Author Topic: Is Buying Land Mustachian?  (Read 1780 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Is Buying Land Mustachian?
« on: August 07, 2018, 12:20:26 PM »
I'm thinking about buying a bit of land and have no idea if it's generally considered a good or poor investment from a Mustachian perspective. I'm just starting my research so thought I'd ask here.

I'm in Colorado and like to camp, ski and get to the mountains on the weekends. So does seemingly every other person in the state - campsites are jammed, traffic is nuts and rental places are expensive. So I'm thinking about buying a small plot of land on the way to one of the mountain areas where my family and I could camp (or put a trailer on) for now and eventually build a cabin (down the line, once we've saved the money to do so). We would pay cash for the land, using money that we just received from the sale of another home.

On one hand, it seems like a lot of positives to me: we buy in while we can afford to do so, Colorado real estate continues to boom as people keep moving here for the exact same reasons we did, the money is invested in something that hopefully grows, we're able to use the land in the meantime, there's a future possibility of rental income from the cabin we'd build.

On the other hand... would my money just be safer/grow faster in more traditional investments? I know it's more expensive to build a house than to buy one, especially on a mountain property that will have varying degrees of expenses in connecting to utilities, etc. My husband thinks it would be cheaper to just keep continuing to rent other people's cabins for our adventures, but the idea of buying in while we can and owning our own little piece of the mountain paradise we love really appeals to me. But romanticism can be costly. What do you think?


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Is Buying Land Mustachian?
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2018, 12:51:55 PM »
You're really asking if a vacation home is a good investment. In general, the answer is no - land and homes near recreation always sell for quite a premium over their rental costs (for example, here in Park City, you can rent a decent 3-4 bedroom place for $3000-4000 a month - buying that house would cost you a cool million bucks). If you have a big chunk of cash, you can almost certainly do better investing it elsewhere and then renting a place to stay when you want to go to the mountains.

Every situation is a little different, of course. Colorado is hot right now. Will people get sick of I-70 and stop driving up to the mountains (ha, that's what we did, and left the state completely)? Or alternately, will the traffic get so bad that people want even more badly to own a place up in Summit or Eagle?

If you *like* dealing with real estate and construction and the associated hassles, I'd say consider it. If you're not house-building permit-pulling spend-the-weekend-mudding-the-drywall kinda people... don't.



  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Is Buying Land Mustachian?
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2018, 03:11:03 PM »
Ha - waltworks, it sounds like you know exactly what the "race for the mountains" has become in Colorado! I have a real fear that we just *won't* be able to afford to rent places in the mountains as often as we'd like to go - ski season rentals are basically prohibitive for us at this point (we can maybe swing one weekend per winter at upwards of $500/night), and summer rentals are half that now. We want to be in the mountains more than that! I think we might break even by buying some cheaper land and camping on it. We're looking at Park County - cheaper buy-in than Summit County and not on the I-70 corridor (which appeals to me as a weekend warrior).

I guess my goal would be to keep the land forever if we could... so that we'd always have an affordable place to escape to even when the rest of Colorado has turned into a HCOL nightmare!


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Is Buying Land Mustachian?
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2018, 03:44:06 PM »
it sounds almost impossible that the "right" land to buy for a camp site would also be the "right" land to purchase for building a vacation home. I feel like by mixing the 2 ideas you're probably increasing the cost, size, complexity, and unforeseen hassles of the whole thing.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Is Buying Land Mustachian?
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2018, 03:45:33 PM »
Just do the math: Add up how much you plan to spend each year in Colorado vacation rentals, and compare that to a plot of land.

Work the numbers and play with them. You'll find that you won't get close to saving money unless you really luck into a deal that you can rent out to other people when you're not there.

Example: Maybe you spend $1k/yr on vacation rentals now. Maybe you find a plot in the middle of nowhere for $30k. Add in maintenance and taxes on that land ($500/yr total?). You're looking at a pretty long payback period. And that's well before you start spending money on a trailer, on utilities hookups or off-grid setups, much less a permanent structure.

I understand where you're coming from. I live on the Front Range and traffic is getting worse and worse. But unless you're willing to throw away money and are financially set, I wouldn't bother.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Is Buying Land Mustachian?
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2018, 04:10:42 PM »
I understand wanting to find someplace that's your to avoid having to rent.  I've looked into things like that myself.
Land is tricky and can be expensive to build on and also in downturns, almost impossible to sell.

In reading your post you think renting is expensive, so you want a cheaper alternative in a place to camp.  Those seem like very different things, a nice vacation rental versus just a spot to camp. So I'm wondering if maybe there is another option. Maybe finding a place to camp where you don't have to buy, or finding some other creative alternative to standard vacation rentals. Maybe a fellow mustachian who will let you camp on their property.. who knows?

Just a thought to maybe explore other alternatives to land and standard vacation rentals.

Prairie Stash

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Re: Is Buying Land Mustachian?
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2018, 08:50:13 AM »
I'll approach it from a diferent angle. If you buy the land, make it into a small business. Around here we have farm land with attached forests; you can camp in the wooded spots and rent out the farmland.

Other places, people rent out their personal spots for the weekends they aren't there. Say you buy a nice plot and rent it out 5-8 weekends to friends in the same predicament; how much could you reasonably get from that? As most people will point out the biggest problem with vacation properties is all the time they sit vacant.

A good investment is one that pays for itself; you can include the savings you get from not renting out cabins.


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Re: Is Buying Land Mustachian?
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2018, 11:07:56 AM »
If you can only afford one weekend a year, that sounds like you can only afford about $1000-1500 per year to spend on buying land.  Doesn't sound feasible to me.

Having said that, I just got back from my first visit to my sister's cabin on a lake and now I understand better why people buy vacation homes.  They go up most of the summer and many weekends throughout the year. They don't have to schlep their boats (kayaks and a canoe), because the boats are already there. They can do stuff on the property that they couldn't at a rental, including keeping things more primitive than a rental would. They can get to know their neighbours and the land; for instance, my sister knows where the best places are to gather mushrooms along the shore.  It's definitely an expense, but I can see why people think it's and expense worth taking on.


  • Bristles
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Re: Is Buying Land Mustachian?
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2018, 10:06:39 PM »
The most recent MMM article seems to address this matter.