollars in Oregon, you need to pay Oregon income tax, even if you don't live in Oregon.  You can read about that here. 

If you plan to travel to Portland with any frequency, your quality of life goes up if you don't have to endure the traffic on the 205 or the 5 trying to get across the Columbia River.

We have a farm, 40 acres, in Beavercreek Oregon, about half an hour south of Portland.  It's possible you could rent some land from us - we had a young man in a tiny house stay in our fourth pasture through the summer and fall.  He did carpentry work on the farm in exchange for the space for his house and car.  His work ethic, or more precisely his "clean up after himself" ethic left something to be desired, but anyway, opportunities exist in Oregon as well as Washington.  We're having solar panels installed on the goat barn - the panels are up, we still need to build a secure room inside for all the rest of the equipment - so a person with solar expertise is intriguing.  Our long term plan for the property is agro-tourism, we are refurbishing the main house on the property to be a vacation rental and possibly a meeting place and educational center.  Eventually we'd like to have multiple places to rent in various beautiful locations, kind of like your place in Puerto Rico.



That sounds lovely. Can you email me at iam_data@hotmail.com
Would love to talk a bit about that possibility.
Thanks
 
Piero Soligo
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Jahnavi Veronica wrote:Hey Piero, we live in unincorporated clark county, out in the foothills. Its a great place! Real close to state forest land. Streams are healthy. Lots of trees. One downside is that most people seem to move out here to keep to themselves, something which i grow more and more confused about.

Where we are land is usually $30,000/acre. Yeah its super expensive compared to cowlitz but there is an upside of higher population densities(maybe this is a downside to some), and proximity to portland.

There are several properties within walking distance of our house that are for sale currently. Mostly 5 acre parcels without much improvements.  I'm always trying to attract more permie neighbors out here.



Hi Jahnavi Veronica, could you share a bit of information on those lots near you if its not too much trouble? I looked around Clark but there is nothing on Zillow or other sites. You can send it to my email at iam_data@hotmail.com. 30k is more or less my budget.

Thank you
 
Mark Tudor
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Piero, here is a search from landwatch.com on Clark County Washington, under $100,ooo: https://www.landwatch.com/default.aspx?ct=r&type=5,80;6,119;267,7110;268,6843&px=100000

19 properties for sale, ranging from 0.1 acres up to 6.11 acres.
 
Piero Soligo
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Mark Tudor wrote:Piero, here is a search from landwatch.com on Clark County Washington, under $100,ooo: https://www.landwatch.com/default.aspx?ct=r&type=5,80;6,119;267,7110;268,6843&px=100000

19 properties for sale, ranging from 0.1 acres up to 6.11 acres.



I never thought that land would be so expensive. I was looking on Zillow and found some lands under 50,000 :

A few in Kelso- It appears to be a really bad area and a bit far
2 lots that looked perfect, I even made an offer, but were mostly a steep hill after checking the topographic map
1 under a bridge in Portland= No sun for plants or PV
1 right next to train tracks
A few that are under 30,000 are within HOA with multimillion dollar homes next to the lot
Another that was perfect had a gas easement passing through the property

It appears that the best option is to rent land but I'll just take it easy and keep looking.

Thank you so much
 
Mark Tudor
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Yeah it makes a big difference if you're willing to travel a bit, but you're still at the mercy of code enforcement at a certain level. I found some larger lots out near Cougar, to the NE of Portland/Vancouver, but you're looking at 45-60 minutes of driving each way, when the road is clear. No idea how quickly the roads are cleared when the snow falls, so if you rely on daily commutes to the city for work, that's a trade-off. But there are 20 acre parcels for $50k out there, some with shared wells others totally raw.

That's the gotcha with land, there's going to always be a trade-off relative to the price, and the smaller the parcel is, the more likely the price per acre goes up. Good luck!
 
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