And the road goes on forever...

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Beginning of New Roots—Life at the Beach

We left Bend for greener pastures at the Oregon coast about a week ago, to continue with our property search and to do some crabbing and clamming and general relaxation. We’re settled into Pacific Pines RV Park, a quiet place just off Hwy. 101 in the city of Florence. We decided to try here first so signed on for at least a month’s stay. 

I’ve carried on a marathon city-search in various states looking for a “forever home” as they like to say about foster children and animal shelter pets. Long ago I came to the conclusion that there is no perfect place, there are only lesser degrees of evils and better tolerance of some qualities of life offered by one place over another. Climate seems to be the major stumbling block to many locations we could have considered; not that all would agree with our choice of the Oregon coast as being an ideal climate! If we had a better tolerance of hard-core cold and snow we would have moved to Wisconsin in a heartbeat as we enjoyed our year there and the quality of life offered in the small villages better than anyplace we have ever been. 

Given my elderly mother however, we deemed it necessary to try and remain as close to her as we could. Despite the meltdown in pricing through the Great Recession, Oregon still remains a relatively expensive place to purchase property, so it’s been no easy task. We’ve always enjoyed the Oregon coast and all that there is to do here. Though rainy and windy, the temperatures remain some of the mildest in the entire nation. Since moving to Arizona we’ve particularly missed the availability of fresh seafood whenever we wanted. 

The coast in particular seems to have a minimum level of pricing just beyond our reach for anything suitable for our needs, which means “space”. Lots here are fairly small; communities are often restricted, gated, or bearing a burden of HOA rules and fees. We don’t fit into that mold in the least; we determined we needed the minimum amount of CCR’s possible and we needed at least a half acre, all usable lot, not something hung on a hillside offering no parking room for all our various rolling stock. In addition, we were looking for zoning that would allow both stick-built or manufactured housing since we don’t know what we will ultimately have money for, and allowed generous RV parking and hookups on the same lot.

I had made contact with a very experienced Realtor in this area before leaving Bend because one foreclosure in particular had caught my eye. That particular property did not prove worthwhile but at least it led us to a general area we both just loved. Called Ocean Woodlands, just beyond the city limits of Florence and cradled in the towering shore pines and thick rhododendron forest just before the shoreline dunes and open ocean, are actually several small subdivisions with a pleasant mix of well kept homes and manufactured homes and shops. Some even allow permanent RV parking. The streets are winding, well maintained by the county, and hardly trafficked. The area has a community water system, high speed cable internet, but no sewer system as yet so all lots require special septic systems. It’s rural in feeling yet within five minutes of Fred Meyer and the main drag Hwy. 101.
Quick diligence on the part of our Broker led him to find a newly listed ideal property. By the time Marc and I had a chance to check it out the following day however it already had an offer working on it. That didn’t deter us from making an offer and with two offers vying for the Seller’s attention; somehow we managed to come out Top Dog. We are set to close escrow later this month if all goes well with our due diligence of the septic inspection and information. The lot is so overgrown with coastal vegetation that probably only one third of it is cleared and available to use right now so it can’t be determined exactly where the drain field sits without driving to Eugene (county seat) for the plats. 

Currently there is a 1997 park model trailer that has been set up and used as a nightly rental connected to all utilities on the lot which actually will prove a huge advantage to us. This will save at least $15,000 in development costs over the bare lots with utilities only in the street. Another advantage is that it allows friends and family to stay there immediately after we close escrow since the trailer will come all furnished right down to furniture, bed linens, dishware, etc. Later of course, we will pull it off and offer it for sale—it’s a cute two bedroom featuring a dishwasher and washer and dryer. It’s the kind of park model which can be towed by a normal truck.
This lot being a flag lot, or what they call a panhandle lot here (meaning accessed by a driveway and sitting behind another parcel, putting if off the street), along with the thick vegetation makes it totally and securely private. We will literally not see another home or neighbor despite our neighbor in the front being such a beautiful home. And yes, another important factor for me—we hear the ocean from the lot. In fact, Heceta Beach is only about half a mile walk away! (big smile)
Florence is a small town filled with lots of retirees and older folks but Marc is already making inroads into finding the best clamming and crabbing sites from the locals. The Siuslaw River flows out to the sea here and the community has a small historic Old Town and beautiful bridge at its core. One of the reasons we choose Florence is due to its better access to the Willamette Valley towns; it’s only a little over an hour on Hwy. 126 to Eugene and I-5. I will be writing more about the community in future posts.

Right now we’re just thrilled, hopeful all goes well with the closing, and looking forward to this new adventure and undertaking. We won’t actually do much with the lot this season since we need to leave the coast by mid-September and it will take some major excavation work with equipment to clear sufficiently for us to get our rig into it, so all that will have to wait for next year.