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BadJuju
12-29-12, 12:54 PM
While I understand land will hold its value better during a time of high inflation, will there not also be downward pressure on it from people trying to sell it to realize its value because they lack alternatives like gold and silver? I would like to buy a small plot (not even an acre) of semi-rural or rural land and build a small 100 or 200 sq-ft cottage on it. I am curious as to what my course of action should be.

doom&gloom
12-29-12, 05:31 PM
While I understand land will hold its value better during a time of high inflation, will there not also be downward pressure on it from people trying to sell it to realize its value because they lack alternatives like gold and silver? I would like to buy a small plot (not even an acre) of semi-rural or rural land and build a small 100 or 200 sq-ft cottage on it. I am curious as to what my course of action should be.

Land is illiquid, and as such prices tend to be set by the last price sold. When there is 'blood in the streets' and land needs to be rapidly liquidated, prices can drop quite a bit as sellers who are forced to get out, get out. That said, with our last unwind, I think most of the speculation is gone (a few areas excepted) and some sense of normalcy has returned to the land an property markets.

Buying less than an acre in some areas is a large lot, in others quite small. Much depends upon what you want out of your land and how long you wish to live there, coupled with location location location, quality and then price. I am sure there are plenty of places in the US you could get one acre of land quite cheaply. Heck you could buy some of the finest farmland in the midwest at 1 acre from some farmer (with much cajoling) for under $12k. So now what? Do you want to live in the middle of Nebraska?

Perhaps you are thiking of this more from a 'strategic location' viewpoint to have a nice garden and take advantage of it during PCO. In that case you should also be considering weather, proximity to a city that has strong rail or port(water) access, as well as your ability to get there. It does you no good to own a cheap acre of land to grow stuff but be priced out of transportation one day, now does it?

What kind of weather do you want? Warm Florida, 4-season New York, wet Western Washington? Will you definitely be a transit commuter? If so places like Portland, OR would be good for you or the Bay Area somewhere near the BART system. Chicago along the L-line, or the Metra, or maybe NY State along one of their rail lines.

I would be least concerned about the eventual value of the land than the quality and location location location of it. Think water, transportation, growing seasons, degree days, your choice of climate, your job skills, etc first.

Also, can you build on it? What quality must you build? In FL there are plenty of places that can be had for $100k or less with a house on a large lot, but you won't get that in the Bay Area of SF. I can sell you 9 acres of prime NW farmland just outside of Tacoma WA for $8k/ac that will grow almost anything during the summer months, but no house allowed there. Living in the Hudson Valley of NY would give you waterway transit, and there is good farmland ther, but he winters are cold.

Make a list of you prioritiies and necessities, and maybe we can help you more. Worry least about resale unless you are trying to be a 'flipper'.

BadJuju
12-31-12, 12:45 PM
Hey, doom! Thank you for the reply. I did not notice it until just now!

Here is what I would like:

I want for it to be near mountains and forests.
Liberal area
Weather isn't really much of a concern.
The ability to grow food isn't a concern either.
In town or out of it, but still relatively close (within 10 miles of a town)
I would prefer somewhere in the northeast or northwest.

I have to have the ability to build a 100 to 300 sq-ft home on it.

don
12-31-12, 01:23 PM
build a small 100 or 200 sq-ft cottage

You may want to try out a cargo container to see how it fits your needs. They can be rented in many locales and run in size from 20 to 40 feet and up in length. A 10 X 10 may be available as well, if you think a 100 sq footer will work.

BadJuju
12-31-12, 01:34 PM
You may want to try out a cargo container to see how it fits your needs. They can be rented in many locales and run in size from 20 to 40 feet and up in length. A 10 X 10 may be available as well, if you think a 100 sq footer will work.

I've read about those, but I've also heard that all of the retrofitting needed to make them suitable for a home adds up pretty quickly. Thanks, though.

doom&gloom
12-31-12, 01:52 PM
Hey, doom! Thank you for the reply. I did not notice it until just now!

Here is what I would like:

I want for it to be near mountains and forests.
Liberal area
Weather isn't really much of a concern.
The ability to grow food isn't a concern either.
In town or out of it, but still relatively close (within 10 miles of a town)
I would prefer somewhere in the northeast or northwest.

I have to have the ability to build a 100 to 300 sq-ft home on it.

Well sound like your wants tend towards OR, WA on the west coast (ID may be too 'conservative' for you but is a damn nice place), and then much of the northeast area of the country. Given PCO I would stay near the Hudson River or similar. For warmer weather think NC. CO may also fit your bill and still be 'liberal' enough. Also OH.

For fun you can roam www.landandfarm.com and see what you find. There are a few other sites like that as well.

Personally I would say start your search in the Hudson Valley. There are a lot of small towns that were severely impacted by the de-industrialization of th US so you cheaper pickings for a older or abandoned home with some land may be best there.

shiny!
12-31-12, 03:52 PM
I have to have the ability to build a 100 to 300 sq-ft home on it.

Instead of building a cabin or retrofitting a cargo container, why not get a Park Model mobile home? They're basically small, 1-bedroom manufactured homes with very clever storage and efficient use of space. You can pick up decent used ones for around $10,000. New ones start around $20,000. Schult is a quality brand. I'd stay away from Champion.

You can get an idea of what they're like here (http://www.parkmodelsdirect.com/PH/floorplans.asp).

Alternatively, you could buy a 5th-wheel, drive it to where you want to live and set it up there. Instant home.

Wherever you buy land, make sure it has utility hookups for electric and water at a minimum, or a well.

raja
01-01-13, 12:06 PM
While I understand land will hold its value better during a time of high inflation, will there not also be downward pressure on it from people trying to sell it to realize its value because they lack alternatives like gold and silver? I would like to buy a small plot (not even an acre) of semi-rural or rural land and build a small 100 or 200 sq-ft cottage on it. I am curious as to what my course of action should be.
I'm not sure what you're asking.
Is your goal to buy at the cheapest price, and are trying to discover when that will occur?

globaleconomicollaps
01-01-13, 12:37 PM
I'm not sure what you're asking.
Is your goal to buy at the cheapest price, and are trying to discover when that will occur?
I think he wants to see this:
http://gonzalolira.blogspot.fr/2011/05/spg-supplement-is-farmland-smart-hedge.html
<IMG SRC="http://www.liraspg.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/graph.jpg">

BadJuju
01-01-13, 12:58 PM
Yes, gec has the right of it! :)

raja
01-01-13, 04:28 PM
Yes, gec has the right of it! :)
OK, so you're interested in buying at a low price . . . .

Unfortunately, there are so many factors involved it may be impossible to find the "truth".

Why farmland might go up in price:


1) There are no good places to invest now, so lots of money might go toward land.
2) Land will not degrade in value like dollars will.
3) People must have food -- it's not a discretionary expenditure like tanning salons.
4) Lots of dollars in Asia might end up being spent in the US on farmland.
5) If there is an economic crash, only investments in "real" things will survive.
6) Climatic change will ruin farmland in some areas, making other farmland more expensive.
7) As dollars decline in value due to inflation, it will take more dollars to buy the same amount of land.





Why farmland might go down:


1) Farmers will face economic difficulties, and will need to sell their lands.
2) As the world economy slows down, people will shift to cheaper vegetarian proteins (soybeans), and livestock grazing lands will be converted to farmland. More available land, lower price.
3) When the economy slows, people will cut back by eating less (starvation being the extreme case).
4) The government might nationalize food and energy, thus all large farms will be confiscated for "national security".
5) A pandemic or war reduces the population, reducing the need for farmland.



All these factors have different weights and likelihoods, so you'd really need one of those super-computers like the weather people have . . . and even they get it wrong . . . .

(FRED: The indenting function of posts does not maintain the line spacing that is displayed while composing or editing. It has never worked properly. It's probably a bug in the software you are using. If so, can you change to software that operates correctly? If not, can you find a fix?)

raja
01-01-13, 04:59 PM
duplicate post

doom&gloom
01-01-13, 07:32 PM
On your why it may go down side:

1) in the US at least most farmers are no longer leveraged like they were during the last farming bust. they learned. i dunno about the rest of the world
2) lots of land is planted in soy, that is what i grow as well
3) people cut back on discretionary products before they stop eating. they will buy less ipods and eat out less, but they will not stop eating.
4) this is always a risk, but nationalizing land invariably leads to less production. better to control the markets with taxes afterwards like they now do in Argentina.
5) probably the greatest threat to investing in farmland is a drop in world population due to pandemic.

raja
01-02-13, 12:26 PM
doom&gloom wrote; my comments in italics:

On your why it may go down side:

1) in the US at least most farmers are no longer leveraged like they were during the last farming bust. they learned. i dunno about the rest of the world.
Isn't everybody leveraged? And those that aren't will be hurt by those that are when the crash comes. For a taste, look what happened to the farmers with MF Global.

2) lots of land is planted in soy, that is what i grow as well.
It's a good crop to be in, until the People find out the dangers of soy (http://www.westonaprice.org/soy-alert). Still, that doesn't negate my point that land prices will drop as grazing lands open up to crop-growing when the slowing economy forces people to vegetarianize.

3) people cut back on discretionary products before they stop eating. they will buy less ipods and eat out less, but they will not stop eating.
They won't stop eating, but they may stop eating like pigs. Hence the phrase "belt-tightening" to describe money-saving actions taken in response to reduced income.

4) this is always a risk, but nationalizing land invariably leads to less production. better to control the markets with taxes afterwards like they now do in Argentina.
More taxes on farming -- just like a windfall profit tax on gold -- will make farming a less desirable business . . . which will lower the value of farmland.

5) probably the greatest threat to investing in farmland is a drop in world population due to pandemic.
Yes, food is a necessity, but people are not . . . at least from Mother Nature's perspective.

Don't get me wrong.
Investing in something that is going down is not necessarily bad, if other investment choices are equally bad or worse. I do not see any sure-thing investments at this time, and having farmland is far better than Treasuries or cash if Big Inflation strikes . . . .

doom&gloom
01-03-13, 12:05 AM
I feel as if you are taking a rather simplistic view of farming and land in general.

Lets go back to the 5 points:

1) on leverage: first one has to believe that everyone operates as MF Glow-ball did, nd they will all burn up. I believe as we saw the Fed backstop pretty much everyone and anyone of even minor significance, such a belief is not well founded. In addition, the loss of competition means that the 'survivors' have even MORE pricing power, not less.

2) I grow soy because that is what the world demands now. I grow wheat because that is also what the world demands now. My soy goes to China, my wheat to Brasil. My soy is eaten by pigs, my wheat by people though it can also be consumed by animals. The Chinese will no sooner give up the pork staple of their diet than Americans will give up burgers. The Brasilians will no sooner give up bread than Americans will. I agree with Price, and I do not eat soy and rarely eat wheat, but not everyone agrees, knows or cares. As to grazing land, there is a reason grazing land is not farmland -- it does not (usually) support intensive agriculture. Either the topsoil is not there, or the nutrients, or the water, or the organic matter or... There is still land in the world that can be converted from grazing land to cropland that is sufficient for industrial ag, but nowhere near as much as people believe. Furthermore, while you can use grazing land for cropland in some instances, you will also experience much higher input costs to do so. For example, land in the Brasilian cerrado is quite cheap, and will grow soy or cotton quite well, but only with a lot of inputs. Without those nothing grows. In a PCO world, where oil touches everything, you want land that is NOT heavily dependent on inputs and has enough quality to keep input use down. Or, you just become non-competitive.

3) on eating: i'm a 'fat guy' but i guarantee i eat less than you. maybe not necessarily as healthily, but less. I seem to be the way I am. I have gone on all protein diets, restricted calorie diets, etc. Weight hangs onto my like white on rice. Perhaps with enough effort I might actually slim down, but I am by no means eating like a pig. Those people do exist, and the western diet is clearly not healthy, but there are other issues at play in weight gain and retention that are not necessarily food input related. plus people who are used to eating will give up much much more before they give up food. they may change the quality and price point of what they eat, like steak to burgers, or fresh veggies out of season to frozen in cream sauce etc, but i guarantee ipads go before food does.

4) on nationalization and taxation: whatever hits farmers will hit other aspects of an economy as well. if taxes go up on farmers, trust me they are going up on everyone as that cost just gets passed thru the food chain. No farmer can operate at a loss on a regular basis. Then we get back to marginal land farmers whose output is less per input costs. If taxed too high they drop out (like any industry with non-competitive players) and the remainder continues on. If the drop outs result in less output, prices rise for the remainder. I only buy good lands so I am in the remainder. as to confiscation, I believe the experiences of the USSR tell governments if they want to see food output fall, just take away lands from farmers. POOF, you will see output fall like a stone in water. In my particular case, I am in Uruguay, a country highly dependent on ag revenue. I would be quite surprised to see such a small country screw around with their golden goose like that.

5) here we are in agreement.

raja
01-03-13, 10:29 PM
I feel as if you are taking a rather simplistic view of farming and land in general.

I don't want to lose sight of Badjuju's question -- which was something like, "When is the best, i.e., least expensive, time to buy land." I attempted to look at forces the would act to raise the price of land, or lower it.

So regardless of whether farming is a good investment for those farmers who grow soy and wheat is less important than the question of the financial fate of farmers in general, and how that will affect farmland land prices.

Also, the point is not whether the farmers that survive the crunch and no longer face competition will prosper, because this doesn't affect land prices in the same way than "loser" farmers going under and selling their land.

You do raise a good point about pastureland in general being less suited for crops, but this is really a matter of degree. I would guess that even if 10% of pastureland would come on the market as cropland that the price of farmland would go down a lot. Where I live in Tennessee, I see a lot of land that now grazes cattle and yields hay that could be just as easily used as cropland. Now, to what extent that holds true for the rest of the US, I don't know.

I agree that most people are very attached to their eating habits.
However, when times get hard, people will adapt. Many people will not only get rid of their IPads, they'll eat burgers instead of steak, or macaroni and cheese instead of fish. In general, restaurants will not be a good investment.

As far as taxation, again the issue is not whether saavy farmers like yourself will succeed, but what happens to farmland prices when the crunch hits.

Regards land confiscation -- politicians will do what gets them elected, and people will do what feels good to them . . . regardless what History teaches or what is rational.
Uraguay seems like a good place for farmers . . . but from what I gather, that may be beyond Badjuju's reach at this time.

doom&gloom
01-04-13, 04:17 AM
I want to go back to this land quality issue v. pastureland.

Here in the US, most 'good' land is rated by CSR -- Corn Suitability Rating. Some also has a soy rating, but in the land of King Corn, CSR is the be-all end-all of land.

I suggest as the basis of a land education, you go here: http://realestate.hfmgt.com/AuctionbrResults.aspx

spend some time in the sold lands and you will notice a few things trend the same direction.

1) the higher the CSR (better yields), the higher the price
2) the better the land (good drainage, 100% can be planted) the higher the price.

Sometimes prices get extremely skewed, like when land sells in an area where no land has sold in a long time, or a bidding war starts between a fe farmers over some adjacent land. But that is not the norm in pricing.

Moving on to the idea of a 'crunch'. I can foresee only two types of crunch, energy or financial. I have already noted my belief that farmland will be one of your better investments in an energy crunch. In a financial crunch, everything goes down. But you do not get into farming as a 'flipper'.

Lastly,I would like to remind you that, prior to the industrial age, and then the FIRE economy, the two most recognized forms of wealth were land and gold. If over time we should head back that way, especially in PCO, I would much sooner want to own productive land, even if all I can do is graze cows on it, than office buildings or fast food franchises, or similar. The only investment I truly believe would be better to own than farmland would be a major railroad, and that is why I believe Buffet bought BN a few years back.

Moving on to BadJuju's land investment, I am not sure one can buy any land with the idea that it will always go up. trees do not grow to the sky, Apple will not be $10k/shr (barring massive inflation) and no one can guarantee land will go up. Bought appropriately, the utility of a land investment can pay you back many ways however. In the right climate a couple acres could feed you indefinitely provided you are willing to work it and can your product for the off season. Purchased near an appropriate sized town and you can become and organic market farmer selling your goods in town on the weekend at Farmer's Markets. Purchased near a railroad or waterway stop, and you have a potential export market in the future should you buy large enough to begin with, or have the means to expand later. Purchased with running water over or abutting it and you have the means to generate your own power. And purchased with a woodlot on it as well in a colder climate and you have the means to have a perpetual heat supply if you keep replanting what you cut down.

As I originally inferred, it is not the price that BadJuju should concentrate upon, it is the utility and location of the land that is most important. the right land will always hold it's value in more ways than price.

raja
01-05-13, 11:36 AM
I want to go back to this land quality issue v. pastureland.
I don't disagree with anything you're saying about that.
The question is . . . if humans revert to a more vegetarian diet due to economic stress, how much pastureland will be converted to cropland, and how will that affect farmland prices?
I don't have an educated answer . . . just a hunch . . . and that is that farmland would go down in price, because there will be enough pastureland of adquate quality to convert successfully to farmland.
If you have data that indicates otherwise, I would accept that my hunch is wrong.


Moving on to the idea of a 'crunch'. I can foresee only two types of crunch, energy or financial. I have already noted my belief that farmland will be one of your better investments in an energy crunch. In a financial crunch, everything goes down. But you do not get into farming as a 'flipper'.
I agree with the first part. However, being a relative "better" investment doesn't mean that farmland won't go down.
As to the "flipper" part, I think farmland is being purchased now precisely to be "flipped", but perhaps over the long rather than short term, which may preclude using the word "flip". Let's just say I think there are people buying farmland who are not farmers, and will just rent the land, or even keep it unused except for hay.


Lastly,I would like to remind you that, prior to the industrial age, and then the FIRE economy, the two most recognized forms of wealth were land and gold. If over time we should head back that way, especially in PCO, I would much sooner want to own productive land, even if all I can do is graze cows on it, than office buildings or fast food franchises, or similar. The only investment I truly believe would be better to own than farmland would be a major railroad, and that is why I believe Buffet bought BN a few years back.
Perhaps it is due to our different personal/financial circumstances and needs. But aside from my own personal farm, I am favoring rental properties over farmland . . . .


Moving on to BadJuju's land investment, I am not sure one can buy any land with the idea that it will always go up. trees do not grow to the sky, Apple will not be $10k/shr (barring massive inflation) and no one can guarantee land will go up. Bought appropriately, the utility of a land investment can pay you back many ways however. In the right climate a couple acres could feed you indefinitely provided you are willing to work it and can your product for the off season. Purchased near an appropriate sized town and you can become and organic market farmer selling your goods in town on the weekend at Farmer's Markets. Purchased near a railroad or waterway stop, and you have a potential export market in the future should you buy large enough to begin with, or have the means to expand later. Purchased with running water over or abutting it and you have the means to generate your own power. And purchased with a woodlot on it as well in a colder climate and you have the means to have a perpetual heat supply if you keep replanting what you cut down.
All things considered, there is no more safe investment under a variety of distressed future scenarios than a homestead farm . . . that is if one is willing to be a farmer.
[/QUOTE]

doom&gloom
01-05-13, 03:24 PM
Lots of farmland is nnow purchased for rental, yes.

However you should revisit your belief that pastureland will amend farmland by asking yourself will building more houses. Hangs rental rates of return...

raja
01-06-13, 07:19 PM
Lots of farmland is nnow purchased for rental, yes.

However you should revisit your belief that pastureland will amend farmland by asking yourself will building more houses. Hangs rental rates of return...
I can't understand what you wrote . . . .
Could you elaborate?

doom&gloom
01-06-13, 07:36 PM
I can't understand what you wrote . . . .
Could you elaborate?

Damn iPhone autocorrect! You know what the 'i' stands for, right? Idiot because Apple treats its users like idiots.

I meant to say the same belief you have that pasture will amend cropland extends to rental housing. More can easily be built bringing down rental return rates, or taxes can rise, or both.

doom&gloom
01-06-13, 10:09 PM
When I think of what BadJuju wants, I think of someything like this...

http://www.nylandquest.com/properties.asp?id=77472

raja
01-08-13, 01:12 PM
I meant to say the same belief you have that pasture will amend cropland extends to rental housing. More can easily be built bringing down rental return rates, or taxes can rise, or both.

There are many downsides to rental property.
Here are forces that affect rental property prices in the downward direction:

1) As the global economy tanks, more and more people will start living with relatives, friends, or in shared spaces. Less demand. Landlords will have to lower rents, thereby making RRE less profitable, and rental property less desireable, which equals lower prices.

2) Those who've purchased property on leverage and are expecting to pay back their loans in cheap dollars will be shocked when the gov't stipulates that all mortgages be paid back in "new dollars". After all, gov't wants to protect the bankers. When Landlords can't pay their mortgages, lots of property will go on the market, which equals lower prices.

4) As people will become poorer, their ability to pay rent declines. Landlords will be able to charge less rent, and rent collection will become less reliable. Prices downl.

5) Rent control may be instituted.

6) Property taxes will go up, as gov'ts become desperate for money.

7) A pandemic reduces population . . . so less housing demand.

8) In the most extreme case, there could be a political backlash against the rentiers. For example, individuals may be allowed to own only 1 additional property beyond their own home. The "excess" properties are conficated by the government and given to the People at very reduced rents . . . paid to the gov't, of course.




As I have said many times, there a no failsafe investments.
However, why I prefer rental real estate to farmland . . . .

If you have farmland as an investment, you have to farm it, or hold it to sell later.
Personally, I like to keep things under my control, and not have the complications that come with employees or business partners. Of course, with REE you still have to deal with renters, which is "entertaining" at times, but when you learn how to do it well, you seldom lose money. In the farming business, there are many risks, such as drought, pestilence, etc. My impression is that you really have to go large-scale to make money.

As far as holding farmland for later sale, if there's big inflation, you end up paying inflation tax on your profits. Plus, you have to pay property tax while you own the property, and care for the fields with liming, weed control, etc.
With rentals, I don't ever plan to sell the properties, so I'll avoid inflation tax and just collect the income.

I've talked to several farmers around where I live, and they all say the same thing: there isn't any money in it. The local farm Co-Op said there are only two "real" farmers in the county; the rest are all hobby farmers with other jobs. Perhaps things are different in other parts of the world.
I'm not saying you won't be successful GEC, but it's too risky for me.

charliebrown
01-08-13, 01:29 PM
what about interest rates? If inflation is up, will not interest rates follow? How does that figure into land prices, if prospective buyers cannot get credit?

I do agree with what you are saying about land value parameters.

thriftyandboringinohio
01-08-13, 01:30 PM
There are many downsides to rental property.
Here are forces that affect rental property prices in the downward direction:
1) As the global economy tanks, more and more people will start living with relatives, friends, or in shared spaces. Less demand. Landlords will have to lower rents, thereby making RRE less profitable, and rental property less desireable, which equals lower prices.

2) Those who've purchased property on leverage and are expecting to pay back their loans in cheap dollars will be shocked when the gov't stipulates that all mortgages be paid back in "new dollars". After all, gov't wants to protect the bankers. When Landlords can't pay their mortgages, lots of property will go on the market, which equals lower prices.

4) As people will become poorer, their ability to pay rent declines. Landlords will be able to charge less rent, and rent collection will become less reliable. Prices downl.

5) Rent control may be instituted.

6) Property taxes will go up, as gov'ts become desperate for money.

7) A pandemic reduces population . . . so less housing demand.

8) In the most extreme case, there could be a political backlash against the rentiers. For example, individuals may be allowed to own only 1 additional property beyond their own home. The "excess" properties are conficated by the government and given to the People at very reduced rents . . . paid to the gov't, of course.




As I have said many times, there a no failsafe investments.
However, why I prefer rental real estate ....

Very nice list of risks, raja.

Numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5 can be mitigated by paying cash and buying modest properties with rent near the bottom of the price range.
Numbers 7 and 8 seem like low probability events, nearly doomsday scenarios.

Number 6, rising property taxes, seems like the risk to consider most.

When I spoke with a friend about my plan to buy rental properties, he told me that you can't actually own real estate -one must rent it from the government, and they call the rent "property taxes".

I'm still moving ahead to buy rentals, but his comment resonates with me.
"You can't actually own own real estate, you rent it from the government..."

raja
01-09-13, 06:15 PM
"You can't actually own own real estate, you rent it from the government..."
Along those lines, you do not actually "own" your life, you just "rent" it from the government -- taxes, driver's license, other requirements.

If you view property taxes as paying for desireable services -- schools, roads, etc. -- then it's a resonable arrangement, as long as there is no or little corruption. However, I think they should only tax income and/or sales, not property. Take an old widower who owns a house but no longer works and has only retirement income . . . seems like she should be exempt from property taxes.

doom&gloom
01-09-13, 11:47 PM
Along those lines, you do not actually "own" your life, you just "rent" it from the government -- taxes, driver's license, other requirements.

If you view property taxes as paying for desireable services -- schools, roads, etc. -- then it's a resonable arrangement, as long as there is no or little corruption. However, I think they should only tax income and/or sales, not property. Take an old widower who owns a house but no longer works and has only retirement income . . . seems like she should be exempt from property taxes.

The key word there is corruption. Go to Northern Illinois and look how much the Forest Preserve takes in property taxes for a bunch of trees that pretty much maintain themselves. The money is not for trees, it is for administration and high pension and retirement costs for mostly needless workers given patronage jobs.

Go look at the taxes on farmland. They are rarely if ever very high.