Can a city boy build his dream homestead on a mountain, by himself and with no mortgage?

a new. day. has. come

I’ve not been posting much over the past several months, mostly for 3 reasons.

1. it’s all quiet on my land and there’s not much to talk about (true) and

2. my life is so glamorous and busy that I barely have time to write out a grocery list (false)

3. I’ve been scouring the country in search of a better place to live than California (also true, see my posts from June 2012)

so I headed East…


too muggy.

Further East…


too dangerous.

Even further East…


umm, no.

So then I went South…


too depressing.

and further South…


too wet.

Finally I went to Arizona…


Now that feels ’bout right!

I cracked open my piggy bank and bought a small house at the edge of the sprawl outside Phoenix!


This is the view out my front door!

The new casita is still technically a small house at 750 sq feet (not a tiny one tho). It has 2 bedrooms, 1 good-sized bath with double shower, laundry room, open kitchen/dining/living room, a nice large patio, and plenty of open spaces, desert critters and the cutest old wild west town a mile down the road!  It’s only 25 minutes from Downtown Scottsdale and the Phoenix airport AND, it cost me less than the down payment on a tiny 1 bedroom ghetto apartment in a bad part of Los Angeles!

What to do with my mountain and my tiny cabin? What about my career, spent basking in the glamour of Hollywood? What about my friends, family and everything else?

Hell, I don’t know. I do know a few things though…

1. California is a financial and social train wreck and getting worse. It’s not a place I want to (or can afford to) retire.

2. I love the desert and the scrappy people of  Phoenix and I LOVE my new little casita!

3. As a working freelance Hollywood creative professional, 90% of my work in the last 3 years has been OUT of California so realistically I could live anywhere near an airport.

4. It’s a 6 1/2 hour drive from Hollywood to my new casita, 8 hours to my mountain and my little car gets 40 mpg.

I am now splitting my time between my mountain, the new desert casita, my apartment in LA, and my work on the road so…


I’m pretty sure I’ll work all this out, I’m a smart guy.    Maybe now I’ll be a happy guy too?


16 responses

  1. rt66paul

    How much is payment on a tiny 1 bedroom ghetto apartment in a bad part of Los Angeles? AZ is HOT and not a real disirable year round location, but if it is safe and affordable, that sounds like where we(my wife and disabled me) could end up. I have been checking out prices on singlewides on their own lot(maybe with a well?). Something like that could be a great bugout or last resort, definately better than the street…….

    August 24, 2013 at 4:56 pm

  2. Congrats! I was in Arizona for three years – high school in Sedona. When you have some time to kill (day or two) and feel like a change of scenery try this drive.

    Head up to Prescott. Then north on 89 to 89A toward Sedona. Stop by Jerome on the way to Sedona. If you have time to relax in Sedona be sure to drive out to the end of Red Rock Crossing Road to Oak Creek. Great hiking and exploring opportunities there. Then continue on 89A up through Oak Creek Canyon toward Flagstaff. Amazing change of scenery as you head up out of the desert and onto the pine forest plateau of northern Arizona.

    When you’ve had enough head south back toward Phoenix on 17. It’s about 2+ hours to Phoenix from Flagstaff ON 17.

    August 24, 2013 at 5:48 pm

  3. Jeff

    Very cool, Ive been thinking of Arizona living for 6 months out of the year. I hope you share more details on this later. Looks like you did your homework on this deal.

    August 25, 2013 at 11:51 am

    • yes, I did do my homework on all this! I’ve spent a lot of time around and about Phoenix these past few years. Arizona has a fantastic dry climate except in the summer when the temps get in the 110s. Personally I like the desert in summer tho, I’m like a lizard that way. And when a small, crappy condo in LA sells for a minimum of $200,000+ (if you’re lucky) while a condo with a mountain view can be bought for well under $50,000 in a world class city like Phoenix, one has to scratch their head and wonder!

      August 25, 2013 at 1:39 pm

      • jeff

        Thats all a guy needs. Im thinking 6 or 7 months a year in the winter time would be great. Im in Seattle, 42 years old and cant handle the rainy cold winters anymore. It has finally gotten to me. Thanks again and love the blog. Keep us posted on your move.

        August 26, 2013 at 9:10 am

  4. Wow, exciting… congratulations!

    August 25, 2013 at 4:32 pm

  5. Now who’s going to need a mongoose! I can’t believe you ended up in AZ. That is too funny. I’d love to hire you to help me fix up my property near Tucson but I don’t think I could afford Hollywood wages. Best of luck and watch out for snakes!

    August 25, 2013 at 9:09 pm

  6. Justin.

    Great to hear more from you and continue following your adventure. Finding a way to survive the industry is so very necessary. I’m in the UK in the same industry and just worked 30 out of the last 48 hours on set. This year my girlfriend (who’s in the same industry too) bought a little farm which we plan to turn into a campsite. Time in the country and a way of life more suited to where we want to be in the future. Hope Arizona treats you well, looking forward to seeing how you get on. All the best, J.

    August 26, 2013 at 1:23 am

    • Justin.

      Should read ‘my girlfriend and I’ bought a farm 🙂

      August 26, 2013 at 1:29 am

  7. joe karr

    Congrats, It is always good to feel right about the place you live. I am in west Oakland, and man, do I wish I was a thousand miles from nowhere, when the Zombies wake me up at 4am. I went to Taos last feb. that is my favorite artist /maker/ wild west spot.

    August 26, 2013 at 11:23 am

    • Thanks man, Calif is the zombie capitol of the country, for sure.

      August 26, 2013 at 12:35 pm

  8. Theresa

    Congratulations to you! I love reading your blog. Wish I could meet you in person just to pick your brain about lots of things! (I’m in Pasadena.) Please keep us up to date as things progress for you.

    September 12, 2013 at 2:40 pm

  9. leilani

    Congratulations. That black tarmac in the parking lot makes the soles of my feet burn just looking at it, but mad props to you because once again you’ve scored a ridiculously beautiful mountain view at a bargain price, even if ya do have to get used to the smell of your own flesh searing to look at it. I keed, I keed.;-)

    The good news is you’ve escaped the insatiable clutches of that crazed woodpecker at long last and you won’t have to change the name of your blog.

    (If you’d have moved to metro north NYC at Dobbs Ferry you’d have become Suburban Commuter Farmer. Not quite the same ring.)

    Hey wait a minute. Wasn’t there a female blogger who just moved out to PHX too?

    Hmmm, maybe yall can hook up if 1) you aren’t already an item and that’s why you both suspiciously – or should I say Superstitiously? – ended up at the same place at the same time and 2) I can remember which one of the 500 bloggers it is that appears in those rolling sidebar thingies on everybody’s blogs who just moved there. Alas, don’t hold your breath, it could take me years to find her again.

    Buena suerte in your new casita, Urban Ranchero!

    September 17, 2013 at 3:46 pm

  10. Reading your story is so very inspiring! I am a 31 year old doing Props and Set Dressing in TV Production, though, unlike you, I am based primarily out of Los Angeles. I have yet to work on location. Over the past 10 years of doing this type of work, I’ve developed a deeper love for camping, off roading, escaping to the mountains and/or desert. After living/working in Los Angeles for 5 years, my family relocated to Tucson Arizona, so for a several years, every time I have more than a week off (and as you know, hiatuses are always just around the corner), I would drive to Arizona, use my parent’s place as a home base and began to explore the state. I am in love with it. From there, spawned my interest in figuring out a way to still work in the industry, build a low impact home AWAY from Los Angeles, but also close enough to visit on the weekend… or… (transportable?.. still doing research on that), and then my other thoughts leaned towards buying a cabin up in the San Bernadino Mountains (Lake Arrowhead/Big Bear) and then focusing on building my little home from up there that I could put somewhere in AZ…some thoughts are Jerome, Prescott, Flagstaff, once it stops burning 😦 … As I read your story I see all of the similarities… I also see you gave up your cabin… and your woodpecker. I am also beginning to realize that I might just have to pick one or the other… Cabin in the woods, close to LA, or tiny home on a nice plot of land, but so far away that I can only visit 6-12 times a year.

    May 25, 2014 at 9:21 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s