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Thursday, May 26, 2011

How Did We Find the Nickel and Dime Ranch?

 When we began thinking about leaving Southern California after retiring from teaching, we made lists of geographic areas we liked. After that, I hopped on the internet and did some research, looking at statistics for crime, seasonal temperatures, distance to the airport, population, tax rates, nearest hospital, whether there was a college nearby (for culture and community attitudes), and more, but I've thankfully forgotten what those other items were and that's just fine.

Tom made charts and I filled in the data so we could compare everything. A few didn't make the cut because they were too far away from cities, or air transportation, or the hospital was hundreds of miles away. Some places had dicey reputations, like a county on the other side of the mountains known for its multi-generational heroin addiction. An area south had weather like inland Southern California, so we scratched that. Escaping hellish temperatures was one reason for relocating, so over 100 degree summer days were not part of the plan. We read about distrust for outsiders in some Northern New Mexico villages, but that was hard to research, so I looked for comment boards, read newspapers online, and figured we would assess the temperature of certain places if they seemed interesting enough to make the final cut.

Then we took a road trip, dismissed the La Veta/Walsenburg, Colorado area as too far away from stuff in general. A bout of food poisoning from one of the few restaurants open during the winter cemented our decision to opt out of rural Southern Colorado. It's beautiful, but just for visits.

Northern New Mexico, from Taos, east, and south to Santa Fe, was somewhere we had camped and visited a number of times during summer vacations.  This time we looked at the area as a potential home and it made the short list. Not too far from the airport, large acreages, few people, with little potential for population growth at least in the near future.  We wanted a rural community that would stay that way for a while. We didn't look for specific homes, yet, but we had narrowed the search.

The internet is an awesome tool, so I began real estate searches in the Santa Fe, Pecos, Las Vegas, Taos, and Mora County areas. We wanted acreage, at least 20 acres, and didn't want to build our own home. We had done that already with the do it yourself gigantic renovation/remodel on the old stone Alberhill house 30 years ago.

We've always loved Santa Fe, but it was pricey. We might get 1 acre and a house for what we could afford. Places farther away were a better deal, so I looked in San Miguel and Mora Counties, in Springer, Cimarron, and Ocate. With a list of possibles, we met a realtor in Mora County and she led us around. She saved the best for last, smart lady, an 80 acre ranch with a 10 year old log home only used for vacations. We ended up getting 100 acres and the house, and that's all she wrote. Oh, wait! I'm writing more! I haven't told you about some of the challenges and surprises we have found in the past year. I guess that's for another day.


  1. your picture is beautiful. should use it for your xmas cards. just beautiful! interesting blog. didn't know you guys were so systematic about your search. very smart. pattie

  2. I love northern New Mexico. We've traveled through there many times from southern Utah to Albuquerque where my husband's parents lived. We're now all relocated in northern Utah, but I do miss our trips through there. Some of those quiet little places just aren't the same as they were 30-40 years ago when I first was "introduced" to the area. I've often wondered what life would have been like for us, if as teachers we could have gone where we wanted rather than where we could be employed. But, we ended up in beautiful Moab area for many years and loved it there too!


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