Rural Life in Yavapai County Arizona

Yavapai County, Arizona: the third in a series on the best sections of North America in which to pursue rural life, including population, jobs and crime, real estate and taxes, and education and health.

| January/February 1987

Cream of the country: Yavapai County, Arizona. The continuing series of the best sections of America to live a rural lifestyle. 

Rural Life in Yavapai County Arizona

Don and Becky Routsen feel lucky. Six years ago, they moved to Yavapai (pronounced "YAV-ah-pie") County, Arizona, to escape Montana winters. After looking for land for a year, they bought 40 abused acres in the Williamson Valley north of Prescott for $2,500 an acre (that land would now sell for at least twice as much) and have turned it into an attractive and productive homestead.

Part of the Routsens' good fortune comes from owning two fine wells. Don used his skills as a civil engineer to erect a recycled wind-powered water pump and a huge cement water tank. The energetic couple also built a small reservoir (which doubles as a swimming pool) to irrigate their two-acre organic garden. Becky markets some of the produce to local restaurants and at the Swap Meet held every Saturday in Prescott. Much of the rest they preserve and store in a handsome root cellar they dug into a hillside near the site of their future earth-sheltered home. They've also made themselves a large pond, which they plan to stock with fish. But most impressive of all is their two-and-a-half-story, two-bedroom, octagonal, log-and-stone house with a passive-solar greenhouse—constructed in six months at a cost of $5,000, using locally scrounged materials.

"It's remarkable what you can do when winter's on the way and you need a roof over your head," Becky says. "We only took two days off: one for me to have a baby, and one when Don cut his neck with a chain saw."

The Routsens have three young children now, for whom they've built a tree house. Their chickens and turkeys share a "luxury duplex" with big picture windows and separate fenced-in "patios," and a milk cow grazes on some of the land they've put to pasture. An orchard and a vineyard are beginning to produce fruit. There's a shady walnut grove with picnic tables and a cooking pit for holding big chili roasts. Round depressions in the earth and pottery shards mark the pit houses of ancient people who also found this a pleasant place to live.

Fresh Air and Blue Skies

Of all the region's many attractions, one, above others, makes this country delightful: the climate.

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