Today we will be reviewing Colville, Washington as a possible retreat location. The city of Colville (population 5,000) is located about an hour and a half drive north of Spokane Washington (Pop. 200,000) and lies within Stevens County (Pop. 45,000). From many personal visits to the city and surrounding towns during my retreat search I can say that the Colville and surrounding area came a close second to our current locale of Northern Idaho. In 1811, the valley was explored by a man working for a fur trading company working the Columbia River. During the first year of operation nearly 11,000 pounds of furs were exported overseas from the Colville area. In 1825, Fort Colville was built at Kettle Falls, a few miles west of Colville. The fort was the center of the fur trade in the Northwest. Now the fort is under water, covered by Lake Roosevelt, a part of the Coulee Dam National Recreation Area. The town of Colville was founded in 1882 when Fort Colville was abandoned.
The reality of most SurvivalBlog readers situations is that they are looking to relocate to a retreat locale that allows them to make a reasonable commute to a larger city since meaningful employment is a strong requirement, as most of us are not ready for retirement. The Colville locale offers many opportunities to purchase land and homes that are very reasonbly priced compared to others nearby in Idaho and Montana, due to the fact that the private ownership of land has not been abated by the State and Federal governments (yet) in the northeast part of Washington. Northern Idaho and Northwest Montana suffer from higher prices due to the lack of private land for sale as over 80% of the land in northern Idaho and 89% of the land in Northwest Montana is either National Forest or State Forest land. This makes for a considerably better retreat locale of course, but the price is adjusted accordingly, and justifiably so. If you can afford these areas by all means choose them over the State of Washington.
If you’re willing to deal with higher taxes and the possibility of more draconian gun laws (from Seattle), you may own a suppressor in Washington but not a machine gun or short barreled rifle (SBR) as you can in Idaho and Montana, then the price adjustment from those locales may certainly be worthwhile, especially if you are looking for a larger parcel at a reasonable price. Typically, you’ll find that a parcel of land in Washington will be 1/2 to even 1/3 of the cost of a comparable parcel just to the east, in Idaho. JWR Adds: There is indeed a ban on machineguns, machinegun parts sets, and SBRs in Washington State, but most owners get around that law by getting a Class 3 dealer’s license, and then buying Federally registered “dealer’s samples.”]
For example, there is a gorgeous 120 acre parcel south of Colville with a creek, spring and pond for $319,900 asking price and the drive from Spokane would be about 1.25 hours northwest of the city (Please contact Todd Savage for a referral to this listing). A similar parcel in north Idaho would sell for about $750,00 to $900,000 and in NW Montana it would easily run over $1.2 to $2 million. So, as you can see there are merits to dealing with tax and gun issues if a larger parcel is needed on a budget. If you were faced with a total collapse for an extended period my opinion is that laws will not matter at all so you’ll be able to have any firearm you want, although purchasing them in advance may be an issue of course should Washington State go like California. But right now there is no assault weapons ban and the only silly law I can think of is that you may own a suppressor but not legally use it. Don’t ask.
Colville has a nice micro-climate for growing almost anything you’d expect in the inland northwest climates. The city is has a picturesque location and landscape and we fell in love with it almost immediately. The people are friendly as you’d expect in any small town and there was a Home Depot and ChinaMart (WalMart) in the works there as well, so the town is experiencing some growth but nothing that should preclude someone from considering the locale on their list. Most properties have good water sources and access is acceptable to most retreat shoppers. As with any property access has a lot to do with price, so if you can find a property that meets your needs but needs road work then it may be an opportunity to get a diamond in the ruff. Spending $25,000 to bring a stretch of road up to par will be invaluable one day and will increase the value of your property more than you think. You city folk will understand this more than most!
Here is a great article from Sunset magazine that will give you a good look into the small town and another bit of information on the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, a wonderful recreational destination that will be literally in your backyard, be cause everyone needs a break from the retreat!
Overall, the Colville area is an excellent choice when the cost factor is placed in first place. When your in the pacific Northwest on a retreat shopping spree be sure to stop in and see the locale! You can watch for upcoming listings in the Colville region on SurvivalRealty.com. (A SurvivalBlog spin-off site.)