Follow by Email


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Cost of Housing

I must admit, I've gotten a bit out of touch with the true cost of living. It occurred to me that I haven't had a raise in decades, yet still I survive. However, the slow increase in prices takes its toll. At least my housing situation is fairly stable. Taxes and insurance are the biggest portion of my housing bill.

Part of my bill is actually mortgage, which I'm kinda disappointed about. Twice in my life I was within striking distance of paying it off, then financial crises hit. Stuff happens. On the bright side, I kept the house and it's still cheaper than living in an apartment.

There are things you just can't do in an apartment that save me money. Having a garden, a well, my own septic system, firewood, and room for solar electric panels. I would be hard pressed to find room to park my various trailers and vehicles. Most landlords would take offense if you decided to sandblast and weld in the driveway.

As cheap as it is to live here, I could do it for less on a boat. Of course, there are plenty of ways to spend way too much money doing that too. The first step is to have a boat that's just barely big enough for your needs and is cheap and easy to maintain.

The next big thing is where you keep your boat. Marinas have both pros and cons. Ease of shore access is a plus. You don't have to dinghy to shore for everything. Being at a dock cost money. They charge by the foot, so a smaller boat saves you money there too. Usually they have space to park a vehicle. If you are staying in one place for a long period of time, a vehicle is handy. Then again, in some places most of your transportation needs can be handled with a cheap bicycle.

You can save money being on a mooring or anchoring out. Anchoring is the cheapest, as it's free. Being on a marina's mooring ball has the same disadvantage of anchoring when it comes to needing a dinghy. On the plus side you have access to a dingy dock, rest rooms, laundry and other marina facilities. While anchoring is free, finding a safe place to land your dinghy can be a problem. There are places with good free dockage, but you have to look for them.

Bradenton Beach Florida has a free dinghy dock off their anchoring field. They even have free public showers. They also have a lot of sea hobos on marginal boats that some people consider eyesores. Other places charge a small fee for dinghys and some even offer showers. The beauty of living on a boat is that if one area gets too hostile to your presence, you lift anchor and find someplace else.

Plenty of people live in a vehicle full time. These vary from massive motorhomes to people living in their cars. Chose your vehicle wisely. Just like a boat, the size and complexity of your vehicle greatly affects your monthly cost.

Then there's the little issue of where to park. High end RV parks have all the amenities, but you pay though the nose for them. On the other end of the scale are people dry camping at Walmarts and free public land areas.

When my lovely wife and I travel in the van, we do a mix. We can stay at Federal campgrounds for half price, so that's a first choice. They tend to be bare bones, but many have electric and decent bath houses. After that it's state, county and private campgrounds. While we use Walmarts and truck stops, it's usually just for overnight while traveling. There's more free camping in the western part of the country than the eastern. As we don't usually go too far west, that limits our free camping.

There are other ways to live that are inexpensive, but I'll leave that for the young and adventurous. One could always live out of a backpack and travel by way of shoe leather and thumb. Heck, I've met people who've lived for months out of a canoe, spending most nights camped on a beach somewhere. Men willing to do that are a dime a dozen. The amazing thing to me is that I've met couples doing that together. Women willing to go along on that sort of an adventure are precious and rare indeed.

There are ways to make apartment living at least somewhat cost effective. The key is finding a place to live where you can get rid of your car. Outside of housing, cars are usually your next biggest expense. If your necessities are all within walking distance and the area has decent public transportation a car is not needed. Finding a comfortable place that's cheap, well located, and not in a slum won't be easy. If you are committed to apartment life, then it's worth finding a place where those things come together. Then all you have to do is hope that your rent doesn't rise out of reach.

Housing is a huge expense, but it really affects your quality of life.



  1. "We get old too soon and smart too late" I think is the quote. If the young individual learns early on NOT to take on much debt that will have to be repaid, their later Life is much easier to deal with. And if you plan on having adventure travel, it is much easier to do without bringing a family of young children (though that does have many charms as well).

    1. Life has a way of running away from us. It's all we can do to catch up sometimes.

  2. One thing about it, housing is not cheap. At one time, I wanted to live in the country. As I got older, I realized that staying where I was was a much better choice.

    1. Our plans change as the years move on. It's just a fact of life. People should assess their situation from time to time to see if they are working towards the right goals.

  3. Housing costs are through the roof around here.
    The 3 bedroom pretty nice house across the street at the head of a Cul De Sac went for 335K this last Summer.
    Our rent went up to almost $1500 a month for the 3 bedroon we are in and that is way cheap around this area.
    I have seen studio apartments renting for $1200 a month.
    We are in the midst of another monster housing bubble and there is no way that I am even entertaining the notion of trying to buy anything around here for the time being.
    I am waiting for the bubble to pop first.
    It's coming, it's just a matter of when and how bad.

    You are indeed extremely fortunate to have the place you are in.

  4. What I forgot to mention was that even with the sky high prices in the area finding a place to rent is a nightmare, the occupancy rate has been hovering at 90% for the past several years, for the entire region.

    1. I am lucky to still be in my place. I don't know how I'd get by if I was paying your rent prices.

      My daughter bought a house in the Boston suburbs at the height of the 2006 boom. I told her to wait, but nobody listens to dad. Only in recent years did their house get above water again. (Must be time for the bubble to burst again.)

      They can't pull the same tricks they used to paper over the mess last time. To me, it looks like it'll come down hard. However, I was surprised to see that the government and financial wizards pulled a rabbit out the hat last time. Maybe this time the bad actors will go to jail? Ha!