People who have been reading my blog post articles for a year or two will probably remember me writing that North Dakota is not my home, I am not from here. I first came to North Dakota in 2011 to find work during the oil boom.
My purpose in coming to North Dakota was to make enough money to pay off all of my bills, save at least $10K in emergency money, then return to Idaho and try to find a normal job. Most jobs in Idaho do not pay very much money, but at least I would be living in my own home on five acres back in Idaho.
I didn’t make very good financial progress in North Dakota during the eight-nine years that I lived here. In 2012-2013 I tried living and working in Texas, which for me was much worse than living in North Dakota.
The main reasons why I didn’t earn enough or save enough in order to be able to return to my home in Idaho are as follows: Short duration of some employment due to bad employers/conditions/environment; Working for good employers, sometimes a shortage of work; High living expenses, especially housing, and the high cost of food and fuel working 60-100 miles out-of-town; 2014-2019 I bought five additional vehicles.
I never wanted to sell my home back in Idaho. For one reason, it was my “home”. I always felt a sense of precariousness living as a renter, the landlord could always raise the rent, not renew a lease, sell the building, rent to neighbors who were bad people, complain about my vehicles, and so forth. As a renter, you don’t have any guarantee that you can continue living where you are, it is up to other people to decide, and I couldn’t stand being at the mercy of other people concerning something so important as having a place to live.
I explained several times in my past blog post articles that I grew up in what was once a very beautiful small town on the east coast of Florida, which became ruined and overpriced as northerners continuously moved there because of the beach and warm weather. I also wrote about living in Flagstaff, Arizona in the early 2000s, which also became ruined and overpriced as Phoenicians and Californians moved there because of the mountains and National Forest.
I realized that the only place that I could afford to buy a home, was someplace that was not spectacularly beautiful or highly desirable because of its proximity to an ocean, a lake, river, mountain, or National Forest. In 2007 as I left Flagstaff and drove into Idaho where I planned to start over, I was very disappointed with the ordinary flat grassland of Idaho, but this was someplace that I could afford to buy property.
After living in Idaho for several months, I learned that the relatively low cost of housing compared to places like Florida and Arizona, was due to and coupled with a very, very low wage rate in Idaho. Houses did not cost very much in Idaho, because people were not paid very much.
Back in 2007-2010 in rural Idaho, $12/hr ($25K/yr) was considered to be a “good job”. Therefore, it seemed like, the average small older house price in rural Idaho of about $80K-$120K was just out of reach of the average worker, but not by much. A husband and wife who had saved for five-ten years and were both steadily employed could afford one of these smaller older houses.
At that time a small number of Californians were cashing out of their homes and moving to this ordinary area of Idaho, but the 2008-2010 housing bubble burst brought an end to this, which is one of the reasons why I had to leave Idaho to look for work in North Dakota in 2011.
In the following years while I was working in North Dakota, I had to return to my home in Idaho to “winterize” my house in the Fall, and mow the grass in the Spring and Summer. 2011-2019, I didn’t notice very much change in the town where my house was located, and I felt that I wasn’t missing anything. I did want to return to live there, because life was slower, there was less crime, the people were friendlier, and the women were nicer.
Due to the Coronavirus, travel restrictions, and quarantine requirements for travelers, I had not been back to my home in Idaho since the Summer of 2019. Last week I had to return to Idaho for business reasons, and to check on my house. When I entered the rural county where my home is located, I was shocked, I could not believe the number of new housing developments, and the number of new houses being built in these housing subdivisions.
Where there had been farm fields planted with crops the last time that I was at my house in Idaho, there are now housing developments. Across the street from my house there is an 80-acre parcel of land that was being harvested the last time that I was home, but now it is a housing development with $300K-$400K houses on 1/2 acre lots.
I was not prepared to see this. For the past year I had been reading newspaper and magazine articles about people from California flooding into Boise and Bozeman, but I thought that it was just certain areas because of what they had to offer. Boise is a city, and the capital of Idaho, whereas Bozeman is surrounded by mountains and forests.
I had seen on the real estate sites Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com where it showed that according to them, my house price had more than doubled since I bought it in 2010, but I thought that this was because of demand from local people, people already living in this area who were seeking housing. I had received a couple of unsolicited inquiries from individuals and real estate investors asking me if I wanted to sell my property, but I had thought that this was just normal. I didn’t know that there was an explosion of new housing being built for California buyers, and I didn’t like it.
Besides the 80-acre parcel of land across the street from my house that had been used for farming, most of my other neighbors have about five acres each. On my neighbors’ properties, they have a few horses, a few cattle, farm tractors, horse trailers, old pickup trucks, tractor trucks with commercial trailers, dump trucks, loaders, backhoes, forklifts, cranes, travel trailers, truck-bed campers, storage sheds, barns, corrals, horse stalls, and water pump houses.
Up until now, there were none or very lax restrictions on what types of things a property owner in the county could have on their property. But I know this is very likely, almost certainly going to change, now that the Californians have moved into $400K houses across the street. The Californians like to make laws, regulate, and prohibit everything, just like they did back in California where they came from. Plus, they don’t want to look at all the “junk” we have.
To explain this a little better, my neighbor Craig is a commercial truck driver, Fritz is a heavy equipment operator for the county, Andy is a heavy equipment operator/contractor, Larry is a steel building contractor. Each of my neighbors are local people who bought their property more than twenty years ago for less than $100K, back when this county was less populated, and the average pay for local people was about $30K per year. The equipment on their property, is what they have used to earn a living for the past twenty years.
My neighbors don’t understand this yet, but the reason why the county will jump on the bandwagon with these newcomers from California complaining about all the “junk” that they see on our property, is because county government would rather see ten new $400K houses on each of our five-acre parcels of land, that’s $4 million in new property tax valuation, versus our measely $200K property valuation on each of our five-acre parcels.
Whatever the county can do to begin encouraging or forcing us to leave our property and sell out, that’s what they will begin doing. Up until now, there hasn’t been any snooping and nit-picking by the county on what property owners are doing in the county, but I believe that it is going to start. I am not looking forward to getting county notices left in my door, my mail box, or Post Office box about my grass not being mowed, travel trailer being parked in my yard, unregistered vehicle being parked in my yard, etcetera, who knows what they will come up with.
I feel like I struggled for the past ten years to be able to keep my home back in Idaho by working in North Dakota and living in my truck bed camper, renting a room in someone’s house, or living in a downtown high-crime low-rent apartment, only to end up being pushed out of this small Idaho town by Californians, recently rich form their $700K-$1.2 million 3br/2ba home sale.
Here is an Idaho news article from today that describes this https://www.krem.com/article/news/local/out-of-state-homebuyers-drive-demand-north-idaho-real-estate-market/293-e5382709-fe32-4c4a-9f37-03e1401a4c87