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Author Topic: QTH selection  (Read 4594 times)

Posts: 754

« on: May 30, 2002, 09:32:22 PM »

Hi all. I wanted to start a thread on ideal QTHs but see there are many closely related notes already in this forum. It sure is nice to see friendly, non-argumentative discussion.

I recently sold my home here in KY. My location was average, about 980' with average terrain around 1000',on a small 1/2 acre lot in an older subdivision, with no restrictions. I was fortunate that the lot was the last one on a dead end street. For most of my 8 years there, I had no neighbors on 3 sides and it was very quiet. When a new, restrictive sub-division was springing up in the cow field that was once my back yard, I knew it was time to leave. With the houses came the noise. Baby monitors, power line noise, etc.
My wife and I have just recently retired, so we started looking. I agreed that she could build the house any way she wanted, as long as I could have:
#1, a large shop for my machine shop and hot rods
#2, towers
We explored KY first, finding some great mountain tops, but something was always wrong. Usually HV power lines nearby. These things are EVERYWHERE in Central KY!!! If the house site was a good radio site, it would be impossible to get my motorhome and 28' car trailer in and out. There was always something. I feel bad for younger hams that NEED to buy homes in new and existing sub-divisions. The CCRs are tough. If you need to be near a school, you have to compromise. We don't have any kids at home, so this was no concern. We didn't want to be too far in the boondocks, either.
We then started looking in nearby states. I wish I had a doller for every topo map I've studied in the last 2 years! Could buy a new rig. Virginia and N. Carolina looked very promising. We both love the Blue Ridge Parkway! Even went to Little Switzerland, VA..... Unfortunatly, being at 3000' elevation isn't the best VHF site when the hill are 5000; all around. We also loved Flagstaff, AZ. However, when told about 110" of snow each year, got us thinking warmer.
Eventually, we started looking in Florida. We went to the highest spot (Paxton, FL, 345')but it wasn't for us.
Coming back to KY, we stopped in Lake City, FL. It was love at first sight. We found CCRs weren't an issue in almost all locations, the price was fair. Eventually, we found 5 acres, in a newer subdivision, with underground utilities and no antenna restrictions, or external shop restrictions.
The purpose of all this? In Virginia, I DID indeed find ham heaven (almost).
A realtor showed us the ultimate location. Since I knew it was $, I really didn't want to see it, but she insisted.
Picture this......a 600 acre privatly owned mountain. Only 300 acres ever to be developed. about 40 lots MAX, ever, with lots of common ground. A wide paved road to the top. The road was constantly full of deer, turkey, etc. Underground utilities, a 30 acre flat spot on the top with a 360 degree view. Elevation? 4500'. Line of sight to the horizon, no obstructions for miles, Visibility, absolutely breathtaking.
The bad news?
#1 absolutely no outside antennas, not even a security light allowed.
#2 5 acres for $435,000

She had some other 'nice', cheaper parcels, but this one ruined me forever. I decided then and there, that no QTH was going to equal this place, so I opted for a spot where I can wash my street rod on Christmas day.

The land we bought in Florida is only 200' ASL, but, I also don't have hills around me either.

Any other stories?



Posts: 21764

« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2002, 12:00:06 PM »

Ron, it certainly sounds like you did your homework!

I'm glad you bought property having no CC&Rs, very wise move.

I'm not sure 200' elevation in Florida means much, unless you're putting up a VHF repeater or something.  Florida's pretty flat and there aren't any "peaks" that I know of, or have seen -- and I've spent a great deal of time there (thinking about retiring to the panhandle in about 10-12 years).  But, from what I could determine, as long as you're away from high tension lines overhead, almost anyplace in Florida is a good HF location, and the ones near either coast are better.

I've bought 14 homes and sold 13 of them, and have moved quite a lot.  In all cases except one (which was kind of an emergency), ham radio operating was part of the site selection process.  Although this is an old story (goes back to 1974, when I purchased my first home, one year after college), it's cute and maybe you can relate:

Very little money to buy a home, starving new graduate, underpaid newbie engineer, just getting married.  But, I'd been a ham for 9 years already and knew this was important to me.

Spoke with a few realtors, gave them the usual pitch that I was looking for a million dollar home for $35,000 and so forth.  Specified (more realistically) that I was hoping to find a place that, when one arrived there the normal first reaction would be, "Holy cow, what a view!"

Looked at 20-30 houses, no go.  One Sunday morning at about 6:00am, the phone rang.  It was one of the realtors, saying, "I might have found what you're looking for.  It just came on the market last night, and I didn't want to wait -- hope I didn't wake you up."  What was so special about it?  "Like you said, when I pulled into the driveway, my first reaction was, 'holy cow, what a view!'"  I said I'd be right over.

It was a small house, almost a cottage.  About 1400 square feet, three small bedrooms, 1-1/2 baths, 1/3 acre lot, an older home c.1940 or so.  Cute, at least from the outside.  In pretty good shape.  The view, standing at ground level below the house itself, was all "downhill," with about a 40 mile horizon in many directions.  It was 300' directly above a gorgeous lake, and it had dock privileges.  The lake's spillway elevation was 928' above sea level. In California, this would be nothing, but in New Jersey, where I was, that was quite high.  The house sat at 1230' above sea level and was one of the highest elevated residential properties in the state.

There were no high tension lines that could be seen in any direction.  No restrictions of any kind.  The lake looked beautiful and was dotted with cabin cruisers.  And we could afford it.

Without seeing the inside of the house, I said, "we'll take it."

That was a wise choice.  I thanked the realtor profusely and lived there happily for three years, until we upgraded to a bigger home, also on a hilltop...

73 de Steve, WB2WIK/6


Posts: 754

« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2002, 02:20:29 PM »

Hi Steve, nice to talk to you again. You might remember me as N4KCM. We corresponded when you were VHF Editor of CQ.
Remember waking me up one Sat. morning for a quick scatter contact during a VHF contest? ha ha, that was a good one. Couldn't get my mouth to work so early.

The panhandle area of Fl. was our first choice. It's pretty close to the ocean and the beaches. Around DeFuniac Springs, there are some beautiful little lakes. LOTS of property for sale. Unfortunatly, it's a depressed area. Lots of old abandoned damaged structures. We found a place very much like you describe, just over the Alabama border in a town called Florala, AL. It was a lot on a hill, overlooking Lake Jackson. However, there were a lot of nearby houses and some traffic.
One of my 'prerequisites' was the property had to be on a paved road. I just finished a 1965 427 AC Cobra (not a kit car), and there was no way (!!) I'm driving this thing on a dirt road. Also have a 1937 Plymouth race/street car that I show. As you know, Florida has LOTS of dirt roads. I must admit, Florida dirt ain't like Kentucky dirt! KY dirt is part Velcro, part toxic waste (to quote Robin Williams).
The reason I mentioned the altitude of 200' was that our second choice (in the same area) was 83' which is average for the state. I'm not much of an HF operator, but I certaintly have the radios and antennas.
Origionally, I was a W1 and spent many a weekend 'hilltoping' in NH and Maine.
Recently. I was on top of Mount Mitchell (highest peak east of Miss. river) 6300'. Had my 2 FM walkie, could only raise a couple on .52. Same from Pikes Peak (14,000 feet!!!)
I loved your story and have always looked forward to your columm.

One thing about FL., towers should be cheap. About every house has a 70' Rohn for TV. Maybe with satellite, the owners will want to 'dispose' of them? I did this in KY a couple of years ago and had a barn full, for free.

Please keep in touch. Funny, after all these years and tons of radios, I still love my TR-6......


Posts: 21764

« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2002, 04:25:56 PM »

Hi Ron,

I don't specifically remember the wake-up call and quick scatter contact, but that was pretty common -- I used to work six meter meteor scatter almost every day, regardless of conditions, when I had the stacked array up.  You might recall an old buddy of mine, Rich, WB2OTK/4 in South Carolina, and you probably worked him a lot on six back in those days.  Rich and I could literally "rag chew" using meteors, pretty much daily, since we both ran 1500W and large antennas.

Good to hear from you again!  And thanks for the advice about the panhandle.  Yes, I've been through it a lot, and drove coast to coast (Jacksonville to Santa Monica, CA) last August just to check it all out once again.  Have in-laws in Pensacola in a very nice area, no CC&Rs, etc.  They have a level 1 acre lot, heated pool, 2-story brick Colonial, nice place and plenty of room for towers...cost them less than $90K only a few years ago.  Something similar to that here is about $850K, so you can see the appeal of moving there for retirement!

73 & hope to hear you on six!

Steve, WB2WIK/6


Posts: 754

« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2002, 05:12:09 PM »

Hi Steve, how times have changed. We found the following price ranges in  both the panhandle and north central part of Florida. I didn't want anything less than 5 acres. (love those long wires)
We found a nice lot for $16,000 on the low end up to $50K+ (for a 1/2 acre on a golf course).
We found a nice house, a large shop, and 14 acres for $225K. However, it was on a dirt road, no driveway and although the land was all in Pecan trees, I didn't want the hastle of all that mowing, etc.
Building costs there are actually lower than KY. We found that it ranges from $55 to $70 per sq ft. Since my shop will be 1900 sq ft, it was actually below the $55. In fact, I was going to build a Morton metal bldg. but our builder was able to match the price and it will match the house, roof pitch and exterior. Our guy does nothing but custom homes but a fairly nice, well built home can be had in those typical 1/2 acre lot subdivisions for $145K. We found a new home, (nothing special), 3000 sq ft on 5 nice acres, no restrictions, for $169K. However, by the time I added my shop, etc, it was getting close to our self imposed $ ceiling.
I am looking forward to 50 Mhz QRO from this area.




Posts: 21764

« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2002, 01:15:34 PM »

Hi Ron, all I can say is I'm very envious!  Not that I want five acres...I've already had "land" properties and wasn't thrilled with them.  Small lots for me, for sure, in the future.

But that cost per square foot is amazing.  Here we're talking $225/sq ft on the low end, to about $450/sq ft on the high end, for any kind of residential stuff...

73 & cu on 6!

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