When I sell my place in Coeur d’ Alene, I will be looking to relocate in the Bonners Ferry area. Is there anything that I should be aware of? Are there any areas to avoid other than property near the railroads?. Thank You and Best Regards, – John
JWR Replies: I highly recommend the Bonner’s Ferry area as a retreat locale. Railroad tracks are indeed a key issue in both Bonner County and Boundary County. (It is confusing to first-time visitors to the area, but Bonner’s Ferry is in Boundary County.) It seems that most of the private land in both counties with river frontage are either right on the highway, or right on the railroad tracks. (Or both!) If I lived there, I would worry about the railroad tracks as both an additional “line of drift” and a derailment hazard. (And I dislike hearing close-by trains.) Some train traffic “funnel” areas, especially Sandpoint, get a huge volume of rail traffic. Three major rail lines pass through Sandpoint. Bonner’s Ferry has similar traffic–up to 40 trains a day.
Another key issue in north Idaho is home siting. Elevation and exposure are crucial to have a viable gardening season. Some properties at 2,500 feet and southern or western exposure only have snow that “sticks” for three month of the year. But if you were to buy a higher elevation property with a northern-facing home site, then you might have snow for 6+ months of the year!
I recommend that you contact Todd Savage, a real estate agent that formerly had an office in Sandpoint, but recently opened a new office in Bonner’s Ferry. (He was with Coldwell Banker, but went independent.) Todd specializes in retreat properties. He is one of the few real estate agents that I’ve met who really “gets it”–both in terms of self-sufficiency and defendable terrain. On a recent consulting trip, I spent some time with Todd and walked a 150+ acre property, near Bonner’s Ferry that is presently on the market. It has exceptional privacy, plenty of timber, some decent pastures, and two different creeks running through it. It has US Forest Service land on three sides and already has an off-grid (PV-powered) squared-log house. The house has a really nice exposure. There is plenty of wild game. One nice thing is that this property sits a half mile back from the highway, and it is nowhere near any railroad tracks. It is just about ideal for a semi-remote retreat. You can contact Todd Savage via e-mail: email@example.com or via cellular phone: 208-946-1151.