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How much did it cost you?  RSS feed

 
Michelle Lasher
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My husband and I have been saving for several years and in two years will have about $35,000. We are wanting to get 2 acres of land which will cost $20,000, and the rest will be for our 1000 Sq. Ft earth bag house. Would this be enough? He wants to quit his job and we will sell my homemade lotions for income. Am I underestimatitong what we would need? How much is a reasonable income when living a debt free life? How much did it cost those of you who have done this?
 
Alder Burns
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Location: northern California
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I have heard that a general rule of thumb is, for a given "wad" of savings, plan on 1/3 for the land, 1/3 for the main building/house, and 1/3 for "everything else". Too many homesteaders end up "land poor"---spending too much on the initial land purchase and then not having enough for everything else. In my own experience I avoided this by not budgeting for a house in advance at all, but just camping, then building a "scrounge cabin" of recycled and scavenged materials, and only moving toward "official" buildings much later with more cash in the system. Local laws and the diligence of permitting and code enforcement comes into play here.....much easier where these are either lax to begin with or overworked!
Any permanent building, conventional or alternative, takes way more work and/or time and/or money, or all three, than just about anyone thinks. Some kind of quick transitional housing is a prerequisite....adequate enough to get you through a winter just in case a spring build startup runs behind! Many people opt for an RV, camper, trailer, or cheap mobile home to do this.....although I started with a tent! ( I was in GA, after all!)
 
Alder Burns
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Location: northern California
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As far as income goes, I found that I could survive on $3- $5K per year, given the following:
-The land access was paid for....I was either living as a wwoofer on someone else's place or my own land was gifted to me....i.e. no mortgage.
-I was young, inordinately healthy (i.e. no regular doctor, dentist visit once per year or two, dosed myself with herbs, veterinary antibiotics ordered on-line, etc.)
- It was a time and place where any shortfalls in homestead food production could be made up, and more than made up, by dumpster-diving. My first two cabins, each ~150 sq. ft, in size, were largely built from scrounged materials.
- It was in an area where no attention needed to be paid to permits, building codes, and such like. Humanure compost, greywater, spring water for drinking, and such like were the default.
-A life more like camping than anything else for the first few months or years till the cabins get built....

That said, it was an extremely rural life, and therefore socially isolated. More than half my annual income went to keeping a vehicle on the road, and taking in a couple of gatherings and/or festivals each year.....
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1282
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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I'd suggest he not quit his job until you have everything established. Imagine the trauma of buying the land and starting on the house only to run out of money and never finish. So I'd wait on the quitting until the house is up and running and the food systems are in place. That's just me. I like my safety net.
 
John Wolfram
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Location: Lafayette, Indiana
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elle sagenev wrote:I'd suggest he not quit his job until you have everything established. Imagine the trauma of buying the land and starting on the house only to run out of money and never finish. So I'd wait on the quitting until the house is up and running and the food systems are in place. That's just me. I like my safety net.

This is great advice. It is amazing how easy it is for things to cost twice as much and take three times longer than you had planned.
 
Su Ba
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Everybody has a different idea of what it means to live a simple basic lifestyle. Everybody has a different idea as to what is the minimal they need to live. When hubby and I started our self-sufficient adventure, we made list and budgets. We carefully listed exactly what we spent during the year, every penny. That way we not only learned where our spending occurred, but could determine how much we could save if we eliminated certain activities..,...for instance, get rid of the TV and movies, ditch the store bought meat, stop buying new clothing and switch to used, ditch cellphone plans and go to pay-as-you-go (and stop using that dang phone so much!) The trick to save money for us was to stop spending it in the first place.

You'll need to make a projected budget -- what do you expect to spend, especially what may be different in your new location. When we moved we knew that the costs of purchased stuff would all be higher, but property taxes would be significantly lower. Automobile costs higher, but zero for heat and air conditioning. We needed to know roughly what we needed to budget for.

Identify your major expenses. For us it was insurances. We had to decide what sort of insurance and at what levels we were willing to maintain and which we weren't.

As for your house project, how fancy do you call basic? Will it need to be permitted? Septic system? A well? Will living in a half finished, roughly built home be fine? Or does it need to be pretty and "normal"? Plus are you able to do the construction, plumbing, wiring yourself or will you need to hire someone? All things to consider. How rough are you happy to live? My mother considers roughing it to mean living in a two bedroom rancher. We consider roughing it to mean a tarp tent and bucket toilet.

Income.....is your home business already flourishing? When you move will you still be selling to your same customers? Don't expect them to follow you, because with most businesses, customers demand convenience. I saw a store fail because it moved two blocks down the street. Lost its customer base over that short distance! Is your business already generating a livable income? Will it continue?

When we moved, hubby kept working to assure that we would have income until the homestead was not only self supporting, but also generating a livable income. Good thing he kept working, because we found that the livable income real difficult to accomplish even for our basic lifestyle. The farm is now self supporting, but we still need to accomplish that additional income issue.

In my area of rural, poor Hawaii I see people living ok on $12,000 per year income. But that assumes no debts, already own their land and whatever it is that they call their home, have no insurances other than the minimum required for a car, buy used stuff (clothes, car, items), get food stamps, and more often than not, do without things. They seldom see doctors and use the rural clinics, and take advantage of every free health service ever given, even if it means waiting all morning to be seen at a location that wasn't convenient. They generate income by working "under the table" doing odd jobs, making and selling stuff (art, crafts, useful items), growing food for sale, raising livestock for sale, or a combination of these. Usually it's a combination because they are always scrounging for money.

If you don't already have the habits for minimalistic living, you may wish to start practicing before you make your move. Hubby and I did just that for a year, but it was still a shock when we started living the real McCoy. Luckily the shock was buffered because we had already switched many of our costly habits. Living "poor" by choice was far easier for us to accept than living poor because we HAD to. Thus "living poor" did not carry negative feelings. We choose the lifestyle. A big psychological difference for us.

Best wishes for the next chapter in your life. May it be grand!
 
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