7 Ways To Avoid A Mortgage

Alternatives to the conventional wisdom!

7 ways to avoid a mortgage

Weekend With Dee by RowdyKittens on Flickr

You are not stuck with just one option when it comes to a place to live.

Society used to say, “Own your own home”. Now that we’ve seen the real estate bubble burst like a dropped water balloon, we know that this wisdom isn’t always the best choice.

If you have a wanderlust, then there is only one thing to do if you are thinking of buying a house right now.

STOP! DON’T DO IT! Talk yourself down from that ledge. It isn’t worth it. There are better ways to handle that problem. Don’t choose a (nearly) permanent solution to a temporary problem.

The only thing a house will do for you now is to chain you to your current location. It will be a money sucking anchor that sinks your dreams of travel.  A recent study shows that 28% of US homes are “underwater”, or worth less than what is owed on them!

If you are already paying on a mortgage then you may have to see what your options are. That is a topic for another discussion. Visit InvestorsLendingLLC.com if you are looking for a long-term loan.

For now, lets presume that you are not currently paying on a mortgage.

You still may be bombarded with advice from well meaning friends and family that still believe that buying a house is the best thing you can ever do with your money.

This is old-school advice. It was great advice 50 years ago when people worked at the same job for over 30 years and retired from that job.

With the ecomony in the state that is is in, that advice just doesn’t hold water any more.

Besides, if you have a desire to travel, who needs the burden of a big old house that you won’t be around to take care of any way?!?



The experts conducted a survey, here are the findings. Renting is a viable alternative to owning. When you rent, you don’t have to worry about property values dropping like a politician’s approval rating.

Two years ago I succumbed to conventional wisdom and purchased a townhouse. I now owe $170k on a house that is worth $70k. Isn’t that a great investment?

If I were renting, I wouldn’t have all that debt locking me into a location.


While this isn’t precisely a different way to put a roof over your head, it is a way to change the scenery from under that roof.

With the capability for many to work from somewhere away from an office, why not live somewhere warm and cheap?

There are a number of countries that are friendly to Expatriates. Countries like Costa Rica, Mexico and Thailand. They are all tropical and much less expensive than living in the US.

Motorhome / Travel Trailer

Many families live full time in recreational vehicles.  Most modern travel trailers or motor homes are near luxurious in their accommodations.

With one or more “pop-outs” the floor space in a trailer can increase to levels that are comfortable for the most claustrophobic.

My wife and I lived in a 33′ travel trailer with our young son for a year in the rainy NorthWest.

This option has the benefit of taking your home with you as you search for better climates and scenery.

When we were living in the trailer, I had to go to Vancouver, B.C. for a week of training. We hauled the trailer up to Blaine, Washington and my family stayed in a park there while I jumped across the boarder during the day. This way I didn’t have to stay in a hotel and I got to see my family every night.

 Sailboat / Houseboat

This is like the motor home, but with an entire world of possible destinations!

This is our next stop. We will be renting out our house and buying a sailboat so we can explore the North American coast and beyond.

Sure there is a lot to learn and decisions to make, but isn’t that the case with just about anything worth doing?

The cruising community is a tight-knit one and full of friendly people that are eager to help new cruisers learn the ropes. (pun intended)

Tiny Home

A relatively new category of dwelling has been popping up all over the country.

What are called Tiny Homes are slightly different than motor homes or trailers. Many are built in similar fashion to more traditional homes, but they are much smaller.

Usually in the 90 to 300 square foot size these homes fully embrace a minimalist lifestyle that has minimal impact on both its surroundings and your wallet. Some are mobile but most are not.


One extension of the tiny home is the yurt.

A very old design still in use by entire cultures in Asia, the yurt is simplicity itself.

A round wall structure is covered in canvas and a conical roof is set atop the wall forming a strong, weather resistant structure. By their very nature yurts are easy to break-down, move and reconstruct at a new site.

Not as easy as say a ti pi or a tent, but they are much stronger and able to withstand the weather to a much greater degree.

The more advanced yurt designs are made from modern, double wall construction for the best insulation yet keep the ability to break down and set up when it is time to move.

Travelling house sitter

For those with a real sense of adventure and the ability to move frequently, another option is to be a house sitter.

There are agencies that match up travellers with home owners that would rather have a house occupied while they are away for extended periods.

One such website is MindMyHouse. This may not be a full-time answer to alternative housing, but it can significantly reduce the cost of housing while traveling.

When you begin to look at all of the options there are to the conventional 1200 square foot home in the suburbs or condo in the city, they really lose some of their appeal.

If you want to live a simpler, less restricted life, one of these choices could be a better fit.

What alternative appeals most to you? Let us know in the comments.

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10 Responses to 7 Ways To Avoid A Mortgage

  1. Jason Spencer February 17, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    Mike, thanks for laying out some creative options on this topic. I remember being buried by my backwards mortgage, and finding myself in a tough spot with income. We ended up having to short sale just before foreclosure, and it was pretty difficult going through all that. I highly recommend young couples and families start off with one of the options you mentioned to avoid getting buried, especially with this volatile real estate market and economy. We’ve been renting for the past 6 years, and it’s been unbelievably freeing.

    *My only advice to renters though is to do without pets if at all possible, only because they will usually end up costing you the security deposit and then some (we know all about this unfortunately).

    Expat’ing — that sounds like an option I should give some more thought and exploration to. Sounds fascinating.

    • Mike Routen February 20, 2012 at 8:34 am #


      I’m glad that you were able to get out from under your house. We are in a similar situation and I honestly don’t know how it will turn out yet. We should have our boat by the end of the year, but I’m not sure what we’ll end up doing with the house.

      Good advice on the pets. As we are thinking of renting our house out, we would also require no pets. Its not just the extra wear and tear caused by pets, but if we were ever to move back in, we would have to replace all the carpets as my wife and I are both allergic to cats and dogs.

      Thanks Jason

  2. Paige | simple mindfulness February 17, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    This is a great topic! Most people think the only options are rent or own with own being something bigger.

    I’m one of the lucky 28%’ers who is underwater. We’ve owned our house for over 12 years now and, unfortunately, listened to all those who suggested taking out those equity lines and refinancing because real estate values “always” go up. Not always. Our house is worth very little more than what we paid for it 12 years ago.

    At least we love where we live and don’t want to go anywhere any time soon. Given that, we’ve looked at the options and have decided that, whenever we do decide to move, a yurt will be our next home. To test one out, I stayed in one near us for a few days at the end of November. They can be amazingly comfortable and it certainly keeps one from accumulating too much stuff. The place we rented was at http://www.vacationyurtrental.com/ which I would hightly recommend.

    RV’ing is also a great option and I know a few people who have done the house sitting thing for years and loved it. They’ve been able to live in some very beautiful homes. There are also caretaker options for farms and ranches around the world.

    The options are endless and you don’t have to have a ton of money in the bank to live in some amazing places.

    Mike – Thanks for opening people’s eyes to some of the many options available!

    • Mike Routen February 20, 2012 at 8:40 am #


      I haven’t stayed in a yurt yet, but they sure do look interesting.

      I hadn’t thought of the possibility of getting a caretaker position. There must be some beautiful possibilities out there.

      Thank you for the additional ideas.

  3. Justin Mazza February 20, 2012 at 6:41 am #

    I love the tiny homes. Do we really need mega mansions? For some maybe yes, but for most the answer is no. Simple living is the best unless you can really afford financially to do otherwise.

    • Mike Routen February 20, 2012 at 8:25 am #


      I totally agree with you. My wife, son and I lived in a 33′ travel trailer for about a year. That was one of the best “homes” we’ve lived in. I can’t wait until we get out from under our big town home and get back to living small in our sailboat.

      Why is it that we have this obsession with bigger and bigger homes?

      Thanks Justin

  4. Rachel Denning May 3, 2012 at 5:08 am #

    Sweet! Great ideas. One other option is to build a place yourself – homestead.

    I personally think it would be much easier to do this abroad, without all the ‘red tape’ of the U.S.

    It’s something we’re considering in the future 🙂

    • Mike Routen May 3, 2012 at 11:40 am #


      Thank you for stopping by.

      I’m intrigued by the idea of homesteading! What other countries is this still an option in? I’d love to hear more about what plans you may have.

  5. Anne May 22, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

    I know a family that bought some land in our area and built a “double yurt”‘ (with a hallway between the sections) and it is a really beautiful home. They held a “yurt raising” with friends to put it all together, and host retreats and offer massage therapy in a gorgeous natural setting. I have also seen books on low cost home building using local materials like clay blocks and straw(“cob building”, common in England and northwest U.S.) so your only monetary investment is the land itself. In Arizona and New Mexico, I’ve also heard of houses built mainly from tires and glass bottles. I also have a friend who travels nearly constantly by housesitting all over the world. So many options.

    • Mike Routen May 23, 2012 at 3:54 pm #


      I’m really intrigued by the Yurts. There are some here on the Oregon coast than can be rented. I think we’re going to try and get into one some time this year to see how well the work.

      There are some really amazing examples of yurts out there.

      Thanks for stopping by!