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Old 01-17-2019, 12:07 AM
 
34 posts, read 89,369 times
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We are considering selling our small triplex and moving to Santa Barbara. We have family there and also in LA and feel like SoCal might be a good fit for us. We currently live in Evanston, IL (just north of Chicago) and we hate the cold/snow/etc.

The puzzle I keep coming up against is housing. We own a property here that we could sell or trade into another property but we want to keep housing costs as low as we can. We have talked about building a tiny, contemporary modular home on a piece of dirt somewhere in SB county or elsewhere. Are we crazy? I think it could be cheap, but what are we overlooking? It seems a lot cheaper to do this in California than Chicago (ex: teardowns in our existing neighborhood go for 225k+, for a 35' x 90' lot, and you still have to tear down the house to get that--we could get a vacant lot or previously burned lot for comparatively much less, it seems, given the amount of land we'd get, or find some acreage--we have been looking around at lots up to 350k or so, but should probably spend less if we want to keep our costs down)

Income: variable, but at least 100k/yr at minimum; our jobs are location-independent.
Will have at least 100k cash from sale of house, maybe more (could be up to 200k cash)
We have no dependents. We're in our thirties, which basically means we want to be within driving distance of a YMCA for various sports but otherwise do not really care about proximity to anything. We live inexpensively. We don't currently own a car but would buy a used Nissan leaf or something similar when we made the move.

My goal, ideally, is to buy something in the countryside or thereabouts, keep a couple chickens, have a big yard relative to the size of the building. Maybe if we can get more land, we'd keep other animals (sheep, a horse), have a great garden, do some semi-off-grid living. Is this nuts? I would do anything to do this, I think. I am of course looking only at property that has a well as I'm told they're very expensive to dig out there. Where should we look?
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Old 01-17-2019, 05:10 AM
 
Location: Boydton, VA
4,129 posts, read 5,261,629 times
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There is nothing wrong with your dream, it is similar to mine 45 years ago...only mine took me from CA to somewhere more affordable....AR. The areas you have outlined are out of your budget, I suggest you look elsewhere. Drilling wells is expensive everywhere, with no guarantee of finding water. The only part I find questionable is your interest in a "previously burned lot" as a place to make your dream come true....

Good Hunting
Gemstone1
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Old 01-17-2019, 11:56 AM
 
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Totally do-able, and your budget looks good. If beach life/views/proximity are not important to you, and you don't care about walkability, then you'll be able to get what you want by heading just a few miles inland. I'd personally suggest places up the 126 a bit, like Filmore or Santa Paula. Ojai might be a possibility as well. The Santa Barbara area commands a premium because the land is mostly in-filled or owned by people who have their finger on the pulse of the market and aren't going to sell for cheap.

If you are resiliant (can deal with your house/stuff burning) and don't mind staying on your toes, you can look at mountain/canyon properties behind the first line of coastal hills. Recognize that 98% of the year you're going to be fine and living without a care, but you'll have to watch the weather and be ready to evacuate (at any time, even the middle of the night) when Santa Annas blow or a pacific storm comes ashore. Your plan to buy a burned lot is good--as long as you're willing to deal with fire.

Otherwise, if you don't want to deal with those worries, stick to the valley floors away from scrub land. You can probably find a relatively inexpensive plot, within driving distance to a YMCA, with some farmland creating a barrier for you from scrub/brush/fire country.

Since you already own a house, you probably don't need to wait for the housing market to crash, like you would if you were buying in new. If your local market doesn't oscillate as much as CA's market, you might want to consider waiting a year or two until the next recession deflates property values a bit. Empty lots from the Thomas fire have been coming on the market for the past 6 months at pretty inflated prices. There are [eventually going to be] A LOT of them, and not enough builders to even serve the needs of those who are rebuilding, let alone new construction. So many people are renting on insurance loss-of-use money. That will be running out in a few years, and might coincide with a economic recession. If that happens, expect a true "fire sale" of fire-cleared lots as people in financial distress give up and just take what they can get and sell far below market, or banks repo the land.

Married filing jointly, your taxes on 100K income are going to be nice and low. Food prices are low, and your utilities should be minimal. Without the cost of children, or the desire for a McMansion, you'll be able to live the very comfortable, outdoorsy, social, good-weather life that you're dreaming of here.
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Old 01-17-2019, 12:06 PM
 
34 posts, read 89,369 times
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Re: burned lot, It's cheaper and the infrastructure is already there (power, gas, water).

I don't know where else to look. I really need a high sunshine content in my life.
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Old 01-17-2019, 12:14 PM
 
34 posts, read 89,369 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wac_432 View Post

Since you already own a house, you probably don't need to wait for the housing market to crash, like you would if you were buying in new. If your local market doesn't oscillate as much as CA's market, you might want to consider waiting a year or two until the next recession deflates property values a bit. Empty lots from the Thomas fire have been coming on the market for the past 6 months at pretty inflated prices. There are [eventually going to be] A LOT of them, and not enough builders to even serve the needs of those who are rebuilding, let alone new construction. So many people are renting on insurance loss-of-use money. That will be running out in a few years, and might coincide with a economic recession. If that happens, expect a true "fire sale" of fire-cleared lots as people in financial distress give up and just take what they can get and sell far below market, or banks repo the land.

Married filing jointly, your taxes on 100K income are going to be nice and low. Food prices are low, and your utilities should be minimal. Without the cost of children, or the desire for a McMansion, you'll be able to live the very comfortable, outdoorsy, social, good-weather life that you're dreaming of here.
We may eventually have one kid.

Also, we could sell our existing house and wait a year or two to buy. We've talked about this. Maybe rent for the first year or two when we get out there, provided we can find something that makes sense to us.

Thanks, this is good stuff to consider.
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Old 01-17-2019, 12:40 PM
 
Location: TOVCCA
8,452 posts, read 14,139,634 times
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To clarify, for an already-built house, what is your max budget and for how big?
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Old 01-17-2019, 12:53 PM
 
34 posts, read 89,369 times
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For an already built house? I don't know. Could vary. Depends on what we can get for our existing property.

Probably, though, we'd want to stay below 600k if we can. We currently live in a 1-bedroom apartment, so anything is an upgrade. We would like to have an office as we work remotely, so a 2-bedroom house or a way in which a 2-bedroom could be configured to have more than one door would be ideal. Part of my work ideally involves having a garage that I can configure for my own use, though we would not need to keep a car in there.
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Old 01-17-2019, 04:26 PM
 
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SB has great resources for children. Tons of museums, parks, playgrounds, beaches, etc. The whole area is pretty child-friendly. Thousand Oaks area is probably the best in terms of traditional suburban living. Santa Barbara is best for upper-crust urbanites. Ventura is best for outdoorsy surfer eclectic types. Ojai is best for crunchy off-grid folks. Santa Paula and Filmore are cheaper and more for farming/animal husbandry-oriented people.

We are doing fine with coastal living with 2 kids at your income level. However, we bought in at the bottom of the market, so that helps a lot.

Be aware that the high COL (mainly housing) means that school enrollments are shrinking across the region. That's not necessarily good or bad for parents. It will just put you in a non-traditional setting with fewer children around in general. Those who can afford kids are going to be wrapped up in their "lifestyle". Californians, in general, are pretty wrapped up in living some sort of dream. (Be it beach bum, crunchy, eco-friendly, social-justice, urbanite, wine affectionado, throwback conservative, etc.) So be prepared to meet a lot of loopy people, and possibly become ones, yourselves.

600K won't get you much, today, in town in SB, but it could get a nice bungalow during a recession, or a nice place with some space in a more remote area.

Also, if you've always been a city-dweller with a dream of going off-grid, but have never been country, be prepared for some serious self-reliance. You DO need to monitor the weather all the time, and be proactive about evacuating at least 12 hours before any dangerous conditions develop.

You DO need to have a go bag packed and a fast plan for securing and evacuating your people and animals at 4AM with just a few minutes notice. You need to be prepared for power, phone, internet outages. The mountains in the area are dynamic during some types of weather and they can be dangerous.

Living in town reduces the amount of preparedness required to be safe. It also costs more and might not be your dream. Just FYI.
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Old 01-17-2019, 08:04 PM
 
Location: TOVCCA
8,452 posts, read 14,139,634 times
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What about farther south in Ventura County? There's 94 houses in Simi Valley under $600k and many are 4-bedrooms. It's the suburbs.

https://www.realtor.com/realestatean...pnd-hide/sby-2

If you really want off-grid, look at nearby Santa Susana knolls and Box Canyon, or try the outskirts of Santa Paula, Fillmore or Piru.
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Old 01-19-2019, 11:45 AM
 
34 posts, read 89,369 times
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Will look at Susana Knolls, Box Canyon, etc.

The link you posted is totally uninteresting to us, unfortunately. We would prefer to have a small house and a large open space to anything suburban.
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