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Old 09-02-2020, 06:10 AM   #1
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Buying your own boondocking land

I intend this thread as a paradigm-breaker, and as evidence of that, I note that there is really no suitable child forum in which to place it on Air Forums. It’s really a Lifestyle topic more so than a boondocking topic per se, but there’s no appropriate subsection for it there. The ability to boondock is a prerequisite to this chosen lifestyle, but it’s really incidental to the lifestyle. Nevertheless, I’ll start the thread here under the boondocking section as it seems to be the closest fit of the available choices.

What am I talking about? Well, for 3 years now, my husband and I have been developing a 5-acre lakefront property specifically for our Airstream, as an “enhanced” boondocking destination. The conventional interpretation of boondocking is that it’s something you do on OTHER peoples’ properties, either private or public. What I am talking about is owning the property YOURSELF.

We’ve discussed this previously on a smattering of other threads over the past few years, but with the novel coronavirus pandemic, I think the time is now to take this idea to the next level - people are looking for a greater range of options to “get away from it all”, and access pressures on “regular” camping have never been more restrictive - a lot of the usual options are drying up because of excess demand, as others on this forum have noted.

Next level is particularly a propos given that we just completed our 14-day mandatory quarantine at our property, which is in Canada (we live in America and had to quarantine as a condition of entry into Canada). OK - that’s a game-changer, the idea of needing a remote boondocking property to support ALL needs for weeks at a time with no legal option to leave the site. That takes this option from an informal pursuit into a more serious lifestyle proposition.

Think of it as a deliberate alternative to a cottage lifestyle. What you pay for in this scenario is as follows:

1. Land
2. Access to your land (clearing, driveway / road)
3. Upgrades to your Airstream (MH or trailer) so that it can support itself off-grid
4. Maybe you pay for other amenities depending on the configuration of your site (e.g., perhaps a water tank or water well if your property does not front to a body of fresh water).

What you DON’T pay for in this scenario includes the following:

1. Construction of a dwelling (cottage / cabin) - VERY expensive
2. Running utilities into the property and/or building them on the property (e.g., septic) - VERY expensive
3. Insurance, if you can even get it (in many jurisdictions, it’s not possible to insure an unoccupied structure, and cottages are unoccupied most of the time)
4. Far higher annual real estate taxes based on conventional fixed assets

In other words, your primary investment goes into your rig, not your land. The land is just there to enable your rig.

MY FIRST QUESTION IS — has anyone else adopted this as an intentional lifestyle or approach? Thus far, I am unaware of anyone who has developed the idea as extensively as we have. If you have also done something like this, we can have a lively discussion on logistics.

Here below are a few pics showing our configuration. I have owned this land for 27 years, but for almost all of that time, it sat wooded and untouched. Three years ago, I paid a contractor to put in a section of private road and also to scale a parking pad to our Airstream Interstate, which has a 50-foot turning radius. We began selective clearing of the trees in front of our lake view, only to have Hurricane Dorian roar through last year and do a lot more thinning than we had intended, but we don’t regret the result.

I estimate that I’ve invested about 10% of the cost of what a modest cabin would have cost at this location. But to show for that investment, we have about 75% of the comforts of a cottage because we put the investment into our Interstate instead, primarily into its electrical system (300 watts solar, 300 amp hours lithium battery, 2,000 watt inverter, plus many peripherals).

Here are a few pics. I did an Instagram series (username interstate.blog) of our quarantine, hence the annotation on the second pic, which is from IG.

It’s really a special experience to be able to comfortably enjoy something that is this remote, for weeks at a time, and at minimized overall cost of investment.



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Old 09-02-2020, 06:45 AM   #2
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I was waiting for someone to start this thread.
How do you deal with wildlife, from black flies to black bears? Are you into “stewardship”?
How about security? Do you rely on relationships with community members?
How is septic disposal best handled? Water supply?
Dorian’s aftermath raises the question of dealing with weather catastrophes.
I hope you enjoy your stay with your family. Many of us are longing for a return to our neighbor to the north!
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Old 09-02-2020, 06:49 AM   #3
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As a retired farmer still living on the farm, all I have to do is take the trailer to the other side of the farm and hey presto, I'm boondocking!
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Old 09-02-2020, 06:58 AM   #4
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Interested. Following.
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Old 09-02-2020, 07:08 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by GetawA-S View Post
I was waiting for someone to start this thread.
How do you deal with wildlife, from black flies to black bears? Are you into “stewardship”?
How about security? Do you rely on relationships with community members?
How is septic disposal best handled? Water supply?
Dorian’s aftermath raises the question of dealing with weather catastrophes.
I hope you enjoy your stay with your family. Many of us are longing for a return to our neighbor to the north!
All excellent questions. I will get to each in turn, devoting one post to each so that people can drill down further with any additional questions that they have on subtopics.

And also so that I can link to peripheral threads that dive even deeper into relevant topics. For instance, under our pandemic supply chain realities, it took me four months to find the unadulterated bleach that I needed for the second stage of my 3-stage drinking water purification regime. Over on the Sprinter sub forum, we developed an impromptu epic thread on that little gem of an issue.
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Old 09-02-2020, 07:21 AM   #6
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Thx for the new thread IB. This should be a great conversation.

Another point of the conversation might be laws governances and code restrictions. In many counties, cities or communities you can buy the land but nowadays very few places allow you to remain on it "unimproved"

Also looking forward to seeing on your Interstate threads what challenges, problems and successes you guys encountered with the intensive planning you made for your guys's recent trip.

In Arizona, Apache County is becoming popular for laws that allow for a variety of homesteading. But in the end even there you eventually have to build a structure and they just allow for great variation of types of build.

My ideal place would be a place that allows you to live/park temporarily on your structure make minor adjustments or improvements like you guys did but really just go their occasionally to park.
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Old 09-02-2020, 07:22 AM   #7
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Septic would be my only question as well. How did you legally handle this in a van for a strict 14 day quarantine? I’m sure the tanks couldn’t come close to containing 14 days of black water not to mention grey.
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Old 09-02-2020, 07:53 AM   #8
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This is our "boon docking " place in Kansas. 42+ acres 30 minutes from where we live. We have power, (30 and 50 amp), septic, and water which we put in over 20 years ago. Our neighbor to the west is a State Fishing Lake, with lots of undeveloped land. We did have this land many years before the Airstream, but now we spend lots more time on the property and it's very private. Also, we put her inside our building on the property in the winter and/or whenever necessary. We feel very lucky, especially during a pandemic, to have a private place to camp, and lots of wildlife!
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Old 09-02-2020, 08:12 AM   #9
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Attachment 377471
This is our "boon docking " place in Kansas. 42+ acres 30 minutes from where we live. We have power, (30 and 50 amp), septic, and water which we put in over 20 years ago.
That's a fantastic solution!
I think it's a great idea IF you like going to the same place every trip. Of course you can go elsewhere, but there's always that nagging, "I'm paying to go to this campground while I'm paying to keep my own property."
Then there's zoning. For obvious reasons, local ordinances have made it difficult or impossible to get a well, electric, and a septic system, without plans for a house.
The more remote, the better.
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Old 09-02-2020, 08:21 AM   #10
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Let me start first with the potable water issue. There is no way for a small rig to carry enough water for two people and a 50-lb dog for weeks at a time. One way or another, it has to be made on site.

We are lakefront, and so I developed a water purification regime of this sequence:

1. A 1-micron industrial water filter sock (about 15 bucks on Amazon) inserted into a cut-out hole in a virgin Home Depot bucket, into which lake water was poured. The sock removed larger debris.

2. An 8-quart stainless pot into which I poured the filtered water, adding UNADULTERED bleach according to World Health Organization recommendations. We have an extensive subthread on the bleach issue which currently begins here, although this thread has been moved around and I’m not sure if that link will hold.

3. A Big Berkey filter - LOVE this thing - for final filtration.

Theoretically, the Berkeley could have sufficed to perform the entire water purification job, but Nova Scotia has a cryptosporidium problem, and I did not like the idea of introducing live pathogens into the upper chamber of my Berkey. Hence the first two steps.

Also, in other venues, other people have asked me why I didn’t just use purification tablets?

Because they are cost-prohibitive at high water volumes. They are really designed for backpackers and light campers who need to purify water for a few days. Not a couple of chainsawing, manual-laboring boondockers who need gallons of water per day for weeks.

Here’s a pic that shows my equipment sequence, left to right. We drank lake water exclusively for weeks with no issues. And it tasted great.

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Old 09-02-2020, 08:49 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Mollysdad View Post
That's a fantastic solution!
I think it's a great idea IF you like going to the same place every trip. Of course you can go elsewhere, but there's always that nagging, "I'm paying to go to this campground while I'm paying to keep my own property."
Then there's zoning. For obvious reasons, local ordinances have made it difficult or impossible to get a well, electric, and a septic system, without plans for a house.
The more remote, the better.
There were no zoning issues in Miami County, Kansas, but that was a long time ago. We bought the property and put in a road, septic, water, power, and a concrete block building. The power was the most difficult to arrange without a house to live in, but we worked it out and there was no charge accept we had to put in the underground conduit at our own expense. The power company allowed me too put the water supply piping in the same ditch to save money. The water and power are about 1/4 mile back from the gravel road where we hooked up to the grid. Like I said, we had the property many years before the Airstream, 20 years before or so. We love to go other places, but not so much during a pandemic, I am old and in a high risk group. Very private, but not so remote that we cannot hook in to the grid.
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Old 09-02-2020, 09:26 AM   #12
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Hi

At least in this part of the country, you would need some way to handle black water. That could be a septic setup or a tank that gets pumped out. Once you get that put in, a well is a very common thing to do. Surface water in coal mining country can have all sorts of "Wonderfull" stuff in it .... A rain water collection system would be another option.

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Old 09-02-2020, 09:30 AM   #13
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also interested
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Old 09-02-2020, 09:38 AM   #14
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Amazing photos in the first post, thanks!

Echoing earlier mentions of the topic of liquid waste disposal, both grey and black.
-- A large holding tank or two [black/grey] -- or into the ground
-- Applicable laws, soil percolation tests, etc.
-- Proximity of lake
-- etc.

Thanks for starting this thread . . . looking forward to more details.
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Old 09-02-2020, 09:49 AM   #15
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Search YouTube for the “CommsPrepper”. A few years ago he did a great series on his well done rain water collection system at his off-grid cabin.
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Old 09-02-2020, 09:55 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by GetawA-S View Post
I was waiting for someone to start this thread.
How do you deal with wildlife, from black flies to black bears? Are you into “stewardship”?
How about security? Do you rely on relationships with community members?
How is septic disposal best handled? Water supply?
Dorian’s aftermath raises the question of dealing with weather catastrophes.
I hope you enjoy your stay with your family. Many of us are longing for a return to our neighbor to the north!
You obviously have not boondocked because if you have you would have the answers to all of your questions. When you boondock all of the questions you ask are addressed.
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Old 09-02-2020, 10:01 AM   #17
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You obviously have not boondocked because if you have you would have the answers to all of your questions. When you boondock all of the questions you ask are addressed.


What?

This thread appears to have a broader purpose, to add many details about the OP's site, well beyond boondocking in general.

Stay tuned . . . the discussion should benefit everyone . . . without summarily dismissing posts IMO.
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Old 09-02-2020, 10:01 AM   #18
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This is a very interesting subject. We bought five acres of undeveloped land near Marfa, Texas in 2019. We were looking for "a place to land" after 3 years of full-time travel. We are not necessarily interested in having a house again. So we sunk a well, had a septic field placed and just this summer were able to bring electricity onto the property. We poured two concrete slabs, one for a steel quonset hut which will have a bathroom with a tub and a "pump room" for the water (right now the well is powered by a solar panel, with water stored in an 85 gallon pressurized tank), maybe even a washer and dryer. We covered the trailer pad with a steel canopy. We arrived to do all this work in late February, not knowing what was to unfold in the following months. Very prescient. I think it's the best idea we've had. We can come and go as we please. We plan to hit the road again after the election. Luckily for us, being as how we are on county land, which is mostly cattle range, the only utility that was subject to inspection was the septic system. We may build a house, we may not. We may look for another plot of land that would be amenable to another "place to land" ...who knows what the future holds for any of us. Next project: finding medical air evacuation insurance that suits our needs. Most companies I have looked into do not cover infectious respiratory infections..... of course. Safe travels and see you on the road.
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Old 09-02-2020, 10:03 AM   #19
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We just sold our ranch in Colorado, but kept 60 acres across the county road. We could not imagine never going there again. But between our health problems, the 10,000’ elevation, and the High fire danger, we feel better just going there for a week or two and not having to work. And now we can go visit friends and sightsee in other locations in Colorado. We already have a road, but we had a large area added for Airstreams. Electricity is being put in. And we have a clean spring for water. Septic will possibly be added sometime in the future. In the meantime, we know of a place we can dump in the nearest town. And we are already well acquainted with wildlife problems. Getting out of 100 degree Texas heat in August will be a bonus.
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Old 09-02-2020, 10:05 AM   #20
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You obviously have not boondocked because if you have you would have the answers to all of your questions. When you boondock all of the questions you ask are addressed.
Yes and people who have never towed a travel trailer can have all their questions answered by towing one. What da?
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