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Thread: Wilderness Living Dreams or Delusions

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    Senior Member doug1980's Avatar
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    Default Wilderness Living Dreams or Delusions

    For some time now I have wanted to live way out there. You know, be one with nature. Well maybe not quite like that but definitely some land with a cabin away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. A very good friend of mine did just that about 12 years ago. He built a very modest (12’x 20’) cabin, which he lived in for almost 3 years. He then added a 14’x 24’ addition and a deck. It has grid power, indoor plumbing, and all the creature comforts. It sits back about ¾ of a mile from the road on his 10 acre lot. Sounds perfect to me and I do envy him. I also had the pleasure of meeting a member from this forum who has lived this type of life longer than I have been alive. I spent hours picking his brain to satisfy my fantasy. He shared every detail about this lifestyle, and I mean every detail. I left with a much better understanding of what it really takes to live like this. One thing that amazed me is the amount of money it takes just to live in, what most today would call “poverty” Another thing that really shocked me is the amount of time a simple job/task takes to improve living conditions in a situation such as this. I will not go into specific details out of respect for my friend but it is staggering. I’m not sure many people are truly aware on what it really takes, physically, mentally and financially to live like this.
    Alaska to Florida, for how long, who knows...


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    Senior Member doug1980's Avatar
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    Default Part 2

    I’m sure most see it just as I did, with wonderment and amazement. To live like the old Pioneers did, off the land and self sufficient. Let’s just think about that for a second…Pioneers had an average life expectancy of 39. Ok so maybe that is a little overdramatic, but still something to take into account. The point is it is hard, let me say that again, hard work to live like this. Now sure if you have indoor plumbing, grid power, oil/gas heat etc. then it wouldn’t be much different than living in town. Huh, no different than living in town, well then why not stay in town? Oh that’s right because it’s safer away from town. Well I know one person that would disagree with that from personal experience. The wild is a better place to be if SHTF. That may be true, but where do you think all the people from town will go? Now it is not my intent to discourage anyone from trying this. It is not my intent to say it can’t be done I’m not even saying it shouldn’t be done. All I am saying is that it is not as romantic as many believe. You have to think that the further out you go the harder it will be. I can hear you all now, “well duh Doug, we knew that.” But do you really? Obviously I have no real experience on this, and I don’t claim to, but I did get an eye opener about it.
    Last edited by doug1980; 09-20-2009 at 01:16 PM.
    Alaska to Florida, for how long, who knows...

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    Senior Member doug1980's Avatar
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    Default Part 3

    So let’s say, hypothetically, I found a great piece of land. Say 10 acres with beautiful views of mountains, a little creek and about an hour from town. Now there is road access to it, which is both good and bad. (Good because I have easy access, bad because others have the same easy access) Ok so I have my dream land, now what. Well I need a driveway, and of course I want the cabin off the road a ways so it must be long. (Let’s say 300’ in) Ok sounds easy but I have no heavy equipment, so I will have to rent some. Probably need a permit too, and can’t forget the rock. Now I have no idea how much that would cost but I’m sure it isn’t cheap, not to mention we are an hour away from the nearest equipment rental place. But we get it done…now we have a driveway on our beautiful land. Ok what now. Well got to have a cabin, right? Ah yes the glorious cabin/lodge. You know the kind, 2,000 sq ft with huge windows so you can eat at the table and see the mountains. Or if you are a bit more modest a 300 sq ft cabin/shack. Either way you have to get supplies to the site. You have to have power tools to build this thing. Not to mention the weather and time of year you are trying to do this. It could take a year or more to get this thing done. Between material shortages, weather delays, contractor issues, and your schedule, who knows how long it could take. But let’s say you miraculously get it done in 6 months. So now you have a cabin on your little piece of heaven. So are we done, is that all? Well sure if you plan to use it a couple days at a time. But to live in it full time, we are far from finished.
    Alaska to Florida, for how long, who knows...

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    Senior Member doug1980's Avatar
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    Default Part 4

    We might want water, power and heat. So we install a wood stove. (But now we need firewood and lots of it every year) We decide on a well. (Again we need heavy equipment to dig it out and run the lines) Then we have to run sewer lines and install a septic tank. (More heavy equipment which means more money) Now it’s time for power. Oh sure you could live without it, heck if your tough enough you could live without indoor plumbing as well. But we decide we like having a way to keep food cold all year, we like having a computer and we like having lights. So now we have to decide, grid or off grid. Now I can already hear all you hard-core guys out there, off grid all the way. Ok so solar power, wind power, hydro power or generator. Well they are all very expensive to install and the generator would be costly over time with all the fuel needed. So I would pick grid power with a backup system of some sort. Now grid power can be expensive up front also, depending on where the power lines are. But we’ll say it is at the road. Piece of cake then…well not exactly. Still have money to shell out for that too. Nevertheless we got it all hooked up. So now we have our land, driveway, cabin, heat, water/sewer and power. Finally we can sit back and enjoy our paradise…..not so fast. Now we have constant chores to do. Firewood needs cut and stacked and might need food. More than likely something will stop working or need to be redone, anyone who owns a house knows there is always something to do. Now the first winter comes. 4’ of snow falls and now you can’t get down that fancy new driveway you just installed. It gets colder than you expected so you burn way more wood than you thought so now you are out there cutting wood in -10* weather. Your water lines freeze up because you forgot to use the heat tape. The power goes out because of all the snow on the lines, so now you are using the generator. Which is fine but you run out of fuel and still can’t get out of the driveway. Your food supply starts to dwindle down too. Not so wonderful and exciting now, huh? Not exactly what you signed up for is it?

    Doug
    Last edited by doug1980; 09-20-2009 at 01:17 PM.
    Alaska to Florida, for how long, who knows...

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    You put that VERY well Doug. I figured if I wanted a place like that in the lower 48 I would need about 2 million before I even moved in!! Probably more than I would need but not by much. I have no delusions on how expensive it is, although I may be deluded on the amount of work. Unless I win the powerball, it is probably out of my reach anyway.... But I still dream.

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    Senior Member Winnie's Avatar
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    Well Doug, my ex and I tried living a self sufficient lifestyle and that was great until the marriage fell apart. Two can do things easier and quicker than one. However, we didn't do this out in the wilds of England, we did it on the edge of a village and that was tough enough.
    You've hit the nail on the head with your posts it isn't easy and it certainly isn't cheap if you want some creature comforts.
    I still belive you can do it for not huge amounts of money, but with sacrifices that a lot of people aren't willing to make(me included)
    Recession; A period when you go without something your Grandparents never heard of.

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    Over the last 12 years
    ___________________________



    $44,000.00 For the raw wilderness land. (CURRENT VALUE: about $900,000.00)

    $56,000.00 for driveway (Only half finished)

    $5,100.00 for permits, culverts, and classified material to exit the main road.

    $8,500.00 Basic Framed-in shack (Just studs, no insulation)

    $5,500.00 rent D-8 to clear building site.

    $1,200.00 EACH WAY to deliver and return the D-8

    $9,200.00 for septic system (NO septic lines, vents, clean=outs,etc.)

    $3,400.00 first well

    $3,600.00 second well

    $2,600.00 for waterline (Excavator rent, 160' of 1" K-TYPE copper line, Heat tape, unions, fittings, pit-less, and pit-less adapter)

    $55,000.00 estimated cost to run electric to back of property.

    $9,300.00 for one diesel generator, and four gasoline generators.

    $3,700.00 for two skid-mounted 1,000 Gal. fuel tanks, and one 12V fuel pump.

    $10,740.00 for New Ski-doo SWT Snow Machine.

    $1,690.00 for log splitter

    $2,400.00 small grain barn

    $3,800.00 each for "FOUR" steel storage units (Connex) for tool storage. And temporary personal property storage.

    $44,700.00 truck with 9 1/2' "V" snowplow.

    $2,600.00 for rifle range and shooting barn.

    $26,500.00 for your own D-8 Dozer.

    $21,000.00 for your own Case 450B Dozer.

    OUTHOUSE with no door Priceless.

    NOTE: Still no real cabin, just a 11" X 23" Frame shack. I will say that the joy is in the creation, the planning, the dream, the slow step by step process. But Doug is correct, that when it is done people will come and say this is what I want. But if you tell them the cost in money and hours of manual labor they will think you a teller of untruths.
    Last edited by Sourdough; 09-20-2009 at 02:11 PM.

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    Hall Monitor Pal334's Avatar
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    You guys sure know how to spoil a fantasy by injecting reality. But seriously, is a good heads up, and can help someone from making a serious and / or ill timed or prepared error
    .45 ACP Because shooting twice is silly... The avatar says it all,.45 because there isn't a.46

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    walk lightly on the earth wildWoman's Avatar
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    Always depends on one's preferences...Where I lived before we came outhere, I was 700 yards from the road. The 6 acres of raw land cost me $30,000.-. For $800.-, got about 200 yards of "driveway" put in. The rest of the drieveway I cleared myself, put down gravel and curdoroy in the soft spots myself and just parked close to the road in the winter (so no plowing costs) and during run-off, to not make ruts. Chainsaw and a few tools $600.-. For about $4,000.- in building materials, I built two stackwall cabins @ 18' diameter each.
    Two 20l buckets @ $9.95 each enabled me to bring water in by stopping at the creek. Firewood I got by hand with a kids' plastic toboggan for about $20.-. I also used the toboggan to pull groceries and water buckets down the drivewayin the winter.

    That was my entire set-up and I was very happy with it. No power, no phone.
    I realize that at a certain age the charm of that lifestyle would have faded but wanted to add this for the under 50 crowd....it's entirely up to you and nobody else how much your lifestyle will cost, once the land is paid for.

    As for the wilderness living now...our 7 acres or so were $25,000.-. Two skidoos $7,500,-. Two motorboats $22,000.-. Building supplies for 1 1/2 cabins @ about 16'x26' each plus a 16'x12' shed about $7,000.-. Satellite system, laptops, solar panel, batteries $5,000.-. 2 generators $700,-. Assorted tools $2,000.-.

    Again, you can go as fancy as you like or as simple as you like...but living without road access is IMO always more expensive than having a road at least close by.
    Actions speak louder than words

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    wildWoman, I find that most people expect that the total cost to BUY your lifestyle should be FREE or at the most $5,000.-- for everything, total cost. Most people I encounter think that to buy or have what I have should total cost about $10,000.-- to $20,000.-- Total for everything.

    Here remote land is much cheaper than accessable land. But people don't think about the cost of $15,000.-- just for FREIGHT ONLY, to take a building package in 15 miles by Nodwell.

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    I certainly have no illusions and I have no desire to live that lifestyle. I applaud those of you that do, it's just not what I want. Would I like to be a gentleman farmer? Sure, who wouldn't? Everyone wants the woods with the creek and the view. But I also want access to my kids, my grandkids, medical care and whatever else my fancy conjures up for the week-end. And it sure is nice to turn the air on when it's hot or heat on when it's cold. Is my lifestyle expensive? Sure. But you get what you pay for...I think(?).

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    Judging from what Sourdough/ Hope said, I see my guess was a little short, I better figure in another million. I appreciate the heads up on actual cost..... Now If I can just win that Powerball.....Western states here I come!!!

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    Yeh, I'm a dreamer too.

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Doug1980, how right you are
    When you do something like this, it come down to time and cash.
    If you have the time, the cost is less.
    We started w/buying the land in 1988, first 10 acres, paid it off and added another 6.5 in about 1992 as it came on the market. (cost double the 10 acre cost for the 6 acres)

    South facing hill side and 4 levels of sorta flat spots.
    On a river with 800 ft of frontage, 10.5 acres tillable and cropped by the neighbors.

    First couple 16 years we used a small 16ft camper, then another camper and a shed.
    Hunted, camped (or at least stayed there, I know how you guys think about camping), 4 wheeled, canoed/fished in the river, partied with friends and locals, got know by neighbors

    Had the Amish build us a log cabin, I wasn't getting any younger, so I watched them do it. 2005
    Still working on it, (it was a closed shell).
    So:
    10.6 acres $10k
    6.6 acres $20k
    Original drive way, (farmer stub road) $2K
    Old trailers, $400 and $200
    Electric (seasonal rate, $15 a month, plus usage, $300 for pole/ hook up, plug on pole.
    Shed $1300 (built by local high school kids) Another $200 to haul it to the site (another story)
    Site prep for cabin plus modified drive way $6500.
    Cabin $25K
    Well- state approved 185 ft $4500,
    Septic system stubbed into cabin (land came with perk) and pump/water line stubbed into cabin. $7.5K
    DYI plumbing-water and sewer $1000- almost all summer, part time, floated a turd on the one year anniversary
    DYI electric service/wiring $800 to 900.+ $500 for back-up elect. baseboards
    DYI bathroom $2000 walls and fixtures.(built my own cabinets)
    DYI kitchen $2000 (built my own cabinets)
    Wood stove/piping $1500
    Tractor with brush hog, loader, back blade, post hole auger $20K
    Truck (on my third 4 X4) $15K, 30K, $45K
    2-4 wheelers $4k apiece
    Boats, canoe's /duck boats 10K

    Our "Place" in the country, paid for,(all except the new truck)........ priceless!
    Last edited by hunter63; 09-20-2009 at 09:01 PM.
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    My place is 22 acres in the mountains of Montana (about 20 miles from a town), with a year-round creek (with fish) and National Forest access. To get to our mile long driveway, you have to go about 9 miles down a rough logging road. We have a "seasonal access" road, that some years we can drive to the house everyday, in heavy snowfall years we leave the trucks about a mile away, and run sled-dogs, walk or snowmachine home. I have a 1200 sq ft cabin, running water (well) electricity and propane (and a small guest cabin w/o electricity)
    it was recently appraised at $450,000....that is considered inexpensive for this area of Montana! the most expensive part of building a home in my area is putting in the well, the septic, the driveway, and electricity. 10 acres of raw, undeveloped land in the area is about $200,000

    For all practical purposes if you compared our lifestyle with people in urban areas- we would be considered poor.

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    Senior Member doug1980's Avatar
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    Well I want to thankeveryone for their responses on this. I have to say that I had delusions on this matter. I mean in my head and even on paper it seems simple. I just barely touched on what the "every day" life would be like. And I have to say that even at 28 (soon to be 29) I am not prepared for it. Oh I could go awhile, but for every day, week or month that goes by I will get older and older. Something that "sourdough" said really stuck with me. Living like this is all about preparing for the future. Start making things easier so when you physically can't haul water, chop wood etc... you will still be able to live this way. Even though it is tough to let go of a dream, I see now that I do not have the "will" to live like he does or WW does. But I do have a backup plan that will at least give me a taste of this lifestyle. I can still have a vacation cabin on some remote land. That would be much easier to do and can take a lifetime to finish without much problem. So that is what I will plan on doing and start working towards.
    Alaska to Florida, for how long, who knows...

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    My home got power in 1988, it was built in 1985, the neighbors who are ~1/4 mile away have lived there since the `70's on generators. The road we live on is one of the last before 60+ miles of wilderness to snake your way back to a road that leads to civilization 30 miles down the mountain or 50+ up.... 4 miles from here no plowing during winter which means no one but snow mobiles up further.

    The reason I share this...

    Do either of you have concerns about "neighbors" or populations in the next 20 years approaching your "retreats" ???

    We have 20 acres, and the 20 acres next to me is for sale and boy-oh-boy how I wish I could afford it. (Then we would own from 1 road to another, and bordered by a front road. No one could build within 1/4 mile either way.)

    Our goal / long-term is to be as self sufficient as possible, but boy-oh-boy does repairing a house by itself add up quick! 7'x20' covered front porch ~900$ in material alone w/labor all done by us. That was shopping around for the best wood rates!

    Sourdough- I am jealous of the toys errr tools you have to play with within the next year or two my first big-boy-toy is going to be a commercial/construction skip-loader! As I can't afford a separate dozer, tractor and excavator it seems to be the most universal tool. I expect I will be learning a lot from you
    Mountain Man

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Man View Post
    Do either of you have concerns about "neighbors" or populations in the next 20 years approaching your "retreats" ???

    When I was younger I wanted no neighbors, Strange as it sounds, even to me, at this point I wish I had a few more neighbors for security. The more isolated you are the more vulnerable you are.

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    I would vote we make this thread a sticky. And I hope we get more feedback from members. This is valuable, useful information. at least IMHO.

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    Hall Monitor Pal334's Avatar
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    I also think a sticky would be appropriate. Lots of information is being shared here
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