Building a House Kit in Eureka, Montana

Paul Steffy shares how he and his wife lived out their retirement dream by building a house kit in Eureka, Montana.

| February/March 2002

The author shares stories of building a house kit in Eureka, Montana.

Our initial plan was for me to retire at 55. We'd buy a large pickup truck and a fifth-wheel trailer and would travel the United States indefinitely — a retirement many couples enjoy immensely. After doing our homework and considering the options available in this lifestyle, we changed our minds. The value of a truck or trailer drops immediately after you buy it, and even though you're using the vehicle or trailer, it's an expensive proposition.

At this point we changed the plan: We would buy land, building a house kit far from the maddening crowds of Southern California.

Our next step was to decide where to live. My wife Sherri and I have traveled extensively and know what type of terrain and geography please us. I ordered literature on eight states from a national real-estate chain. After eliminating several options, we decided on Montana, land of Charley Russell and Fred Remington, of mountains and pine trees, abundant wildlife and scant people, rich in history and really cold winters.

At that time, neither of us had actually visited Montana. So checkbook in hand, we flew to Missoula, rented a car and began our trek to find a spot to spend the rest of our lives. The idea of long winter months spent cloistered indoors doesn't appeal to everyone. That's fine with us.

We eventually settled on Eureka, a town that seems to still be cruising in the 1950s. With a population of 1,500, Eureka lies eight miles from the Canadian border. Its small-town atmosphere, clean air, semi-arid climate, friendly people, superb hunting, fishing and wildlife-viewing year-round were just what we wanted.

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