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Old 11-28-2011, 10:53 PM
 
Location: Whereever we have our RV parked
8,038 posts, read 7,063,138 times
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I see lots of discussions about saving on food, and other small purchases, but if you consider the cost of living, the biggest is not food, but housing, utilities, medical care, transportation. So my question today is about saving on housing. Has anyone here done what might for some be considered alternative housing, that is to say, not an apartment, condo or 3-4 bedroom suburban house?

When I look at my expenses on an annual basis, housing is pretty high up there. Water and electric runs from $150-250 a month. Natural Gas is as much as $150 in the winter for heat. Insurance is $1100 a year, property taxes $2500. That doesn't include maint and repairs, trying to just keep up the house to help retain its value. A new double oven was $1500 this year and carpeting next year will likely run $2000 plus. So anyone have suggestions about building your own place in the country, a mobile home on your own land or other alternatives. I've looked into RV's but from what I can figure, that's more expensive than living in a standard house in a subdivision. Lot rents often run $400 a month and up its not much space. So, any experience that you have would be helpful.

Last edited by augiedogie; 11-28-2011 at 10:53 PM.. Reason: punctuation
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Old 11-28-2011, 11:36 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,668 posts, read 71,574,557 times
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I rent an apartment, carpeted, for $450 a month, and all of my furniture is from thrift stores and yard sales. I don't own a single kitchen appliance that plugs in (the stove and fridge are furnished). I pay my electric and water, which average under $100 a month. I walk to the supermarket and library, and either walk or take the bus to anywhere else I need to go, and it's amazing how rarely there is a place I need to go.

There is already an "alternative" to your $1500 stove. My wife is a very imaginative culinary hobbyist. There is nothing she can't cook on a $500 stove (which can be bought at a yard sale for $75), and very few things she can't figure out how to cook on a Coleman camp stove and a few pots from Goodwill. So, Just do it.

In Northern Michigan, my wife's son in law converted a 2-car garage into this fully modernized and year-round house, for $25K:
Attached Thumbnails
Alternative housing on a budget?-house.jpg  

Last edited by jtur88; 11-28-2011 at 11:55 PM..
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Old 11-29-2011, 12:13 AM
 
5,479 posts, read 8,168,244 times
Reputation: 7302
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prairieparson View Post
I see lots of discussions about saving on food, and other small purchases, but if you consider the cost of living, the biggest is not food, but housing, utilities, medical care, transportation. So my question today is about saving on housing. Has anyone here done what might for some be considered alternative housing, that is to say, not an apartment, condo or 3-4 bedroom suburban house?

When I look at my expenses on an annual basis, housing is pretty high up there. Water and electric runs from $150-250 a month. Natural Gas is as much as $150 in the winter for heat. Insurance is $1100 a year, property taxes $2500. That doesn't include maint and repairs, trying to just keep up the house to help retain its value. A new double oven was $1500 this year and carpeting next year will likely run $2000 plus. So anyone have suggestions about building your own place in the country, a mobile home on your own land or other alternatives. I've looked into RV's but from what I can figure, that's more expensive than living in a standard house in a subdivision. Lot rents often run $400 a month and up its not much space. So, any experience that you have would be helpful.
What I'll be doing in the spring.

You could also BUY some land and avoid lot rent

You could look into 'tiny houses'

Boondocking

Etc.

MANY options out there.
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Old 11-29-2011, 07:00 AM
 
Location: The Triad (NC)
26,866 posts, read 57,900,981 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prairieparson View Post
...but if you consider the cost of living, the biggest is not food, but housing, utilities, medical care, transportation.
Because most people need to live near or even right in the major metro areas where the jobs are.

Quote:
So my question today is about saving on housing. Has anyone here done what might for some be considered alternative housing, that is to say, not an apartment, condo or 3-4 bedroom suburban house?
Again, because most people still need to earn a living, it's very tough to be too "alternative" within reasonable proximity of the major metro areas where the jobs are.

Quote:
When I look at my expenses on an annual basis, housing is pretty high up there.
Is it? Compared to where?
http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/...alculator.aspx
My quick survey shows Lubbock at the lower end compared to most areas.

Quote:
Water and electric runs from $150-250 a month.
Natural Gas is as much as $150 in the winter for heat.
Insurance is $1100 a year,
property taxes $2500.
How well is your home insulated?
How many square feet?
How much state income tax do you pay?

Quote:
That doesn't include maint and repairs, trying to just keep up the house to help retain its value.
That things wear out comes as some sort of surprise to you?

These realities are why for most people their practical options are limited to discussions about saving on food, and other small purchases and in most instances, beyond the broad stroke basics of not wasting what income they have their time and energies would be better spent finding ways to earn more money rather than calculating how to squeeze one more drop out of every nickle.
---

Anyway, I've been through Lubbock a few times and can absolutely appreciate a desire to go anywhere else.
Good luck in making that happen.

hth

Last edited by MrRational; 11-29-2011 at 07:15 AM..
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Old 11-29-2011, 07:02 AM
 
629 posts, read 1,370,112 times
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It's not really something that most people can do overnight, but I think when it comes to saving money with housing the biggest thing is DOWNSIZE, DOWNSIZE, DOWNSIZE.

Most of us have become conditioned to think that each child needs their own bedroom, we need that extra bathroom in the master, we need extra closet space, we need that guest bedroom, etc. Lots of our parents and/or grandparents shared rooms with their siblings until they moved away to college or out of the house. Lots of them had to share one bathroom with their three sisters or sleep on the couch when visiting their relatives in another state. A 2,000 sq ft house is going to burn through approximately double the heating/cooling costs of a 1,000 square foot house. Plus there's a natural tendency to want to put 'stuff' in those empty square feet. Couches, end tables, pictures on the walls, they all add up. Maintenance/repairs/replacement are going to be less with a smaller house and yard.

Another alternative if you're a single person is just renting a room from someone. In most cities and towns (places like NYC, San Fran, etc excluded of course) you can find people willing to rent a room for 400 or 500 bucks a month, utilities included. Talk about a way to save some money!
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Old 11-29-2011, 08:24 AM
 
Location: Whereever we have our RV parked
8,038 posts, read 7,063,138 times
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MrRational and others, Here's a few answers.

I am close to retirement, but my main source of income will be SS, so I will not have a lot of extra money for the fantasy retirement, cruises, winter in Florida, etc. We have three people here, my wife, handicapped son and myself. Would like to be able to retire without still needing to work.

What I listed is current expenses on a typical 3 bedroom ranch in Texas. No state income tax, but healthy property taxes. Water is high because its expensive getting water in west Texas, in fact, these days you can celebrate if you have enough. (We're in the middle of the worst drought in Texas history.) Sometimes you have to replace a double oven with another double oven because the cabinets have a big hole in them that gives access to the double oven, and if you try to sell the house and make major modifications to your cabinets its going to look funny and it will make it very hard to sell, so in the long run you will cost yourself money.

The house is 1800 sq. ft and insulated as well as they used to in Texas, which isn't too good. Single pane windows all around. But the savings in heat and AC wouldn't justifiy the cost of replacing them if I'm moving in a few years.

I started this thread just to get some ideas from people who might have lived in a Mobile Home in the country or built their own home in the country, away from all the building codes etc.
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Old 11-29-2011, 09:22 AM
 
Location: DFW
6,717 posts, read 11,173,836 times
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Not sure if it's the case in other states but in California, there are lots of homeowners renting out rooms in their homes for about $400 - 800/mo. Look on Craigslist under "Rooms/shared".

If your housing requirement is just a roof over your head, this is the perfect arrangement. Usually the homeowner is having trouble making mortgage payments and are willing to take in a tenant to avoid foreclosure.. a win-win.
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Old 11-29-2011, 03:51 PM
 
Location: Lansing, MI
2,954 posts, read 5,945,273 times
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To answer your questions regarding building a cheap home vs continuing your current ... (since this seems to be getting overlooked by other responders).

To a point, it could be a cheaper way to go, but the initial investment will be higher than if you were to continue to maintain your current home. Secondly, you can't escape the county building codes. You might find someplace that has fewer restrictions, but you won't eliminate them.

You have to look at it based on the region you're interested and type of land you're working with.

1. Do you need to be near good health care? Transportation? Conveniences of a metro like food shopping? The distance from a city will affect the purchase cost of a plot of land.

2. Is the plot of land raw and vacant? If so, you have add'l expenses before you can even consider dropping a house:
  • perking the land (if it doesn't perk, you can't put a house there)
  • driveway installation
  • well installation
  • septic installation
  • foundation installation and/or concrete pad for house
  • permits / approvals for all the above
  • Building house / having house moved to land
  • A/C system installation once house is built and/or moved
3. Grade of house to be built / moved to land. Mobile homes are not built equally, and you do get what you pay for. If you go the very inexpensively built route, you will be losing a TON of money on your utilities each month for heating and cooling. Not to mention quality of materials and how quickly it will need to be repaired. You can purchase a used home and have it moved to the site - but, again, you have to look at quality of the build.

Overall, I would start investigating cost of living where you currently live and start comparing it to the cost of living for other areas you wouldn't mind living in once retired. Then start looking into your housing options. It really may be cheaper to buy an existing home cheap and do repairs / upgrades than it would to start a new build on what you think will be cheap - and in the end, it turns out to be almost the same cost of buying something existing. You could also look into more temperate climates to help balance out utility expenses. For example, southern Midwest states have abundant water supply and mild heating / cooling costs rather than extreme based on the season. The rural counties have lower property taxes.

Or, you might look into making significant improvements on your existing home so that it is more efficient.

Taxes: taxes are taxes are taxes. The gov't will get their money in one form or another, and you do get what you pay for.
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Old 11-29-2011, 11:07 PM
 
Location: Whereever we have our RV parked
8,038 posts, read 7,063,138 times
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IMHO, the more expensive and larger the housing the higher the taxes, heating and cooling and insurance, not to mention the maint. That fancy upscale house will lose a ton of value if you don't keep it up. I've never lived in a mobile home, or in the coutry on a rural road. I've always lived in subdivisions. I was just looking for someone who had experience with more modest housing in an effort to reduce yearly fixed costs.
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Old 11-30-2011, 10:42 AM
 
Location: NJ
22,690 posts, read 28,576,098 times
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i think the best thing to do is get whatever is the minimum you can stand to have. i could still be living in my apartment i moved out of about 3 years ago but i wanted a better place in a better location and i pay 2.5 times more than i did back then.
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