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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Housing



The average house is like a patient on life support. It’s hooked up to all sorts of utility I V lines. There are water connections, sewer connections, electricity, gas, phone, cable and Internet. Some are bigger than others, but all depend on a monthly bill being paid.

Now picture an off-grid house with well, septic, and solar or wind generated electricity. Those are some big utility bills they won’t have pay. Right there are three less companies to owe money to. Ever get an error on a utility bill? How did that go for you? Companies have the advantage. The law system works for them a lot more than it works for you.

Houses are now being repossessed for unpaid utility bills. Imagine losing your house for an unpaid water bill. Isn’t that like killing a mosquito with a sledgehammer? The response far outweighs the problem.

Lately I’ve noticed people quietly moving onto tiny bits of marginal land. The lots aren’t suitable for a normal house. Sometimes the lots are too small or they are too close to wetlands, or other permitting deal breakers. Instead, they are “temporarily” parking trailers on their land. I’ve also seen Tumbleweed Tiny House types. They are tiny houses built on a flat bed trailer and they look great.

There are certain clues that these vehicles aren’t being parked for the weekend. A trailer that has two 100 pound propane cylinders hooked up to it isn’t there for the short term. Another give away is when someone puts in an outhouse. Personally, I’d rather use a humanure toilet, but to each their own. Then a couple solar panels appear and they are established for the long term.

Some people don’t even own marginal land, but keep their portable house moving. It might sit on National Forest land for a bit, then spend a couple weeks in a campground and maybe stay a while on a friend’s land. It might make a few day stop off at a Walmart parking lot.

Of course, I’m a big proponent of living on a sailboat. Make sure you pick one designed for independent living. Some boats these days are designed with such heavy power usage that they need to either live at a marina or at least make frequent stops there. What you want is a boat perfectly capable for long stays at anchor or on the move.

Your average house has big problems. It’s heavily grid tied, true, but it’s also heavily tied into political and financial systems. It has to conform to everything from building codes to deed restrictions. It can be a trap. A house used to be one of the few ways the working class could build wealth. Now it’s often a drain on finances with little hope of making it all back.

Some people have come to the conclusion that a house is to provide shelter, nothing more. They are opting for less space, bills, and more freedom. It’s hard to repossess a house for unpaid utility bills or taxes of you don’t have to pay any in the first place.

-Sixbears

20 comments:

  1. I like your opening statement. So true...

    In a recent conversation with guy I've known a long time, he surprised me by telling me he sold his house and is leasing a condo. He sat down one day, put pencil to paper, and concluded that home "ownership" is the biggest scam ever pulled on us. At least in an urban/suburban area, for all those reasons you mentioned. Now he's looking for land out in the sticks...

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    1. Judging by recent sales, my country house would sell for much more than what I owe on it, but I bought it from my folks and didn't pay much.

      It's a rare person indeed who'll do the math, discover they've been doing something wrong, then act on it.

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  2. have seen many tiny homes built over the last four decades

    the major point is less clutter yet a warm ,dry place to sleep in

    and also seen many tiny shed size workshops
    able to propduce what a bigger workshop cannot do...

    Wildflower

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    1. Thanks for mentioning the tiny workshops. Maybe that's what I should do with my old utility trailer.

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  3. Speaking of sail boats...find a copy of 'The Pulse,' by Scott B. Williams. Its not the best writing in the world but its good enough to keep my now inside it all day. Its right up your alley...trust me.

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    1. Already read it. You are right about it being up my alley. Even sailed in some of the same waters as his characters.

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  4. I have seen sail boats that had little wind generators on them to keep batteries charged up. That would be as good or better than solar panels on a small sail boat. Wouldn't take up as much room.

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    1. A little 30 watt panel keeps my battery charged, but I don't draw much. Wind generators and solar panels work well together on a boat.

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  5. At the Gulf yesterday I met a couple who have a home here in Florida but spend 80% of their time in their 2005 MG Cruiser they bought on Craigslist. Like me, they're gypsies at heart. "Everytime we go home, we realize we have little use for what's there," she said. They keep the house because of grandkids coming to swim in the pool; otherwise, it's an anchor.

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    1. I think it's the grandkids that keeps them coming back. At least I know that's the way it is for me.

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  6. It's truly amazing how little we could get by with if we got serious about it!

    I'm gonna have to read the book "Pulse!" Sounds like it might be a good read!

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    1. I read Walden as a kid and it made a huge impression on me.

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  7. That's one of the best metaphor I have read in a long while! Absolutely true, I think the "own your home" is the biggest scam too. I can't stop thinking about building our own home, to free myself of that slavery. My wife is not totally convinced yet, I don't think...sadly.

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    1. I've friends doing it. They are living in unfinished rooms, but it's off grid and completely paid for. They are taking a month off this fall to travel -because they can.

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  8. Maybe we should just go back to a horse and a tepee. (Not joking.)

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  9. We might have to -not kidding.

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  10. We have been off the grid for over 30 years now. Definately the way to go.
    Regards, Keith.
    http://woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com.au/

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  11. Ya know, there is much truth to what you say.

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