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Okmulgee, OK is a-ok: low home costs lured this buyer.

If you're retired or have a guaranteed income, then let me highly recommend Okmulgee, Oklahoma, as a dream city.

The population is around 12,000--and about equal in races of blacks, whites, and Native Americans.

When oil was discovered back in the 1930s, a building boom took hold and beautiful/ well-built homes sprung up all over this area.

The oil boom busted, and over the decades the two largest companies closed. That left people moving out and hundreds of these gorgeous homes sitting empty and eventually being sold for back taxes or torn down by the city.

The best buy on homes and land are through city tax sales. They are held twice a year--the first one is usually in June, then what wasn't sold goes on the block again in September. This year 164 houses and land went up for auction for the county of Okmulgee. I saw a beautiful 1,700 sq. ft. home sell for $4,400. And I saw a dump sell for $2,000. You aren't allowed to go inside the houses to look, but I am guilty of peeking in to see. The second tax sale this year resulted in large (and small) city and county lots selling at starting prices of $25. Most of these have the utilities already on the property, but the city tore down the houses. They seem to do this on properties where they have to do the mowing.

There are also several other ways to find your dream place here. I rented a house from a slumlord for a cheap price to save money, and just drove the streets, looking. It took me six months to find a 1,300 sq. ft. home, totally gutted down to studs from a small fire five years ago. The "for sale" info was written on the porch window. I wouldn't have found it if I hadn't been driving around and looking. There are lots of houses for sale not listed anywhere except a hand-made sign in the yard (or info on the windows). Find an area you like and drive around in it.

Taxes are $201 on my property. Garbage and ambulance are included on my water bill, which runs around $52 a month. But expect to pay $150 water deposit to the city (that you won't receive a refund on until you move). And if you find a home within city limits you must have water in your home. Electric and gas are inexpensive and are not deemed a necessity by the city. Again--water is--because of fire hazards.

My home sits on a chain-link fenced-in acre that has great soil for gardening. Trees and shrubs cover the entire perimeter so other houses can barely be seen. And none are close. It also has a metal roof, a two-room garage (also with a metal roof), and a small metal-covered wooden building that is perfect for a future chicken house. My total cost for all of this--$12,100.

I got to know my neighbors while living in the rental; the owner also knew them and let me take over payments from a previous buyer who got it through divorce. No down/nothing involved but having the deed transferred over to me with a Warranty deed. (Don't do a Contract for Deed--have the seller carry the note as if they are the bank so you can put the home in your name immediately and apply for Homestead Exemption.) They can file a lien for the amount due, or have in the contract the right to sue and repossess if payments are defaulted. But I highly recommend that you get that deed in your name immediately--or don't buy.

Also, do your research on liens of any kind, from mortgage companies to mowing by the city! Start by calling the court clerk and treasurer's office.

My payments are $271 a month and my home will be paid off in February of 2019. Unfortunately, due to the interior being unfinished I can't find anyone to insure my home. And my renters insurance was canceled when I bought my home.

Because I am already a senior citizen, I wanted a way to get around, in the future, without a car and also receive food when I'm not able to cook for myself.

Okmulgee has a van taxi service that offers free rides to/from the senior citizens' building. It's open Mon.-Fri. and meals are $1.75--or what you can afford. Meals on Wheels are also available during the weekdays.

If you want to take the taxi anywhere within the city limits, the cost is $1.50 one way for one taxi service and 50 cents for the other service, which offers fewer pick-up times. But remember pickups are mostly within the city limits. The $1.50 taxi service does go further out.

I shop first at Dollar Tree, where everything really is $1. Then Wal-Mart for things not sold at Dollar Tree. There is another grocery store but their costs are higher, and living on $701 a month, pennies really are watched.

A major interstate runs through Okmulgee--highway 75. So it is possible to travel to other areas closer to and in Tulsa, for employment. Remember that this area of Oklahoma gets ice and sleet during winter months.

There's a local hospital. Also Creek Nation Tribal Headquarters is located here and offers free medical to anyone with a CDIB card that is recognized by the government (doesn't include Eastern or Western Cherokee tribes--yet). The veteran's hospital is 60 miles away.

Schools are not rated very high here, so homeschooling might be a thought if you do have younger children.

Gasoline is cheaper than in most states. Cost right now is $2.99 a gallon. (October 2014.)

Pickup trucks cost more than in some states because there are a lot of small farms and people use them to haul all kinds of things.

Like all small cities, Okmulgee isn't perfect. But you can drive by almost any day and see people sitting on their porch. Give a wave on your drives around the area to find a homestead you can afford.

Any further questions can be answered by the friendly folk at the Chamber of Commerce. Or your newly made neighbor friends while you rent to find that home. (My suggestion is to rent--it costs more than some house payments, but you can decide whether to live here and find a better home deal.)
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Title Annotation:Country neighbors
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1U7OK
Date:Jan 1, 2015
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