If you have ever dreamed of being the proprietor of an entire town, renovating an Old West locale to its former glory or perhaps turning an abandoned community into the coolest Airbnb ever, you might want to peruse the listings of some current ghost towns for sale.
Yes, that’s right: Entire towns (that may be inhabited by ghosts) are available to purchase in the United States.
Many once-bustling towns have sat deserted for decades, creating thousands of ghost towns across the U.S. Some were mining or railroad towns that slowed to a stop when the mines were no longer bringing in profits and other forms of transportation became more popular. Others were wiped out by the elements, prompting residents to pack up and move elsewhere. Now, these former gold mines might be a metaphorical gold mine for anyone who longs to own a town of their own.
As the owner of a town, you can potentially make up your own rules, like insisting that the town only consist of libraries or only allowing goats to live there. You might be able to change the name of the town to Yournameville or Yournameburg. The sky’s the limit! (Also, the town limits are the limit.)
5 Ghost Towns For Sale Right Now
Villa de la Mina, Terlingua, Texas
This might be the most promising option on the list, as the Villa de la Mina is fairly intact, structurally, and with a bit of ingenuity, could be turned into a southwest spa, hotel or retreat center.
Near Big Bend in West Texas, this ghost town was built in the early 1900s during a silver mining boom. It was constructed using local rock and bricks from crushed rock on site, arranged to create fortress walls.
The 62-acre property includes 20 standing buildings, a pool, a water holding tank and the largest mine in the area with a railroad track leading into it. You can take a virtual journey into the mine (and the rest of the Villa) in this video posted to YouTube by the realty company in October 2023. The asking price is $1.95 million.
Swett, South Dakota
This 6-acre town sits in southern South Dakota near the Nebraska border, and was posted for sale in 2014 for $399,000. In 2015, the price was slashed to $250,000, and it apparently drew interest, but no buyers. It appears that the town, which comes with its own abandoned tavern, may still be up for grabs.
Swett is a literal ghost town in that the one residential building that remains in town is allegedly haunted. If you’ve got the cash on hand to purchase the 6 acres of Swett, good luck getting the current residents to pay property taxes. But Halloween is sure to be the event of the year.
This 83-acre town 30 miles inland from Highway 101 in northern California’s Redwood Coast was named Bridgeville in 1875 when a bridge was built across the Van Duzen River. Over the years, it has had a number of owners.
Bridgeville caused a stir online back in 2002 for being the first town sold on eBay. In 2006, it was listed for sale again after its owner couldn’t make necessary improvements and it was purchased for $1.25 million by Daniel La Paille, who died later that year. His family put the town on sale again in 2007; as of 2016, they still owned the town and were still trying to unload it.
In 2013, Bridgeville was nearly sold to Steve Farzam of Santa Monica, who wanted to turn it into a haven of sustainability and earn it the title of “The Nation’s Greenest Town.” But Farzam was adamant about starting his own police force, and when he was told by the Humboldt County supervisor that that wouldn’t happen, Farzam lost interest in purchasing Bridgeville.
Gabriella, New Mexico
OK, so maybe this one is cheating, but it sure looks like a ghost town. Gabriella, New Mexico (about 2.5 hours southwest of Albuquerque), is a charming replica of an Old West town from the 1880s.
The current owner built the town with the intention of creating a movie studio, and it has been the backdrop for numerous productions, events and film shoots. But the 24 buildings included in the price are more than just props. The barbershop has an antique barber chair and furnishings, the hotel is fully functional and even the stagecoach is included when you purchase the town.
The listing currently says the land is “off market,” though there is no information about a new owner, and the town was still available for $1.2 million in July 2023, according to the Albuquerque Business First journal.
In the 1880s, a man named George Millican established a ranch 25 miles east of Bend, Oregon. By 1913, Millican was officially a town, although the population never grew to be greater than 100 residents. When the post office closed in 1942, the postmaster was the only remaining citizen.
After World War II, a businessman named Bill Mellin bought the remaining businesses and ran them for 40 years. In 1988, Mellin, whose wife and children were no longer living, was murdered by his only employee. The town has cycled through several owners since then.
The most recent listing for the town and surrounding 74-plus acres, updated in February 2022, indicates that the area is off the market, though there doesn’t seem to be information on who (if anyone) bought the town. Maybe it was one of the ghosts?
Buying A Ghost Town
Is buying a ghost town right for you? Here’s something to keep in mind: The process is not as simple as getting a mortgage and making payments. Utah real estate broker Mike Metzger told Money Tips that it’s very difficult to find funding for this type of real estate.
“Most times, it’s going to be a private sort of banking, with loans based on the individual and the relationships they have with the bank, versus your traditional ‘square box financing,'” Metzger said. “Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac and FHA are not touching these properties.”
But if you’ve got the cash (or maybe a wealthy relative you could hit up, or a group of investors who believe in you), you could have a town all your own. If not, it’s still fun to dream.
Kate Emswiler contributed to this report.
This story originally appeared on Don't Waste Your Money.