So, Preston and I bought 60 acres with a shop and small living space, in Montana.
I promise, no one is more shocked than we are at this turn of events.
It all started one afternoon just 3 weeks ago when I was procrastinating on some no-doubt important work project by browsing Craigslist. It’s on our list for 2015 to find Preston some more functional shop space than our very small, musty, one-car garage. If we are going to own a 30 year old RV, he’s going to need a place he can get it out of the mud to work on it occasionally.
So I was browsing Craigslist for property on the Olympic Peninsula, just up the road from us an hour or two. Somehow miscategorized, was an ad with the following title:
“Own a piece of Montana. 60 acres + shop. $165,000”
So, I mean, I clicked on it obviously. I wish I had taken a screenshot, because of course the ad is gone now. There were just a couple pictures showing the epic view of the Bridger Mountains to the south, a two-story red shop, and some sagebrush/grassland. The ad said there was a year-round stream, a spring, water/septic/power all installed and functional, and fiber optic cable run on the road out front. The second floor of the shop is created to be a living space, but is not finished.
So, you know, I called. The seller was really friendly, volunteered that they were open to an owner-carry situation (important for us self-employed folks who have a hard time with bank financing), and obviously liked me.
I ran it past Preston, figuring he would veto, but it seems that he got the Montana bug in the last year or so. He’s spent a couple weeks there off and on in the last year, and I know how that country gets under your skin there when you aren’t really paying attention. After Preston and I brainstormed about it for the weekend, we decided that we really could only offer a ridiculously low downpayment. Usually owner-carry situations want a fairly large downpayment, with large monthly payments. We decided that I’d just let the seller know what we could do, not try to sugar-coat it or overpromise. If he was open to it, we’d move forward. If not, we’d go back to looking for an acre or two on the Olympic Peninsula.
And then he accepted our offer, and we were in shock. Of course, we had added a contingency to the offer that we had the option to back out until we had a chance to go see it in person. That’s what we were up to all last week on our #secretsquirrel mission. We headed up to hang out with my mom for a few days, and then meet the seller at the property and have a tour.
It was everything we expected. We literally could not find a single thing that wasn’t as promised, or better. For instance, we’d been skeptical about the “year-round stream”. This part of Montana gets fierce cold for long stretches in the winter. Water has to be pretty deep to stay thawed in winters like that. By “year-round” did they mean that there is technically water there in February, it’s just that it’s frozen? It turns out that what they mean is there is a small warm-ish spring on the property that feeds that creek. Not like bathtub warm, but more like 40 degrees, and that’s enough to keep the creek thawed and running all year. Which means the property is a major source of water in an otherwise dry and frozen part of the country. Which means it attracts a lot of animals. See? Not just as advertised, but even better!
The nearest town is White Sulphur Springs, about 20 miles away, which has a really nice 115 degree hot spring that’s been used by people since long before Europeans came to the area. I assume that our little 40 degree spring is related to that same geothermal activity. Incidentally, White Sulphur Springs is where Ivan Doig is from, and you can bet I’ll be re-reading Ride With Me, Mariah Montana, just after I finish up This House Of Sky.
There’s so much about this property that I want to tell you about, but it will have to come up over time. We haven’t actually signed the done-deal paperwork yet. I’ve been trying to keep it a secret until it was really for reals official, but it was too hard. But it’s 99% for reals, and we’re just waiting on the title company to finish their paperwork so we can all sign. The seller has made it clear that he wants us to have it, and we are locked in with the accepted offer that we’ve all signed.
So we are trying (not very successfully) to keep our wild planning and daydreaming under control, just in case something falls through at the last minute. We expect to have final signed papers next week, and then we’ll cruise back over there to hang out for a while once it’s actually ours. We don’t know yet if we will live there full time or part time or at all. Or if we will rent out our current house. Or if we still need to buy tropical beach property for the wintertime (probably that is still on our wish list, but maybe not this year). This was all really unexpected, and we don’t know what to think except that we are pretty sure it’s awesome.