A Texas Containerist Paradise? Quite Possibly.


I think I may have found a sort of Shangri-La for those of us dreaming of doing anything we want with a piece of property–building what the heck we want without kissing the asses of the building department to push an idea through. Oh yes… This is a really good find I am going to share with you…

This past winter, I drove from California to Florida not only because I am nuts, but also because I love to drive and see what this great country of ours (if you are American) has to offer. On my way, I made it to El Paso from Los Angeles in about 11 hours I believe, but had no intentions on staying there because El Paso isn’t on the top of my list of favorite cities. No, I kept driving. Eventually, I stayed in Fort Stockton, Texas, which is about an additional three hours of driving beyond El Paso on Interstate 10. So unfortunately on the first pass, I totally missed seeing the wonderful would-be Shangri-La for containerists and alternative home builders–it was about 10 P.M.

Two weeks later, my drive back from Florida was different. It was daytime when I drove through it: Hudspeth County, Texas. It was not the Texas we picture when we think of the state. No cows. No flat, ugly brown dirt-laden stretches of land. No tall grasses. No oil rigs that I can remember. No junky homes or trash strewn about. The landscape was rather beautiful. Mountains, clean air, and gorgeous shrubbery and flora. Quite possibly one of the most ideal places to build whatever the hell you want without any worries, and never regret it. No snoopy neighbors, bad terrain, traffic or any of the things that could hinder one’s creative inner builder… oh, and hell yeah, no building inspectors! Hudspeth County, Texas has NO BUILDING CODES.

It that it? Was that all I had to say? Nope. How many places in the U.S. can you get a 10-acre parcel for about $3k? Not too many. You can start a ranch, compound or even an off-grid community. There is so much land for sale there that you can do whatever you want! Hell, start a town and name it after yourself. Grow crops with the abundant underground water in the area. Amenities? Nah. If you had amenities of a normal city, you would likely have codes, so take your pick. It’s not that bad really. You will have to drive a bit to get the things you need. El Paso is near, so there is your answer.

Well, I thought I would just share this with you, the present and future containerists like myself. I love fanning the flames of inspiration. I want to get your imagination flowing with the following link to some land in the area. Have a great time dreaming and wishing:

Cheap Land in Hudspeth County, TX (opens new window)

Here is a sample Craigslist ad for shipping containers in El Paso, TX. The container would be about an hour away from your property if you ever decided on a parcel in Hudspeth County. You could have a container sitting on 10 acres of land you own for about $5000 total.

  • Steve Smith

    That is interesting about the price of the land being so cheap and no building codes. Couple of caveats though. Border issues with illegal immigrants crossing your land if you are right on the border or near it and water issues. El Paso is one of the towns that is scheduled to run out of water in less than 20 years. You might want to see how deep a well you would have to dig to be able to get water. You might could truck it in a few times a year and fill a holding tank but that would be costly I suspect. Rainfall is pretty sparse there too as I recall so rainwater harvesting would not be a viable option. Neither would growing crops without some type of irrigation.

  • Ann Non

    I did some research on Hudspeth County a while back but was daunted by the water issue – turns out that wells there are typically 1000′ or more. It’s good to hear that you liked the area, though.

  • Dustin D

    I currently live in El Paso. There is a reason land is so cheap in Hudspeth. No one wants it. The water issue is major and also lets face it you are gonna have to work. There isn’t any sizable towns in that county and there are other issues as well. Sandstorms… yesterday we had one with gusts of up to 80 miles per hour, it lasted all day but some can last up to a week. Sure if you want a get away ranch out in the middle of no where with no one around for over 100 miles maybe its your thing. But when rattle snakes, jackrabbits and coyotes are the only thing to hunt, I get the feeling you would be singing a different tune. I passed up on a 5 acre parcel I seen for sell a few months ago for 1k… yes 5 acres for a thousand dollars. Why? I guess I just told you. If you were to purchase such land I would say do so as close to the border of the county nearest to El Paso. Illegal immigrants? They aren’t gonna be crossing out there its a death wish. Personally I think the area of New Mexico just north of El Paso (Otero County) is a lot more beautiful. It is more desert like, has mountains, a beautiful red sand and flora such as sages and shrub oak. But it also suffers from those issues as well except a real city is a heck of a lot closer. Sorry to rain on the parade but containerists are dreamers who also must have realism. Also living somewhere gives you insight that a drive through isn’t gonna let you glimpse.

  • Terry


    Well said. I have been doing more research and seems Colorado is more containerist friendly (and there are many desirable plots of land without building codes).

    I still find that area of Texas appealing (west Texas). I don’t particularly like El Paso though. Not my kind of town. Too many people there.

    I understand there are water issues as well as weather issues. It’s just post about a place of possibility. I appreciate your insight. I agree about New Mexico. As I said earlier, I am eye-balling Colorado. It seems more “me.”

  • I too live in El Paso and actually own one of these peices of land out in the middle of nowhere. Mine is at a place called “Hueco Tanks” but the land deal is the same as Hudspeth Co. I bought 5 acres for about $15,000.

    I collect old cars so I use my land to store them on. I also have thought of building an A-Frame building using two containers spaced about 20′ apart as a base.

    Water isn’t an issue really because what you do is buy a polytank and purchase it from people who truck it in. No one digs 1000′ wells really, they just buy the water. It’s hot out here though so you’d better like heat and staring at the same thing forever because nice tree don’t exist out here.

    Here’s the real issue here. Poverty. Yep, you are about 20 miles from Mexico at all all times. The area is innudated with illegal immigrants, most of whom are nice decent people looking for a better way of life. However, with them is the 1% who are theives. Last month they stole my 18′ trailer, an antique car, the copper radiator out of my truck and about 100′ of my fence. The Sherrif isn’t going to do anything as they can’t patrol these wide open spaces.

    I’m not saying don’t do it, many people do (most live in old RVs) but you’d better warm up to the idea that gun ownership is a good thing – esp. if the drug cartels of Mexico decide your remote parcel of land with a container on it makes a good drop point for their shipments.

  • Uncle Billy

    Wiley, that is what guns are for. And mean dogs. That’s all they understand and they’ll steal the dogs if they can! Been a border resident most of my life – born in El Paso and live in Las Cruces. Sierra Blanca in Hudspeth County is where the toxic waste/sludge from New York City arrives by the tons on trains made up of nothing but OPEN smelly gondola cars carrying the “composted” sewage sludge of NYC. But it is too toxic to dispose of anywhere back east. When one of those “shit trains” hits town and gets parked on the siding to await unloading into trucks that will spread it on a ranch outside town. It’s beautiful country there but no border fence will come into play along the river just over those hills and the illegal problem will only get worse.

  • Old MSgt

    The US is vast and you don’t need to live in a wretched, doomed desert hellhole next to a collapsing narco-state just to get around building codes. There are plenty of semi-rural and rural areas all over the country where you can put up whatever you like if you are far enough out of town. Meeting mobile home codes is simple enough, and mobile homes are all over.

    It will cost substantial money to make up for the disadvantages of some locations, particularly those without water, jobs, futures…

  • Old MSgt

    Single-container houses are essentially mobile homes that don’t disintegrate when you move them. You can slap one down anywhere that allows them if you meet basic code requirements (and that can be a very spartan structure), so code isn’t much of a barrier.

    Check out any “romantic” locations for actual viability before buying. Cheap land is cheap for a reason, and burning fossil fuels on a long commute negates some economy in other areas.

  • Nancy Vinal

    I have considered containers before.. (I DO live just outside El Paso in a little community right on the NM border.)
    But not necessarily for this area.
    I own 40+ acres of beautiful mountain property (with stone house that needs plumbing etc.) in Central America that I have owned for over 10 years now, and containers put together would be THE solution for that area.

    Housing is in very VERY short supply in the country and an idea along these lines would be a very good investment because “rental” units are very much needed.

    The location is perfect because it is only 25 miles from the capital city (Managua Nicaragua) and the international airport. It is high and cool, (coffee growing country) and governmental restrictions are almost non existant.

    I need someone who has some fast depreciating US dollars to invest in a safe haven with a level of opportunity who would like to come in with me to utilize what I already have that is going fallow. Bringing in used containers and creating housing or clinic/spa buildings for alternate health treatments, would be an interesting idea to explore.

    Oh, yes… no “zoneing or housing codes”.. !! Smile.

  • Hi, My name is Tom Heaslet from Independent Cargo Container Service Inc. Thanks for using my Craigslist post on your container site. Yes thats actually my post. I am sure that picture of a container yard is still in my photo library. I also found the link to your other alternative housing site. Its great !

    I was the first guy to take cargo containers onto Craigslist and also was one of the first on Ebay with them.

    Since then I have opened my own container company as some of the container companies were not able to make it thru the downturn in the container business. Prices have gone up as availability has gone down.

    However there is something positive that has come from this. Used container quality has gone up as availability went down. There is no longer a surplus of containers in the U.S.A. so your not seeing older containers that have been sitting idle for years. Most of the used containers today are moving freight just before being sold to us.

    It was always my wish to help people who think outside the box (Or in this case maybe inside the box) regarding housing and re-use of cargo containers. I still get surprised from time to time on what people use cargo containers for.

    I am interested in advertising or providing regular input to your sites. Please feel free to contact me at 877-296-6156 or take a look at our website at http://www.independentcontainer.com As you can imagine. We would love to help your viewers with containers also.

  • Hi all,

    I was wondering if anyone knew about the defacto law as it pertains to the use of one’s own property? I read that as long as the property is yours, the dwelling for personal use, and you don’t plan on selling (who would want to sell their masterpiece anyways?) you don’t have to follow the codes, but still have to buy permits? Getting information about this is like pulling teeth…Property is in Polk County, Tx. Thanks.

  • Colorado Blows

    Colorado has been taken over by Californicators and New Yorkers. Big-city busybodies with rules for how you’re supposed to wipe your own buttt, and rapacious developers who’ve put up for-sale signs and barbed wire fences around damn near everything in the state.

    Today it’s just New Jersey with a scenic backdrop.

  • Michael Davis

    I need three (3) 8′ X 40′ insulated office cargo containers with HV/AC, lights and receptacles. Because they will be used for residential purposes they need to be radon, rust and arsenic free.

    I also need someone familiar with Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Construction Code that can stack the units on the foundation/footing in accordance with Philadelphia Code. From what I understand the containers weigh approximately 9,000 lbs each for a total of 27,000 when three (3) are stacked on top of each other. I need a contractor that can outfit the units with small bathrooms and kitchens in accordance with Philadelphia Pennsylvania Code.

    Can you help me or do you know someone who can help me?


    Mike Davis

  • edih99

    I have an idea to build small art store made of shipping container in the Houston area
    I have a hard time to find a architect,engineer or permits consulted
    That understand something about dealing with containers
    I hope someone can help me find what i’m lookin for.

  • omegaprepper

    Just purchased 10 acres of land in Hudspeth TX . I’ve just come across this information on immigrants, theives and waste being dumped in this county. I only wish I’d come across all of this information earlier. Are there a lot of off grid home owners in Hudspeth TX ? I really wanted to build my off grid home on the 10 acres but if it’s plagued with disaster I’m going to have to re-think this whole move.

  • Aaron Fortune

    Independent contractor in Austin area looking to recreate what is going down in Hudspeth County, anyone near Austin that has expertise please feel free to contact me directly at (903) 565-9381. I have potential investors and a “team” of sorts that I am creating to build our vision of container homes.

  • So what is happening in Hudspeth county? Any progress since December?

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