All we wanted to do was to get away. We were not looking for ways to make extra cash. But despite this I can see the money startingto roll in once again.

We moved into Ashe County to get away from the crowds, hustle and bustle of life. Making money in real estate was far from our mind but now we can see that real estate prices here are about to explode. We have already made money again which seems to be the story of our life. We move to a beautiful, quiet place to get away from the crowds and then the crowds follow.

This has not been all bad. We have literally made millions from moving into homes ahead of the crowd. For example when Merri first moved to Naples, Florida there was just one traffic light in the whole town and when I moved there a little later there was not a whole lot more. We had to drive nearly an hour to reach any major store (such as Sam’s Wal mart or Office depot etc.) and our nearest international airport was two hours away. When we left, Naples was a booming cosmopolitan city with the wealthiest income per capita in the U.S. We made a fortune without trying and this was not our first such inadvertent real estate success.

So moving to Ashe county we hoped to escape the maddening crowd forever. No such luck! I can see the handwriting on the wall. Growth is coming to this area and no amount of wishing will stop it. The original plan was to keep this place a secret, but now that I see how growth will come I have decided it is better to let my readers know so we’ll be sure to have neighbors who are like minded souls.

When Merri and I sold our last cabin in North Carolina (because we did not have enough land and the altitude was too low-summers too hot) the realtor told us we could never find another similar place. It was deep in the woods near a roaring creek and indescribably wild and beautiful, but I knew he was wrong. There had to be another such place, but higher, cooler when the lowlands were warm. I did not realize how nearly right he was as it took us six years of continuous search to find Merrily Farms and Ashe County. This county which adjoins Virginia and Tennessee was established and named after Samuel Ashe in 1799. It is often known as the Lost Province because until recently hardly anyone knew of the place.

The county seat is Jefferson and the county has a land area of 426.16 miles but only a population of 22,209 people. This population is wide spread as well. The only towns are Jefferson (1,300 population), West Jefferson (1,002) and Lansing (183).

This is a totally rural area with three commercial crops, Christmas trees, timber and tobacco. There are several factories in the county manufacturing furniture and electrical goods. There are numerous tourist activities such as canoeing on the new river, scenic drives though Southern Appalachian Wilderness, leaf looking and camping.

Ashe county is isolated but sits almost equidistant from the north and south of the east coast of the United States. The largest, wealthiest migration in mankind’s history has taken place in the last decade into this area. Now one in six Americans live in a county that touches either the Atlantic or Gulf Coast. Merri and I are almost the same distance from our old home in Naples and Maine.

Here are the signs I see that suggest to me that this area will boom:

1. The prices here are a fraction of the county just south (Watauga)
2. The first cappuccino machines have arrived in Jefferson. When we arrived three years ago I could not find any. Now I know of three.
3. Prices have about doubled in the last three years.
4. The major road from I-77 is being widened to four and even six lanes.
5. Wal Mart is building a super store.
6. The first golf course community has been a success in Jefferson.
7. Art galleries and interior designers are setting up shop prolifically in town.

Eerily these are the same signs I spotted in Naples a little over a decade ago when that town began to boom.

Don’t get me wrong, Ashe County will not become a Naples Florida, which grew from a sleepy fishing village to a winter residence and then to a full city. Jefferson is most likely to grow most as a summer residence and tourist area first.

There are some draw backs here. The nearest airports for commercials flights are Tri- Cities Tennessee (an hour and a half in summer-often impossible in winter) or Charlotte which is a long two and a half hours. You still have to travel to Boone (45 minutes) or Wilkesboro (an hour) for a lot of your shopping. Services (such as internet, etc.) especially outside Jefferson are primitive (though we do have DSL) out here now. The labor market is tight.

Best regards, and good global investing!

Gary