Homeownership has been on my mind a lot lately. I’m not sure why. It all started a month ago when I went back to the Midwest to visit friends and family. It hit me like a ton of bricks because prior to that, I thought I had myself convinced that I was bound for a life of travel and adventure. Shortly after my visit home I went to my favorite place in the U.S. (because I haven’t been to that many awesome places): The Black Hills in South Dakota. I thought, “homes and land are fairly cheap here; maybe I could just buy a vacation cabin for now and someday settle in.” That seems like a viable plan. As soon as I got back to Colorado I started scouring Zillow and Realtor.
What I found is that the real estate market is incredibly frustrating here. And what I mean by incredibly frustrating is “incredibly expensive”. I might even say “impossibly expensive” (for what I’m looking for anyways).
As a naïve, ignorant, stubborn, and flat out stupid early 20’something I got myself into a spot of trouble with real estate. I bought a duplex and a single-family home at the height of the bubble when I lived in TX. And then I moved away from TX, back to WI. And then the bubble burst. The next several years of my life were dark.
But I got over it. And all is well again.
I have definitely learned my lesson. I do not understand people my age or younger, that may not have the same financial means as I, that go out and spend $300k or more on a house simply because “$300k in Boulder is a good price!!” Ha! You buffoon!!! Yes, maybe it’s a ‘good price’ for Boulder, but guess what? It’s still $300k! Do you understand the implications and gravity of that amount of money? Do you know what that is going to do to your lifestyle? Gah!! I don’t get it.
But I am still envious of their ignorance.
As Americans, we’ve been told homeownership is the American Dream. Our older friends and relatives expect it. For the truly old school, if you have a steady job, a decent income, and are in your 30’s, your grandparents might start to get just as antsy about you owning a home as they are about giving them great-grandchildren. But for the people in my generation that have some intelligence, it’s not really for us. We saw the bubble burst; we saw net-worth plummet; we saw layoffs; we have huge student loans; and some of us can’t find jobs. Being saddled with an even huger amount of debt just seems silly. But again, it’s just for those of us that value a lifestyle rather than a house.
As climbers, being homeless is almost a fantasy, a dream, a right of passage. We yearn for that opportunity. What is it about not owning a home or not having to pay rent that seems so romantic to us? Why on earth would anybody want to live out of a Subaru Outback, with no electricity, with no plumbing, with no kitchen, with no TV, and still try to function in society? With a professional career? It just doesn’t make sense.
But it makes all the sense in the world.
And that’s where I am, caught between a strange dichotomy of strongly desiring a home, yet unwilling to give up my lifestyle just to afford one, and surrounded by peers that think I’m ridiculous for legitimately wanting to live out of my car (or something close to it).
I can’t divulge too much information, but I fully intend to live 2014 without a lease on an apartment.
I will be traveling extensively for work, and there is potential that I will not even be in any one place for more than a month at a time. If I alternate a month (or more) on the road, followed by a month (or less) in Colorado, it makes absolutely no sense to sign a 12-month lease. Towards the end of my travel dates, I will simply look on Craigslist for someone offering a room that I can stay in for my time back in Colorado. If I can’t find one before I return, my Outback is surprisingly comfortable to sleep in. Luckily our office has a shower. For all this time, I can simply put the rest of my stuff in storage.
If all goes to plan, I think this is a great way to force myself to learn to live minimally. Since graduating college, I’ve always had a lot of “stuff”, but it’s “stuff” worth having…provided I’m actually here to use/enjoy it. And while I won’t be living completely free of charge, the amount I spend on storage and the occasional room share will be drastically less than what I’m paying in rent right now.
Who knows, maybe with all that money I’ll be saving, I could actually afford a down payment on a house.
Don’t Miss Your Chance
I was stuck in Corporate America for 9 years. I was miserable.
Then I took control.
You can too, and it starts right here.
I think about home ownership and what it has become in the last 50 years or so from time to time. It’s a microcosm of the American way of life. Many people have fallen under the perception that going $300K in debt is ok because it’s your house and its a good investment. Wellll, housing it not a surefire thing, as you unfortunately learned. I happened to make out pretty good in first home purchase and sell, but that is not guaranteed. Prices do not always go up and up and up.
100 years ago homes weren’t financed. Families and friends helped each other out in building homes. Now the mortgages are just a way to feed the machine that is the American marketplace. Debt is still not awesome even if it’s in the form of a 2,000 sq ft living space.
If you’re travelling that much, then living out of your car and suitcase is definitely the way to go. I have a friend that has about your same schedule, but he chooses to rent a small room above his boss’ house because it’s really cheap. Plus, that’s just a disaster waiting to happen if you’re not there at least 50% of the time to keep an eye on thinhs
That would be a great situation. The problem is, I’d only be willing to do that for around $2-$300/month….and that just doesn’t exist in Boulder. Car and suitcase it is!
Sounds pretty cool. I’m sure it will get tiresome and there will be some ‘down’ times’. But that’s the trade-off.
My Dad used to tell me living on the road was tougher than most people think. And he would know, 🙂 He was an old time hippy.
I, on the other hand, bought a house, made a family and am currently saddled with 300k of debt. haha!
To each their own, but I will tell you this: Do as much as you can while you’re young.
It gets more difficult to break away as the years pass.
Shit, I feel guilty when I leave for 3-4 days.
I can’t help but think if you work full time and don’t have a house that you might have a decent downpayment. 🙂
(Disclaimer: I <3 nomadic living. I also <3 real estate.)
I really love the thought of that.
I can understand your frustrations with the housing market. I have recently moved back to Oahu, HI with the desire to purchase a home to develop a sense of roots. The conversation begins at $300k for something that would be considered uninhabitable in most states. The pay off is the style of and improved quality of life. I wouldn’t have it any other way and I will one day purchase a small, dated, overpriced home to call my own.
On a side note I have been living out of a “carry-on” for the last two months and it has been incredibly freeing. It is amazing how easy life is when you cut out the crap.
Best of luck to you in your challenge.
I’ve definitely considered the “lifestyle” aspect of things. It’s why I *am* willing to pay for a $300k-$400k house, *WHEN* I can afford it. Like you, that time is not now. 🙁
Interested in your “carry-on” lifestyle. Are you just jumping from place to place, living out of your car, maintaining a job…if you don’t mind me asking. You could use the “contact” form to email me if you’re more comfortable.
I think the van plan is a great idea. At the very least, it might give you a better idea of where you might want to throw down roots someday. Somewhere is just going to grab at you and you aren’t going to want to leave. Who knows where that will be!
As you already know, I do have a house and that nice big mortgage (but within reason – we still have enough to pursue our interests and travel at will). But I’m lucky enough to live in a part of the country where my home is my basecamp and I’m thankful for that. We are so close to everything we love to do. Had our home not been the ideal location for everything we love outdoors, we wouldn’t have put down roots in any hurry. So, don’t rush it. Keep on your plan and get exploring.
And if/when you do make it to NH, you’re welcome at our basecamp! 😉
I plan on living in my Toyota tacoma with a camper shell. Tiny but all I need is a bed. Maybe a house when I get a family. Work, bed, repeat. No need for a big house if I am not going to use it. I was paying 300.00 to live with 4 other guys. drove me crazy. It was always dirty and there was always drama and noise and crazy funky smells. My truck sounds like a dream by comparison so far. I move in as soon as the topper gets installed in about a month.My expenses should be minimal. 50.00 for a really nice gym with vip locker room and 24 hour access. Plenty of stealthy places to park. 80.00 about month for dry cleaning. Gas and food and phone which I was paying before anyway. It should be easy to save up for a down payment, and once I get a house I can continue on with my vagabond ways and rent the house to a nice family that will bassically pay my mortgage for me till I get married and settle down myself. I have a full time business and a part time job. It’s a little different but I bet it will lend itself to lots of freedom. I am sure society will frown on this lifestyle but I think it sound like freedom. I have plenty of warm comfy gear. Books to read. Work to do and places to go. My social life is never where I live anyway. If you like comment or leave me an email. I would love to be part of the discussion with fellow vehicle dwellers. Maybe we can have a meet up and tailgate sometime. Talk about past and future adventures.