Town or Country?

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beez123's picture
beez123
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Town or Country?

 I have read a lot about the coming economic collapse and I know I had better prepare, in multiple ways, for major change. However, I am having difficulty determining what to do about a living situation. 

We are renting a small semi-affordable house in town, about 5 minutes bike ride from work. We have a squarefoot garden going, but not nearly enough to take care of all our food needs. It's noisy here and hard to sleep with horns and streetlights and car alarms. But it's okay, I can deal with it. 

We are staring to see some decent looking deals come on the market for properties outside of town, perhaps 20 minutes commuting distance from our current jobs. For example: 22 acres, pond, barn/workshop, eco-friendly house with wood-stove and passive-solar design, woods, fields, etc. for $230,000. There are a few places like that starting to spring up. (We had always thought we'd like to design our own eco-friendly house house though. So maybe we'd just buy some land and build on it.) A couple years ago you could barely get a house like these for $230,000 and now it's like they're throwing in the land for free. Amazing.

Am I crazy for wanting to leave our little place in town and go be a farmer? Don't get me wrong, we'd still commute in to work our office jobs and just do some small farming/gardening on the weekends and evenings after work. We're not dumb enough to think we're just going to jump into farming full-time. I know it's not that easy. 

But, at least there is potential for growth and expansion there on a farm. I can't see much happening in our rental house yard if the economy continues to spiral downward. (Although, Dr. Martenson is renting, right? Hmmm. Why I wonder?) Maybe we could do a permaculture crammed backyard type of setup, but I don't think our landlord would be too happy about that.

I'm thinking along these lines:

1. If we're in town and nobody needs a web designer anymore we're basically stuck with a tiny yard, squarefoot garden, and $900 rent.

2. If we're in the country and nobody needs a web designer anymore we're basically stuck with a large piece of land with several sources of income potential. People gotta eat right? We are capable enough of raising veggies and small livestock. Not sure if that small farming income would cover a mortgage at that point though. 

Anyways, anybody else having this dilemna? If things keep getting worse... Town or Country? Any advice or stories or writing of situations of your own is greatly appreciated. I'm the type that will worry myself sick over this. I've got a fairly large amount of cash in a money market account. I'm anxiously watching the real estate market, gold prices, etc. I don't want to see my dollars become worthless. I'd much rather have something tangible like land. Just having trouble getting off the fence.

ccpetersmd's picture
ccpetersmd
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Re: Town or Country?

Beez,

I very much sympathize with your dilemma, as we are going through a similar decision making process ourselves, although the land we own in the country is only 5 acres, not 22 acres, and we currently own our in-town home, which we will have to sell, if possible. If we move, which I expect we will, we would have around a 15 minute commute to my main hospital, but I would decrease my commute distance to my two other hospitals, so that's a bit of a wash.

I don't know the area in which you live, but $230,000 for land, house and barn seems like a very good deal. That said, renting offers great mobility, and you haven't tied of assets, just in case you had to make a move. If you are committed to the area in which you live, though, buying land and home at a reasonable price would seem an attractive option.

Finally, as a web designer, could you not do this work from home, possibly eliminating (or reducing) your in-town office and commute?

beez123's picture
beez123
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Re: Town or Country?
ccpetersmd wrote:

Beez,

I very much sympathize with your dilemma, as we are going through a similar decision making process ourselves, although the land we own in the country is only 5 acres, not 22 acres, and we currently own our in-town home, which we will have to sell, if possible. If we move, which I expect we will, we would have around a 15 minute commute to my main hospital, but I would decrease my commute distance to my two other hospitals, so that's a bit of a wash.

Welcome to "pros and cons" land! I think I'm going to geek-out and make a pros and cons decision table on my computer.

You're lucky in that you already own your land, but I guess selling your house might be tough? We had house in the 'burbs on the market for over a year, sold in April. We've been in our in-town rental for almost a month now. We'd never sold a house before. We were amazed at how much easier it was to buy a house rather than sell a house. Incredible amount of work! I wish you luck in selling if that's what you decide to do. Got any agriculture plans for that land?

ccpetersmd wrote:

I don't know the area in which you live, but $230,000 for land, house and barn seems like a very good deal. That said, renting offers great mobility, and you haven't tied of assets, just in case you had to make a move. If you are committed to the area in which you live, though, buying land and home at a reasonable price would seem an attractive option.

We're in Georgia. Real Estate is traditionally pretty reasonable here, at least compared to other parts of the country, especially during the boom. It still seems expensive to me though, even now. And some real estate agents and developers still have not realized that they are greatly overestimating the value of their properties. 

True, I had thought being "liquid" would be nice, just renting and being carefree, biking to work, taking a trip now and then. However, due to the rising fear of inflation I'm scared that chunk of cash from our house sale is going to be worthless and I'll end up kicking myself for not buying land - if we stay in town. My family is in town and my wife's family is pretty close also so we have that to consider. Our jobs are pretty decent also. On the other hand we've always wanted to live somewhere else for adventure for a while like Austin or Portland. I guess what I'm rambling on about is if the economy were going great, we'd probably move off for a while, for adventure. But, if you believe in the coming economic collapse scenario, it might be wise to stick close to family and buy some land while our money is worth something.

ccpetersmd wrote:

Finally, as a web designer, could you not do this work from home, possibly eliminating (or reducing) your in-town office and commute?

You would think so, but our workplaces are run by pretty old-school people who believe that tele-commuting will inevitably lead to slacking. We've both got a lot of years in with this employer and the benefits are the best we've seen around. So, it's hard to just up and leave.

Let me know what you guys decide. What other factors are you weighing besides commute? Sounds like your commute would even out? 

- Brent

 

ccpetersmd's picture
ccpetersmd
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Posts: 799
Re: Town or Country?

Brent,

Where are you in Georgia? We lived outside Savannah (Richmond Hill, to be precise) for four years when I was still an Army doc and stationed at Fort Stewart. We visited Atlanta and Augusta fairly often, and also made trips elsewhere in the state. Other than the unbearable heat and humidity during the summer months, and all the biting insects, we really enjoyed our time there. The Savannah "Sand Gnats" was such a fitting name for the minor league baseball team there!

beez123 wrote:

You're lucky in that you already own your land, but I guess selling your house might be tough? We had house in the 'burbs on the market for over a year, sold in April. We've been in our in-town rental for almost a month now. We'd never sold a house before. We were amazed at how much easier it was to buy a house rather than sell a house. Incredible amount of work! I wish you luck in selling if that's what you decide to do. Got any agriculture plans for that land?

Yes, selling is always a pain, and I agree with your assessment that it is much easier to buy. We've had our current home on the market for several months now, and while there was not nearly the housing bubble here as elsewhere, activity certainly has been slow. As to plans for our land, we like to garden, and are looking forward to a much larger garden, likely a greenhouse, and possibly a small orchard. With 5 acres, there is only so much we can do, keeping in mind room for outdoor sports with the kids!

beez123 wrote:

True, I had thought being "liquid" would be nice, just renting and being carefree, biking to work, taking a trip now and then. However, due to the rising fear of inflation I'm scared that chunk of cash from our house sale is going to be worthless and I'll end up kicking myself for not buying land - if we stay in town. My family is in town and my wife's family is pretty close also so we have that to consider. Our jobs are pretty decent also. On the other hand we've always wanted to live somewhere else for adventure for a while like Austin or Portland. I guess what I'm rambling on about is if the economy were going great, we'd probably move off for a while, for adventure. But, if you believe in the coming economic collapse scenario, it might be wise to stick close to family and buy some land while our money is worth something.

I certainly understand the desire for adventure. Since my wife and I married in Hawaii 15 years ago, we have lived in Georgia, Oklahoma, Indiana, Colorado, and now Iowa. We seriously entertained the idea of moving abroad for a few years, or perhaps indefinitely, to British Columbia, New Zealand or Australia. In the end, we have decided to stay put. Our land is on a very nice lake in Iowa, and we are close to family (my wife is from Iowa and I am from Kansas).

Staying liquid is indeed very appealing, but I share your concern about the likely future devaluation of current cash assets. Converting the profits from your house sale seems like a reasonable idea, and land, if found at the right price, would be a good investment. Still, if we didn't already own our lakeside lot, and we sold our current house, I'd be very tempted to rent a place in town. Even owning the lot, we have considered doing just that; building a small retreat (and future retirement home)on the lot, growing our produce there, but renting in town while I'm still professionally active and the boys are in school.

Christopher

Gungnir's picture
Gungnir
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Re: Town or Country?

Ok Beez, your dilemma is like mine was about a year ago.

Six figure salary, working in software engineering. Living in a Metropolitan area, have 1/2 Acre current land here, and a 3000 Sq Ft house for two people.

What did I decide? By July I'll be out of Dodge, have 80 acres of Alaska, and supplies to get us kickstarted. I have no regrets either.

One thing that might be handy for me at least, is once we have Satellite Internet, I can work remotely if needed. Even if it's picking up freelance Developer Contracts.

YMMV

suesullivan's picture
suesullivan
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Re: Town or Country?

Beez,

I'll chime in and say I ponder the same questions. I've seen Chris mention that they're renting and waiting for the real estate bubble to finish collapsing but that they do plan to buy land. I wonder how much. I believe he's looking to be in or near a small New England town though (with New England being laid out during the pre-industrial era and more suitable for a post-industrial world), rather than out in the country. Driving into town may get very expensive as gas prices rise and rise. I've thought that I'd like to be within 3-5 miles of town, in case I need to travel by bike for supplies.

I've also seen a peak-oil site recently that advocated city living over country, for access to jobs for as long as they last, which may be quite a while, as well as good medical care.

As far as not being able to support yourself on your current rental's garden beds, you don't really need to now (though the health benefits are pretty compelling to growing as much of your food as possible.) What I do find very important is to learn as much about growing and food preservation and seed saving as possible now, while the pressure's not on to any great degree. That said, Chris' latest report says don't wait any longer to make your sustainability changes -- the fan is splattering. I'm going to have to discuss this with my husband when we have uninterrupted time from the kids and aren't exhausted -- 2010, maybe?

I share your reservations about being able to afford a mortgage on country property if town work were to disappear, and I've considered only buying land that we can afford outright and building a home ourselves. Our land prices haven't dropped enough for us to afford that yet (without completely draining our IRAs, which is not off the table in my mind), but they're getting closer.

We may not move from our suburban quarter acre on Colorado's Front Range for quite a while. We only just got here, we do own it with a small mortgage (which gives us the freedom to devote much of the backyard and part of the front to food generation) and my youngest had a very hard time with the move here. I'd like to give him more time to develop some resiliency in the face of change, and I think we still have that luxury of waiting a bit. We have a good community here and I could see this being very liveable for at least 5 to 10 years, maybe longer, depending on how climate change affects us. We're experimenting with exactly how much we can grow on our property, and haven't maxed it out yet. We have six chickens, we may get more, and a miniatiure dairy goat (assuming our new neighbors are amenable). So we could go a decent way towards providing a lot of our food, and more importantly to me, aquiring homesteading skills here in the suburb. I am acutely aware that my energy for gardening work, at 44, is about half what it was at 24, and I don't know how precipitously that will continue to decline! (I'm hoping that I'll get in shape as the growing season progresses, and this is more due to a winter of relative inactivity, instead of senescence), so I'm loathe to leave the starting of a homestead for too many more years, though.

I'd like to buy enough land now to support a few generations on it, contour it for permacultural water-retention practices, begin planting it with nitrogen-fixing plants and fruit and nut trees, and tend it for three, five or seven years, while we see how quickly the decline will play out. Our land prices aren't low enough yet. We might buy more PMs to guard against inflation and wait to see how much further they fall in the next year or so. 

I think it's possible to make a small town/small city set up work  as well as something with more land, as long as it's not too far from a stable population center. I think the choice may come down to where one feels most at home.

fwiw,

Sue

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RNcarl
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Re: Town or Country?

Well,

I think Where Beez is in his thinking dilemma is where a lot of us are right now.

I live in a New England city (used to be the second largest in New England) but to me it really feels like a smallish city by larger states standards. I have seen my home value shed 1/3 of it's "bubble value" but that's OK because I bought the house at the end of the last bust and prior to the beginning of this housing bubble. My only issue was that I had to put the costs of finishing the house on CC debt and then roll it over to a conventional mortgage then move student loan debt onto the house as well. Sooo... at this point, I really still have a smaller mortgage than most and only have 9 or less years left on it. Interestingly enough, I still don't think the bottom is anywhere near in on the housing bubble. Why? Because my home value is still double what the market value was when I bought the house 15 years ago. My gut tells me, we will loose another 25% before things level off.

So, I have thought that as things change, a 12000 square foot lot will not sustain a family of 4 in it's ability to grow food. Add to that, that 1/3 of the rear yard is down over a sharp embankment (lovely view) and gardening becomes even a greater challenge.I have thought of terracing the raised beds. (Would that look COOL!)

Next, I looked at a rural (by New England standards) parcel of land and house. I agree too that the market still is trying to keep prices up. Earlier in the spring, I only saw a 15-20% drop in price from the peak and can't bring myself to more than double my mortgage and "reset" the clock on it's payoff. - My final decision I think will be to buy a "second" home out on Cape Cod where there is a grand sense of community. The soil isn't the best for widespread farming, but with the squarefoot method of improving the soil, I should be able to garden enough, fish enough, and be near enough to local community to fair well enough. Then, I will shed my "city" home, and "bug-out" to the ocean. (this is the only form of compromise I could make with my bride)

Beez, you are a little better off in your process than you think. You have "liquid" cash and are renting. That's good! Wait for prices to drop further. If you are too afraid to chance the fiat money devaluing too much, buy PM's according to the advice as to types and amounts and how to hold the PM's as suggested by others on this site as well as Chris. While you are waiting, learn about what it takes to garden and become sustainable. The more I ponder your particular situation, you are in the "catbird" seat!

Fear over takes us. Planning is our resolve. Courage comes with little steps of preparation.

FWIW - C.

beez123's picture
beez123
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Re: Town or Country?

Hi Doc, we're up near Bulldawg country. ;-) I sent you a PM to talk about GA.

Yep, 5 acres is not as big as some people think it is. Don't get me wrong, I believe plenty can be done to grow food on 5 acres, especially with tight groupings of plants and permaculture practices. But if one is the type that also values privacy, or wants to raise some animals, then perhaps more than 5 acres is needed, sure. 

As I'm sure you remember from your time in the south, some types in rural areas can be pretty noisy. I'm thinking of ATV enthusiasts, or people who like to "entertain" the rest of the immediate 2 square miles with their choice of music. I would love to get enough property that provides somewhat of a barrier between any problem neighbors. Sound carries so well though it's a tough problem. It's best to actually meet the potential neighbors first, I guess - even if they are good people, the problem is they can always move and be replaced by inconsiderate people. That's why I have got to get at least a few decently wooded acres between me and the neighbors.

A greenhouse and an orchard! Sounds great. It's pretty exciting just thinking about those types of things and starting some initial lists of ideas, isn't it?

Wow, you guys have gotten around. We also thought about trying to live abroad - in Spain maybe. I guess we'll be waiting a while.

Have you considered putting up something like a yurt on your lot while you rent in town? A lot of "adventure" outfitters and resorts in the mountains around here are going with yurts these days instead of cabins. Don't know how cold it gets in Iowa though.

Liquidity has been our goal for so long now that it seems very odd to us to immediately turn around and consider purchasing land. But these are unusual times. I guess it all depends on how quickly you think the decline is going to come and to what levels we will descend. I talked with my wife about these things last night and we have decided, tentatively, to move ahead with the following:

  1. Protect our capital against inflation.
  2. Continue to learn eco-friendly housing construction.
  3. Research local zoning rules and building codes.
  4. Search for deals on land.
  5. Continue to improve agriculture/permaculture skills.
  6. When we find a piece of land we can't pass up, we'll go for it.

Guess I'll have to cut out all extraneous hobbies and general time-wasting! I'll be having a busy Summer.

- Brent

 

beez123's picture
beez123
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Re: Town or Country?
Gungnir wrote:

Ok Beez, your dilemma is like mine was about a year ago.

Six figure salary, working in software engineering. Living in a Metropolitan area, have 1/2 Acre current land here, and a 3000 Sq Ft house for two people.

What did I decide? By July I'll be out of Dodge, have 80 acres of Alaska, and supplies to get us kickstarted. I have no regrets either.

One thing that might be handy for me at least, is once we have Satellite Internet, I can work remotely if needed. Even if it's picking up freelance Developer Contracts.

YMMV

Hi Gungnir, I wish I was making a 6 figure salary! Nice one. Coding html and css is about all my brain is good for when it comes to computers. Some basic Javascript is about as hardcore as I get and even that starts to make my head hurt after a while.

That's quite a drastic change you're making. 80 acres in Alaska sounds awesome. Do you have a mix of woods and open spaces? Would it be hard to grow crops in such a cold place? Would you use a greenhouse system?

Yeah, Satellite Internet would come in handy. I just wonder about how the competition for freelance gigs will be in a couple years. I know for web design it's been ridiculous for a few years now. The bids just keep going lower and lower. I need to be somewhere with a long growing season, because I have a feeling it will be up to me and my hands to provide most of our food, not a paycheck from web design. But I guess Alaska has always been home to extremely self-sufficient people who have gotten by just fine. I guess it's just the lack of a long growing season I'd be afraid of personally, but I'm spoiled, I'm from the South!

Good luck to you on your move. Quite an adventure.

- Brent

beez123's picture
beez123
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Posts: 40
Re: Town or Country?
suesullivan wrote:

I've seen Chris mention that they're renting and waiting for the real estate bubble to finish collapsing but that they do plan to buy land. I wonder how much.

I wonder when he's going to buy. But I guess each area has different conditions.

suesullivan wrote:

Driving into town may get very expensive as gas prices rise and rise. I've thought that I'd like to be within 3-5 miles of town, in case I need to travel by bike for supplies.

I've thought about that as well. We'll be a bit farther out probably, but I'm trying to find time to research some good bikes and hauling equipment.

suesullivan wrote:

I've also seen a peak-oil site recently that advocated city living over country, for access to jobs for as long as they last, which may be quite a while, as well as good medical care.

Yep, I've heard people advocate living in cities as well, but I just can't quite picture that going well, as far as the job situation goes. I would think the competition for even for simple manual labor jobs would be intense in such a situation (Peak Oil, Economic collapse, or both), not to mention jobs for things like web design. Add to that possible water supply problems, food shortages, possible social unrest, etc. I'd rather be out of the crowd's reach.

I don't know, it's not like we'd be living out in the wilderness or anything. If an angry hungry mob wanted to come out to the country and overtake our farm, I guess they could, but it would be quite a walk. They be too tired when they got there to do much harm. ;-) Really though, I'm not buying into the whole chaos scenario. I'd like to think we'd do at least as well as Cuba during lean times, make things work out, and not break down into complete lawlessness. 

suesullivan wrote:

As far as not being able to support yourself on your current rental's garden beds, you don't really need to now (though the health benefits are pretty compelling to growing as much of your food as possible.) What I do find very important is to learn as much about growing and food preservation and seed saving as possible now, while the pressure's not on to any great degree. That said, Chris' latest report says don't wait any longer to make your sustainability changes -- the fan is splattering. I'm going to have to discuss this with my husband when we have uninterrupted time from the kids and aren't exhausted -- 2010, maybe?

I hear ya, free-time is a valuable commodity these days. We've been building a library of books on all the things you've mentioned plus water catchment and storage systems, basic medical knowledge, all sorts of stuff. Lots of reading to do! You're right, we don't have to support ourselves with our garden right now, but we'd like to get started trying. And even if the whole collapse scenario never happens, I would like to do it just for self-sufficiency, food-safety, and budget purposes. 

suesullivan wrote:

I share your reservations about being able to afford a mortgage on country property if town work were to disappear, and I've considered only buying land that we can afford outright and building a home ourselves. Our land prices haven't dropped enough for us to afford that yet (without completely draining our IRAs, which is not off the table in my mind), but they're getting closer.

I'm with you, things are still expensive. Keep watching closely though.

suesullivan wrote:

We may not move from our suburban quarter acre on Colorado's Front Range for quite a while. We only just got here, we do own it with a small mortgage (which gives us the freedom to devote much of the backyard and part of the front to food generation) and my youngest had a very hard time with the move here. I'd like to give him more time to develop some resiliency in the face of change, and I think we still have that luxury of waiting a bit. We have a good community here and I could see this being very liveable for at least 5 to 10 years, maybe longer, depending on how climate change affects us. We're experimenting with exactly how much we can grow on our property, and haven't maxed it out yet. We have six chickens, we may get more, and a miniatiure dairy goat (assuming our new neighbors are amenable). So we could go a decent way towards providing a lot of our food, and more importantly to me, aquiring homesteading skills here in the suburb. I am acutely aware that my energy for gardening work, at 44, is about half what it was at 24, and I don't know how precipitously that will continue to decline! (I'm hoping that I'll get in shape as the growing season progresses, and this is more due to a winter of relative inactivity, instead of senescence), so I'm loathe to leave the starting of a homestead for too many more years, though.

Sounds like you're in a more progressive spot than us. I don't think the neighborhood around here even allows clotheslines, much less chickens in the backyard. There is a movement afoot though to allow 3-4 hens per family. If the economy keeps getting worse, I don't see how they can keep the chickens out. Goats would awesome! We have family that raises goats in the country. Tasty lawnmowers!

suesullivan wrote:

I'd like to buy enough land now to support a few generations on it, contour it for permacultural water-retention practices, begin planting it with nitrogen-fixing plants and fruit and nut trees, and tend it for three, five or seven years, while we see how quickly the decline will play out. Our land prices aren't low enough yet. We might buy more PMs to guard against inflation and wait to see how much further they fall in the next year or so.

Sounds like a good plan to me! That's one of the reasons I'd like to go ahead and get started ASAP on making a permaculture spot.It takes a good while to get things like trees started. 

suesullivan wrote:

I think it's possible to make a small town/small city set up work  as well as something with more land, as long as it's not too far from a stable population center. I think the choice may come down to where one feels most at home.

fwiw,

Sue

Well said, Sue. Thanks and good luck.

- Brent

beez123's picture
beez123
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Posts: 40
Re: Town or Country?
RNcarl wrote:

I still don't think the bottom is anywhere near in on the housing bubble. Why? Because my home value is still double what the market value was when I bought the house 15 years ago. My gut tells me, we will loose another 25% before things level off.

I agree. Like CM says, trust yourself, right?

RNcarl wrote:

So, I have thought that as things change, a 12000 square foot lot will not sustain a family of 4 in it's ability to grow food. Add to that, that 1/3 of the rear yard is down over a sharp embankment (lovely view) and gardening becomes even a greater challenge.I have thought of terracing the raised beds. (Would that look COOL!)

Right, it's not all about the size of the land, it's about conditions also. If somebody is on a 1 acre lot in town, then some people might think that's an okay amount of space for growing food. But what if that 1 acre is on terrible soil, a good portion is a driveway and patio area, or a pool, or the ground doesn't drain well or is even boggy, or the sunlight is blocked by other large or tall houses or trees on a neighbor's property? All things to take into account I guess. A larger area in the country gives you more of a chance on average to gain that large chunk of suitable growing area(s).

RNcarl wrote:

Next, I looked at a rural (by New England standards) parcel of land and house. I agree too that the market still is trying to keep prices up. Earlier in the spring, I only saw a 15-20% drop in price from the peak and can't bring myself to more than double my mortgage and "reset" the clock on it's payoff. - My final decision I think will be to buy a "second" home out on Cape Cod where there is a grand sense of community. The soil isn't the best for widespread farming, but with the squarefoot method of improving the soil, I should be able to garden enough, fish enough, and be near enough to local community to fair well enough. Then, I will shed my "city" home, and "bug-out" to the ocean. (this is the only form of compromise I could make with my bride)

Oh man, Cape Cod is such a nice area. I went there when I was younger on a long camping trip up the East Coast. Great spot.

RNcarl wrote:

Beez, you are a little better off in your process than you think. You have "liquid" cash and are renting. That's good! Wait for prices to drop further. If you are too afraid to chance the fiat money devaluing too much, buy PM's according to the advice as to types and amounts and how to hold the PM's as suggested by others on this site as well as Chris. While you are waiting, learn about what it takes to garden and become sustainable. The more I ponder your particular situation, you are in the "catbird" seat!

True, and we are doing some of those things. I am still nervous about buying gold though. Worried about finding a reputable seller, safe and trustworthy dependable storage bank. I guess I worry about, if TSHTF - bigtime, what's to prevent some rich powerful banker from taking the little guy's gold out of the safety deposit box and catching the next flight to South America? Bernie Madoff juniors are still out there I'm sure. And I'm not going to store gold in my house. If people will break in for TV's, they'll do anything for gold, I'm sure. Gold is a tricky move. But I might just have to get over it, buy some, and put it in a bank.

Thanks for writing RNcarl!

 

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PlicketyCat
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Joined: Feb 26 2009
Posts: 680
Re: Town or Country?

Part of our decision making process what fundamentally altered when we thought hard about what we really needed "money" for as opposed to procuring those things by other means. If we could build and maintain our home, grow or raise food, had access to water, and maybe had some renewable energy then we really didn't need to make that much money to support ourselves.  This, of course, means that you have to invest the money you do have into the land and equipment you need to make it work.  We were lucky enough to be able to purchase our undeveloped property for a song and the necessary equipment from cashing in our savings... now it's just going to be a lot of hard work to get the place self-sustaining.

If the house and land I currently lived in could provide me with adequate food and water without relying on the system, then I might have considered staying in town. But, all things considered, country won out because we could pay that off in its entirety without a mortgage; but the money reserves we had were only a tiny drop in the bucket of our current mortgage.  In your case, if you can find property that you're willing to commit to and you have enough resources to buy it outright (or at least a high percentage), then you just have to bet the odds that you will make enough money between now and then at a conventional job to pay off the remaining balance.  If you don't want to be tied down or haven't found the right place, renting is excellent for remaining mobile and liquid... and you could invest the money from your previous home's sale into equipment you need for self-sustenance even if you don't have the house and land yet.  Personally, I'm much more comfortable investing my savings and earnings into hard/real assets that will be useful in future survival situations.

The stock market may tank, but the farmers and town square markets will always have business :)  Even if you end up homeless and roving the country, you could always rent out your "banked" equipment or services as you travel from town to town.

mpelchat's picture
mpelchat
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Posts: 214
Re: Town or Country?

My advice plan and simple.  Stay where you have people around you that you can trust.  If that is in the city great, if that is in the burbs so be it, if that is in the country wonderful.  If you have to move back to your home town or your spouses home town that will work too.

Go to a place that you are an outsider than it becomes us versus them.  Somebody wrote a short time back that small towns are cute but it takes a long time to belong to one, you are an outsider.  The guy that sits next to me at work who used to live in the south says "Yankees are the northerners that pass through  your town and D#$N Yankees are the northerners that stay". 

One guy that used to follow this site talked about his times in Florida and some of the hurricanes he was through having city services out for 1 to 4 weeks at a time.  The top 5 things he said to have are:

1) friends around you (groups have a tendency to keep unsightly people away)

2) water and food

3) a way to cook

4) board games (you get bored as heck without something to do and there is nothing to do during those times but wait)

5) Batteries

I hope this helps and good luck on your dilemma.

thralls63's picture
thralls63
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Re: Town or Country?

In making your decision, I think you need to fast forward in your mind to the post-crash timeframe. It is that time you are considering moving for, and the sooner the better so you can get your place, gardens, etc up and running. I would suggest extrapolating multiple scenarios (i.e. town, country, home, homeless etc) and compare them. I would also consider various stages of social and economic unravelling, and what they might create. It is obviously not about making a good investment for your cash, it is about long term survival.

Gungnir's picture
Gungnir
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 2 2009
Posts: 643
Re: Town or Country?
Quote:

Hi Gungnir, I wish I was making a 6 figure salary! Nice one. Coding html and css is about all my brain is good for when it comes to computers. Some basic Javascript is about as hardcore as I get and even that starts to make my head hurt after a while.

That's quite a drastic change you're making. 80 acres in Alaska sounds awesome. Do you have a mix of woods and open spaces? Would it be hard to grow crops in such a cold place? Would you use a greenhouse system?

Yeah, Satellite Internet would come in handy. I just wonder about how the competition for freelance gigs will be in a couple years. I know for web design it's been ridiculous for a few years now. The bids just keep going lower and lower. I need to be somewhere with a long growing season, because I have a feeling it will be up to me and my hands to provide most of our food, not a paycheck from web design. But I guess Alaska has always been home to extremely self-sufficient people who have gotten by just fine. I guess it's just the lack of a long growing season I'd be afraid of personally, but I'm spoiled, I'm from the South!

Good luck to you on your move. Quite an adventure.

- Brent

The Growing season in AK is shortened by the latitude, but it's not that bad. Greenhouse is a must for delicates i.e. Tomatoes and early seeding, but regular veggies are suprisingly hardy (Onions, Carrots, Spuds, cabbages [which also make awesome Moose bait], etc.). One big advantage too is that there's plenty of Wildlife and fish for protein, and we're getting some livestock, chickens, goats, and rabbits to supplement with and of course chickens give eggs, and goats give milk.

The Land is entirely forested right now, which is great for building materials, and heating fuel, there's a state woodlot about 2 miles away that costs $5/year for as much heating fuel as you can haul too.

From a Freelance Developer perspective, yes competition might be fierce, but then again I'm not going to be worrying about most living expenses, so if I underbid and take a "dreadful" $25/hour contract, that will take maybe 80 hours to complete, test and bugfix, then big deal it's not like I have a huge overhead of mortgage, gas, food bills, power bills. Of course you also get the oil dividend too after you're resident for a year, the wife and I are budgeting maximum income per year of $6000, that's for all non-essentials too, so anything else is pure gravy.

 

EndGamePlayer's picture
EndGamePlayer
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Joined: Sep 2 2008
Posts: 546
Re: Town or Country?

We went Country closer to where our friends and family are. Far away from where things could go nuts fast.

Yes to getting set up early! There are problems you can not yet image will happen if you think you can just find a place and start growing your own food. I just got some goats for dairy and had no idea how much they ate, what not to feed them and how to milk. It took nearly 3 weeks to figure out the dairy system to the point where I feel "safe" using the milk.

My gardens ditto - Though I have gardened for 30 years - I have never thought to rely totally on what only I could produce, but we did an assessment after seeing this site and Crude Impact & (Crude Awakening in '07) and determined we better start learning.

Powering Yourself has another big learning curve shock. You can put up wind generators, PVs and all, but you need to reduce what uses power if you are going to actually think you can live on the power you can produce. We are ditching our freezer, refrig and a few other luxuries and putting in an ice house (see MyBackAchers.com) and we're converting them to food dryers (dried food in the ice room will store well).  We want to get backup rain-water barrels incase we don't have enough power to run the well. We converted our lawn into a NoMowGrass lawn and put 80mpg motors on our 10 speed bikes incase gas goes nuts again or really becomes scarce. We even have trailors for the bikes for hauling supplies, other people, or whatever.  Electricifying the bikes are the next.

If you can afford it - find a cheap place away from people who can not plan on their own security and get to a country place near your friends and family. Housing is cheap and this is one of the best times you'll ever have to buy that country place by the lake, near a creek, or any other property that you would want anyway (even if TSHTF never happens).

EGP

PlicketyCat's picture
PlicketyCat
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 26 2009
Posts: 680
Re: Town or Country?

I think the hardest part of providing your own food while staying in town is going to be your animal products. While you might be able to grow a surprising amount of fruits & veggies (maybe even some grains) on a city lot, most cities and towns have regulations against keeping animals (or limit the number and kind). And, as EndGamePlayer mentions, you might not have enough space to grow food for you and the livestock on a small plot.  Plus, you're more likely to rely on city water, and who knows how long that will last... unless you live where it rains a lot and doesn't get too hot, then water will become a problem really quickly.

beez123's picture
beez123
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Posts: 40
Re: Town or Country?
PlicketyCat wrote:

In your case, if you can find property that you're willing to commit to and you have enough resources to buy it outright (or at least a high percentage), then you just have to bet the odds that you will make enough money between now and then at a conventional job to pay off the remaining balance.  

Well, we wouldn't have enough to by a place outright, although that would be a very cool feeling. But we do have enough for a better than average down-payment - if we're talking the ~200k properties we've seen that would fit our checklist.

Now, this doesn't sound very responsible, I'm sure, but I've wondered... if we do get into a place and put say, a 20% down-payment on it... and the economy just goes to heck, banks fail left and right. What happens then? How are banks going to collect the mortgage payments if they are failing left and right? I am guessing they pass along the paperwork to other banks that take them over? What if they all fail and we are in some James Kunstler 'World Made by Hand" scenario. I guess mortgages just kind of... vanish? That's taking things out pretty far though, to an extreme end of the line.

I have read that NY Times article though, about the economics reporter who is behind 8 months on his mortgage. He says the bank still hasn't contacted him, they are too swamped. Strange times. 

Don't get me wrong, I would never advocate getting into something you couldn't afford because "the banks are all going to fail and we won't have to pay our mortgages! Yay!". That's not what I'm suggesting at all. I would only ever buy things I can afford to pay for. Period. But, during these uncertain times, would it be better to put down 60% and rush to pay the rest off ASAP, or would it be better to put down the required 20% and put a good amount into equipment, food, livestock, supplies, materials, etc. Of course, I would also advocate keeping a few months salary in an emergency fund in case of job loss, and that assumes the $ still means something anyways.

 

PlicketyCat wrote:

The stock market may tank, but the farmers and town square markets will always have business :)  Even if you end up homeless and roving the country, you could always rent out your "banked" equipment or services as you travel from town to town.

I like the sound of selling extra food at the farmer's market. The part about being homeless... not so much. ;-)

beez123's picture
beez123
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 17 2009
Posts: 40
Re: Town or Country?
Gungnir wrote:

The Growing season in AK is shortened by the latitude, but it's not that bad. Greenhouse is a must for delicates i.e. Tomatoes and early seeding, but regular veggies are suprisingly hardy (Onions, Carrots, Spuds, cabbages [which also make awesome Moose bait], etc.). One big advantage too is that there's plenty of Wildlife and fish for protein, and we're getting some livestock, chickens, goats, and rabbits to supplement with and of course chickens give eggs, and goats give milk.

The Land is entirely forested right now, which is great for building materials, and heating fuel, there's a state woodlot about 2 miles away that costs $5/year for as much heating fuel as you can haul too.

Okay, I can see why you made your choice. Alaska sounds pretty damned good! 

Gungnir wrote:

From a Freelance Developer perspective, yes competition might be fierce, but then again I'm not going to be worrying about most living expenses, so if I underbid and take a "dreadful" $25/hour contract, that will take maybe 80 hours to complete, test and bugfix, then big deal it's not like I have a huge overhead of mortgage, gas, food bills, power bills. Of course you also get the oil dividend too after you're resident for a year, the wife and I are budgeting maximum income per year of $6000, that's for all non-essentials too, so anything else is pure gravy.

$6000 a year total? Wow! That's excellent budgeting and thriftiness. Congrats! I'm one of the few people I know my age that actually enjoys budgeting, but I'm nowhere near that level yet. I bow to your superior budgeting skills, Sir! :-)

beez123's picture
beez123
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 17 2009
Posts: 40
Re: Town or Country?
EndGamePlayer wrote:

We went Country closer to where our friends and family are. Far away from where things could go nuts fast.

Yes to getting set up early! There are problems you can not yet image will happen if you think you can just find a place and start growing your own food. I just got some goats for dairy and had no idea how much they ate, what not to feed them and how to milk. It took nearly 3 weeks to figure out the dairy system to the point where I feel "safe" using the milk.

My gardens ditto - Though I have gardened for 30 years - I have never thought to rely totally on what only I could produce, but we did an assessment after seeing this site and Crude Impact & (Crude Awakening in '07) and determined we better start learning.

Powering Yourself has another big learning curve shock. You can put up wind generators, PVs and all, but you need to reduce what uses power if you are going to actually think you can live on the power you can produce. We are ditching our freezer, refrig and a few other luxuries and putting in an ice house (see MyBackAchers.com) and we're converting them to food dryers (dried food in the ice room will store well).  We want to get backup rain-water barrels incase we don't have enough power to run the well. We converted our lawn into a NoMowGrass lawn and put 80mpg motors on our 10 speed bikes incase gas goes nuts again or really becomes scarce. We even have trailors for the bikes for hauling supplies, other people, or whatever.  Electricifying the bikes are the next.

If you can afford it - find a cheap place away from people who can not plan on their own security and get to a country place near your friends and family. Housing is cheap and this is one of the best times you'll ever have to buy that country place by the lake, near a creek, or any other property that you would want anyway (even if TSHTF never happens).

EGP

Wow, you have a lot of interesting ideas here. I totally am with you on the setting up early. I always find, no matter what type of project I'm planning, that I should've doubled my estimated time. So, I'm really hoping we have a slow descent into the... whatever you want to call it... economic quagmire. I think it would take at least 1-2 years of part-time work on the farm to get comfortable with self-sufficiency. Hopefully we will all have that kind of luxurious timeline. 

I like your ideas about ice houses, food dryers, and bicycles. Very interesting stuff. We're thinking along the same lines. We're going bicycle shopping in the next few weeks and I've got multiple books on food preservation. Fascinating things to learn about even just for the environmental, economic, and health benefits, not to mention worst-case scenario survival aspects. Good luck with your projects!

beez123's picture
beez123
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 17 2009
Posts: 40
Re: Town or Country?
PlicketyCat wrote:

I think the hardest part of providing your own food while staying in town is going to be your animal products. While you might be able to grow a surprising amount of fruits & veggies (maybe even some grains) on a city lot, most cities and towns have regulations against keeping animals (or limit the number and kind). And, as EndGamePlayer mentions, you might not have enough space to grow food for you and the livestock on a small plot.  Plus, you're more likely to rely on city water, and who knows how long that will last... unless you live where it rains a lot and doesn't get too hot, then water will become a problem really quickly.

Good points. I hope, if things deteriorate further and further that most cities and towns would have the good sense to adapt, get rid of outdated laws and regulations, and allow people to form community gardens, areas to raise livestock, and large water storage systems. I guess all these would have to be placed throughout the town so people could access by foot power. But, still might be easier, safer, and more profitable to have your own land out in the country.

PlicketyCat's picture
PlicketyCat
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 26 2009
Posts: 680
Re: Town or Country?

I doubt that your mortgage would disappear anytime soon... probably not as soon as your money dries up. The banks will probably start foreclosing almost immediately in order to "reclaim" their investments and stall failure. It seems like debt never really disappears   We can all hope that debt will be erased during the collapse, but I think someone will always come around to collect their pound of flesh.

Hehe - maybe "nomadic" is a better word than "homeless". Buy an RV/Caravan and then you can go live like a gypsy!

I also hope that stupid regulations get phased out when TSHTF... but I don't want to trust in any form of government to do the smart things in time (if ever!).  I think it's more likely that the regulations would get stricter while they try to maintain "order" and some sort of control over supply.

 

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