Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Home Search

Every couple of days I've been searching real estate sites for a new home in the areas my husband and I are considering, and all it does is get my blood pressure up.  I find a potential home with horse facilities on a few acres within my price range, and then I look at the aerial view of the neighborhood and see my current neighbors living right next door or across the street.

If there aren't a ton, and I mean well over 20, junk cars on the neighbors' lots, there is a business right next door that requires noisy manufacturing, like the guy across the highway who grinds granite counter tops and idles his diesel engine day in and day out.  I actually saw that one horse property had a demolition derby track right next door with probably 50 smashed up vehicles piled on the lot.  Wouldn't that be awesome to ride a horse while a demolition derby is going on next door?  And I thought it couldn't get any worse than what I'm dealing with now.

No wonder none of these equestrian organizations want to respond to my queries about the best communities to keep horses.  They've been putting up with all the growth problems I've been experiencing and don't want anymore people moving in, even if they do have horses. 

The problem is this:  The types of people who would be interested in buying so many acres of land all have hobbies or businesses that conflict with one another.  The people who typically buy several acres, especially several acres of desert land, are horse owners, people who want peace, quiet, and privacy, junk car collectors, ATV and motorcycle racers, and people who run manufacturing businesses out of their homes and want enough space so that the neighbors don't complain about the noise. 

I'm beginning to think that I'd find more peace, quiet and privacy in the middle of a city in a studio apartment.  At least I'd be anonymous instead of having neighbors who watch my every move.  I've considered just staying here and waiting for the annoying, old folks to die, but I suspect they will leave their house to their perverted grandson who leaves calling cards on my property at night while I sleep.

Also, the majority of houses on the market are trashed foreclosures and short sales.  If you have a lot of time to wait around for a committee of people at a bank to close the deal, or have the time, money and skill to fix up the mess that angry evicted people left behind, you can get a really good deal on a house.  There are 4,000 square foot homes available for $250,000 in Arizona, which is unheard of in Nevada.

I saw this one property in which the house next door overlooked the pool, so the home owners built a wall just long and tall enough to block the neighbors' view.  It's really obvious that they were trying to get some privacy, because the wall had no other function.  It wasn't like it surrounded the entire property or was trying to section off a part of the property.  It was just a small section of straight wall next to the neighbor's house.  I'm sure that if the neighbors minded their own business, there would be no need for that wall, so it spoke loudly to me about what the home owners had been putting up with.  I think that anytime you get a bunch of city people moving out to the country or the desert to retire, they get bored in a hurry and start sticking their noses in the neighbors' yards for entertainment.

The other thing about all these properties that bothers me is that no one has a fenced in area to let dogs out to do their business.  I understand why there are few lawns in the desert since water is scarce, but someone could fence off a little area for dogs.  I certainly don't want to have to walk my dogs outside on a leash every hour in order to keep them from running off and getting bit by rattlesnakes.  I want to be able to let them out the backdoor into a fenced in yard like I do now.  I suspect there will be a lot of loose dogs defecating on my property wherever I go in AZ.  Not much different from what I've got going on here.

The other odd thing is that a lot of these horse "facilities" are nothing more than a 12x12 pipe panel corral with a metal roof for shade.  There's no place for the horses to roam and get exercise, so I would have to ride all three of them every single day to keep their muscles from atrophying.  I obviously don't have the time for that.

There are a some properties with large arenas, and those are the ones that excite me.  I've never had a large, closed-in space where I could canter the horses freely.  I can't canter them in the pasture because of all the gopher holes, and my paddock is in the shape of a triangle with a round pen in the middle, which doesn't allow for smooth turns at fast paces.  I used to canter the horses in my round pen, but my equitation instructor told me the round pen was too small and it was putting stress on their leg muscles to constantly be turning while cantering.  I can't canter on the trails, because there are too many rocks, hikers and loose dogs, so the only place I can canter is at the Fairgrounds in one of their large arenas.  But there is usually someone else using the arenas, so I have to drive to the Fairgrounds first to see if an arena is available before putting the horse in the trailer.  It's a hassle.

I'm sure something will eventually come along.  The new renters who moved into my neighborhood are starting to bring in junk vehicles now and letting them pile up.  So many men around here collect old jeeps, and I suspect they are into extreme off roading where they drive up cliffs and over boulders.  So, that's the latest annoying hobby that seems to be invading the neighborhood. 

The snow we got didn't stick, but the ground is frozen.  The horses have been locked up in their stalls for the past two days, so I let them out this morning.  My nosy neighbor came out at 8:00 AM and pretended to be gardening while she spied on me.  Who can garden when the ground is frozen in the middle of January at 8:00 in the morning?  She's so obvious.  I just stared at her and shook my head until she went into her house, hopefully feeling embarrassed over her obnoxious stalking behavior.


Mikey said...

Arizona is a little different. I remember first moving out here from the city. No fences, only 3 houses in the neighborhood, cell phone sometimes worked. If it rained I'd be trapped by the flooded wash. Then city folks moved out here and it wasn't the same. Some don't like dogs, some want perfect landscaping, yada yada. We had to put fence up, and if you want to do that for your dogs to protect them from rattlesnakes, it may not work. Best thing is to have them vaccinated and hope for the best. I've seen snakes get thru snake proof fencing, and they are always right on your back porch or steps.
Finding a rural enough place will be tricky. You're smart to look at the aerial views. Most people here who work in "town" meaning Phx, have an hour or more commute. I used to do it, and work 4 10 hr days, but it was too much. I had to find something I could do in a rural area, so I went to horse shoeing and it's all worked out.
There are a lot of nice houses south of us just rotting away. Such a waste... the only thing I can suggest is find something either with an arena, or something that backs up to State Land. I've got that on 2 sides, and plenty of room to ride. Still have to watch out for quads when I'm near a dirt road, but I've got space. (I'm always proud of our aerial view, because it looks nice and neat, lol)
I think you'll find something. Set aside money to build the fence and horse area you want though. We don't do much in the way of barns down here, just shade. Barns are places for rattlesnakes to hide, and I couldn't bear the thought of my horse trapped in a stall with a snake.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I'm sorry it's so frustrating to find what you're looking for in the real estate market.

There is still lots of vacant land and horse properties out here where we live. We do enjoy a rural lifestyle, but with only a 25 minute commute out of the mountains down into Albuquerque.
My hubby often uses the Park and Ride to get to the airport so we can save on gas, too.

Most folks who move out here want their privacy and respect other's privacy, too. It's quiet and beautiful and if you can find some property that backs up to, or is close to National Forest, Open Space or BLM Land, that would be the icing on the cake.
Of course we can get some serious snow up here, but our summers are well worth the inconvenience. most people never even need an A/C up here. We've not had to turn ours on for several years and just use ceiling fans and are comfortable all summer long.

The horse community is strong in New Mexico, that's for sure and there are many groups and organizations that would welcome you.
Corrales is considered the Horse Capital of New Mexico, and although the real estate is rather pricey there, the CHAMP group have even created an equestrian trail guide for horse riders that will take you on many miles of trails that travel along the Rio Grande River in the beautiful Bosque Cottonwood forest.
You can ride down in the valley all year long because the weather is much drier and warmer than up here in the mountains.

Belen, Bosque Farms and Los Lunas are all very rural, farm communities that are south of Albuquerque and are horse and livestock friendly with lots of trails to ride along the river and into the mountains. And the best thing with those communities is they have the RailRunner Train that commuters can use to travel between there and Albuquerque and even up to Santa Fe for just a few dollars.

I know you have your heart set on Arizona, but I think you should have a look in New Mexico, too.


Dreaming said...

I think each area has its own norm as far as barn and fence types. When I first moved out west I though Priefert panels were stupid. But, I've since learned how versatile they are!
My grandparents used to live in Arizona. Their barn was four huge box stalls - totally open on one side with just an overhanging roof. The back side was open into an area to store hay, tractors, etc.
I do agree with you about how helpful the satellite views are for pre-screening. We did a lot of that before we even came out here and met our realtor. If you haven't talked to a realtor, you might want to. Our's had access to incredible software that allowed her to put in our requirements; size of house, out building, price range, number of bedrooms, etc. Then we would get a list. We could screen the houses and leave notes. She would also leave notes if she happened to show one of the houses. She also was familiar with the area, so could advise us where the best horse properties were, which weren't surrounded by suburbia, manufacturing, junk yards, etc. We did all of this before we even met her face to face.
Regardless, were we to do it again, we'd rent a place first. We were in a lovely area, as far as homes and properties, but the weather was rougher there than in other areas just 20 miles away.
Good luck!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Mikey - All very good points, especially about the snakes and barns. Thanks for the info.

Lisa - I actually don't have my heart set on Arizona. I'm sure New Mexico has more of what I want, but there just aren't many jobs there, as you know since Ranchman John has to work in Phoenix. I like all the art and the riding landscape better in NM. Maybe we can retire there, or maybe my husband will get lucky and find a job there. We're not ruling it out.

Dreaming - I've got it on my bucket list to contact a realtor soon.

sue said...

come on out to New England.. we would be glad to have you!!!! sure, we get lots of snow (sometimes) but we don't have any rattle snakes (I wouldn't even know what one looks like!!!)

fernvalley01 said...

Looks like you are scoping it out well and looking for just the right fit this time. Nice to have this blogging community as well to help avoid some pitfalls and show you the positive of other areas . I would suggest Alberta, but that is a pretty long reach from where you are ,and we do get cooold!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I just talked to my husband some more and he says he is ruling out any location where it snows. I'm sure he'll get sick of any extreme temperature in no time, though.

Cut-N-Jump said...

Aaand I have been bad by not getting you Joans contact info... I will email it to you now.

Arenas here and pastures too for that matter can have their share of gopher holes, although maybe not so much gophers, but ground squirrels. Pasture is available in some areas, but not all and

Barns, not such a big deal, but shade is mandatory in Maricopa County, Pinal County- it's not.

Our neighborhood has a more horse & livestock feel than some others and although your neighbors are across the street, they can be far enough away that they are no issue. Privacy is pretty much on everybody's list here. But at the same time, we know each other enough to watch out for ach other. it's a nice mix if you can keep the 'city folks' out.

achieve1dream said...

Wow how frustrating! I hope you find the perfect place soon.