Guest Post by Walt Barrett
We need to tackle this land, and location problem head on because next to raising the money for the building materials it seems to be the most difficult problem based upon the feedback that I am getting. There are two separate paths to choose from here, and then some sub paths. Are you working, or are you retired? If you are working and fully intend to stay in your current area you have a different path to follow as opposed to a retired person. You have to locate within a reasonable distance from your work. You also have to meet the codes. The land that you like has to be affordable. The property taxes have to be reasonable, and you have to meet the minimum housing standard size for a residence. I believe that it is imperative in the long run to follow the rules of the town, or county right to the letter, believe me, do not try to get cute with the building officials because it is going to come back and bite you really hard in the long run. The building officials can make you move, or even tear down a building for flagrant violations to the building codes.
Let’s take the retired people first. Most retired people have the option to relocate unless they are penniless. Let’s assume you are not penniless but have limited funds. You could move to one of the states, or to a place like Costa Rica that does not place so many restrictions on home size. Maine for instance, has many unorganized areas the are only interested in having a proper septic system, and will even accept composting toilets as long as the waste is properly disposed of. Whether you take this route, or not depends upon things like leaving the rest of the family behind, and the lack of the family support system etc. I’m sure you follow my drift. Admittedly though, most retired folks have the easiest path when it comes to retiring in a micro home. One more thing for the old timers like me. You can always go on Craigslist.org, and purchase a medium size older camping trailer for as low as $1000.00 and refurbish it. I see them all the time when filming in the Everglades. They move from camp ground to camp ground. I’m thinking about it seriously myself.
Next we have the working people that are stuck in one place for a given number of years due to employment considerations. This can be a problem because finding a place where you can get a permit to build could be over one hundred miles away. The commute can be dangerous, and expensive.
Sometimes, however, you can get lucky by doing relentless searches for property. For example, In 1981 our son Dave found a job first in New Hampshire, and started off by renting a small apartment there. Eventually after a great deal of searching he found a small cabin on a lake within a couple of miles from his job. It was dirt cheap. He can easily walk to work, and is very happy there. The savings allow him to have a like new car and a like new Harley. None of us every buy brand new vehicles. It’s a huge waste of money. If you keep looking hard enough you can find a reasonable place because things are always changing. People retire, or they die, or are forced to move away. I have seen this a great deal in Florida. There are lots of old retired people, and unfortunately, many of them die, or are forced to move in with their children, or a retirement home every day. There are many small homes for sale, and every day the Good Will stores have loads of practically new furniture and household goods coming in. A lot of the furniture is in practically new condition. Many smart people with money patronize these stores, believe me! So that’s a good way to furnish your micro home. There are no set rules for changing your life, or life style. It’s whatever works for you.
I have found many great pieces of land by using www.realtor.com. You can lock in a description of what you are looking to purchase in a given area, and they will email you weekly with properties for sale that will fit the description right down to the price desired. So basically, as I see it. The biggest obstacle to owning a smaller home, preferably in the country, is for many of us, finding decent employment. By the way, my advice to anyone that lives in the north east that is not super rich is to get the hell out while you still can. There is no future here, especially in Rhode Island.
There is another route to explore no matter where you live. The micro apartment route can actually put extra money in your pocket. Although it involves working closely with the building and zoning officials to get started, It is a good route to follow if you do not mind living in an urban area. I have been considering it myself as an investment. I’m speaking of the micro apartment concept. Our area is loaded with abandoned homes and many of them are already multi-family which means no rezoning is required. If you are considering this method you first must have a discussion with the building and zoning people to be sure not to buy a home that is not eligible for micro apartments. Here’s a thought. You may already own a home that is now too large for you now so why not investigate converting it to micro apartments. The one thing I strongly advise is you look into the section 8 housing requirements first because if your apartments are eligible for section 8 the government will guarantee that your rent is paid and also that any damages caused by the tenant are covered too.
Well I don’t know what else I can say right now on the subject, but I’m sure someone will read this and offer some additional ideas. I certainly hope so.
Thanks for reading