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Thread: House-free!?

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    Member PVyrus's Avatar
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    House-free!?

    Iíve seen a lot of posts regarding being car-free, TV-free, child-free, and even (God forbid) bike-free. So Iím curious, and pardon if this is too off topic, but how many of you are or have ever been HOUSE-free?

    I do not have a car, but often the thought of buying and living out of a van to avoid the ridiculously high rent around here looks awfully tempting. I admire the van-dwellers simplified way of living and if I had a vehicle would even try it out myself just to see what it was like! RVing and sailing are two other possibilities of interest and would love to hear your stories.

    In the meantime I am happily living at home with fewer expenses than most and riding my bike everywhere both for necessity and fun.

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    Senior Member attercoppe's Avatar
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    This is an interesting topic...does renting vs owning qualify as house-free?

    Probably not, since you mention living in a vehicle of some sort. I have always thought that living on a boat would be neat. Of course you would have to live somewhere that would work - decent weather year-round, reasonably close access to stores etc. You'd also have to be able to live on the water - with the waves and all.

    I know a couple of people in this area, and there are several more that I don't know, that live year-round in an RV. Their "houses" are at a local RV park, most don't drive them often, if ever. It's probably cheaper than lot rent for a mobile home, and it is actually mobile, if you were so inclined. The same park has at least a few regulars, that come every year and park for 3-5 months. And back near my hometown, there is a place along the highway, I don't know who owns it, but apparently they travel a lot. There is a huge garage (huge as in tall, RV-sized) and a little house there. An interesting idea for a home base...

    That same local RV park is actually where I stayed when I first moved here. I came across the country without a job or a place to live, so I slept in my van and showered at the bathhouse for about a week. I would probably have kept it up but at 8000 feet, the nights get chilly even in late August - and colder yet as winter gets closer. I wasn't really prepared in several ways for long-term van living. Sure was cheap, though.

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    I bought a house 2 years ago. The main reason why I choose to buy a house, vs. steel, rent, or borrow, is to diversify myself financially. I got a fairly low interest mortgage so I guess that's good. Owning a house is a pain in the ass. They need maintenance, and I have many monthly expenses that renters never even have to think about. It certainly hasn't simplified my life. But the alternative is to live in an apartment or someone elseís house, which had never been very appealing either. Maybe I should get a van and live in it?

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    I have given this topic extensive thought and done a lot of research on it.

    My experiences and conclusions:

    I have lived rent and mortgage free in squats for about 8 years and loved it (forget all the things you heard, i live in the Netherlands and here that means it is legal, i have lived in huge, beautifull house -presently in a nice pretty big one by myself-, can often stay for many years at a time and the owner frequently does not mind.)

    For more info you could check my site, http://www.rhizomes.nl/

    Squatting is nice but i decided i do want to build something up that will always be there and that is completely to my taste and likings. To that end i am moving to Spain and building a sustainable home.

    www.rhizomes.nl/articles

    I have also researched this for years and years and i am now utterly convinced that it is possible to build a very nice home for between $ 5000 and & 15.000 that will outperform (almost) any modern conventional building, there's quite some examples on my site. And the natural techniques are not hard by any means. Of course you need to buy a little land but in many areas this is still do able. The land will potentially also serve for permaculture which will make living even cheaper.

    For inspiring and empowering info just go to my site and follow the links. IMO The most interesting type of buildings are Earthships, Yurts (semi mobile and still very comfortable) Cob (literally 'dirt free', anybody can build with it, excellent thermic and insulating properties), semi-underground, certain Roundhouses and Strawbale.

    Finally for the mobile home thing, from what i understand you can live in a semi mobile home for very cheap in the states (trailer). A bit more expensive is an RV or Van. But i have always felt i'd get a bit of cabin fever and wouldn't like that my home could not be expanded very well in order to accomodate changes in lifestyle or preference.

    If you do get into RV's or Vans this is one of the best things i have read about it:

    http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/wutzke76.html

    Also i would really suggest getting into bio diesel, this will make you independent, it will be good for the environment and will allow you to have fuel cheaper.

    I have decided i will never ever hang myself by getting a mortgage, that is just legalized highway robbery.

    The ideal (which i am almost sure i will achieve since it really is feasible) is the house in Spain that i can always come back to but to also go touring for extended periods (maybe renting out my home in the meantime).
    Last edited by v1nce; 01-23-06 at 10:17 PM.
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    jim anchower jamesdenver's Avatar
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    when traveling i'm met people live in hostels while working at restaurants, teaching english, or doing other misc. work while supporting their travels.

    if you were truly into the vegabond lifestyle i think living a small van or RV in the city or mountains (with a bike as your local transport) would be pretty cool.

    about 6 years ago i moved out of my $700 a month apartment, and paid $300 to rent in a friends house, and was working two jobs so kept much of my clothes and day to day posessions in my car.

    six years later i now OWN a home, DON'T own a car, and am financially doing great. i disagree that a mortgage is highway robbery. my home has appraised for $15k more than i purchase it for, and the small improvements i make around my house only help it.

    i honestly think renting ties you down MORE than owning a home. a rent is a year lease. many people i know have bought homes, done some work and SOLD them with a profit. and while minor or major fix and flips aren't everyones cup of tea, it certainly returns more than the stock market (like the above poster referred to).

    my fantasy is to have a million dollars in the bank, yet travel and live in the city as a vegabond or hippie, with no one the wiser to my assets, just volunteering, people watching and educating myself through experience.

    if that makes me a poser so be it. my other life's fantasy is to be an international fugutive diamond thief. so hide your diamonds.

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    For a month or so.
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    I've been considering living and working only on my sailboat, but I'm a pretty serious pianist on the side, and I just can't give that up, so I'm tethered for the time being, since the only point of doing the boat thing would be to travel while I worked, not to get some fractional space for myself in the name of simplicity.

    Considering also switching over full-time to just doing composing and playing violin in order to facilitate that, but...
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    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    This-free and that-free, I suppose it can go on till you reach a Jainist-like moment of nirvana just before you expire from being food-free. For those of us left behind with all our short-comings though, we probably seek a less pure balance.

    Sailboats are notoriously high maintenance. RV's are good if you want to travel, though it's not exactly car-free. I guess for each person, they have to find out what provides the highest benefit to work ratio.

    For me it's a small apartment. Grounds maintenance is covered, major repairs. So I mostly have to keep up the inside of the apartment. Where I live is quiet and I feel comfortable walking at any hour. It's close to work, and the neighborhood has restaurants, movies, banks, library, post office, small stores, grocery stores and a big box store all within walking distance.

    Even my storage bin for my excess stuff is just across the street. A year ago I moved and really pared things down so everything fit in a 5x7x8 box. Yeah, it would be nice to get rid of all the extra bike tools and computer manuals, but what do I do with my grandfathers papers. I can't replace them. So for me, thats my balance of simplicity right now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PVyrus
    Iíve seen a lot of posts regarding being car-free, TV-free, child-free, and even (God forbid) bike-free. So Iím curious, and pardon if this is too off topic, but how many of you are or have ever been HOUSE-free?
    On two occasions, for less than a year each, I lived in a tent. We even got the post office to give us an official address without a permanent structure at the location. The address helped deal with employers and banks.

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    Senior Member va_cyclist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by v1nce
    I have decided i will never ever hang myself by getting a mortgage, that is just legalized highway robbery.
    I don't think I understand this point of view. 15 years ago I lived in an apartment, paying around $1200 bucks a month in rent on a one-year lease. For that I got about 700 sq. ft., with 2 bedrooms, noisy neighbors, no yard, no privacy, no garage, no real storage space, and shared parking. Then I bought a house with a mortgage. For about the same monthly cost, I got 1500 sq. ft., four bedrooms, 2-car garage, basement, shed, yard, driveway, private walls, private parking, $10,000/year in mortgage interest deductions off my taxable income, and a growing equity stake in a piece of real estate that will never lose value. (In fact, our first house gained about 50% in value during the 8 years we lived there.) Sure, I have to mow the lawn and pay for repairs, but I think I'm still way ahead. And there's nothing better for your credit rating than to make timely payments on a mortgage.

    So where exactly does the hanging part come in?

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    put our Heads Together cerewa's Avatar
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    I have decided i will never ever hang myself by getting a mortgage, that is just legalized highway robbery.
    In the USA, mortgages are subsidized through tax breaks for people with mortgages, making it financially better than it would be for people who want to buy a house. One of the implications is that people who don't have a mortgage (such as most apartment-dwellers) pay a larger share of the taxes, which seems rather unfair.

    My dad once told me that he had paid some $150,000 towards a mortgage over a few years and gained $3000 in equity, or something to that effect. On the other hand, if we had been renting a house it might well have been $150,000 and no equity.
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    J E R S E Y S B E S T Jerseysbest's Avatar
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    Home-free? You mean homeless?

    In a van (down by the river...) or RV? Trailer park (cough cough white) trash.

    I'm only gonna rent until I have enough for a down payment for a house. Renting sucks, you lose anyway you look at it, unless your looking for short term or don't have a permenent job.

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    Senior Member attercoppe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesdenver
    i disagree that a mortgage is highway robbery. my home has appraised for $15k more than i purchase it for, and the small improvements i make around my house only help it.

    i honestly think renting ties you down MORE than owning a home. a rent is a year lease. many people i know have bought homes, done some work and SOLD them with a profit. and while minor or major fix and flips aren't everyones cup of tea, it certainly returns more than the stock market (like the above poster referred to).
    James, this isn't directed soley at you, it's just my argument for the other side. Some of the other posters here have mentioned similar things, and I'll address those as well, I just chose yours to quote for my rebuttal.

    If your home is appraising for more than you bought it for then yes, it is increasing in value. (This does not mean it can never lose value.) But just like any investment, an increase in value does you no good until you cash it in. For instance, if you buy a savings bond, it may increase by 6% over five years - and at the end of that time, you get rid of the bond, and you get back your initial investment plus what it earned. Unless at some point you are going to get rid of your house and not buy another one (maybe going back to renting?), it doesn't mean anything for it to increase in value - the exception being you have more equity, which as long as you still own the house, basically just means you can borrow even more money (putting your house at risk to do so) and get deeper into debt. A good mortgage payment history can indeed improve your credit, but again, using that credit will only serve to put you depper into debt. If you are going to sell the house (presumably for more than what you paid) and buy another - guess what, inflation (and likely a rise in housing costs) means on average you'll get about the same quality of house at the increased price. Of course there are exceptions, but in general you really don't make money just by owning a house. You mention fix and flips, but as you say, that's certainly not for everyone - plus most people who do this generally don't live in that house, they have a separate permanent residence anyway.

    You say renting ties you down more than owning, giving the example of a year lease. This is a common argument. Compare a year lease with a 30-year mortgage. Who's more tied down? Sure you can sell the house anytime - hopefully.That will depend on the market, the condition of the house, the current economy, etc etc. Even if you can't break the lease on an apartment, worst case is under one year in the place. In fact, not all rentals have a leases defined in one-year blocks. The apartment I'm in now is month-to-month. Theoretically, that doesn't protect me from having the place rented out from under me, but in this case that's not going to happen. I have lived in another apartment that had an initial one-year lease, then month-to-month thereafter.

    When renting, one typically has a very limited number of expenses - the rent itself, utilities, sometimes common area fees or the like. Owning a home carries not only the mortgage, but also property taxes, homeowner's insurance, yard work or the bill for having it done, yearly (or so) work like painting, gutter cleaning etc, plus emergencies like sewer/septic problems, broken windows, cracked foundation etc. With a rental, all this risk and maintenance is assumed by the owner, not the renter.

    In the end, it's up to each person to decide which is better for them. I happen to believe there is quite a bit of hype around home ownership, touting it as an investment, and disinformation regarding renting as being a waste of money. The personal benefits need to be considered, as well as the drawbacks, for either choice.

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    when come back, bring pie
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    I honestly thought about doing it this summer. Saving some money, putting what I need in the back of my van, and heading down the Oregon coast Astoria way and having a nice, simple, relaxed summer. I had it planned out that I'd live like many do on tour... simple kitchen equipment, cooking whatever I could find. I'm not sure where I'd park the van, but I'm sure I could find somewhere close to restroom and shower facilities. Unforuntately, the van needed too much work to be used for such a thing, so I just got rid of the thing. But, I've really been thinking about this over the last few weeks. It doesn't sound to me like a half-bad idea, particularly after I graduate.

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    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PVyrus
    Iíve seen a lot of posts regarding being car-free, TV-free, child-free, and even (God forbid) bike-free. So Iím curious, and pardon if this is too off topic, but how many of you are or have ever been HOUSE-free?
    I've known of people who have done it. There's a German guy by the name of Heinz Stucke (I think) who has been on a bike tour around the world for the last 40 years!. I met a guy in Tasmania in 2003 who was living in a tent. I've often wondered about that lifestyle myself, but I the usual questions arise. How would I finance it (you might find it more difficult to get a job with no fixed address)? Could I really give up all of the modern conveniences in my home forever? I really think there are a lot of things in our lives that we take for granted, things that we perhaps don't value as we should until we lose them.

    If you're really curious about this, why not try it for a relatively short time? How about loading up a tent and doing a bike tour for a few weeks or a few months? Put your possessions in storage if need be -- get rid of the ones you don't want, and just go. After a few weeks or months, you'll have an idea of what you miss and what you don't. The results might surprise you.
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    I fully agree with the points about the disadvantages of Home ownership. I also agree with the notion that whether renting or buying home is a good or bad idea is 100% dependant on personal circumstances and taste. Lastly the point about trying something out for a bit of time is a good one, to me it really feels like people usually really regret the things they don't do or try rather than those they do.

    I have also understood that most sailboats (depends much on condition and materials) are very maintenance intensive. Most of them need to be put in Dry Dock (which ties you down a little) once a year and are then repainted or treated. Costly and time consuming but might still be well worth it to some.

    Aside from the things mentioned above, there is also a political or moral thing about owning a home. I personally find it ridiculous that in some of wealthiest nations of the world people need to tie themselves down 20 to 30 years in order to own a home...

    This one of the reasons why in intend to build my own eco home. I refuse to pay a fortune in interest or to even go in to debt for something which should be, and i now know -can be- affordable. I also feel that people ought to not speculate with or make (much) money of of basic needs such as shelter and food... But of course feel free to disagree.

    By the way, i personally am also Childfree by choice (vasectomy at age 24) and have had large periods that i was TV free, both have really done me a world of good and given me much freedom, but again this is a very personal thing. 'Whatever floats Your Boat /Rental /Bought Home / RV'.
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    Super Biker Mtn Mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by v1nce

    Aside from the things mentioned above, there is also a political or moral thing about owning a home. I personally find it ridiculous that in some of wealthiest nations of the world people need to tie themselves down 20 to 30 years in order to own a home...
    Well, I think your augments are a little lacking. First "owning" of anything is a relative term. A more accurate term for what is gained by paying on a mortgage would be equity, which practically any homeowner will accrue, even after a few years of "owningĒ. Itís all about increasing your net worth, not owning things, per se. Not that there is anything wrong with your plan of saving up for a house, but I think you could accomplish the same thing by getting in the game now with a mortgage, and starting to gain equity, instead of saving via a savings account and then buying later down the road....
    At least that would make sense here in the U.S.

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    I guess i feel increasing my net worth or acrueing equity (whatever one calls it seems a little inconsequential to me) is not worthwhile persuit considering the aforementioned downsides and tradeoffs. The worth i value is my worth as a person and that ties in with certain political, environmental considerations, net value or financial worth is very secondary and relative IMO. Kurt Vonnegut also has interesting things to say about some of these topics, though i forget in which book.

    Additionally there are quite a lot of people who are losing everything in the Netherlands (another very rich country) these days. They get sick or lose their job and their home gets repossessed by the bank and they lose all their invested capital as well as equity.
    Last edited by v1nce; 01-23-06 at 11:00 PM.
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    Super Biker Mtn Mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by v1nce
    I guess i feel increasing my net worth or acrueing equity (whatever one calls it seems a little inconsequental to me) is not worthwhile persuit considering the aforementioned downsides and tradeoffs. The worth i value is my worth as a person and that ties in with political, environmental considerations, net value or financial worth is very secondary and relative IMO. Kurt Vonnegut also has interesting things to say about some of these topics, though i forget in which book.

    Additionally there are quite a lot of people who are losing everything in the Netherlands (another very Rich country) these days. They get sick or lose their job and their home gets repossessed by the bank and they lose all their invested capital as well as equity
    agreed...but I'll just justify my actions by saying "it's the american way"

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    Oh, i am not sure if you are kidding but no need to justify yourself to me whatsoever, it is an individual choice. But to balance my arguments some, not playing ball (Amrican Way) can also be a stressfull and bad choice for quite some people. I'd love to see a utopian thing occur with housing but i know it isn't very likely and for everyone, and that's quite ok.
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    jim anchower jamesdenver's Avatar
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    attercoppe i agree with your notes above - well put. it's no use to buy if you're not sure of your future, or move from place to place often for job or personal reasons. - unless you're savvy at lending and home buying. i've rented in apartment buildings, and now own my home, but one thing for sure is if i move and rent i'll never go to a big apartment complex again (even tho i still miss the view from my old high rise). don't like all the fees, credit checks, potential noise -- if i moved to hmm, amsterdam or buenos aires (thinking aloud he he), i'd be on craigslist real fast meeting like minded people, and renting a room, half a house, etc. save much more money, more homey environment, and easier to break a lease that way (with respect to landlords agreements of course)

    and on the "american way" comments, i am a huge advocate of simple living, as noted in other posts, and since paying off my debt, c'cards, no car, etc. and only having a home as my debt (which i can sell), it's been one of the best accomplishments of my life, BUT, the american way doesn't provide an OUT for those who don't have reserves or savings as backups.

    our aggressive capatilism hurts the uninsured, the working poor, and the undereducated. and while that's based on life decisions - my experience in having two social workers as parents is that welfare and programs do not TRAIN people for life skills very well. i.e. money management, interviewing, logistics of running a household, etc.

    i do think money and savings in the bank, or stocks, or house - DOES equal security -- and living in our society that IS a must as a basic contigency plan. and lucky for us who live simply, a job loss, or temporary setback will not be as big a deal as someone with two mortgages, a boat and 3 cars, but i do believe some financial contingency is neccessary in life -- and see nothing wrong with accumulating wealth in a responsible way. i actually contribute to a "green fund" of stocks, as well as an IRA and 401k, (insert enron comment here)

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    jim anchower jamesdenver's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=attercoppe]
    You say renting ties you down more than owning, giving the example of a year lease. This is a common argument. Compare a year lease with a 30-year mortgage. Who's more tied down? Sure you can sell the house anytime - hopefully.That will depend on the market, the condition of the house, the current economy, etc etc. Even if you can't break the lease on an apartment, worst case is under one year in the place. In fact, not all rentals have a leases defined in one-year blocks. The apartment I'm in now is month-to-month. Theoretically, that doesn't protect me from having the place rented out from under me, but in this case that's not going to happen. I have lived in another apartment that had an initial one-year lease, then month-to-month thereafter.
    QUOTE]

    agree on this too - you need to be VERY picky about where you buy. i'm lucky enough to be in a good establish neighborhood, and got in for a bit under similar comparables.

    but i have a friend living in vegas (going to UNLV), and i occasionally read the review journal online and am AMAZED that in 1998 houses were selling for $140-200, and know they're worth over $300k. NOT a great time to buy.

    i'm happy owning and would still tout it as an investment for someone established in a community like myself, but i agree it's not something to rush into and you need to do solid research on your chosen neighborhood, city, and the like

  23. #23
    Senior Member
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    Homes don't always appreciate and you don't always gain equity, as people in some areas are going to find out in the next 12-24 months. I bought a house in Denver in 1981, sold it at a $10k loss in 1987, a few years after the oil crash, because I had to move to the west coast. That was 12% loss of value and I considered myself lucky not to have to PAY to get out of it as some did.

    I then bought a house in the Sacramento foothills in 1989, when the RE market was peaking, and it then slowly lost value until 1995, I stayed in it longer than I wanted to, until I could finally realize a 30% gain in 1998. I did ok, but now it is appraised at 600k, or 3 times what I sold it for in 1998. In spite of the ups and downs, it was worth it to live there and have fine neighbors and a big yard for several years. Homes have their advantages.

    Fortunately, after those experiences, I did pretty well on some raw land I bought in 1999 in the Bay Area, but it took five hard years of work to develop, subdivide and sell half to someone with a similar eco-vision who wouldn't build a McMansion on it. I am curently living in an apartment, have the freedom to move when I want, and am planning to build an eco-home on raw land further north this time, since it has become too expensive to build where I am due to earthquake codes, zoning requirements, etc.

    My point is real estate is not a sure thing, especially in the short term, as markets go up and down. There are nice alternatives, especially if you are not sure where you will be next. I like my current apartment and also spent 6 months living in a vintage Airstream in 2004, all around the west, while investigating real estate and other places to live, and I really enjoyed the freedom a lot. The lack of space became confining after a while (150sf!), but it taught me alot about space utilization, simplicity and small being better for resource utilization.

    PS - James, I like and agree with the points you made.

    john
    Last edited by mtnroads; 01-23-06 at 11:55 PM.

  24. #24
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    I agree 100% with all the latest points, interesting perspectives and experiences. Nice to see fellow bikers taking control of their lives and living consciously. In that Vein i will now start a thread called 'The Best things i did for/with my Life'. Wonder what that will yield.
    http://www.rhizomes.nl/twenty.html
    My Tweaked and modded Raleigh Twenty. Lots of pictures and lots of general info on for example a different & Cheap Bottom Bracket solution as well as fork solution.

  25. #25
    Member PVyrus's Avatar
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    Equity? Mortgage? Net worth? Stocks? Politics? Man I didnít realize this thread I started would get so confusing, but thanks for the replies and suggestions! I guess I should also ad that my family has been battling money issues for my whole 20 years of existence, and right now my mom and I are on Section-8 housing because we still canít afford anything and she also recently lost her job. I canít get a good job because of my poor education and sleep disorder, so besides being car-free Iím looking for other ways to live with my current min-wage job should I have to leave. I donít need much space, so renting a room out of someoneís house sounds like a good idea, plus I love the idea of community housing (especially with friends, but they all live too far away). There are plenty on Craigslist, but most are way beyond my financial capabilities. Yeah boats and RVís sound like too much, and even an apartment is too big, so has anyone tried one of those small pre-fab houses? (Check out http://www.gotoreviews.com/archives/...-and-building/) But again Iíd hate to invest in something like that than realize I donít like it! So for now Iíll stick to rented rooms (my dad does this and it works great! But he also works two jobs.)

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