Housing Advice

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dschroeder01's picture
dschroeder01
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Housing Advice

Just soliciting some advice on housing for someone newer to the peak oil world.  I will be starting a job in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area next summer and with it comes the opportunity to start fresh in terms of buying a home.  My job will be located in an area where it's bikable whether I'd live in Minneapolis or a suburb. 

I've read many places that a post peak world will likely involve a good dose of "new urbanism" with tighter knit communities.  If you could start over, would you aim to settle in a community with that goal in mind?  Or, would you look to find a larger lot (still close to work) with the potential to foster a very large garden and become more individually sustainable? 

Thanks.

Travlin's picture
Travlin
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Re: Housing Advice

Dschroeder01

Welcome to the forums.  A lot depends on your situation: married, kids, ages for all of you, type of work, income/debts, etc.  Here are a couple of thoughts to consider.

Unless you become a farmer, I can’t see how you can grow more than a small portion of your food needs, so having a large lot probably isn’t as important as a big basement to store long term food you buy now.  The suburbs offer better security during times of unrest, if you can get to work without gas, but do you have experience biking long distance in snow, ice, and -20 wind chill?  In the dark?  Would bus service be available from the suburb?

Most cities have some good neighborhoods, that could be reasonably secure if people band together, with public transportation and all shopping needs available near by.  It takes a while to learn where they are, so renting could be a good way to start.  Houses could even be cheaper later.

Do you know anyone where you are going to help you get a feel for the place?  Any family there?

Travlin

 

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Re: Housing Advice

Welcome ot the forums, dschroeder01.

City Data says that Miniappolis has about 350,000 souls. You might want to think of it as part of the same city as St Paul, for population purposes, but that only adds 300,000.So  the combined city is well below the one million person tipping point above which a city is unstainable in a peak oil world: the Romans handled cities that size with no cars, and so have other civilizations. They have nuclear power, so your lights may stay on, and they are on the mighty Mississipi River, which means you are on a major "highway" that does not even require deisel fuel like a railway - but it also is a railway hub. On the other hand you're not on an ocean where pirates might make your life miserable in a post SHTF world.Those are all positives.

But the population density is awfully high: over 7,000 people per square mile. Not only is the turbulence going to be worse in high population areas, but my guess is that the SHTF turbulence will probably spill out to the surrounding areas. It's also quite cold there. The joke is they have two seasons: winter and fixing the streets.Whatever home you choose should be incredibly well-insulated and as off the grid as possible. Above all, avoid a place with oil heat.

Good luck.

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aggrivated
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Re: Housing Advice

I have a half sister that I'm close to who lives in St Anthony.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Anthony,_Minnesota  It is a small older suburban town in the greater Minneapolis/St Paul area.  There is a good sense of community spirit, a very responsible city council, a local symphony orchestra, etc. and I guess best of all, I noted that recently, there was a showing of the Crash Course at the civic center there. http://www.peakprosperity.com/event/crash-course-presentation-st-anthony-minnesota  It looks like someone is plowing the ground to get an awareness of the transition that is ahead.  If I were looking, I'd be sure and check it out.

dschroeder01's picture
dschroeder01
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Re: Housing Advice

Thanks for the intial responses.  Keep them coming!Smile

Sorry for the confusion, but I already live in the Twin Cities (I apoligize for my the poor wording in my orginal post).  My family of 5 has been renters as I've finished my training so all this info is quite helpful as we look to make our first home purchase.  These are the kind of details that I'm looking for though in terms of the pros/cons of where to live.

As a life long Minnesotan, I'm familiar with all of its many shortcomings in terms of weather, but the postitives were sure nice to read.  Thanks safewrite!

Travlin, thanks for the farming info.   We'll be building a home shooting for net zero/off the grid, but the basement storage thing is a great suggestion.  You're right about me not being a farmer, but I'd imagine the more you can grow yourself would only help.  That and the safety of a suburb (a first ring suburb, so not too far out) seem like a decent balance.

Aggrivated, St. Anthony is a great little community.  Unfortunately, it's the opposite side of the city that I need.  I arrived late to this game and when I saw that they had a local event that I missed, I was bummed. 

redinr08's picture
redinr08
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Posts: 19
Re: Housing Advice

Welcome, fellow Minnesotan!

Two interesting local companies that build energy-efficient houses are: 

www.enercept.com

located in Watertown, SD, and

www.extremepanel.com

located in Cottonwood, MN.

Good luck with your plans!

B. (in the north metro)

 

Tycer's picture
Tycer
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Re: Housing Advice

Keep renting!

dschroeder01's picture
dschroeder01
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Posts: 22
Re: Housing Advice
Tycer wrote:

Keep renting!

Why do you say that?  Housing prices will continue to fall? 

Would it make a difference if you were building a new home that was designed for net zero (or close to that) energy? 

Tycer's picture
Tycer
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Posts: 602
Re: Housing Advice

Yes the housing market will fall again. We've still got AltA's and Option ARM's to go. Most will be done by Jan 2013. If you are buying used, and have the cash, your dollars will go farther then as houses are still tremendously overvalued.

If you are building, materials will probably fall a bit over the next year or so, level off, and then skyrocket when energy prices go up.

My 2¢

 

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Re: Housing Advice

Dr. Martenson bought a place he could make sustainable, even though he knew housing prices would go down. Others have rented because they like the flexibility: you're not tied down to one place.

As for me? I was renting about 50 miles from NYC (Long Island), and planning to move to the Midwest. But I married a guy who'd already taken the red pill and had his own home near Columbia, SC. We've spent the last year and a half making what I call a Suburban Homestead. We added an efficient woodstove, a pantry and deep larder, canning equipment, fruit trees, a large square foot garden, a well and medicial annuals for our landscaping - and we worked on security (fence, better doors, ammo and target practice). We've been trying to build community, and we're maing our place as energy efficient as possible: clothesline, solar attic fan, screens and storm windows, screen and storm doors, cfc bulbs, etc. We've plans for a chicken run, a pump house, an ultra-low electric refrigerator made out of a chest freezer....

The point is that much of this could not happen if I/we were renting. Oh sure, my step daughter could still buy her pedal sewing machine (she's a seamstress) and my husband could still ply his trade (mechanical and computer repairs, good at solar and wind and hydropower), but as a gardener I needed land. We have an acre, and our house has a small footprint. The area can do sustainable agriculture: not just wheat and soybeans and cotton, but also horses for transportation and various other forms of animals for protien.

Rent  if you need flexibility, buy if you need sustainability.

jpitre's picture
jpitre
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Re: Housing Advice

Safewrite wrote:

Rent  if you need flexibility, buy if you need sustainability.

Absolutely agree - well said in a few words

As far as "jobs" are concerned, it is my opinion that trying to stay employed as an employee is going to turn into a dead end. Employees are always at the beck and call of the employer and subject to firing at any time - not an enviable position to be in. I suggest that one is best off by developing marketable skills that are not necessarily dependent on "finding a job"

Skills that will lend themselves to sole proprietor operation are the ones to work towards. For instance an MD always can trade healing for chickens or something of value. Many simple basic trades from times gone by are likely to come back into vogue - the butcher, miller, baker, carpenter, farmer, general mechanic etc are going to be in demand when things such as the ease of the corner supermarket either goes away or is unaffordable. Think of what skills you already have and/or want to have and begin working in that direction. I'm afraid that a new Harvard MBA is not on the list Frown

Jim

EndGamePlayer's picture
EndGamePlayer
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Posts: 546
Re: Housing Advice

Welcome ds-

The Twin Cities has a lot of options. PloughShare (see facebook) is a CSA in the cities if you don't have the place to grow your own. There is also the SFA-MN.org (Sustainable Farm Association of MN) to local places you can work weekends in exchange for fresh foods and the area is bountiful in coops, and locally grown spots around the cities and surrounding area.

for other areas see: attra/ncat.org for CSA farms or work share farms

EGP

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