Thursday, 19. February 2015 by Renee Ellison
Everyone, simply everyone, has to conquer the housing issue in their life. The sooner we homeschooling parents can ground our high schoolers with this immutable reality, the better. Housing is like gravity: the need for it doesn’t go away even if we attempt to wish it away, or try to avoid facing it indefinitely. Having an early strong financial goal of conquering this fixed need in our lives will help clobber the temptation to spend money on trivia (a tendency that can go on for several decades), or to waste money on rent, and will help to marshal our stray hours into a compelling purpose to get this “over with”. Unbeknownst to most of the public discussion on this topic, it can be gotten “over with”—if we play our early years wisely.
Just the other day there was an article in World Net Daily that said, “How an emerging adult spends the first ten LABOR years of their lives will determine the rest of their lives.” Conquering the housing/land problem early in life gives a person freedoms down the road that are unimaginable to him when he is still young. Where we conquer obtaining this housing/land package is always important, but it’s not the most important thing initially; one can always swap/rent/improve/sell/trade up that starter position. It is when one doesn’t work at building the starter nest-egg—that is what can sink someone into mortgage debt for the rest of life. The root of the word mortgage is morgue—i.e. death. A mortgage is an agreement with death. The vast majority of our culture makes this covenant with death, which many often enter cavalierly as they eagerly sign their first mortgage, not realizing the full extent of what they are doing.
Now some thoughts regarding the current public discussion about tiny houses:
The sheer number of books and YouTube videos touting the glories of a tiny house indicate that the trend is mushrooming. The Tiny House movement may be an over-reaction to our culture’s run-away materialism, and is certainly nothing new. The elderly have been downsizing for decades. Let’s examine more closely what it belies. Is it not evidence perhaps that the capacity to live is shrinking? One simply doesn’t need more spacious housing if one’s productivity is slowing down, if one’s engagements are falling off, if one’s social life is drying up (visitors come less often), and/or if “taking dominion” over life’s possibilities and family building is not the goal. Young adults could go about it the other way—building a large metal shed and then tucking a warm livable space into a corner of it—so that there is no limit on one’s endeavors. In a warehouse, expansion possibilities exist from the get-go; there is no ceiling upon who one can become and what one can do. Entrepreneurialism is fast becoming a smarter option than lifetime-debtor-slavery to colleges. The excitement in living is to actually DO something. To actually do anything, and to be home-centric in doing it—loving your own environment instead of living like a vagabond all over town—one needs space.
A tiny house works great for a single person who largely conducts business somewhere else and only needs a YMCA or youth hostel-type cot for the night. The minute you put two people in such an arrangement, however—let alone one’s first squalling baby—all bets are off for its long range workability. Tight living quarters will eventually (if not on the first day) create more stress for two humans—though flocks of animals seem to be able to handle it okay.
Therefore, might we be starting off the discussion about housing on the weaker end of the stick? Let’s face it: a person can live in anything. Is not the more significant consideration the land on which the home rests? This is something it seems we’ve forgotten, but something the pioneers heading west totally grasped. We might need to re-discover this in our modern lives. “If I can just get me a plot of land” was the insatiable appetite of the young in the early days of the development of any country.
One could build the most fabulous tiny house imaginable, but if the land issue wasn’t settled beforehand, perplexities will assertively present themselves the day after it is finished as to where to set it. Here is the problem: if a person lives on someone else’s land (ostensibly for “free”) they’ll trade financial woes for relational woes. Sure-shootin’. They’ll walk around under constant guilt/anxiety about the hour when the relationship may go south—the love tires, grows weary, impatient, the landlords suddenly change, or the landlord’s plans change (e.g. he just lost HIS job, has to move to take care of HIS parents), and any number of unforeseeable variables. Anxieties without number can begin to mount about all of the surrounding housing/living details: parked cars, the condition of the grounds immediately around the tiny house, the volume of the music, the use of drugs and alcohol, and whose responsibility it is to shovel the snow or repair the broken fence. The responsibility fog/load gets murky in a hurry. When one’s living situation hinges on the benevolence of someone else (one’s garage “free-land-lord”, or “free” driveway benefactor) one’s anxieties don’t go away. Such a person trades mortgage anxieties for interpersonal anxieties and finds that he still is not free.
To be truly free, one could restructure the discussion to look for the land first. Secure the plot, first, even if it is on the backside of a remote village. And while beginning the search, look for one thing in particular—a good supply of good clean water. Is its source secure? Is the well or the supply infrastructure already secure? Don’t settle for the hope of having water, or the maybe of having a future water infrastructure “coming to the area”. Is the water polluted? How polluted? Before you plop down your first nickel, be sure of your water situation (and, additionally, make sure that the land is not built over a mine-shaft, a uranium deposit or an area where an oil rig may show up and start drilling). In other words, don’t mince questions over what is underneath the land. Nothing, however, is as important as the water issue. Under an EMP attack, surely nothing else matters as much. So disregard the gorgeous housing magazines and keep your head on. You can’t drink a view.
Then build your tiny house—erect your tent—buy your RV; you can upgrade through the years. By the way, in most cases, the only difference between an RV and your tiny house is looks, mobility (a tiny house is not intended for frequent movement, whereas an RV could move to a different slot each night) and the depth of your passion to control the configuration of the layout. Die to your perfectionisms and you can save yourself a chapter of having to become a construction manager—a career/field most people know nothing about, will spend inordinate hours brooding over, and still wind up with mistakes and oops common to newbies in any field—to say nothing of having to wear a hammer on your belt for double the time you had planned upon.
The truly winning strategy to be financially free for a lifetime, in terms of your housing? Start with where—and then, downstream, think through your what. For more on this topic, read our 10 Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary People Who Got Free of House Debt and Sure Financial Steps for Beginners.
Picture source (and for more information): Cozy Tiny House.