Alternatives to the conventional wisdom!
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.
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?!?
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)
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.