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Rancho Costa Nada: The Dirt Cheap Desert Homestead Paperback – January 1, 2003

4.7 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 126 pages
  • Publisher: Loompanics Unlimited; First Edition edition (January 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559502363
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559502368
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,802,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I was so excited, I stayed up all night reading this book, it has truly changed my life. Finally, a way for the common guy to get by, if He's crazy enough to try it. The author finds himself fired again , and entertains the idea of living on his desert property, bangs himself together a shanty, and lives well, and tells us the tale. Tips on utilities, cooking, camping, keeping clean are all here. The side lines with the demented vet are my absolute favorite things here , and I think they are very funny. I have experimented with many of the suggestions given ,and they are sound enough. My truck is still rigged with two extra deep cell batteries, as suggested for a portable powerplant. This is one of the very few books that has lived up to its title, is really fun to read ,and You can learn quite a bit here too. This book has truly changed my life for the better, and I re-read my dog eared, and dog chewed, copy often for a laugh or two.
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Format: Paperback
After reading many disappointing books on survival, dropping out, homesteading and self-sufficiency I got this gem from Loompanics about a guy who is DOING IT. His message is simple: get a piece of desert land (why can you afford it? - it's worthless), built a simple shelter, and actually live the life the you claim to yearn for. No BS, no apologies, no pretending that you've got $10,000 just laying around - just good solid advice. On top of it all, an occasional rant for good measure. Get it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is one of My favorite books ever! I have read and re -read it , enjoying it every time. Its all here plans, ideas, and even some suggestions how to get by on little or no dough, all given in a fun,cynical manner that I enjoy very much. As soon as I read it the first time I went looking for some "junk" land and even bought some. I have yet to pull a junk trailer out there , but I know I can. I even am in the process of hooking up a battery in My truck, like suggested by Phil for power.Thanks for this book , and all the help it has given Me . While not quite a Rockefeller, I at least do not feel like I am circling the drain as bad.
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Format: Paperback
Phil Garlington, California's answer to Hunter S. Thompson has given us a real gift in this frank, funny and brutally honest how-to-memoir. Destined to be a cult classic with exiled would be back-to-the-landers wherever they may be, 'Rancho Costa Nada' shows, not tells how anyone fed up with modern society can chuck it all and still keep some of the small comforts that most folks run the treadmill to have on a daily basis. It's trade off: Freedom or indentured crawl-on-your-belly servitude and many of the more free-spirited can't stand. I'm one of them, and always have been. Like Garlington in his early years, I left for the wilds of Alaska, chronicled in 'Alaska Tales.' The cold reality of that life makes a desert sojourn a good choice for one's later years. In the irreverant style reminiscent of Edward Abbey this author splits our sides with hilarious interviews profiling colorful folks the mainstream has left behind. Phil's ingenuity cobbling together the hogan and amenities is truely inspiring for those on a limited budget. I first became aware of Garlington from the 'Propwash Chronicle' in the anthology 'Out of the Noosphere' from the editors of Outside Magazine, one of the funniest stories I've ever read. Hopefully we'll get an anthology of more of the travels of Phil Garlington.

Also recommended: Aces and Eights
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Format: Paperback
Rancho Costa Nada may be the epitome of frugal homesteading short of squatting. The author sounds surprisingly upbeat about the seemingly austere lifestyle he has chosen for himself. Maybe fate helped him choose this lifestyle, but whatever. He goes into purchasing inexpensive land, building a habitable (to him at least) structure, and some of what it takes to live this lifestyle. How to eat, provide for electric, and distinguish needs from wants. Most of what he describes he has actually put into practice, including a few mistakes. A few ideas are attributed to fellow desert homesteaders. While the author acknowledges the need for some income and describes some legal ways to generate it, he does not advocate what some might regard as ethically challenged notions such as stealing, petty crime, or even squatting on government land. Make no mistake about it; this is a lifestyle that will not appeal to most people. But it's great to know it can be done and how to get started doing it.

This is a desert homestead so some of the principles may not apply to a more humid climate. The author also readily acknowledges he does not live here full time; he leaves for extended periods, especially those periods when the desert weather is harshest.

I picked up a signed copy directly from the author (google him). The inscription reads "now don't take this too seriously." It's the attitude one needs to make this lifestyle work, even part-time.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Phil Garlington, an immensely talented writer, and fellow SF State alum, has written a quirky, entertaining manual on surviving in the California desert, while declaring his independence from The Man. Anyone can do this, if they can make a shelter out of sandbags and plywood scraps, to afford protection from the 120 degree heat and 50 mph breezes. One must have a vehicle, to make weekly trips for food and water, and a small income, to afford supplies. And maybe a firearm, to discourage critters and intruders. Neighbors are widely scattered, and fond of solitude. I hear Phil has returned to civilized comforts since the writing of this book. If you want to escape the rat race, and become a desert rat, read this first.
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