Jeff Steez

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since May 01, 2022
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Recent posts by Jeff Steez

Thanks for the comments everyone. I understand what you're saying.

I like the idea of renting a place for 3 or so months and doing everything I can to find some land before the lease ends while saving all I can... Once it ends, put whatever non-essential belongings I bring into a storage unit that I can easily access as I build (pressure canner, miscellaneous woodworking tools, bread baking supplies, etc.). Once I have land, get a simple structure up and get to observing the land, maybe a bit of gardening. Enjoy the peace and quiet of building a foundational life while I begin the first timber framed structure: a small home... I'd need materials to purchase for timber framing, oh right, I can just purchase through the job! They even sell DIY kits.

I have rather "good" credit for now, although it took a bit of a tumble during COVID. It's hovering around 780, a number of old accounts on there, some new ones, I always try to use credit and pay it off for points and for payment history, etc.

I guess at the end of the day, I simply have to take a chance. As I stated in my first post, I don't have all the answers, but I do have a brain (that mostly works). I have... A sketch in my head, an outline, it is not a finished drawing, nothing is set in stone, it's not a painting, it can be erased and altered as necessary without much loss.

I suppose I can't be particularly afraid of failure. I do have a fallback, my family to return to if I really need to, but at this point in my life, that is becoming the last resort. I would almost rather live in a tent on some property for the rest of my life than be stuck here fantasizing about this reality I have in my head in my comfort zone.

And this reality does include a number of timber framed buildings! A small home, a workshop, a kitchen... I want to make a little village of tiny timber framed homes rather than a gigantic house, which I would be getting paid to build and learn about anyway... Not to mention, I have personal goals that inspired this desire to jump, I want to build and design furniture, learn to make guitars, etc and the job lets you use the large workshop on your own time.

It seems like quite the opportunity for me. Everything aligns, almost too well, though balanced by my uncertainty about living arrangements and my ability to "rough it".
3 days ago
Found a timber framing job in North Carolina. Setting up a week long trip to visit the area, enjoy the scenery a little as a bit of a break, go camping, fly fishing, meet the owner of the company and see how the operations work. If it works out and I'm a good fit, move by April 1st.

My main concern is of course... living expense. I do not know whether I should rent for around $800-$1,500/month. I have found as low as a 3 month lease, which could be a nice timeframe, acclimating to the region, getting my creature comforts out of the way and finding land to buy from the comfort of the internet... Or try to get suitable land as quickly as possible and live in a tent, make do with very little so that I can avoid the rental cost...
3 days ago

Robert Ray wrote:Have you or are you creating a portfolio of your yacht carpentry? I imagine that there are degrees of what some call a yacht carpenter. If you are doing fine joinery and finish work , that would certainly open up cabinetry and finish carpentry work to your search. A finish carpenter in our area is bringing in over well over 40.00 an hour for residential work depending on ability.  

I've taken photos here and there, but certainly I should've been doing as such the entire time. I suppose I can be a little foolish at times. We've done quite a bit of variation, as shown below. The thing with yacht carpentry is... Anything goes really, you do whatever you can to make it work, make it structurally sound, and make it look nice. There are few industry standards, as opposed to widely produced and standardized things such as cabinets. Yes, there's been joinery, and working with dozens of various chemicals and epoxies and such, but the complex joinery, timber framing, Japanese hand tools, are all largely my own interest. With that said, of course, we dabble in whatever.

I'm very close to booking a one way ticket to Missoula and winging it. I know I've been instructed to post only successes here, but... Maybe it's wise to purchase a ticket without a job secured, or a solidified plan... Maybe it isn't. It's sometimes hard to reason with people or prove commitment/sincerity over the internet. Rent seems to be around $1,000 for a low end place. I can swing that for a couple months without destroying my savings. Ideally, if I started working within 1 week of arrival, even better. I found a job in Huston at a fly fishing lodge doing housekeeping (a single aspect of all I didn't in remote Alaska) at $20/hour... Seems like a good fit. There seem to be any number of suitable jobs for my socially anxious being.

Right now, I live with family in Florida, "for free", so... What's the risk? I have a fallback. Worst case... I spend about $1,500 vacationing in Missoula, or I possibly change the trajectory and immediate value of my life for $1,500. It's a little gamble, kind of fun now and then, variety the spice of life. The potential benefits of success, leveraging my life, could be astounding. Or I could put myself $1,500 further backwards in ownership of land.

Where I live in Florida, I have no hope of renting and being able to save some without making $40/hour minimum. My family's house is cramped and it's getting to be too much for me. It seems like in Missoula, if I get a cheap place and a $25/hour full time job, I can rent and save quite a bit while ALSO (very importantly) having access to a ton of things nearby I personally would crave even while homesteading, or simply having a large garden, if I don't want to call it homesteading... Like access to rivers to fly fish, game to hunt, mountain biking, SNOW might I add... etc. The environment, it simply suits me.

Montana reminds me of a Lower 48 Alaska a little bit. I had barely looked at the state previously and now I'm utterly infatuated with it.

Edit: I am really not picky with how I earn money. It has its advantages and disadvantages. I would have no problem working in a bakery making sourdough and pastry, or working in a brewery making beer, or working as a timber framing apprentice, or working at a fly fishing lodge doing housekeeping. I don't have any... Innate inclination towards specific types of work. I am willing to do whatever I know how to do, or think I'd enjoy learning about.

1 week ago
I'm about to buy a one way plane ticket to this region of Montana but I can't settle... I have found suitable and potential jobs in Bozeman, Whitefish, Missoula, Kalispell, the Big Sky region, and I've got money to fly there then pay rent for a number of months if needed. I don't really intend to take most of my belongings, just a piece of luggage and a backpack for now...

It's extremely difficult to make a decision as to which town I should choose, especially when considering proximity to suitable homesteading land I intend on purchasing down the road.
1 week ago
Thanks for the tips, everyone!

This timber framing company, the representative was extremely kind, explaining Montana to me, opportunity, the room for advancement into managerial positions (I’m not sure with my social anxiety I could handle managerial positions, I’ll leave that up to the Universe. If I try, and it’s meant to be by virtue of my efforts, then as you say, hopefully a door opens)

Really, it sounds pretty darn good, better than I could’ve asked for… I don’t know all the details, and I’ll never know how good or bad it might be unless I try.

But framing traditional timber houses… not much else could suit my personality as well as that, and the pay is just about the same as yacht carpentry… but if I have to stay where I’m at and focus on my second job at a bakery, then so be it. I will continue to save and update my blog here.

My blog of successes!
1 week ago

Joe Hallmark wrote:It’s good to see you jumping in with some plans! I personally would never buy property I intended to live on and make my homestead if I had to hike in. For a secondary getaway or hunting spot no problem. Your partner will not like hiking in if you said she needs some modern things to be ok.

I think the internship is good even if you have a commute. 99% of people who live far out do this. It’s part of the game when you’re young. I know nothing about this particular area and how rural but also keep that in mind for your partners work when that time comes.

Overall I believe you’re moving in a good direction. Just may need some tweaks here and there but that’s life. Good luck on this journey

Edit. Modest debt for land and or house is not negative, they are assets. And more importantly it gives you peace of mind to have a claim staked. just check the market for whatever area and make sure the values match. Being from Florida everything will probably seem like a great deal lol.

You're absolutely right about the road, I may have gone to remote Alaska so I'm not particularly bothered by the notion, but I won't have a float plane to fly me in here! I believe that her considerations and needs will be paramount in this entire process, and although I do need to be able to follow my own internal compass at times, I simply have to take into account her needs, no matter how far away joining me may be.

So... Added to the necessities list is easy, maintained access.

I am absolutely astounded by what I'm seeing here prices wise for acreage, even in this more expensive Montana region. Oh yes, nothing like this exists where I am.

So far this mental process has been about stripping the craving for luxurious modern necessities for a while, living off of basics needs in order to build something more desirable that will manifest itself only in the future... And yet that future is built by the steps taken today.
2 weeks ago
Update 1 : 16th February 2024

I found a timber framing apprenticeship in Montana. This was after I found an absolutely stunning 10 acres for sale in Paradise, about an hour away from Missoula, and they have an upcoming project there. However they are based out of Bozeman and work around that proximity. But the plot is very rough. It's surrounded by national forest, it has a few private owner neighbors, and there's no road directly to it. I'd have to hike about 0.5 miles roughly from the forest service road to the property. It's also mountainous, I'm not certain if there's a flat spot for building. Not to mention, it looks like a fire burned through there, I know there are some Permies solutions to these things but being in Florida, not in the woods, I have zero experience with fire mitigation.

Summary: it's absolutely gorgeous to an Alaskan fanboy, but probably not the most suitable for a homestead, especially if I intended to keep animals.

I have a few options here (and I believe these options apply to any plot of land I find in the region... Because although the views are stunning, it doesn't look particularly suitable for gardening... Hunting, absolutely... Not so much gardening). If anyone has any other 5-20 acre plots in this region that would be good for homesteading, please let me know. Not sure if taking on debt in this case would be positive or negative.

1. I suspect the company will be around for a while. Therefore, I can continue on where I'm at, go check out the property and see if it's suitable, or if I can contact some neighbors, or have forest service put a road into it, all while earning a relatively standard wage here in Florida.

2. I could buy this plot of land after visiting if there's a flat spot suitable for a cottage, move immediately, and live in a tent while apprenticing as a timber framer. This could be a bit more expensive over time due to the nature of maintaining a reliable commuter vehicle, as work will be anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple hours away. However, I would be literally just living there freely, in some type of basic abode or tent, with nothing to do but be patient saving up money, enjoying the scenery, practicing what permaculture skills I can, gardening, etc.

Anyway, more research to do when it comes to land.
2 weeks ago
I decided would begin writing my progress and realizations down over time, not unlike a journal, so that perhaps it might be of some us to others in a similar position, especially in my generation, or folks in general whose lives have been ruined at some point and have to start over from scratch, and so that I avoid the "millennial malaise" that rears its head every time I think about the current market... Feeling that I haven't made any progress.

Background : Age 29. Raised in lower middle class American suburbs. Did not graduate college after a traumatic period of life. Wasted roughly 5 years afterwards in a severely depressive state. Had to restart life entirely from the ground up. I have severe anxiety, but no vices or addictions, essentially nothing that ends up costing me any money. Living in Florida with family after working in remote Alaska during the summer of 2023. Enjoys all things outdoors, physical fitness, mountain biking (though I live in Florida...), hiking, photography, making electronic music, woodworking and carpentry, sourdough baking, gardening and farming, brewing beer, fly fishing, and random homestead things.

Economic Status : (Shameful savings, this is difficult for me to display publicly) : No major debts : $5,000 in emergency fund cash : $3,369 investment portfolio ($2,784 invested, $585 profit) : $1,500 in savings I'm getting ready to invest. I have a number of useful homesteading assets already that I've accumulated over the years trying to find happiness, which now are my own property, can be used or sold, like a pressure canner, felling axes, a proper bow for hunting, etc.

Longterm Goals : Build a life suitable for the girl I love while maintaining my own principles and desires of self-sufficiency (food, natural materials, natural building, etc.), less modern stress, and more creativity in various forms, like building a simple chair... She cares about the environment very much, but she is a sensitive girl, and her lifestyle will require a safe, structurally sound and relatively standard home with electricity, ideally, I feel like I should learn timber framing so I can tackle a proper log home myself, or pay a company to haul the materials and see if I can join in to reduce the costs, or heck, even work for a timber framing company and get a discount building my own log home with their kits... She is multiple years away from graduating, so I have about 2-3 years to dig in, learn, figure something out, then perhaps sell whatever I build to relocate where she'd like (she also wants a decent bit of land so this is a great boon to me), rent it out on AirBNB/use as an occasional vacation home when not listed on AirBNB, or ask her to join me indefinitely there if she finds what I've created suitable.

Short Term Goals :
- Figure out a location to live, and how remote I'd like to be (I greatly expect to end up in the North... New England, Pacific Northwest...)

- Pack up and leave, pay one month of rent somewhere cheap while I look for land and a job

- Buy a yurt and put on plot of land I purchase to begin farming

- Figure out electricity and heat PRIOR to WINTER... I am not opposed to power at the road, although I intend to have a solar generator of some sort, or a standard generator, I do not know yet. Really, I have no idea what people do for this aspect when starting fresh or from scratch, but not being able to access Permies for instance, or being able to charge my phone, is not going to be ideal.

- ENSURE before anything else I have a ROCKET MASS HEATER built and food storage secured.

- Begin building a small COTTAGE. The COTTAGE is essentially my own personal end goal for this venture (of which, I expect in my life to have multiple ventures). I want a natural cottage, not huge, just right, I basically want to live in the embodiment of a perfect bowl of porridge, and make the yurt I was living in into some type of creative space, or office, etc.

Closing Notes :
I would absolutely LOVE to hear ALL suggestions, comments, advice, what have you relative to what I post. Suggestions for locations to live, steps I should take relative to where I'm at, you get the picture. I do not simply hear people, I truly listen to them and take to heart the things I'm told.

What I type here is not exhaustive... I do not know if it will change... I do not know where any of this will lead, I do not know if someone will hear of this and reach out to help nearby, or if I will be stuck on my own trying to make it until my love can join me, either way, I do not care anymore. I want to homestead. I simply decided... it's better to have a plan, get organized, not be pessimistic, and take actionable steps towards what I desire, documenting the process for both myself, and others that feel there might be no hope as well. It will require risk... It will require sacrifice... I do not know what these will entail.

I just don't know, and I don't think I ever will, and I suppose that's ok.
2 weeks ago
I'm not opposed to entry level (home) carpenter positions rather than yachts, because that position can be employed anywhere in the USA, I've also been researching timber framing positions, logging positions, general woodworking/entry level cabinetmaking positions. I really don't care anymore. I've been researching the entire USA for jobs then of course having to research rental prices, commute distances, it is not easy to get up and move but I'm about to combust living in Florida for a moment longer.

Maybe before the month ends I'll just rent a U-Haul, throw a dart on the American map and go, because I have savings enough to rent somewhere for a year doing absolutely nothing (or buy land and live in a tent). It would not be wise to spend my savings that way, I have a little bit invested at this point gaining interest in my portfolio, but if I'm going to be stuck as a renter for however long, I might as well go rent wherever the heck I want to live.

I've got a lady I love quite a bit to plan for, she's... a sensitive girl, I know that she would prefer a traditional home. I however, am rough, I did my stint in remote Kodiak, Alaska last year, I'm not afraid of living in a tent for the most part while I do whatever. However, like you said, trade offs. I enjoy making electronic music for instance. I do not expect to make money posting videos of my music on YouTube, but there's an opportunity cost there, it removes the possibility at least.

Thanks for the insight. This is not an easy game to play.
2 weeks ago

Christopher Weeks wrote:

Jeff Steez wrote:So, Missoula it is, it is settled then.

Jeff Steez wrote: I have simply no hope of ever owning a home making $25/hour with rental prices at nearly $2,000-$3,000 where I live.

I thought you were settled on moving to Montana..?

In five minutes of looking I found a job and a nearish piece of land you could build on.

It sounds like you need to figure out what's most important to you and then act on that. Maybe spend less time on thinking about all the things that aren't perfect.

I reviewed the post multiple times and became rather confused. I could've sworn the first time I read it, it said Missouri... then I reviewed it again and thought it said Missoula... Now I see today that it says Missouri... And yet there's no edit on the post. As you can see, that was where my brain was at, at the time.

I guess I don't understand how I am to build something on land if rent looks to be nearly 1/2 my income in any given area in any reasonable amount of time? I guess in any given job maybe by the time you're 90 you can manage to save up enough for a downpayment on a mortgage. That isn't exactly what I'm gong for.

I know my job/career path isn't magnificent but it's skilled work that still can't support me very well. I can probably manage to save about $10,000 per year after rent, car expenses, and everything else, MAX.

Am I supposed to return to college for 4 years to learn a new skill, losing 4 years worth of income while still having to pay living expenses and tuition? I just don't really understand how anyone manages to do this stuff (RIGHT NOW, starting from near scratch with the statistics to back up the claims, not 20 years ago).
2 weeks ago