what desperate measures woudl you take to cut living costs

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Howdy all! I am new to this list but do read countryside forum from time to time. We are looking to cut our cost of living, but I need encouragement! We already do the normal sale shopping, couponing, lower the heat type stuff. What we really want to do is get out from under having a big house payment. Our current payment is about $1100/mo and we both need to work to make it. We are considering selling & moving to a less expensive area in another state. Here my main question... Have any of you bought your land and then lived in whatever you could pay cash for until you could afford better? The reason I ask is that we could probably some land for our equity, but not one set with a house unless we wanted only an acre or so. But we could buy land & I have seen several old, run-down mobiles for under $1500 that we could survive for a while. But I still have this nagging "what if" feeling. Risk taking is not my best virture and trying to make all the arrangements to sell and move to another state is so stressful. I will say that we have visited the area many time and could probably find jobs within an hour drive.

-- Ging (JingRgirl@aol.com), February 21, 2002


Well "Howdy" right back at you! I can give you the flip side of being too cautious...we waited for nearly 25 years to live in the country, all that time paying around $1400/month and $4000/year taxes..yeehaw. When we finally made the move all we can say is too bad we were so long in jumping in to what we now love! May I ask what is the 'risk" of buying land and living in a trailer for a time? What would you be afraid of? We had all the "toys"..expensive cars, lovely clothes, the newest of everything..tra la.....now we have zero mortgage, zero truck payment, zero credit card bills, and are so blessed to be homesteading. We sold our home in PA and bought one here in AL for cash. There are tons of lovely areas where land is still cheap and taxes are not outrageous..the land will not get any cheaper over the next several years. Had we the chance to do it all over again, we definetly would have purchased land and a used trailer and stuffed all of our money away to build our own home. God bless.

-- lesley (martchas@bellsouth.net), February 21, 2002.

Ging: How many children do you have? There are a lot of things that I could/would do or require of myself that would be really stressful to my children and therefore that would affect our decision. We moved to a homestead 6 years ago and put all our $$$ to pay cash. However, there was no running water/inside plumbing. Our younger children considered an adventure, as well as my husband and I. Our older children at the same time, found it much more difficult. I would think that an option would be to get a self-contained travel trailer that you could sell later and use that with just the bare minimum of necessities. If you buy a mobile you will need to install septic, running water and a lot of expense in just getting it set up. Much less you may need a permit, whereas the travel trailer would be considered not permanent housing? If you could save just your house payment that would add up to over $12,000/yr. Just some thoughts.

-- Marie in Central WA (Mamafila@aol.com), February 21, 2002.

Welcome to the forum! I think that living in the country is well worth whatever sacrifices you will make. You say risk-taking is not your style, but isn't living in a place where you have to make an $1100 a month payment pretty risky????? I couldn't sleep at night that is for sure! So you are taking more risks than you think, right where you are my friend!!! For instance what if you or your husband lose your job, how long could you make it where you are? But let's say you buy that acreage and set up a livable trailer that is 100% paid for. You could live much longer and more cheaply there for sure.

I say this becasue I think that anyone with the gumption to work hard enough to make that big of a payment each month, has what it takes to live in the country.

We built our house ourselves, and when we moved into it, all we had was a roof with felt-paper (the really thin stuff you are supposed to put under the real shingles) and the outside walls with 2 partition walls. We had no running water, only 4 plug-ins, and no doors and windows in most of the house. 1`/3 of the house had a dirt floor for 2 years. We were poor, but happy and most of the people who visited us were wishing they were us!!!! It has taken years to get it mostly finished, but we never had a payment and never had to worry about our income fluctuating.

I am sure others will give you much encouragement and there is a lot in the older messages. Look under "log cabin" for the full story on my house and there are others as well. I know Ernest has built his own house and lived in a camper, so I hope he chimes in here. I will come back on with more later, as I'm sure many will have advice.

-- Melissa in SE Ohio (me@home.net), February 21, 2002.

Living in a mobile home is a great idea! Since you don't have to move you can take your time to find one that fits your needs, to me it would be more comfortable than a camper. Especially if something happens and you need to stay in it longer than you expected. Campers can get quit cold in the winter even though they have furnaces. Unless you know for sure it is only temp. And as for the septic, put in an outhouse. No water, carry it. Also you can live with out electric, use lanterns and/or a generator. Add a room on and use a woodburner for heat. How do I know this works? This is the way we lived for three years and added these things as we had money. At the time we had four children at home, and knew no one in the area. The children didn't mind it as we actually had more family time. No t.v. (except when we chose to turn on generator), no video games, no computer, etc.... In the summer we would stay outside working/playing till it was time to go to bed, then we would only light a few lanterns to get ready for bed. In the winter we would play games and just sit around the table and have family time. Sometimes it was a little hard living this way, but we always came up with a solution for our problems. We now have lights, septic and running water and I often miss our pre-electric days! Anything is possible if you want something bad enough. I'd say go for it! Good-luck!

-- Jo in Pa (farmerjo02@yahoo.com), February 21, 2002.

JO, sometimes I think the same way, that I miss those times! I remember when it rained I would give the kids some soap and a wash- cloth and they would "shower" with the water running off of the roof! They loved it! I think it is very good to make sacrifices as it helps you to appreciate the improvements you make. Nothing like going without to appreciate what you have...

-- Melissa in SE Ohio (me@home.net), February 21, 2002.

Hello Ging,

Living without modern conviences is not for everyone but, a few do it to have the house of their dreams on the land of their dreams. Meli and I did it! I think that you can to. The key is to be able to keep your goals alive and to laugh a lot about the inconviences that will come along the way.

We bought undeveloped land with our cash savings and lived in a run down 21 foot dodge Rv for over a year and a half before the house was finished enough to move into.

Meli and I cleared the land for our gardens first and then planted everything that we possibly could. Then we built a chicken coup and a chicken moat and got some chickens as fast as we could. These things helped us to focus on one of our main purposes for moving to the country. By fall Meli can nearly 200 jars of our garden produce and a case of pickled eggs. We butchered some of the chicken and stored them in the freezer.

Two winters ago we dug out the pit for the outhouse and the basement. We put in the water pipes from the creek to the basement of our house.

Late winter we built out basement using the natural stone on our land and pouring concrete and the stones together in slip forms we managed to make a quite attractive basement. We did this all by hand.

As soon as Spring came, I had the local hardware deliver a truck load of building materials and Meli and I built our house. It took us until September to finish the outside but, we quickly insulated and hooked up the woodstove and moved in for winter.

Our house is still under construction and we still are running on extension cords but, we spent our first winter in it and enjoyed a great holiday season to boot!

We heat our water for bathes and dishes on the woodstove and as soon as the electrical is finished I will install a water heater. I had never done electrical work before but, I researched it and once I started doing it, I found out that it really was not as hard as I imagined.

Same thing with plumbing. We installed the tub/shower enclosure and the cold water pipes before winter came. It was remarkably easy and I was amazed at how much plumbers charge for doing such simple work.

We built the out house when we first moved to the land and still use it today. Our plans are to install a simple septic system for the house but, for now we just use a bucket that is built into a box with a toilet seat on it. In the mornings whom ever goes to the outhouse first just grabs the bucket by its bail and dumps the stuff down into the outhouse pit.

Since we heat the house entirely with wood. I spend my free time cutting and splitting firewood. We had plenty for this winter and I am now working on next winters supply. I have found that if you take 2-5 hours a week cutting wood, it is a lot easier than trying to get it all in at once. I can cut/split/stack a rick in about 2 hours. Two ricks are a cord and it takes about 5-6 cords a winter to keep the house cozy.

Understand that neither Meli and I came here with all the necessary knowledge to do what we are doing. Nor, did we come here being used to living without luxuries. We keep our goals insight and that makes any of the hardships a lot easier to handle.

We did all this right after the birth of our first child and now Meli is expecting another one in September. So, that also gave us a challenge since Caroline was so little and needed constant attention. Now, the next one will be the same but, at least our goals have been met and we are ready for more children.



-- http://communities.msn.com/livingoffthelandintheozarks (espresso42@hotmail.com), February 21, 2002.

We cut our loan payments over 50% by purchasing some land and putting a 1969 mobile home on it. Most people thought we had lost our minds, but it allowed me to stay home with our son, plant a garden, bake bread and save even more money by having additional time. At first I made jokes about being the "getto folk" in the neighborhood, but after awhile it really didn't matter. We designed our property to be able to live in the mobile while building a house a little at a time. That way there is no pressure to get something built because you need a place to live. The electric service was run into a shed for the horses so we can access that for a new house, the septic can also be used for a new house with the addition of a lift system and new holding tank. Depending on where we build, the well could also be used for the house with a new pressure system. It's better than paying a high mortgage and much better than renting from someone. You have your own land and can make improvements to it a little at a time. Go for it! Home is where the heart is.

-- Renee (aerie@dotnet.com), February 22, 2002.

I would buy one of the many tracts of land for sale around here and set up a trailer or a cabin with none of the modern conveniences. I would NOT have the support of certain members of the family, so a more practical thing would be to use as little electricity as possible.

-- Cathy N. (homekeeper86@sympatico.ca), February 22, 2002.

Melissa, "but isn't living in a place where you have to make an $1100 a month payment pretty risky?????" $1100 a month is no more risky than $100/month. If you dont have it you dont have it. With minimial down payment $1100 is going to get you $150K-170K worht of homestead.

Ging, You didnt say where you live and how much $1100 is to your total debt. Dont look at one item look at them all. Now decicde do both of you want to work or not.

As for buying land and putting some junkie trailer on it. Are you ready for that? A $1500 mobile home is going to be a big change from an $1100/month home. Are you, your husband ready for that? There is nothing wrong with that, but to some friends, family and co-workers it might matter and they may change. Are you ready fro that.

Without knowing much about your enviornment its hard to say what to do, but cutting the payments into the $700/$800/month range you could get a small amount of land with an older home on it around are area. You reduce your monthly outlay. Now the big issue, Can you sell your home. Markets are pretty poor around here.

-- Gary in Ohio (gws@columbus.rr.com), February 22, 2002.

True Gary! But if it were me, I would vote for the $100 a month instead of the $1100 a month. You can usually come up with $100 much easier than $1100. We always figured we could babysit, mow grass, cut a load of firewood, or many other "non-traditional" type odd-jobs and make $100.

A trailer wouldn't have to be junky! I have seen people put on a coat of paint, add a small patio with flowers around it, strip out the inside and paint, put down a new rug, and make it very livable. Might not be perfect but would be adaquate.

I guess it depends on what your priorities are and your dream is. We had a friend who lived in town all his life. He built a log house, much like we did, and he told us that he would never move back to town, even if he had to sleep in a tent, or on the dirt floor of his basement!!!

I personally always wanted to live an independent life-style, and not rent (which I hated!!) We had great landlords, but it just wasn't the same as owning your own place.

-- Melissa in SE Ohio (me@home.net), February 22, 2002.

Gary made some good points. But I still side with Melissa. Like the saying goes, I've been rich and I've been poor...and I've found it's all to easy to jump from one to the other through no fault of your own. I'd much rather do without the luxuries and have the security of knowing I won't lose my home. It is a lot easier to come up with a small monthly payment in hard times. Better yet is to figure out how to own something free and clear, then you only have to worry about taxes and insurance. When my dh and I got married I told him I'd be content living in a one room shack if need be, as long as it was out in the country. Just don't ever try to move me to town, because I would never be happy even if he offered me a mansion and servants!

You do have to have your spouse's support, and take your children into consideration. But kids adjust and not having everything helps to build character, IMHO. Too many kids have everything without knowing how hard it is to acquire or how to take care of it. Too many have an attitude of entitlement. I think it's wonderful for kids to learn that everything comes with a price. As we've discussed before on this forum, quite often stay-at-home-moms get hit with comments like, "Gee, I wish I could afford to stay home with my kids." (As the one commenting drives away in her $40,000 SUV.) Well, most SAHMs (and Dads) SACRIFICE in order to be able to stay at home. It takes planning, effort and a decision to not try to keep up with the Jones' to be a SAHM. The same thing goes for homesteading, at least for most folks. I guess it all boils down to what you are willing to give up for your dream. I'm not talking about living in a rat-hole or your family going without healthcare, just doing without the luxuries you're used to. Some people have what it takes, some don't.

We recently remodeled an old farmhouse and moved into it to cut expenses so that my dh could finally retire. It's not what we've been used to and we've had a lot of frustrations and some good laughs. My folks were here last summer and my mother constantly sneered at our home and commented that if she were me she'd have refused to let my dh force her to change homes. I told her it was my idea! So what if our kitchen floor sags a bit to the east. (Ok, so it's more than a little bit. VBG) We're in a home that's clean, warm and satisfies our needs. Our friends have all been impressed with what we've done and one friend is now selling her home and downsizing in order to cut costs also. If some of my friends don't like our place, tough. I'll find new friends with better values. But that's our decision. Consider the things Gary mentioned, and decide if you're willing to make the sacrifices, compromise, or stay where you are.

-- Lenette in OR (kigervixen@webtv.net), February 22, 2002.

>"Without knowing much about your enviornment its hard to say what to >do, but cutting the payments into the $700/$800/month range you >could get a small amount of land with an older home on it around are >area. You reduce your monthly outlay. Now the big issue, Can you >sell your home. Markets are pretty poor around here."

Uhh, hate to say it but we currently do live in an older modular home on only 1.3 acres! We bought as a fixer upper after looking for 2 yrs for something that we could afford where we could also keep my horses. We are in colorado and cost of living has really risen here the last several years. Anywhere within commuting distance to Denver (where DH works) is at least much as what we paid. Most of our friends cannot believe we were able to buy something with horse zoning for what we did. We've put in alot of elbow grease (but little actual money) and recently had it appraised for about $45,000 more than we paid 2 yrs ago. That would give us some money to start with, but not enuff for a competely ready to go place. I know some of you might be willing to do without running water & power, but we are not. But I would be willing to live in a fixer mobile & either fix it up nice or save to put up a better home. I've seen several 5+ acre lots with older mobiles for under $95,000 in the area we are considering. If nothing else it would greatly reduce our housing costs, but we would not be free & clear. I should mention that we would not have family in the area.

-- ging (JingRGirl@aol.com), February 22, 2002.

That gives us a little more to think about. Here in Ohio, property is generally cheaper, and most of the places outside of the big towns have no zoning. If you want a horse you just build a fence!!! It is still pretty independent around here.

Property at auction is anywhere from $600-$2000 an acre, but you can often find a decent house and a few acres for less than $30,000. There are just way too many variables to generalize much. We paid $1000 an acre for part of our property and received another piece as part of a damage settlement. So we only actually paid $7000 for 16 acres. I know it is hard to decide to move, but I just know I would not want that big of a payment each month. But I guess that depends on salary as well. Here in my area, the average income for our school district is $22,000. So it would be virtually impossible to have that big of a payment.

-- Melissa in SE Ohio (me@home.net), February 22, 2002.

Often I think that things can't be done until somenoe else does them and I get to watch.

A fellow that I knew a few years attacked the problem of housing and being broke at the same time by pitching a tent inside of a garage. The garage was in a western Ohio town, and a bit too run down to be used as a garage. He rented it for $20 a month. It did have an electric service which cost him about $7. He heated his tent with a Kerosene heater, when he was home. I think that he stayed there for a couple of years, and saved a nice little nest egg. Every once in a while I think about that situation and am convinced that it can be done if necessary.

-- Ed Copp (OH) (edcopp@yahoo.com), February 22, 2002.

Good idea Ed! I often think of the many homeless people and how easy it would be to build small houses. I think there was an article in Countryside several years back about building very small, functional homes suitable for 1 or 2 people. Would be OK to start with. I tell Cale when the kids get older, we are going to build a one room house!!!

But back to the topic at hand. I think 99% of it is attitude and what you truly want. While Cale and I have the ABILITY to make lots of money, we lack the DESIRE to give our life over to the control of someone else. I wold much rather be here at home controlling my own life than working in an office somewhere. Cale would rather be here building or working around the property than putting in his time for someone else. So we have tried to make our life align with those goals. While we have never made a lot of money, we have always had enough!

-- Melissa in SE Ohio (me@home.net), February 23, 2002.

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