Would We Do It Again

After the “well is kaput” post, Vera asked this question, “if you knew then what you know now would you still have bought this place?”  Here is some background before I answer that question.

The Pearce/Sunsites Arizona area is unique–there is the community of Sunsites, a subdivision built around what was once a beautiful golf course with clubhouse, swimming pool, ponds, and lots of huge trees.  That golf course and its amenities is now defunct, owned by a bank and let go to ruin–the golf course is weed infested, the trees are dying due to lack of water, the swimming pool has been filled with dirt, and the ponds are dry.  The locals tell us it was a beautiful place in its hay day and a fun place with lots going on all the time.  Now it’s a sad sign of the 2008 economy which has never really rebounded in this particular area of Arizona.

Sunsites and Pearce are both unincorporated communities sharing the Pearce zip code and post office.  Here is what Wikipedia has to say about Pearce:

Pearce is a mining ghost town named for Cornishman James Pearce, miner and cattleman, who discovered gold nearby at what became the Commonwealth Mine in 1894. The Pearce Post Office was established on March 6, 1896. The railroad station opened in 1903. By 1919, Pearce had a population of 1,500. The town declined in the 1930s, and became almost a ghost town in the late 1940s, when the mine closed for the last time.

The Commonwealth Mine became one of Arizona’s major silver producers. Over 1,000,000 tons of ore were produced from 1895 to 1942. There are about 20 miles of underground workings.  The mine produced about $8 million worth of silver and $2.5 million in gold at a time when silver was priced around 50 cents an ounce, and gold was $20 an ounce.

Sunsites was established in the 1950s and 1960s by New York lawyer Joseph Timan and his Horizon Land Company.

As a part of Sunsites, a developer (not sure if it was the above noted Joseph Timan) purchased a huge parcel of land and did the unthinkable–he cut the acreage into ONE ACRE PARCELS!!  Literally thousands of ONE ACRE PARCELS zoned for single family dwellings and stick built homes.  In a land where water is precious each ONE ACRE PARCEL would have to have a private well or well share at $20-$30 per drilled foot at today’s prices.  No electric power was provided by the developer so each ONE ACRE PARCEL has to find a way to get electricity–when the area was being developed the power companies were more agreeable–now each land owner must pay to bring the power lines to their property.  We’ve been told by realtors the electric companies in this area charge $20/foot to run power–the Cowboy is skeptical of that cost but we’ve never called the power company to inquire as our parcel does have power.  In 2001, in Montana, we ran underground power to our new house one half mile and it cost us $2/foot for a total of about $5800.

Many, many of these one acre parcels are literally miles from power–for example let’s say a particular parcel is two miles from the closest power source and let’s say power cost $5 (the cost is probably much more) per foot to run–that comes to a whopping $53,000 just to run the electricity to your lot line!!!  And, while solar is quite popular in Arizona using solar to pump water out of a 500 foot deep well (normal depth in this area) is not practical.

So, before you’ve even poured one ounce of concrete or pounded one nail you have spent over $60,000 for water and power.  Would you be surprised to hear this development never developed??  Many of the thousands of one acre parcels are in tax arrears.  Ownership is hard to trace–most of the original owners would be deceased by now, their survivors might never having known their relatives owned a one acre piece of ground in Arizona.

Now, I will answer the question–yes, even knowing the well was kaput we would have still purchased this place.  What we paid for this three acres and the two dwellings is public knowledge in the state of Arizona unlike in many states where it is kept private.  We paid less than $20,000 for our property.  We bought three acres of land with breathtaking views, electricity to the home, a well (we thought), septic system and two dwellings which are salvageable.  If you use the above example and it cost $60,000 to provide water and power to one of these lots–we made a bargain even including having to drill a new well.

We sit outside in the evening resting after our day’s labor and gaze at the mountains all around enjoying the absolute quiet.  Our nearest neighbor is 1/4 mile away, no house sits on any of the lots surrounding us–we enjoy our peace and the sunsets!





















10 thoughts on “Would We Do It Again

  1. I am glad you don’t regret your purchase and I understand that very well. Peace and quiet is priceless.
    Now the well needs to come on board.
    I am always looking forward to your post to see what’s new 🙂


  2. That’s crazy about the one acre sites! Can’t imagine why anyone thought it was a good idea even in good economic times. As you’re in an area we’ve already fallen in love with, I’m so excited to follow your adventures in making a home there. I’m also not surprised you’d do it over again 🙂


    1. Who in their right mind would divide land in Arizona into one acre parcels–we are talking thousands of one acre parcels and no water??? Thanks for the blog encouragement!


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