This paper is concerned with the estimation of the autoregressive parameter in a widely considered spatial autocorrelation model. The typical estimator for this parameter considered in the literature is the (quasi) maximum likelihood estimator corresponding to a normal density. However, as discussed in this paper, the (quasi) maximum likelihood estimator may not be computationally feasible in many cases involving moderate- or large-sized samples. In this paper we suggest a generalized moments estimator that is computationally simple irrespective of the sample size. We provide results concerning the large and small sample properties of this estimator.