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Old 01-19-2015, 04:17 PM
 
4,367 posts, read 3,555,878 times
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Hi,

Well, I've been watching those documentaries again, mainly on organizing and downsizing, and I've again become interested in saving up and buying land in a rural area, moving a small trailer, cabin, or shed to the area, decorating it to my liking, hooking up plumbing and electricity (preferably off-grid solar), living rent-free, and saving most of what I make.

I'm having a little trouble implementing this idea, though. For one thing, unrestricted land in this area is hard to find, and the cost of commuting back and forth may make up for any savings I gain from living rent-free. I kind of want some help brainstorming. Off-grid living fascinates me, and I really think it is my lifestyle of choice because it is very doable.
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Old 01-19-2015, 09:59 PM
 
Location: Southwest Washington State
21,919 posts, read 14,414,141 times
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You know, you should pursue this if it is your passion. But as to doable--I don't know. You have already mentioned the unavailability of land. So right there you have an obstacle.

I have written elsewhere about how expensive it turned out to be to maintain a well. You would have to have a well, a generator--if you decided you wanted electricity, and septic. All that stuff has to be maintained and installing good systems is expensive.

Why not buy a small home and outfit it with solar panels? Your life will much simpler if you have municipal water, sewer and public electricity.
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Old 01-19-2015, 11:50 PM
 
4,367 posts, read 3,555,878 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silibran View Post
You know, you should pursue this if it is your passion. But as to doable--I don't know. You have already mentioned the unavailability of land. So right there you have an obstacle.

I have written elsewhere about how expensive it turned out to be to maintain a well. You would have to have a well, a generator--if you decided you wanted electricity, and septic. All that stuff has to be maintained and installing good systems is expensive.

Why not buy a small home and outfit it with solar panels? Your life will much simpler if you have municipal water, sewer and public electricity.
These are all possibilities. I don't know. I guess part of me wonders if those things will be available when I'm able to buy them, and I guess another part of me just likes the challenge. I feel like I know ways around not having working utilities. It makes life a little more interesting, but it's like camping, really. I guess I just like the thrill of saving money and being self-sufficient.
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Old 01-20-2015, 06:05 AM
 
Location: southwestern PA
20,419 posts, read 37,688,691 times
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I have been to Stone Camp and it is amazing!

Check it out, especially the "Investigations and Refinements" sections, for off-grid living.
About the Website - The Stone Camp

I WILL say that living off the grid takes hard work and dedication, and that Teddy rarely leaves Stone Camp because of that.
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Old 01-20-2015, 10:27 AM
 
Location: New Mexico U.S.A.
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Moved thread from Home Interior Design and Decorating forum to Green Living forum.
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Old 01-20-2015, 11:46 AM
 
Location: Back and Beyond
2,840 posts, read 2,759,609 times
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Your dream is totally doable. Go for it, but make sure you purchase land in counties where they have not adopted the international building code. Even remote land in the country is sometimes still subject to restrective building codes. Good luck.
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Old 01-20-2015, 01:07 PM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
30,692 posts, read 49,482,998 times
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What region you are in may determine a lot of this.

Here in my town, only a small portion of land parcels have fulltime residents. Most parcels here are owned by families who do not live here. They may come here for vacation, or perhaps they own the parcel as an investment. This area is mostly dense forest, any land that is not bush-hogged every 2 years will quickly have saplings so thick you can not drive across it.

As we drive through town, we can see a great many old dwellings. They are small houses that were abandoned long ago, few of them are over 400 sq ft.
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Old 01-20-2015, 04:57 PM
 
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If the house remains mobile and can be transported on roads, it is not subject to building code. Living rent-free may not be an option (if you purchase land you'll have to pay taxes on it every year anyway), but you can certainly do this cheaply. There would be a lot of different places to park it, usually for a not very high cost. Then you could live in campgrounds, friends' places or anywhere you want to be. The "Tiny House" documentary covers this - the real problem is, finding hookups. Even if you can find someone to let you park your house on their yard, it is only neighborly to pay for the utilities you use, and not to use their shower all the time.

You can build your own system, and it doesn't have to be crazy expensive, but the easiest way is to be open to a mobile tiny house so you don't have to meet code and can park wherever you're able. In many cases, you can work in exchange for a place to park your home on someone's land - even more so if they have a lot of acreage - or perhaps pay a small amount of rent if you don't have the time or physical ability to contribute work. But you have to remember that if you don't have a valid lease, you can be kicked off at any time, and in some places you might be violating a town's code. For the legal way, any camping place would likely be open to your stay, and you could probably work out a situation where you use their hookups and stay in the same place for years at a time with a discount. If you do so on a large plot in an undesirable area, you'll probably pay very little, and if there is a tornado or some other weather issue, you can just pack up your tiny house and pull out to safety for a while.

In the US, there is really no such thing as living for free. Either you pay money, or you pay with the loss of your safety and the common medical consequences of such circumstances. There is always a trade-off. But you can certainly live cheaply - that is still an option. Sometimes a tiny house though is not actually cheaper than a large old house in an unpopular area in which you have a propane stove and only cool the one room you're using when it is hot. The size is not necessarily what makes a home cheap, it is its poor construction, or its appearance in an undesirable location. The more you're willing to deal with either, the more money you can save. A tiny house with all the latest and greenest materials is usually not very cheap. Living off the grid in a safe and green manner is not cheap up front, it's only cheap years into it when you have become relatively self-sufficient with the life that you invested in.

One thing to remember though is that housing affects one's social life, which in turn affects one's finances. In round-about way, your networking and ability to relate to others is done in large part from how and where you live. Living in a way that is very remote from the rest of society, or is seen as strange to them and unacceptable, can in real terms affect your ability to make as much income, because most better-paying jobs are achieved through networking and appearing socially desirable. It is a real problem that one cannot entertain guests in a tiny house, or that one cannot network with a future boss or partner in a remote off-grid location. That means often that your income sources and amount may have to be sacrificed a bit, whereas being a bit more in the mainstream might make you more money so you don't have to cut corners so much. That's not always true, but it is for most people, so it's another thing to consider.
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Old 01-21-2015, 03:18 AM
 
4,367 posts, read 3,555,878 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StarfishKey View Post
If the house remains mobile and can be transported on roads, it is not subject to building code. Living rent-free may not be an option (if you purchase land you'll have to pay taxes on it every year anyway), but you can certainly do this cheaply. There would be a lot of different places to park it, usually for a not very high cost. Then you could live in campgrounds, friends' places or anywhere you want to be. The "Tiny House" documentary covers this - the real problem is, finding hookups. Even if you can find someone to let you park your house on their yard, it is only neighborly to pay for the utilities you use, and not to use their shower all the time.
Yes, I was watching one of those documentaries while forming this idea. I'm not really into the "build-your-own-rv" idea, though. Even a tiny house has to have enough width and depth to provide comfort. I know this means I might have to worry about zoning, but I can't really get into the idea of trying to squeeze into something too narrow. I guess one on wheels would be more practical, but I could pass it off as a tool shed, especially if I built it in a friend's backyard. The only downside would be that my friend would have to keep it after I moved.


Quote:
Originally Posted by StarfishKey View Post
You can build your own system, and it doesn't have to be crazy expensive, but the easiest way is to be open to a mobile tiny house so you don't have to meet code and can park wherever you're able. In many cases, you can work in exchange for a place to park your home on someone's land - even more so if they have a lot of acreage - or perhaps pay a small amount of rent if you don't have the time or physical ability to contribute work. But you have to remember that if you don't have a valid lease, you can be kicked off at any time, and in some places you might be violating a town's code. For the legal way, any camping place would likely be open to your stay, and you could probably work out a situation where you use their hookups and stay in the same place for years at a time with a discount. If you do so on a large plot in an undesirable area, you'll probably pay very little, and if there is a tornado or some other weather issue, you can just pack up your tiny house and pull out to safety for a while.
I guess campsites vary in price, but, believe it or not, some of the sites we have down here cost as much as renting an apartment. I guess they caught on to the "long-term campers" and decided to punish them. Either that, or perhaps people were sneaking onto the campsites without paying. Leave it to a few dishonest people to ruin it for the rest of us.


Quote:
Originally Posted by StarfishKey View Post
In the US, there is really no such thing as living for free. Either you pay money, or you pay with the loss of your safety and the common medical consequences of such circumstances. There is always a trade-off. But you can certainly live cheaply - that is still an option. Sometimes a tiny house though is not actually cheaper than a large old house in an unpopular area in which you have a propane stove and only cool the one room you're using when it is hot. The size is not necessarily what makes a home cheap, it is its poor construction, or its appearance in an undesirable location. The more you're willing to deal with either, the more money you can save. A tiny house with all the latest and greenest materials is usually not very cheap. Living off the grid in a safe and green manner is not cheap up front, it's only cheap years into it when you have become relatively self-sufficient with the life that you invested in.

Well, even with complete off-grid living, if you can find land and materials cheaply enough, you don't pay a lot up front. Even a fancy tiny home with only run about $15,000-$25,000 to build. I'm sure I could find a way to build one much more cheaply. For one thing, I could use salvaged material to build the physical shelter, and, depending upon what I want to run, a wind or solar powered generator wouldn't cost that much money for a small unit. Also, travel trailers, which are basically a variation of this idea, only cost around $2,000-$5,000 for older models. It's very doable. I'm just a little picky. I don't like travel trailers, because they're a little claustrophobic and just feel a bit unsafe. I could opt for other things, though, like an old bus, van, or shipping container. There are also people who live on house boats and small hand-built mobile shanties as their primary residences. You just have to get creative.


Quote:
Originally Posted by StarfishKey View Post
One thing to remember though is that housing affects one's social life, which in turn affects one's finances. In round-about way, your networking and ability to relate to others is done in large part from how and where you live. Living in a way that is very remote from the rest of society, or is seen as strange to them and unacceptable, can in real terms affect your ability to make as much income, because most better-paying jobs are achieved through networking and appearing socially desirable. It is a real problem that one cannot entertain guests in a tiny house, or that one cannot network with a future boss or partner in a remote off-grid location. That means often that your income sources and amount may have to be sacrificed a bit, whereas being a bit more in the mainstream might make you more money so you don't have to cut corners so much. That's not always true, but it is for most people, so it's another thing to consider.
It's a little inconvenient to have to drive from an unrestricted rural area to work, but I can manage. As for social life and residence, I live in a low-rent apartment complex currently, and I hardly know my neighbors. I usually go to town to socialize. If I were mostly living off of the land, I choose to work when I wanted and maybe spend more time trying to grow my own business. It would be more freedom.
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Old 01-21-2015, 05:32 PM
 
20,622 posts, read 16,666,728 times
Reputation: 38761
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pitt Chick View Post
I have been to Stone Camp and it is amazing!

Check it out, especially the "Investigations and Refinements" sections, for off-grid living.
About the Website - The Stone Camp

I WILL say that living off the grid takes hard work and dedication, and that Teddy rarely leaves Stone Camp because of that.
My gosh, it is funny how complicated it sounds to "live simply" :

[SIZE=3]"We also have an IFO one gallon flush indoor toilet that feeds an anaerobic methane digester modeled after a Chinese model. It's slated to run a propane refrigerator but until then first thought I'd use the gas on a thermoelectric Peltier Crystal to make electricity but it looks like it'll be used to heat water"[/SIZE]

KMB, what are you planning to do for water hookup and sewage? You either need to go into your friend's home all day and night to use the toilet, wash, shower, get cooking water, etc if you're in her yard, or on your own land, you'll have to have a septic system installed and a well dug, which will cost a fortune. Did your friend agree to such a thing? Did you do any research to find out if she is even allowed to have someone living in a trailer in her backyard? Even very rural areas have zoning laws and codes.

BTW, you still have people responding to you on your thread about wanting to move to NYC, it would be polite to tell them you're not coming back. It's quite a leap to want to move to NYC one week, and live off the grid in a tiny home in nowhereland the next. I don't want to embarrass you, but you flit around from one extreme and unrealistic idea to the other 10x a week, but you ignore the doable things people advise you to try to improve your life in favor of fantasy solutions. I say this because I feel for you, but again, IMO you need real guidance, fro professionals, you do not understand the way the world works enough to make decisions on your own, said out of care and concern.

Last edited by ocnjgirl; 01-21-2015 at 05:52 PM..
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