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Questions on Budgeting for the Ideal Life  RSS feed

 
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I've spent the better part of the last decade working in renewable energy. I've spent most of that time making good money and investing wisely, and I can see the moment in the future coming when I'll pull the ripcord and pursue a simpler life. There is nothing wrong with the one I live now, I'm just tired if the stress and long days that come with managing multi-megawatt wind farms.

My question is this: how much have you spent or are you planning to spend to build your dream homestead? I understand these numbers are highly individual and variable, but some more data points would be valuable for estimating for me. Are there any good resources or there that look at this issue you could point me to?

40 isn't so far off for me as it once was, and in the next few years I'd love to leave the rat race, do a little woofing for skill building, and then put down some roots as it were.

Ideally I'd like to own some land and build a tinyhouse/cabin free and clear off grid, with a few animals and raised beds for 100-250k, and would like to dial those numbers in a little better with real world data.
 
Posts: 228
Location: New Hampshire
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I am interested in this topic too.  My husband and I are only a few years off from retiring and we are trying to figure out how to get ready for the shift.  We want to stay where we are and get the property ready for us to live here for a good 40 plus years.  The shift to preserving ones assets and creating a more permie lifestyle is daunting.  
 
gardener
Posts: 7600
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Good for you David. It looks like you have beat the average, when it comes to managing your career and assets. Property prices and building costs are hugely variable. I think the most important thing is that you not lock up your money in any sort of investment that is not controlled by you. This way you are less likely to fall victim to fraud, and you will be able to access your money, when the time is right, without penalty.

It sounds like you may be too young to retire completely, so I wonder if you have given thought to running any other sort of business, besides whatever may happen in a farm situation. Do you have aspirations to start a small business? Or, will you just be looking to Homestead? This would probably have some bearing on where you choose to settle.
 
gardener
Posts: 1373
Location: Middle Tennessee
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The land prices are going to vary more widely than the colors on the spectrum. I know you can get land for well under $1000/acre in Alaska. My wife and I just paid $1750/acre for some land in Tennessee that's a mix of pasture and woods with two ponds and a seasonal creek. During my hunt for land, I learned a few things. Completely forested land runs cheaper than land with open pasture. Land that's been clear cut by a timber company is way cheap. I do recall coming across 200+ acre tracts of forest in Eastern Canada for about $60k. I think it really depends on where you want to live and what sort of lifestyle you want to pursue.
 
pollinator
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I'm guessing you're also thinking about tools tractors etc, well again you can spend as much or as little as you like, how much land you want will to some level dictate what size equipment you need, in my case we have 2.2 acres and no machinery past a tiller, chainsaw, and strimmer. I'm looking to go up to around 10 acres, but I do not want to bother with a tractor so we'll see. We started out spending less than 8k on everything including the house and land but I am not in the US so it is not really comparable. However I did do it 90% cheaper than is normal here, because we took on a old farm in terrible condition with poor land (badly drained, actually very rich soil) Having lived rent/morgage free for four years we're now looking at upgrading, a house with foundations and a ceiling that is more that 5'10 would be nice!
 
pollinator
Posts: 203
Location: Sask, Canada - Zone 3b
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Hey David, welcome to permies :)

Great topic you brought up, as it's the same questions everyone has pondered at least once in their life. The definition of Homestead, at least as I see it used commonly, is to be reasonably/fully self-sufficient by providing all the needs for yourself and your family.

To achieve that is not actually that hard or expensive at a basic level. If you want to bring all the luxuries of modern life style though, it may complicate things and increase the cost aswell. Since you wanted data points, you have to know how much land you need to feed your family and animals. Lots of people can homestead reasonably well on just 1-2 acres, though they aren't usually close to being self-sufficient.

To go further, this is what Bill Mollison, a permaculture expert, said about typical Zone sizes. (Learn about zone sizes Here)

Zone 1 = 1/4 - 1/2 acre
Zone 2 = 1/2 - 5 acres
Zone 3 = 5 - 100+ acres



I assume he didn't mention Zone 4 or Zone 5 because they tend to be areas that people don't develop much. So if those numbers have any validity to you, it seems like a minimum of 6+ acres would be a good starting point. 6 acres in the U.S could be anywhere from $6,000 to $60,000+. A way to help decide what that figure will be is deciding: are you going to stay in your local area(state), to be close to family&friends? or are you okay with moving farther away? Local land costs are typically static while the latter gives you a range of prices.

---

To bring in part of what Dale was mentioning, you'll have to decide on if you want to retire or not. The life-style you choose to have and the amount of money you have saved will directly effect that.

Personally I've seen people try to homestead, or even just move to rural areas, and many find it boring after awhile. Meanwhile, the people who have lived in the rural area their whole life usually have at least one side-business or craft/skill which prevents them from encountering this boredom. My point in mentioning this is that whether income is a problem or not, you'll likely need some hobbies to keep you going once you get settled.

---

Just something to think about, but a homestead life-style and a permaculture life-style are potentially very different in philosophy.

Lastly, how much of the work will you be doing yourself? Building the cabin, the raised beds, the area for animals etc.  



 
gardener
Posts: 422
Location: Sierra Nevadas, CA 6400'
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In my experience, any time you own land with the intent to improve it, your budget will expand to meet your bank account's size. There's just too many things you can spend money on to accurately estimate how much something might cost. I've always preferred to go the opposite direction when approaching budgets. How much am I willing to spend on this project? And then once I have that number, I can start breaking down how I want to spend it.

That being said, there are a couple of practices that are useful when trying to approach such a big unknown. The first is starting small and iteratively tackling bigger projects. Buy a piece of land and build yourself a storage shed. How much did that cost? How much gas did you use gathering the materials? Next, try and build a couple raised beds or an animal pen. How much did that cost? The idea is to keep tackling small projects that don't require you to live full-time on the land in order to get a better handle on expenses. After a year or two, you'll be much better at understanding how much different projects might cost. This unfortunately has a lot to do with the type of land you want to buy (ex: does it already have a house?).

The second is to pick a smaller enterprise and make out a budget. Let's say you want some chickens. You can look up market price for chicks, get a list of equipment needed from various books/youtube/etc, and figure out how much it's going to cost you. Now how much is that going to save you in groceries? What are the static costs (like a coop), and what are the recurring costs (like feed)? Once you've figured out a budget, try and get some feedback on it from someone who's already done this. Keep doing this for smaller enterprises, and you can get better and better at budgeting. Which means you get closer to the real cost. The bonus here is that you can come up with chunks of money for each of your dream homestead areas, and decide which ones are most important to you.

The third is to buy a piece of land, set aside a chunk of money and just go with it. This is the method I decided on personally (although, I'm not quite homesteading, and I still work and live elsewhere). I decided I wanted to invest $50k and see if I could get some profitable enterprises off the ground in 5-10 years. I split up this $50k into different buckets like equipment, vehicle maintenance, building supplies, etc. This was mostly guessing, but it was a good process to see how much I cared about things. For instance, I realized I cared more about getting a tractor than I did about improving my road. So instead of sinking money into my road, I was able to purchase a larger tractor. I also realized I cared more about building materials than I did about a larger solar setup. So I opted for a smaller solar setup with the knowledge that I have to run the generator more often and do things like 'turn the internet off' as a tradeoff for being able to build more structures. Personally, I really like this form of budgeting as it forces constraints and adapts as your dreams adapt.

And don't forget you can still make money if you want! There's no rule that says you can't try and make it with $250k, get 70% to your dreams and go back to work for a while. Designing for "forever" is such a heavy burden. Maybe try and keep it smaller — how can I have my dreams for the next five years? It's a lot less heavy that way.
 
David Winchester
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Thank you all for all the great replies so far.

To answer some of the questions asked more than once:

Location - I'm fairly open. I have ruled out anywhere within an hour or so of a metropolis, >6 hardiness zone, low insolation, and low rainfall (less than 20 inches/year or so), and outrageous property taxes. This creates a band consisting of parts of WA, OR, ID, a big chunk of the midwest, as well as MO, AR, and WV. I love the Pacific Northwest, it would be ideal, but I recognize how affordable the Ozarks and Appalachia are, and it would put me closer to family.

What will I do - Good question. Learn, mostly. My hobbies and ambitions for the moment are mostly literary, and thanks to the kindle my reading list is a mile long. I've heard it said that you often have the time or the resources to pursue your dreams, but rarely both at the same time. Will I retire at 40 and become idle? Unlikely. But after a year or two of taking it easy I'm sure some ambition or another will call to me; If I ever got really ambitious I would love to build a forge for instance. I imagine my plan would go something like... Year 1: build home (mostly) and maybe a small garden. Plant fruit trees. Year 2: Garden more + chickens and bees Year 3: goats maybe a pig plus all of the previous Year 4: who knows...

@Kate - I hope you learn as much from this thread as I hope to then. If you find any other useful resources please share them
@Dale - Choice wise I'm pretty open based on the above listed criteria. Any suggestions?
@James - The more you get, the more it costs, and if it's really beautiful it costs extra. What sites did you find to be the most useful in your search?
@Jarret - Thank you for the links, I'll start working through them. Land wise I have the theoretical budget in mind of up to $50k. You mention 6+ acres. What would you say the desirable maximum is before it start to become more about privacy than usefulness? I hope to do a significant amount of the carpentry myself, and all of the electrical. Plumbing and septic is something that I would pay someone more skilled than me to do.
@Kyle - Good advise, splitting it up into smaller milestones. I'll have to think more about that. My job is very 24/7 currently, and has been for years, hence the burnout. I love what I do, but I would like to do more with my life, so small projects are largely out of the question until I change gears.

In the spirit of splitting it up: lets remove land and home from the equation and agree that I have to budget those based on local individual factors. Based on my more specific above stated goals what would a reasonable amount be to budget for everything else: tooling, fencing, sheds, coops, trees, raised beds, irrigation, hives.. $20k? $50k? What purchases were so expensive they surprised you? I knew a solar system would be expensive for instance, but I had no idea how expensive a good wood stove could be, or that a solar system of any normal size wouldn't be able to run a water heater as planned.

If I found a great 10 acre parcel for say.. $35k, built a 400sqft house for $150/sqft, and $30k in .. other, that would be $125k in capital and a couple man years of work. Toss in a $20k emergency fund, and enough money to live off of for a couple years and you're looking at a little less than $200k.  Is that a workable plan, broadly speaking? What costs might I not be considering?
 
garden master
Posts: 1260
Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
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So much of this depends on where you will be building your life and what you want out of it. My wife and I decided not to be far removed from the urban centers but that meant we had to spend a lot more for less land compared to land in the country.

We bought 2.86 acres of land with a small house that was recently upgraded and remodeled. The house has 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. No garage and no dishwasher but a nice pantry and it fits our needs. We spent around $250,000 for this place. Since we bought this place a year ago the price has gone up at least 10% on average for homes in my area. My wife and I are 33 and 32 and we never plan to sell this place.

So while expensive we hope to have it paid for in 10 to 15 years at which time we will have no debt and very little in monthly expenses. We are on well water and have a septic system. Our place is outside of the urban growth area and currently zoned 1 house every 5 acres. My goal is to eventually buy the 7 acre field next to my place.

We are working to improve the land we own through a long-term permaculture design. This will drastically change the land and hopefully we will one day be growing at least 60% of our own food. I also hope to start a business based around my homesteading that will cover our financial needs. If I can grow most of our own food and reduce our other expenses then this should work. Since we never plan to sell this place we have some time and everything we invest in it will be there for us in the long run.

Living close to town was an expensive choice but it has some big advantages. There is a bike and pedestrian trail that can take me all over to wild areas, urban stores, doctors, etc. I ride to work and it is only 3.5 miles away for me and is mostly through forests with ponds. We are also only an eight to ten minute drive away from a farm store, hardware stores, multiple grocery stores, dentists, doctors, a hospital and a library. The northern tip of the property is adjacent to an elementary school where my son will be going in a few years and the middle school and high school are down the road the other direction. There are also several state parks within a short drive. My wife and I are also both active in our community and being close to town let's us continue doing that and makes it easy to host people. We are also close to family.

But we are on a busy road and have to deal with that noise and traffic. We have more neighbors than I would like and while it feels fairly rural that could change overtime with new development. It also made our place expensive.

But even if all fossil fuels went away I could still walk into town without any trouble. It has also been easy to get mulch delivered for free and it has been easy to get other supplies cheap or free. This would likely be harder in an rural area.

So for us this place works but it was a lot to spend upfront. In 15 or so years it should be great and our regular expenses will be a fraction of what they are now. But we will have invested a lot of money to have that life. If all goes well we will essentially be retired from the rat race by our mid to late 40s and we would be living on a great and productive permaculture homestead which works for me.

 
Posts: 211
Location: near Athens, GA
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In the Permaculture tradition, I can only answer, "it depends".  In my childhood, there were times of plenty and extreme want.  I learned to appreciate the finer things and how to do without.  I was very successful early on and experienced the pleasures being a successful young man brings.  Unfortunately, I started a business about that time, that failed.... I went into serious debt.  I spent a decade paying that debt off.... and missed out on a lot, socially.  I learned to live on about $10,000 a year.  That meant no dates, social life, eating out... etc.  I am 40 now.... flat broke.  But for the first time in a long time, I am not in debt.  I can live and eat very well on a budget that most would consider extreme poverty.  So, you have a wife... that is the greatest asset in the world.   I'd trade a limb for a wife.  When I was a younger man, I a=had to budget money for dates... no need now that I'm old and ugly.  But, you even have a second income if needed.  What do you really need  now?  If you have kids, you have to provide.... my single mother fed us on $10 a week in the 1980s.... without government assistance.   She kept a garden.  We ate a lot of lentils and I learned to hunt fish and forage at an early age.   I don't think there is a house worth more than $200,000.  Sell it.  Buy land.  Go rural.  Or, if the property you described is in  a profitable area (yuppies, retires, trendies, etc who will by stuff)... then just maybe it is worth the risk to keep what you have and buy more land.  I wouldn't.   Learn to live on less than $12,000 a year.  I eat extremely well.  Granted, I have been a chef.  But, simply learning to cook for yourself will reduce your grocery bill to $5,000 a year... and that includes a lot of store bought wine..... I've cut the bill to near nothing since I began procuring my own food and making my own wine.... I've done that off and on for years.  Buy an old used vehicle - pre 1995 - and learn to do some basic auto repairs.  Learn some basic plumbing and such for your house.  Plant a garden.  Learn to hunt, fish, trap and forage.. get a few filed guides and such.  When you plant a garden, plant a bit extra to sell.  People would be amazed on just how little it actually takes to live on...  Beyond that, do not go into debt.  If you have debt, prioritize paying it off.  If you are debt free, every dollar you make is your own.  If not, it is someone else's.  Look for every way you can to make money, and do it if you can.  I am extremely well educated, but I have delivered phone books and hauled off junk, with no shame, when I needed the money.  Me, educated... over qualified for many  jobs.... I've cut grass to pay the bills, more than once... and, found it more gratifying than a desk job working to pay debt.  So, you ask home much you need?  I can live on near nothing.  Never, ever assume a standard cost of living.  Figure out what you need for a basic living... then figure out how to reduce that.    
 
pollinator
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Wj, great advice. Having achieved achieved successful homesteading status after years of work, I can look back and say there were certain factors that turned out to be important for us......
...eliminate all debts before quitting a job and taking the leap
...learn to live on a whole lot less cash. In my area, local people can live on $12,000 a year. But that means a totally different set of values compared to a lot of people, especially urbanites and suburbanites.
...figure out where your money is being spent and change those habits. We cut out the extra landline phone, the cellphone contracts, the new vehicle, the insurances that we sucking us dry, the weekly dinner & movie out, the vacations that cost money, the new clothes, hairdresser & nails, etc.

Like Wj, I've learned to do just about any job if I need cash. Pick coffee or macnuts. Create a garden for someone else. Pick up trash and haul it to the dump. Remove trees or brush. Mow a lawn. Paint a garage. Repair a window. Quite honestly, I haven't turned down a job unless it was beyond me.
 
Wj Carroll
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Location: near Athens, GA
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Su Ba wrote:
Quite honestly, I haven't turned down a job unless it was beyond me.



Right on!  Politicians are always talking about "jobs Americans won't do".  I've scrubbed toilets working along side illegal immigrants and enjoyed working with them - made some good friends and learned some new recipes cooking together in off hours.  Honest work is virtuous.
 
Jarret Hynd
pollinator
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Location: Sask, Canada - Zone 3b
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David Winchester wrote: @Jarret - Thank you for the links, I'll start working through them. Land wise I have the theoretical budget in mind of up to $50k. You mention 6+ acres. What would you say the desirable maximum is before it start to become more about privacy than usefulness? I hope to do a significant amount of the carpentry myself, and all of the electrical. Plumbing and septic is something that I would pay someone more skilled than me to do.  



That's a tough question, potentially at least. Since you are new to all this, I usually have a philosophy that more is better if you have the extra resources for it. It's not like land prices will be decreasing after all. Worst case is you sell the excess or maybe another option is that if you had 16-20 acres or so, you could trade a couple acres(even just renting) to someone to come homestead in exchange for teaching you the ropes. There are lots of people requesting just that on these forums already.

Desirable comes down to whatever you can manage. Just like in a garden, any empty space will be taken up by "weeds". If you haven't managed land before, 1-2 acres will likely be a big challenge. I've only managed less than an acre the last few years, and doing it part-time keeps me busy enough. I guess to make a distinction, I'd say 10 acres of mixed forest/grass is easier to start off with compared to 10 acres of grass - the trees can always manage themselves. Forests are resources that have many uses while grass is mostly a soil builder and cow food. For that reason I'd personally try to get between a 1:1 to 1:3 ratio of grass to forest on the land.  

Since you have some time before all this begins, I thought I'd mention that getting earthworks done is pretty low cost for what you get in return, though it would require a lot of research about the land you end up with. (permaculturenews is the first link that keeps coming up in my google search, no affiliation lol)

David Winchester wrote: I knew a solar system would be expensive for instance, but I had no idea how expensive a good wood stove could be, or that a solar system of any normal size wouldn't be able to run a water heater as planned.



There is a technology known as a rocket mass heater which might help deal with both of those problems. My friend bought a $2,000 wood stove, which was okay, but I never was really impressed with it. After a few years of research, using some thermal mass(like bricks)+passive energy(sun) to heat your house is by far the most efficient way to go. For water, it would depend on where you end up, but a RMH gives you the ability to control your thermal mass further to boil water or heat the house with very little fuel needed.
 
James Freyr
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David Winchester wrote:
@James - The more you get, the more it costs, and if it's really beautiful it costs extra. What sites did you find to be the most useful in your search?



I used LandWatch a lot, along with LandsofAmerica. Landwatch allowed me to set parameters for what I was interested in and they would email me new listings that fit my criteria. Landwatch was also nice to save favorites, and then thin those out after looking at each property on google maps, and see what's going on with the neighbors or further down the road. I learned real estate listing photographs can be deceiving. I found one cool place that looked really promising and then discovered on google maps it was next door to the county fairgrounds and the circle dirt track. No wonder it's for sale! Who wants to put up with that noise. It was priced well within our budget for the amount of acreage. Other things I discovered about neighbors using google maps was things like excessive amounts of automobiles scattered around a house, or mountains of crap that looked like the people are running a salvage yard, and what looked to be like backyard dirt bike/atv tracks. Peace & quiet was a criteria for my wife and I as we currently have a redneck neighbor who has the stereotypical jacked up truck with no muffler and thinks it's real cool to spend a minute revving his engine every time he enters or exits his vehicle. He reminds me of those silverback gorillas that beat their chest just to remind everyone of his presence.

Other things I discovered on google maps was industry that's too close, such as chemical factories or CAFO chicken & hog "farms", things we didn't want to be near.

We looked at property in west virginia, and while some of them were absolutely beautiful, I learned that a lot of fracking is going on there, and we decided we didn't want to be in any proximity to that sort of activity. https://www.fractracker.org/map/

We also used other resources to see what sort of power/oil/gas industry might be nearby, like https://www.eia.gov/state/maps.php

My wife and I garden both annuals and perennials, and with our new homestead we plan to expand what we grow, and also provide healthy pasture for future livestock, so soil quality was very important to us. I used the USDA's web soil survey to learn a ton about the soil on potential properties and further thin out potential places that had poor soil. https://websoilsurvey.sc.egov.usda.gov/App/HomePage.htm

I was able to weed out what appeared to be good properties for my needs without ever having to leave my living room by using websites such as the ones listed above.

Hope this helps and good luck on your quest!

 
Kate Muller
Posts: 228
Location: New Hampshire
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Since you are looking to relocate to another part of the country I would suggest renting for a year in any area you are considering buying in.  I am in NH and know quite a few people that have moved form out of state and ended buying a house/property when they first arrived.  Since they didn't take the time to get to know the area, culture, and level of government intrusion wound up unhappy.

One of the reasons I want to stay where I am is because I didn't buy a house when I first arrived in NH. It was a good thing since my lifestyle, goals, relationships all changed as I got settled including meeting my husband.  We eventually bought a place together that we love and fits our needs with room to homestead.    
 
gardener
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Make sure to check out particular areas throughout the year too, so you find out what the weather swings are like. To give my own recent experiences, I was made aware of Stevens county WA by posts on this site, and wanting to live in the region already, the county's building code exemptions won me over.

So I flew out a couple weeks ago, expecting to see some winter weather but not wanting to drop in neck-deep and miss some areas due to weather later in the season. Most of the raw land is sold in 20 acre parcels, as timber companies purchase a parcel, harvest marketable timber, then resell. There are also some serious mountains, so 4x4 with snow chains and a snow plow is mandatory in a lot of areas. Wells have to be really deep in those spots too, and with the Hirst decision( http://www.futurewise.org/assets/card_images/Hirst-Decision.pdf residential water exemptions can go away for state-controlled water rights, if it impacts others; previously exempt wells were allowed) you might not get a building permit if your well impacts others and isn't allowed.

As luck would have it, the last parcel I looked at was a level area with easy access and the water table less than 100' down (drilling a well tends to run $50 per foot around there), and my offer was accepted a couple days ago. The parcel is on federally adjudicated land, so the Hirst decision doesn't impact me- a well for personal residential use is still exempt under the federal decisions managing water rights there. You can call the county where you look and ask about the water rights for parcels before you make offers. There are other houses in the area, so the chance of herbicide/pesticides being sprayed by a timber company nearby are much lower. While the property is in the valley, it's not in a flood plain and being at 1900' elevation means less extreme cold versus the 4000' mountains you can see nearby.

It's around 20-30 minutes to shopping and services, and half a mile to the paved county road. The latter is important, I looked at a couple properties that were "conveniently" right on the county road, so access was perfect, but the road noise was intense and would be consistent throughout the day. Logging trucks driving by was really loud, while the half mile ride to the parcel I'm getting makes road noise silent. When you plan to be outside a lot working on projects and tending plants/animals, that's pretty important.

Do you plan to build using the trees on a property, or bring in a trailer or mobile home? Usually sites will say if mobiles are permitted, and if you see CCR=yes, probably best to move along due to the "codes, covenants, and restrictions" in place. The neighbors will constantly nose around at what you're doing too, based on those CCRs. So if you find property with enough mature trees, and plan to build with them, then you can reduce your costs... assuming you know how to safely build a log structure or equivalent. If not and you show up with a chain saw to see how it goes, your new neighbors might notice the smell a week later when you go missing! Gotta be careful and know what you don't know to be safe!

If you are willing to live in a small camper as you build yourself, then you can make something affordably compared to a professionally built house. Not sure the pro-built house would be faster, when you factor in the extra permits and inspections and delays between subcontractors showing up which may happen. Unless you're an action movie star though, your own pace might be much slower than you anticipate. Depends on what you spend for things like excavators... freshly cut trees are HEAVY, plan accordingly.
 
pollinator
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One of the things that I'm doing in my search for a new place to live is keeping an eye on the daily weather. Averages are all well and good, but they don't tell you everything. The weather app on my phone will show the temperature at multiple places with just one look. Most of the places that I'm considering have similar overall weather to where I am now, but the ups and downs are more extreme.
 
master pollinator
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As a person who retired 2 years ago at age 42, and then went into farming full-time, my perspective is a little different.

In my experience budgeting is not the challenge, but rather cash-flow, as most financial planners will tell you. In short, with farming the vast majority of what I do...the vast majority of what I HAVE to do today...does not pay me cash dividends for quite awhile. For instance putting up sheep fence, that might be a Spring Time job that must be done to get my sheep on pasture, but I will not sell the lambs grazing within that pasture until August. That sounds easy, but coming up with expensive fencing and not getting reimbursed for until months later, can be problematic, when EVERYTHING a farmer does is that way.

It is expensive to live, even when you do so cheaply.

Often times this will mean selling products just to get cash today. A case in point is cutting wood. In a perfect world I would cut hardwood off my land and into rounds, split it, let it dry and sell it as seasoned firewood in 2 years time at $230 a cord. That would be an ideal situation. Because I often need cash today, it means selling the wood at tree length prices for $70 a cord to a local paper mill. That sounds stupid on paper, and sounds like lack of planning on my part, but that is reality versus theoretical plans.

1 person may have a little pile of cash, but there is a whole world out there trying to get it as well. Those are overwhelming odds.

But I would not change my life for anything. For the first time in 40 years where I worked so hard to get to this point, I have the luxury of time. Like anyone, I have 24 hours in my day, but what I do with that time is only dictated by me. That is nice, and I get to spend time with my wife and kids. Perhaps if I did not have a wife and 4 young children it would be different, but that is also part of the thrill, being with them as they grow. I have had several dinners with my youngest daughter in Pre-K, and gone to parent-teacher conferences, and been a united front with my wife.
 
Posts: 13
Location: New Mexico USA
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David Winchester wrote:I've spent the better part of the last decade working in renewable energy. I've spent most of that time making good money and investing wisely, and I can see the moment in the future coming when I'll pull the ripcord and pursue a simpler life. There is nothing wrong with the one I live now, I'm just tired if the stress and long days that come with managing multi-megawatt wind farms.

My question is this: how much have you spent or are you planning to spend to build your dream homestead? I understand these numbers are highly individual and variable, but some more data points would be valuable for estimating for me. Are there any good resources or there that look at this issue you could point me to?

40 isn't so far off for me as it once was, and in the next few years I'd love to leave the rat race, do a little woofing for skill building, and then put down some roots as it were.

Ideally I'd like to own some land and build a tinyhouse/cabin free and clear off grid, with a few animals and raised beds for 100-250k, and would like to dial those numbers in a little better with real world data.



Well land here in New Mexico goes for about $1000 per acre - on average.  Western New Mexico while less populated as lovely mountain views and has higher prices. While southern New Mexico (Deming) is more populated wit lower prices. And they too have lovely mountain views... So I have no idea what gives there.

There is the unfinished cabin with a small trailer house with a septic system in Western New Mexico which is priced $17,000 for 5.41 acres. That is a cabin shell, four exterior walls, a roof and insulation. So about half of the work is already done.

Only down side is its on fortieth and plumb, forty miles from no where plumb out in the sticks.

I have been pricing land in several states, I'm trying to get an idea of what type of climate choices I have, what kind of taxes, restrictions, etc that different states offer. And of course the biggest stumbling block would be the $ mark.

I'm good with planning things. too good. I spend a good deal of time sitting here thinking of what steps I should take, which goals I should set in what order, how much money I will have to work with down the road, how big of a debt I want to be crushed under... lots of things.

Frankly, for that $100,000 you have decided to set aside that is like three times the amount I would require to purchase decent land, sink a well, lay in a septic tank, build a tiny house, plant a forest, and buy a couple of horses and a carriage.

But then I know how to build, I know that there are alternatives to alternative ways to build, I am also not in a huge hurry to get everything at once since I am essentially a man who is content with little and desires not much beyond that. A little bit of land, a small roof, a garden and a place to lay my carcass down and die.

So you need to know what your needs are, what it is that satisfies you and start looking at numbers, price land, price building materials, look at alternative building practices.



 
Posts: 80
Location: Nomadic
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Great thread. Many great ideas and suggestions. Is it laying down to rest?  Hopefully not to die. Can it it be revived. My input is actually to remind myself not to protect yourself no matter what.  Make sure to save in something that can not be touched even by a trusted partner. Unfortunately there are too many examples of folks finding their savings have been drained, cards maxed out, checks written, etc.
David, what's the horse and carriage for. Is that for a business. That can do very well.
 
David Singer
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Location: New Mexico USA
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I have poorly controlled seizure disorder. I have generalized partial complex epilepsy which not only includes tonic colonic (grand-mal/fits/convulsions) I also have absence (petit mal) seizures and moments of either an altered sense of reality or an uncommonly enhanced perceptions of the truths of reality (joke).

While the tonic colonic are controlled via medications, I still get my 'moments' which can last 1 second to a minute. Most often its only a second or two, but the states appear to have no wiggle room for a driver who might lapse for a second or two.

So I am left with either getting married to someone who can drive (seriously not a good reason for marriage) or I have to come up with a novel way to get to and from town from  my 'remote base of operations' or homestead.

Our current society has developed the means for a person to be remote and still connect to the internet and order things online - I just got a few items from Wal-Mart last month, and was surprised to have the UPS guy at my door with a rake, shovel and 50' long garden hose. I have yet to try it with groceries.

While its now possible to actually live a distance away from a town, the idea of being stranded there isn't a happy one.  So I'm thinking I might get myself a horse or two and live within riding distance of a town/small city.

 
Mark Tudor
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Location: SoCal USA
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You might also consider something that doesn't require a license to drive, like a ATV. A covered 4 wheeler, modified so that the throttle requires you to maintain a grip on it like a motorcycle, could be an option. My thought here is say you are driving along, with a seat belt, and you have tension on the throttle. You have a "moment" and you lose your grip on the throttle. It would roll to a stop and the seat belt would hold you on the seat.

Now it could roll for a ways, especially if going down hill. So I wonder if there is some other mechanism that could engage the breaks as well? The other issue is whether it would be allowed on the necessary roads. With lights, turn signals, and a license plate perhaps, I have no idea. But maybe something like that could be an option if UPS and Uber aren't?
 
Kate Muller
Posts: 228
Location: New Hampshire
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David Singer wrote:I have poorly controlled seizure disorder. I have generalized partial complex epilepsy which not only includes tonic colonic (grand-mal/fits/convulsions) I also have absence (petit mal) seizures and moments of either an altered sense of reality or an uncommonly enhanced perceptions of the truths of reality (joke).

While the tonic colonic are controlled via medications, I still get my 'moments' which can last 1 second to a minute. Most often its only a second or two, but the states appear to have no wiggle room for a driver who might lapse for a second or two.

So I am left with either getting married to someone who can drive (seriously not a good reason for marriage) or I have to come up with a novel way to get to and from town from  my 'remote base of operations' or homestead.

Our current society has developed the means for a person to be remote and still connect to the internet and order things online - I just got a few items from Wal-Mart last month, and was surprised to have the UPS guy at my door with a rake, shovel and 50' long garden hose. I have yet to try it with groceries.

While its now possible to actually live a distance away from a town, the idea of being stranded there isn't a happy one.  So I'm thinking I might get myself a horse or two and live within riding distance of a town/small city.




I have a rare connective tissue disorder that is starting to effect my nervous system.  It historically just made me prone to joint injuries and weird allergies/ sensitivities till 2 years ago.   My mother and sister also have it and both of them are severely disabled at this point so it is some thing we are planing for.  Our choices do cost us more but they work for us and we are designing them to work for us when we are in 70's and 80's too.  Home renovations will be designed for longevity, ease of maintenance, and aging in place.  

When my husband and I took our PDC it taught us to really evaluate what our needs and wants were.   It helped us figure out that it was better for us to buy an existing smaller ranch house on a couple of acres 15 minutes outside a small city.  We found a place on the southeast/east side of a hill that is sunny and zoned agricultural.   We are so glad we sat down and figured out that being closer to stores, doctors, hospitals, and the interstate was something we would need if his parents wound up moving in with us or we stayed here till we in our 80's.   We may not stay here but we want to develop this place so we could. I know far to many people who wound up disabled in there 40s and older folks who have to move because they can't manage in the home they bought when they were young.  

Fast forward 4 years later and my health is causing me all sorts of limitations including not driving. Hopefully it will be temporary but this whole situation would be a nightmare if we had bought a place another half hour to 40 minutes further west.   Friends have been giving me rides to doctor's appointments and my husband has been amazing with all of this but I would go out of my mind with out my social network. Being in an area where you have a good social network is so valuable and should be something to consider before settling down somewhere.  Renting in the area you are interested is a good way to see if you establish a good social network.  
 
Posts: 243
Location: SE Oklahoma
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David Singer wrote:I have poorly controlled seizure disorder. I have generalized partial complex epilepsy which not only includes tonic colonic (grand-mal/fits/convulsions) I also have absence (petit mal) seizures and moments of either an altered sense of reality or an uncommonly enhanced perceptions of the truths of reality (joke).

While the tonic colonic are controlled via medications, I still get my 'moments' which can last 1 second to a minute. Most often its only a second or two, but the states appear to have no wiggle room for a driver who might lapse for a second or two.

So I am left with either getting married to someone who can drive (seriously not a good reason for marriage) or I have to come up with a novel way to get to and from town from  my 'remote base of operations' or homestead.

Our current society has developed the means for a person to be remote and still connect to the internet and order things online - I just got a few items from Wal-Mart last month, and was surprised to have the UPS guy at my door with a rake, shovel and 50' long garden hose. I have yet to try it with groceries.

While its now possible to actually live a distance away from a town, the idea of being stranded there isn't a happy one.  So I'm thinking I might get myself a horse or two and live within riding distance of a town/small city.



First, have you tried temporarily going off-grid where there is no EMF and you take no digital devices? Some people who had seizures because of cell phones or smartmeters or cell phone towers got rid of them by relocating where those did not affect them. I bought a meter thinking I had an RF problem and found out I had successfully mitigated the RF issue, but have a huge magnetic field problem.

Re: driving, I only leave the property 2-3 times a year, if that. Anything I need I order online and have delivered via FedEx, UPS, USPS. I can share a list of sources that provide 100% of what I need whenever I can't grow it here locally myself. All my organic grass-fed butter, cheese, bison, beef, poultry, most fruit, some produce are all delivered.
 
pollinator
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budgeting for the ideal life, or budgeting for a good enough life are different things for sure.

so i suppose it's a matter of how much you are willing to do without, the more you simplify your needs and wants, the easier it is to have a lot more freedom, in a way it is the not spending much money on things which BUYS you freedom of not having to work as a wage slave.

I suppose i should be embarrassed to admit that 12,000 a year sounds like a lot of money to me, and is 300-400% of what i generally make in a year.

I would not suggest my path to anyone else though, it is probably not for the faint of heart !

I think it is just because i am such an odd duck i can feel this is enough to get by on, and valuing as i do my free time, and also my passion for making art and craftwork, that keeps me going.
i suppose it would be strange to most, but regardless of this, i feel quite blessed.
 
Posts: 9
Location: Alaska!
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Hello Dear Permie Folks,

I may be young, naive, and idealistic, but here is my plan. My partner and I really enjoy very simple living. We currently live in an 8'x8' tiny tiny house with a great big Newfoundland. There is no running water, electricity, or heat. We also live in Alaska where the conditions are not the most moderate. This is all totally fine with us and most of the time it is just lovely to know that there are no bills, there is no mortgage, no worries. But we do want to upgrade. So here is the plan. We are currently saving up money, as much as possible, to move to the peninsula next year. We want to buy some rural land around there, just a couple acres would be fine, which seems like it will be between 10k and 15k. We are very interested in natural building and want to build a small cobwood or balecob home, roughly a 20' diameter circle-ish structure with either a living or a metal roof. We will use free, local, and recycled materials as much as physically possible, to keep the cost as low as we can. I don't plan to spend more than 5k on building a simple house. We want to build a rocket mass heater as the home's heat and hot water source. I'm not sure what the price will look like on that. I'm fine with having a simple compost toilet. For water, we may just carry it in which is what we are currently doing, and also collect rainwater. At some point if finances allow, we may have a well dug. We want to provide the majority of our own food, and have a market garden, with as many permaculture/food forest aspects as possible. Enough that we can store food for winter, keep seeds, and have a little bit extra for market as a little bit of income. My dream is to be able to teach about these things at some point for a little bit more income. We are both artists as well, and sell pieces occasionally, and with the extra space of the larger home we should be able to produce more work to sell. I'm pretty crafty as well and can make small goods to sell like books, knit or crocheted items, and so on. We would love to keep bees as well. So that is the plan, we want to be as self sufficient as we possibly can. Only spending money on things that we can't produce our selves like rice and sugar and things like that, and occasional meals out and activities. If we have to work part time jobs for a while that is fine. But our end goal is to just simply as much as possible and to just enjoy life. Let me know what you all think. Or if this is helpful at all? This community is awesome, and has the potential to change the world.
 
Posts: 3
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Hi Leila - could you give some more details on how you manage on so little - I would really like to learn. Looking for the same freedom.

leila hamaya wrote:budgeting for the ideal life, or budgeting for a good enough life are different things for sure.

so i suppose it's a matter of how much you are willing to do without, the more you simplify your needs and wants, the easier it is to have a lot more freedom, in a way it is the not spending much money on things which BUYS you freedom of not having to work as a wage slave.

I suppose i should be embarrassed to admit that 12,000 a year sounds like a lot of money to me, and is 300-400% of what i generally make in a year.

I would not suggest my path to anyone else though, it is probably not for the faint of heart !

I think it is just because i am such an odd duck i can feel this is enough to get by on, and valuing as i do my free time, and also my passion for making art and craftwork, that keeps me going.
i suppose it would be strange to most, but regardless of this, i feel quite blessed.

 
Posts: 596
Location: Bendigo , Australia
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Skandi Rogers, instead of moving because the ceiling is low, why not work out how to lift the ceiling height?
I have done it a few times, its not hard, and its means all your other work you have done is not sold off and created a situation whereby it needs to be done again at any new property.
 
Posts: 69
Location: Zone 4B, Maine, USA
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Hello David! Wonderful to hear a bit of your story. You have I have several things in common.

I'm 1 year 8 months into homesteading in Maine, but I came from Idaho (born, raised and spent 39 years there). I spent 15 years as an engineer in the power industry and have hooked up many solar and wind (and many other types) of independent power producers to the grid. From the very tiny to the very large. I spent several years in operations trying to coordinate between power companies, power producers and regulators. I'm sure we've shared many of the same headaches :)

My wife and I spent six months looking for homestead land in CA, OR and WA. ID is a lousy place to homestead in our opinion because it doesn't rain where the terrain is nice, and where you get precipitation the land is rough. We had one criteria that made our search extra difficult: we wanted to be within striking distance of an ocean. Not on the coast but near it. I couldn't find undeveloped (desirable) land for much less than $75k/acre and the good stuff (undeveloped) was often $100k/acre. That's why we wound up in Maine, it was one of the few places we could afford that matched our criteria. Yes, the winters suck :)

We were thinking of building a tiny house for our homestead, but that is not really feasible if you value a high degree of self-sufficiency. Unless you can find a place where you can reliably grow food year-round, food preservation alone requires a LOT of space: canning supplies, a root cellar... if you freeze you have that electrical load to manage and must solve that riddle of that space need.

If you heat with wood (which is the best idea, IMHO), you need to have the equipment to harvest trees, then split, cure and store firewood. That means more structures and, likely, a shop where you can maintain those tools.

What will you use to haul large things? We use a pickup. But you could use a tractor. Or a horse! But whatever route, there is "care and feeding" of that solution, which comes with it's own overhead and space requirements.

If you have a vehicle (and living in a rural area almost seems to require it), how do you store and maintain it? A garage is ideal, but rarely considered a normal companion of a tiny house. I have no garage, and no shop. Everything I do must be done outdoors. It kinda sucks. If you're on a tight build schedule but can't build because of rain... your hands are tied! I would think a garage and shop is one of the most important things to have on a self-sufficient homestead and they are not cheap-and-easy... which is why I don't have them :)

One big budget item to consider is what building materials will you use for any major structure? Will you build the house/cabin from standard building materials? If so cost estimates aren't too hard. But what if you build from your own materials off your wood lot? There is a well-know resilient, self-sufficiency guy not too far from me who build most of his place from post-and-beam construction of trees he harvested off his land and milled with a chainsaw. Crazy! You can save a lot of money that way, but obviously it's a big undertaking. The Amish around me build and sell portable saw mills. If I had the money I'd buy one!

We (two people) live in about 550 sq ft, and that's plenty. But I have 120 sq ft storage on the front of the house full (it has canning, brewing, breadmaking gear, tools, and harsh-weather clothes and shoes, and whatever seasonal project things are needed that we don't want sitting in our living room)... a 150 sq ft shed that's full (building materials, tools, riding lawn mower (I currently have two acres I need to mow, though I'm trying to reduce that), machine maintenance chemicals, fencing, gardening supplies and tools)... a 100 sq ft greenhouse full (gardening tools, pots, potting mix, two garden carts, fencing, low tunnel supplies, trellising materials)... I also have an outdoor building materials pile and a garden box for tools...

And I still have two wheel barrows, two saw horses and one stick welder that have no home! I want to build a von Backmayr drum for making seed balls (that can be converted into a thresher) as well. So I actually need ANOTHER shed. All this and I have no garage or shop, which I very much want...

So ruminate on what level of self-sufficiency is right for you and what level of purchasing-versus-sweat equity you want to employ, that'll help you build your budget.

We have been doing everything we can to keep costs down. So we do ALMOST everything DIY and try to get free building materials as much as possible, and build structures with techniques that are very cost-efficient (post-and-beam, post foundations, shed roofs, etc.) . Still our expenses are about $30k/year. That includes "mortgage" owed to the family of $12k/year, all "capital" money, and maintenance, of course. Our "mortgage" allowed us to not have to pony up the cash for the place and we'll have it paid off in a little over 3 years. Once that's gone, it will ease up the cash flow situation greatly.

The garage/shop I'd like to build is about a $50k project. My investment income streams failed last year, so 2018 is all about becoming more self-sufficient and finding new, clever income streams. Ask me in 2019 how we did ;) Regardless, that garage is probably a long ways off.

By the way IN MY OPINION we are in the biggest conglomerated market bubble of all time (including real estate). Again my opinion is that one would do well to avoid purchasing real estate until after the upcoming crash. But it could be years away... at least don't get into a conventional mortgage until after that. A cash purchase right now is perfectly safe, but I'm sure property values will plummet in many areas after the fact... if that sort of thing matter to the person. Again! Just my opinions :)

You're at an exciting juncture! Enjoy it and good luck!
 
John C Daley
Posts: 596
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Bobby, thought about starting the shed program with a smaller footprint and building up to the $50K size in steps
 
Bobby Reynolds
Posts: 69
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John C Daley wrote:Bobby, thought about starting the shed program with a smaller footprint and building up to the $50K size in steps



Love the idea, John, thanks! I'll definitely mull it over.

The real challenge I've taken a fancy to post-and-beam construction, which is a little awkward to build in stages. Additionally our winters here are pretty rough (the equinox is almost here - spring in the northern hemisphere - and we got over two feet of snow just two days ago! Now a cold front in blowing in with sustained winds over 30 km/hr...) and there is a lot of rain in the spring and fall...

So a structure does need to be protected from the environment. If I were to do modular building in stages, would that mean I need to cycle through attaching siding/roofing, then removing some if it to expand, then closing up the siding/roofing and then repeating that each building season?

Also I have to dig down almost 2m (between 5 and 6 feet) to get below the frost line for any foundation work, which is slightly annoying. Sheesh...

But I'll dwell on this and see how creative I can get! Thanks for the thought!
 
pollinator
Posts: 254
Location: Southern Finland zone 5
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What I'd do now if I wanted to start a homestead in my area

Buy a 2-4 hectares land with some sheds and an old barn and a house that is not livable but will serve as storage room. Part of those 2-4 hectares I'd prefer to be wooded so I'd get firewood for free.

Build a small house. If you can build it yourself you will save huge sums of money. I'd budget around 45 000 euros for a 45 sq meter house with all modern conveniences. This sum includes everything but labour. It includes second-hand furniture (very inexpensive). This is about the sum we spent on our new 45 sq m house. Some people may be able to build even cheaper.

It's the livable house that's the most expensive part here. Shops can also be quite costly to build, as other posters have mentioned. And I agree that a shop is almost a must for a homesteader. As is a shed where you can store firewood. A garage is very nice, but a shop can be made to double as a garage sometimes, if you're on tight budget. Our shop is a garage in bad winter weather, most of the time the car stays out in the open.

The real estate agents don't seem to put much value on old barns and sheds, at least not around here. We asked for an estimate for our place a year ago. We have 4 hectares of land, 1 hectare wooded and 3 hectares farmland. Many outbuildings, including a big old barn in relatively good condition. Our old house was not considered to be livable as there were big problems with mold. We didn't have our new house then. The estimate was 50 000 euros. If the house had been a modern big house in good condition the price estimate would have been 150 000 euros. So, if we had decided to sell the place and someone had bought the place and built the small house that we now have, that person would have paid
50 000 + 45 000 = 95 000 euros for a very nice little homestead with enough land and all the buildings that a homesteader with animals needs.
In southern rural Finland, not too far from a big* town.

*"big" on the Finnish scale , a small town in other more crowded parts of Europe


 
Posts: 2305
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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House 3bdrm, 1bath (40k parts +40k labor)
Support: Solar Heating (10K), Solar Electric (10K), Septic (5k), Well+Purification (20K)
Land $20k for the 1st acre (homestead/food forest), then $10k for the next 4acre (pond+milk goat+firewood), then $1,000 each additional acre (cattle/herd).

After that it is just monthly ongoing expense ($24,000/yrs)
Communication/Internet
Transportation
Shopping/Clothes
Hobbies/Tools
Vacation
Electronics
Family
Groceries
Going Out

Then Healthcare ($20,000/year)
 
Skandi Rogers
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Location: Denmark 57N
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John C Daley wrote:Skandi Rogers, instead of moving because the ceiling is low, why not work out how to lift the ceiling height?
I have done it a few times, its not hard, and its means all your other work you have done is not sold off and created a situation whereby it needs to be done again at any new property.



Only a 9 month long reply.. This house isn't worth trying to fix, it has no foundations, poor walls a barn that needs to be pulled down and rebuilt and poorly drained land. I don't think raising the ceiling would be at all easy here, though I am sure it can be done, but I don't see any way to do it without entirely ripping out the roof and probably supporting the walls somehow as the beams going across which are only 5'8 high to the bottom (luckily I'm 5'7 and he's 5'6) are also the ties holding the walls in. Not to mention all the wiring runs in the loft so it would be an entire rewire if that floor were removed. This house has done what it was meant to, given us 5 years rent free, and it only took two years to pay back the price. We've redone the roof and the front door but have still come out at least 2 years rent ahead money wise. We costed out the repairs that need doing here which includes a huge one of a new septic even though the existing one is only 10 years old it has failed, as there is no way the modern plastic things with only two drain pipes can drain in the pure clay we have under the topsoil. And the cost came to more than buying one with all of it done.

S Bengi wow that lot is expensive! 44k a year living expenses? we earn 1/4 of that and still have some left over at the end of the year.

Nina We're looking at a house right now, which is about 114k euros and it is that cheap because it has a barn, a HUGE barn 850sqm barn but still the house is also huge at 204m and it comes with 2.3 hectares of good farmland so it is most certainly the barn pulling the price down.
 
S Bengi
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Two people surviving on just $10,000 per year without any government aid is very very hard.
I assume that you don't pay the full cost of your healthcare just deductible, and that you don't pay car gas/insurance/maintenance/save for a new car  

Comm/Internet $1000/yr
...............

Trying to bring the cost down to $10,000/yr seems so hard. Would be super interested to see what a yearly budget looks like. I am sure I can learn something from it to save a few dollars.

Others might like it too and use it to help manage their budget.
 
Skandi Rogers
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Location: Denmark 57N
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S Bengi wrote:Two people surviving on just $10,000 per year without any government aid is very very hard.
I assume that you don't pay the full cost of your healthcare just deductible, and that you don't pay car gas/insurance/maintenance/save for a new car  

Comm/Internet $1000/yr
...............

Trying to bring the cost down to $10,000/yr seems so hard. Would be super interested to see what a yearly budget looks like. I am sure I can learn something from it to save a few dollars.



We're in Europe so healthcare is pretty much free, medication for him costs about $300 a year. (well plus whatever bit of the 12k we pay in taxes goes to it) We do have a car and cars are very expensive here, this one was bought this year for around $3000 and it's 15 years old with 156k miles on the clock. the old one died so it had to be replaced. A rough breakdown of costs is:

Car tax/insurance $1000
House/dog insurance (I already took tax off the figure we live on, but house tax is about $620pa ) $208
Internet $350
phones $50
Heating fuel (wood) $650
Bottle gas for cooking $103
Electric $930
Water $500
Medicine $300

Those are what I consider mandatory expenses

Food/groceries $3250
Clothing/shoes $156 (normally one pair of shoes each every other year and a couple of t-shirts/trousers each)
Computer upgrades $312 (averaged)
Pet food (2 dogs 1 cat) $400
Pet medication $200
Petrol/oil etc $750

Slightly more negotiable figures here, though the animals may not agree if they were not fed! Almost all of that petrol is used for shopping/visiting his folks a tiny amount goes into the lawnmower/strimmer/chainsaw etc.

Which leaves Just under 1000 left for things I have forgotten basic maintenance such as whitewash for the walls, the dentist or glasses for example. This year we actually had a few 1000 more as I sold a good amount of vegetables, this was the first year with extra however so the figures still stand. we used that to buy the car and do some drainage repairs. As you can see the car eats nearly a 5th of all income and with replacement costs factored in it probably does take 20% of all income. However not having it would be extremely limiting, it would more than tripple the dogfood bill, probably add an extra 10% on to groceries and all the petrol "saving" would vanish into bus/train fares. After our old one broke and before we bought the new one we went two months without a car, I think the worst bit was getting bottled gas, those canisters are heavy! I took our wheelbarrow up to the shop more than 5 miles away to get it!






 
Nina Jay
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Our total must-have expenses are very much alike Skandi Roger's, about 10 000 euros/ year for a family of four.

Our grocery bill is smaller, 1500 e/ year. We grow a lot ourselves.
Our electricity also used to be much less, this year we have used a lot more for our construction project (new house) and I'm not quite sure yet what the total electricity cost in the new house will be.

Dogs can be expensive We don't have a dog anymore, but we used to have a big dog and its insurance, specialty food and medicine costs were significant.

Where we spend much more than Skandi is on maintenance of the buildings and animal shelters. Construction materials are expensive here and we budget around 2000 euros per year for construction/ maintenance projects.

Shoes are a cost that I didn't have to worry about much in the city, but a homesteader wears out a pair of shoes quite fast!

Then there's stuff that's not absolutely must-have, like hobbies for kids, membership fees in the local farmers association, vacations, entertainment, visiting, gifts etc. We budget 4000 euros for those.
In total our living expenses are thus 14 000 euros/ year.
 
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