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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

frugal living 9


FRUGAL LIVING

SHELTER

LAND

A lot of people naturally assume that if worse comes to worse, they will live out of their cars ( a precedent already set after the 2009 financial meltdown ).  A few have a motor home or RV to tow to make life a lot easier and far less cramped.  Okay, granted, better than nothing.  The problem being that the next fifty years ain’t going to be like the last fifty.  Gasoline most likely won’t be available one day soon ( we’ll still be pumping it but once imports aren’t available once the dollar crashes, the Feds will nationalize the supply for military and farm use.  Their won’t be enough for civilians ), and you already wager your life and freedom through highway checkpoints.  That will get a LOT worse very soon, both as the TSA grows and spreads and as locals are desperate for revenue.  In short, mobility is soon to be dangerous or impossible ( and we aren‘t talking about bugging out at a catastrophe anyway, but moving out of the Rat Race now.  Waiting until bad things happen just diminishes your options.  But, brought up to give you pause if you think frugal living in an RV is a good idea ).  A piece of land you own is a preferable strategy.  It doesn’t have to be expensive.  Yes, growing your own food is a great idea, especially given extreme low quality, extreme price volatility and as seen a time or two, high probability of shortages from grocery stores.  But food growing regions are crowded and high cost.  If the two choices are saving up for a farm and not having land when you need it, like when you lose the job and can’t make payments, or just buying crappy land and at least having some place to go, I’d get the substandard land.  If nothing bad ever happens, you can just move to a better parcel elsewhere ( although I think we all know that ain’t going to happen ).  We would all love to have twenty acres with field and fodder and wood and stream, but if you don’t have the means to do so cash on the barrelhead, I don’t think a dream of a country homestead is realistic at all for most of us in today’s economic climate.  As they say, articulated back when uneducated peasants had more horse sense than today’s college graduates, better one bird in hand than two in the bush.

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I’ve bought “junk land”.  No water, no utilities, no prospects for either.  They have roads, so there is that ( be wary- not all states give land borders over for easement ).  They are good for one thing, and that is living on.  Not farming.  You could farm, but you’d be bringing in tons of compost and organic matter, and the cost of a well in my location is easily $15k ( three times the cost of the land ).  I had other lots back East but they were both in no-employment areas.  I could have farmed there, but the lots were so little it wouldn’t have been enough to live on come the need.  And that was not a good trade off for the over population.  I just beefed up my food storage knowing I couldn’t grow.  Not ideal, but, again, there is always a cost of anything.  All six lots ( half I got many years ago when they were under $500 each ) I purchased on E-Bay and I didn’t have any problems with securing the deeds.  Half I made payments on, and that was with zero credit rating ( they are self-financed ), at around $80 to $100 a month.

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It isn’t foolproof.  I’ve had readers ripped off in Utah when the acreage was illegally subdivided ( DON’T move to Utah unless you are a member of the Mammon Church and a Yuppie Scum.  They actively zone to penalize poor people, even in the boonies ).  And I sure wouldn’t send a guy in Florida five grand for a lot when he was bragging the value was fifty thousand five years ago.  But by and large, you stick with the poorer land you should have few worries.  As far as what to do with it, you’ve heard of camping, right?  You start out at a camping level, no extra costs and ready to move to right away ( after a few hours of clearing vegetation- I hope you are in shape from riding that bike ).  Then you trade up as you go, cash for comfort.  There is no reason to overcomplicate or fret about this.  Easy as can be, you pays your money and start your life over in more primitive but far less stressful circumstances ( if you didn’t buy with cash, I’d only assume a modest debt.  A good rule of thumb being not much more than the upcoming tax return will wipe out ). 

END

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34 comments:

  1. While I see your logic, Great Lord Bison, I do implore your readers to make sure WATER be their first priority in looking for land. It WILL be important, not just for growing a garden, but just to support basic life! Suggestions: Look on zillow.com for foreclosure properties, or other real estate web sites. You can grow enough on ONE acre to support a small family IF you have water. Also, lots of folks don't realize they may have more funds for buying property than they know. Old insurance policies they can cash in, old 401Ks, old stocks/bonds. You'd be surprised what parents and grandparents might have forgotten they squirreled away for their kids/grandkids. There's that website that you can check to see if anyone is holding any money for you...I don't remember the site, but I'm sure a little google time will turn it up for anyone interested.

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    1. I made sure there is surface water here, not trusting power/parts for pumps.

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    2. Water comes as a free gift from the sky. Of course some states (Colorado to name one) say that water is owned by the state. But there is enough falling in even desert regions that a tenth acre lot covered to harvest the rainfall should have enough water over a year for a family. (my region gets @12 inches a year, a house roof usually can supply drinking water for the occupants, each out building can then provide water for a garden). Most places don't lack rainfall- they lack rainfall at the right time, storage of the rainfall is the real issue. You might have to skip showering every day, and or having a flush toilette (check out the humanure handbook free online), but you should be able to filter water to drink. Surface water in walking distance is the future roads for bulk transport (hello rafts and barges) the water it supplies will most likely only be usable for watering a garden (if that). Wells are going to be running dry all sorts of places thanks to once in 1000 year droughts- sure they will refill with time, but to last the time they are dry you will want a big cistern, and if you have a big cistern, shouldn't you go ahead and use it to collect rainfall???

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    3. I think Oregon is also a water nazi

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    4. "I think Oregon is also a water nazi"

      I think some of the dry Southwestern states like New Mexico and the such are as well.

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    5. New Mexico sounded too zoning nazi in many aspects. I walked away from about $300 in down payment/monthly payments after realizing that ( one example, permits only given on TWO acre lot even though most lots for sale were ONE ).

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  2. Having blown another $600 fuel pump -still on warranty, thank goodness, I'm reconsidering my whole travel in a converted van thing. We are not full timers, but it sure beats winter in NH.

    For years I pretty much had the fuel thing figured out by burning waste vegetable oil. It used to be free, but is now hard to get. I've still got a free source, but they switched to a cheaper hydrogenated oil that's hard on fuel pumps. I'm going to phase out my veggie operation with them. Probably just used the big van occasionally rather than all the time. It's good for moving big things. It's paid for, in generally good repair, and is cheap to insure. (yeah, I bicycle, but being in the mountains, far out of town, it's a major chore)

    I love to travel, but long distance road travel is getting harder and less fun.

    We've discovered we can live cheap and easy on a small sailboat. Our recent fuel pump problems make boat living more and more attractive.

    I would never buy land in FL, even though I visit a lot. Insurance is crazy, rules are out of control, and it could all down a sink hole.

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    1. What about house boat/sailboat on the St. Johns river? Gator for dinner should be easy. No slips, just anchor for free.

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    2. You think RV maintenance is expensive...a 42' sailboat with the same kind of on-board "luxury space" of a 34' Diesel pusher is a fantastic deal, just like the 1984 Holiday Rambler that was $80K new (price of 3 houses in North Portland, maybe 5, in 1984), at less than five cents on the original retail dollar, but parts and technical labor to keep it running/floating/livable will be at current retail.

      The Great Maned One has The Plan that WILL work.

      Roughing it will suck a little at first, but the suckage can be greatly reduced with planning/labor/motivation. "Camping" is almost impossible to tax. Campers are almost "homeless", except for the tiny fact that they own the land they sit on and can not be "moved along". If you have a small pension or other reliable cash income, it will stretch like crazy in a place without venues to spend it. You might have to spend some bribing your neighbor suffering from pre-diabetic syndrome with pastry and small bottles of liquor.

      You need buckets, for water and sanitary purposes. HDPE buckets with lids are also small sheds to keep things dry and are vermin-resistant (motivated rats can chew through anything not metal) at least against little voles and field mice. Shaded buckets will last a long time, but sun-exposed buckets will last a couple of years before getting brittle. Buckets and lids are free, or are $10 each, your choice.

      Showing up on your "junk" land with a motorhome and travel trailer/utility trailer will be a big step over a nylon tent. As long as things are on wheels, they are not an "improvement" to the land, subject to assessment and taxing. Hidden things, like root cellars, water catchment/cistern, hauled-in gravel/soil, tree plantings (does the tax man know a fruit/nut tree vs. scrub bush?), are not very taxable either, even though they will make a huge improvement in your life. Know the rules for taxable/assessable structures!!!
      You may be able to build a 199 square foot utility shed (or several) that is officially nothing and not "a dwelling" for little money, like the price of 13 sheets of plywood and a little hardware. Hexayurt H13 is 166 square feet of tough diy shed that is the middle ground between an expedition 4 season tent and a travel trailer. Add a couple travel trailer windows, insulation, solar pv & 12v, and a few other comforts and you are hardly roughing it.

      BK first or buy land first? Will the court take your worthless junk land "home"? That depends on the State and your excellent well-paid lawyer.

      pdxr13

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    3. Good info-the devil IS in the details.

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    4. Good post pdxr13 \; a lot of good ides there.

      The land that I looked at in Modoc CO CA was under a homeowners association, and did not allow full time RV living, demanded, a $20K engineered septic system (even though the county did not require one) 1000sq ft minimum stick built house, permission from the association to do anything at all on your land, and the list goes on and on. This, along with the fact the county had jacked the property tax up to $350.00 a year, on a $1500.00 piece of land, was too big a deal breaker for me.

      I guess the moral of the story is to research the land your buying, and avoid any such covenants. HOA's are the kiss of death for anyone wanting any semblance of liberty,

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    5. No, the moral of the story is that Cali politicians are some glass dick smoking mother humpers.

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    6. Well, I can hardly disagree there. There's no where that you can go here and have any sort of real building freedom. The part that sucks is that the state is huge and most of it is uninhabited. The population is pretty much all concentrated on or very near the coastal regions.

      You would have to go way out in the middle of no where and build under the trees, and then keep your fingers crossed that you're not picked up by a satellite or county plane. Not a good way to live, better to go elsewhere.

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    7. Good stuff Anon 10:30 - thanks for posting your thoughts.

      You could expand your storage for your motorhome on PRIVATE PROPERTY having junked vans (no engines or trannys) as storage pods / crash pads. Puchased from junk yards and towed to the property. Think of them as heavy duty tents, only fixed in position. Pair up these vans, connecting the space between them with a canopy for a 'dog trot' configuration. One side for storage, one for sleeping, the canopy for summer kitchen / living area. Where there is a will, there is a way.

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  3. Good article James. I'm really enjoying the back to the land, frugal living series.

    I think that small scale gardening might just be possible? Get a few of those Earth boxes, and try your hand at something that produces in abundance and is easy to grow, like tomatoes. The boxes can be moved, and are semi- portable.

    I remember the travel trailer homesteading dude giving a rule of thumb on water proximity; I think it was within 5 miles? There are ways to stretch the water supply, and even recycle through solar distillation means. I recall Vlad posted an interesting article on fog ponds, Dew wells, etc. Didn't really research it, but an option to explore?

    The only real challenge that I foresee is finding junk land close enough to any kind of employment. But if you can find a way around this, you're all set.

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    1. Yep, that employment thing is the bitch. Elko is still going strong economically. Just saying, if you can handle the desert/cold.

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    2. Sounds like a place worthy of consideration James. Can you still get lots in the $3K price range that are within bicycling distance to Elko, and how big would that lot be for that price?

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    3. Yes, one acre, but beware the water table might be too deep for affordable well. Lots of county living folk have a half bed size water tank in their pick-ups and just haul.

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    4. It would probably never be an issue James. Unless the water table was ridiculously low so that I could hand dig my own well, I'd probably just haul and/or set up a rain cachement system. Is there a public source where you can get water without being prosecuted?

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    5. Well, I sometimes get mine at the main city park, but that is only a few gallons at a time. I know there has got to be a place as there are dozens of these truck tanks running around. I'll try to catch a guy and chat him up.

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  4. Sailing the Farm can be found as a free pdf and I recommend it for everyone even though it deals with living on a sailboat. Especially the food production in a 30 area also used to live in.

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    Replies
    1. I didn't know it was out there. Thanks!

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    2. 1981 book is $30 on used Amazon, free .pdf at top of search engine. Awesome.

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  5. (First posted 2007)

    If things go bad, you could leave the city,
    go to your ten acres in the country and
    live in your pickup camper, or van. Place
    foam mattress on plywood over 5 gal plastic
    buckets of corn, wheat, beans,
    tools etc. to sleep warm and dry away
    from the crawlers and biters.

    For a quick meal that uses little fuel
    grind corn, beans and dried meat together;
    stir into two oz sunflower oil and water,
    season to taste with ground cayenne,
    ground sage, yellow curry and butter, and
    fry pancakes.

    How best to securely mount your Corona
    corn mill to grind corn, beans, dried meat etc ??

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  6. Good post oh wonderful haired one! Yes good surface water, adequate rainfall or a shallow water table are must haves.

    If your lucky enough to be in an area where you can build say a 200 sq. ft. structure or a shed without permits and code enforcement issues you can build a great little shelter that beats the heck out of a tent. For $10-15 a square foot you can get weather tight and go from there. There are several folks in my area that are living in those pre-built sheds. Don't know how they get away with that.

    Neighbors at my parents hunting camp built an amazing cabin/shed out of rough cut oak (yes oak was on property) under the 200 ft. size and that thing will stand just about forever. They camped in a small shed (8x10 maybe) before that.

    Our code enforcement is pretty ridiculous right now unfortunately. After Katrina there was so much construction that the county hired a bunch of code/planning folks. After a couple years when construction slowed down the had too many folks. What to do? The created a bunch of new regs and require more inspections and permits. When I placed my mobile home i needed 2 inspections/permits. One for septic and one overall occupancy which checked everything else. Two years later a buddy did the same thing and needed 7 different inspections/permits. Also, the little Nazis are always driving around on the country roads, slow rolling, looking for anything.

    I can't complain too much though. Doesn't do much good.

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    Replies
    1. Of course you must complain, or you'll go postal. No one wants that.

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  7. Build your future shed where you're at, then haul it to the site on the back of a pick up and install it. Build 4'x8' panels (4 studs 16" oc, 1 top plate 4' long, 1 bottom plate 4' long, 9 firestops, 1 sheet of 1/2" plywood - total cost per panel - $20 + or -). Build the floor, walls and roof that way. Install windows and doors while fabricating the panels in your garage. Use continuous top plates on site to tie the whole thing together. Precast concrete pier blocks for the foundation. After rough framing is complete install the insulation and interior plywood sheathing. Go solar and run all your electrical wiring in the baseboards. LED lighting, solar power, propane heating, water heater and cooking, gutters/downspouts/cistern, solar pump for water.

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    1. If you place sheets of rigid foam insulation over the stud wall with fiberglass insulation then interier wall material you get a double wall insulation effect. Not as good as a double wood wall with staggered sticks but better than a single wall.

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    2. Yes, foam on the outside is good, but more $, I was trying to be cheap.
      No foam on the outside means the exterior/studs will act as thermal bridges and in extreme cold will be reflected as condensation on the studs in the interior. Remember, scientific principle: cold flows to hot.
      Also, I forgot to mention to use 3/4" plywood for the floors.

      I'm an architectural designer and have designed the most efficient 16'x16' domicile money can buy. I spent 4 years of spare time on this project and will build it this summer. I'm talking low cost up front, low maintenance, off grid, self sufficient use, and can be built by 1 or 2 people, this breaks all the molds and flies in the face of the "Tiny Home" movement - which are nothing but silly toys for people with more money than brains.

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    3. Ain't that most "movements" these days? The book shelves are full of stupid glossy photo porn pimping "survival". Anything for a buck. It embarrasses me.

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    4. "Tiny House" __with financing__ makes me laugh.

      What I had to look hard at because it was so cool were the egg-shaped or multi-pod RADIUS Engineering fiberglass buried shelters. Man, that is like an underground sailboat, with a price like a SWAN 60'. The life in there is not for claustrophobic, or live-burial fears.

      Partially-buried houses with the exposed part designed for passive solar gain (and active solar-panel powered bits) are intriguing, as are walls made from compressed earth block (ballistic and thermal advantages for pretty cheap).

      pdxr13

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    5. It seems a low priority in smaller houses, but acoustic control will make a house more livable. Double walls, or at least staggered-studs on shared sills, is one of the most effective light-weight sound transmission controls. Insulation between the staggered-studs or 2-walls without the full-penetration of mid-wall studs is super effective for heat and sound. Of course, sand-filled 12" CMU's dwarfs this, but that's a recording studio.

      Sound control means that you won't hear your neighbor running a genset or chainsaw while sleeping, nor will someone sneaking around your place hear you snoring through the wall. You don't want to retrofit anything acoustic to a structure: do it in the planning stage.

      pdxr13

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  8. Ghostsniper:

    I'm always interested in what dedicated professionals do for themselves in their field, when the "standard" is obviously not anywhere near what could be done for a little more planning/effort/money, and often only a tiny bit more.

    My previous investigations of cheap-small-effective housing focused on building material efficiency per area covered, like Fuller houses do. Efficiency can have a bunch of meanings to different people: lightest weight, lowest cost, combined requirements like transparent-corregated-not electrically conductive, fastest install, or works well with the rest of the prescribed system.

    Do you have a url showing off some of your ideas? Thanks.

    For small efficient spaces thought about by people with real brains (engineering, not décor), sailboats in the 28-42' range, especially the galley, are unmatched until you get to spacecraft where money and brains really are no-object. 256 square feet (16x16) is less than half the size of my current house (c. 1906 se pdx) which is packed-in to be more like a 180 foot house (hate paying for storage unit when there is a livingroom).

    pdxr13

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I must moderate-trust me. You don't want to see what happens otherwise. Sometimes it takes awhile to respond as I only check two or three times a day. No N-Bombs, nothing to get me libeled. Otherwise, have at it. If you criticize me, make sure to praise my hair first.