Buy your own town or island
Michael Saunders & Company
(MoneyWatch) Have you ever wanted to buy a whole town? What about your own private island?
With a few hundred thousand dollars, or sometimes a lot more, that fantasy is within reach. Often these towns and islands come with your own personal piece of history, as well.
Take Garryowen, Mont., which is on the auction block this summer. It's not the first small, western town to go up for sale, but it may be the most historic. Garryowen marks the spot of Custer's Last Stand, where the famed Gen. Custer was killed by Native American warriors.
You need $100,000 to buy into the auction, though you'll likely pay quite a bit more to win the bidding on the town. The last small town in the area to go on the auction block, Buford, Wyo., sold last year for $900,000 and was billed as the smallest town in America with a population of just one person -- it's former owner.
Ghost town The Grove, Tex., was sold in 2010 for around $200,000. The owner agreed to sell at a slight discount to the granddaughter of the man who ran the town's general store.
Private islands will cost you a little more than mini-towns. Although you don't need to shell out the reported $500 million to $600 million Oracle (ORCL) CEO Larry Ellison recently spent to purchase the Hawaiian island of Lana'i, you will likely spend millions to own your own piece of floating paradise.
If you're looking for your own piece of North America, check out these five towns or islands for sale:
Garryowen is both an income-producing town and a place of historical significance. It is located on the perimeter of Little Bighorn Battlefield, where General Custer and his forces were defeated (and killed) by the combined forces of the Lakota and Cheyenne people in 1876.
If you score this site at the auction this August, you will not only own the spot of Custer's famous "last stand," but also a convenience store, post office, retail and office space, as well as a penthouse, guest suites, and your very own Subway sandwich shop. You can also bid on a collection of manuscripts kept by Custer's wife.
The town is positioned along Interstate 90, midway between Mount Rushmore National Monument and Yellowstone Park and is itself a tourist attraction for history buffs.
Visitors can check out your Custer museum and see virtually all of the locations involved with the Battle of the Little Bighorn, including the site where Custer was last seen alive.
Henry River Mill Village, N.C.
For $1.4 million, you can own a part of American industrial-era history, a movie set, and a small town in North Carolina.
Henry River Mill Village acted as the dilapidated home of "The Hunger Games" main character Katniss Everdeen.
The 72-acre property is located just south of Hildebran, N.C., but is so small that you can't even find it on Google Maps, which may be a plus for those craving a little privacy. Originally built as a planned community for the workers of a textile mill, the town emptied out after the mill burned down in 1977. Only 20 buildings, including the former company store, remain.
While the town is no longer functioning, its owner, Wade Shepherd, has told The Associated Press that there's plenty of interest in the site from Hunger Games fans. And with two more movies left to film in the series, you may be able to make some money off movie producers looking to film in the abandoned town.
Little Bokeelia Island, Fla.
This sprawling island located just 10 minutes off the coast of Florida can be yours for just under $30 million. For that price, you'll get a four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath Spanish-style villa, a separate two-bedroom guest cottage, and a little Florida village complete with bungalows, history museum, and caretaker's cottage.
The island is surrounded by public and privately owned land that can never be developed, ensuring its privacy and views. You can, however, develop your island by selling some of the island's 29 lots, zoned for other residences.
As for activities, you can stroll the island's 100 acres, hang out on the beach, splash around in the pool, or play some tennis. You can also check out the island's informal history, with artifacts from its former owners and from a frequent visitor, inventor Thomas Edison.
Despite is small size, Pray offers prime real estate if you want spectacular views and close proximity to the biggest attraction in Montana. It's just 30 miles from the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park and right by the Chico Hot Springs Resort.
Situated in Paradise Valley, Pray offers views of mountains, starry skies, and winding rivers.
You can own Pray for just $1.4 million. For that price, you get the old town store and all its historical artifacts, along with a second commercial property built in 2008 that features a modern apartment unit where you can live as mayor of the eight-person town. The U.S. Postal Service also rents space in the town, so you have very own zip code, not to mention revenue stream.
Casco Bay Island, New Brunswick, Canada
Islands are abundant in Canada, and you can score quite a deal on one of these northerly gems.
For $1.2 million, you can own a 40-acre island, Casco Bay Island, just across the border of Maine in New Brunswick. A 1,250-square-foot cabin, hot tub, wharf, mini barn, and two four-wheelers are part of the sale of this island, where the sales listing boasts that you can see whales and dolphins swimming in the Passamaquoddy Bay and watch nesting eagles teach their eaglets to fish -- all from your front porch.
The owners have outfitted the cabin with solar panels and a backup generator for power, and you can get cell service and Internet access from both American and Canadian companies. They have carved a path around the island for exploration, but you can also hop on a boat and explore the local waters.
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