Can't afford your mortgage? Buy a town!

As the old joke goes, the three most important things in real estate are location, location, location. That having been said, with the plummeting real estate market, it might be time for some intrepid would-be homeowners to start thinking outside of the box, so to speak. With that in mind, here is a list of five abandoned places that are in in need of loving residents and an influx of dough. If you move quickly, you might just be able to make one of these undervalued wonders into your next home sweet home!

Bethlehem Steel: Once one of the largest steel mills in the United States, the Bethlehem Steel Mill in Lackawanna, New York is located just outside of Buffalo. Although attempts have been made to reopen it, turn it into a museum, or use it for wind farming, it has been abandoned since it closed in 1995. While this might not be your ideal vision of the perfect home, the "architectural details" include massive coke ovens, pipes, furnaces, and other remnants of its industrial past. For the modern minimalist decorator, it's a dream come true!

North Brother Island: Rich with history, North Brother Island has been the home of a hospital, veteran's housing complex, and drug treatment center. Most interestingly, this 13-acre island housed Typhoid Mary for over 20 years. It even features in New York's second-worst tragedy, the destruction of the General Slocum, a steamboat disaster that claimed over 1,000 lives. Located in the East River, North Brother is mere miles from the bustling heart of New York City, yet is totally abandoned. In addition to being highly-valuable, albeit overrun, real estate, North Brother Island has an Island of Dr. Moreau quality that will delight the mad scientists and feral survivalists in your family.

Homes in the Mojave: While some of the abandoned towns in the Mojave, like Goffs, have been rehabilitated for the tourist trade, Route 66, which runs through the desert, is littered with relics that testify to both the pioneer spirit and the awareness that man might not be designed to live in the middle of a vast, empty wasteland. If, however, you crave wide open spaces and think that maybe Charles Manson was onto something, you might try wandering through the famous Ghost Town Stretch, where the dry, relentless heat of the desert has preserved dozens of beautifully atmospheric old west towns.

St. Augustine's Monastery: In the middle of lovely Staten Island, the abandoned St. Augustine's Monastery is currently owned by nearby Wagner College, which doesn't seem inclined to do much with it. Once a school for both seminarians and non-seminary students, it is now boarded up, filled with graffiti and scrawled occult symbols, and is generally a really creepy place to be. However, if your tastes tend toward Satanism, animal sacrifice, and horror movies, this might just be the perfect home for you!

West Virginia Ghost Towns: When mining coal was a work-intensive, non-automated process, West Virginia was a bustling, well-populated hive of activity. With mountaintop leveling, however, the mining jobs dried up and the people moved on, leaving the Mountain state with a beautiful collection of ghost towns. While some of these former metropolises, like Thurmond, have been preserved, dozens have been left to moulder. If you're looking for a nice place to sit on the porch, practice your banjo, and eat fried bologna sandwiches, you might try taking a peek at this list of West Virginia ghost towns.

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. He once spent a day wandering around Thurmond, West Virginia, reveling in the wonderful Deliverance vibe of the place.
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