Most people that I know live in a nice house, have a good job, a family and a relatively good life. These same people also have huge mortgage payments, car payments, credit card and educational debts and no extra money to have fun with. They live each day the same as the last, they send their children off to school, they go to work, and then they come home and pay the bills, eat dinner, go to sleep, dreaming of an easier way of life.
I too was trapped in this life style for quite a few years. I was a young man who just got done with his seven year duty in the United States Army. I came home with some cash in my pocket and a need for a place to live. I bought a nice sized home on a few acres of land, promised the bank that I would make my payments on time, and fell into the same trap that most people fall into. I was quite happy to get that home. I was so happy that I didn't even think about how I paid too much and would be making payments to the bank for the next 30 years. As time went by, I was no longer happy with my purchase, I felt as though I had a huge chain around my neck holding me back from true happiness.
I knew that I didn't want to spend the next 30 years making mortgage payments to a bank who was cashing in on my choice to buy the house. I also knew that I didn't want to work 50 hours a week only to send my whole paycheck towards that house payment. It was really beginning to dawn on me that I was not going to be happy unless I could come up with a different way of living.
This process of thinking didn't happen overnight. It took years of worrying, stressing out and being fearful of the road I was on. I was and still am relatively young and I have watched older couples who retired after 30 years at a job and all I could keep thinking was that I didn't want to wait until I was 60 years old before I could enjoy life. That single thought began my journey into a more simple life.
I began looking in newspapers, online, and in real estate listings for property. This alone is a stressful task because there is so much to choose from and the prices are horribly high in most cases. It was very easy to become depressed about the whole situation but I kept looking and finally found a piece of property within my price range. It was a little over 10 acres in a fairly remote place in Michigan. This sealed the deal that I would make my dream of a simple life come true.
The land was raw. It was used as a farm for almost 100 years and there were only a few small trees. Family and friends told me that it would have been nicer to get a fully wooded lot but I didn't agree. If one buys land that is fully wooded, you either have to chop trees down yourself or hire someone to clear a place for your home. This costs money and money was not something that I had a lot of at the time. So having clear land without trees saved me a lot of time and hassle. I did plant over 400 pine trees on the property so in time, as they grow, I will have a wooded piece of land.
The next thing I did was research how much it would cost me to build a cabin. I went to every cabin site online and was totally blown away by the prices of such small cabins. I quickly came to reality and found that there would never be a day when I could afford a cabin kit. The next revelation came to me one night when I was browsing a site online of one of the big home improvement stores. I was bored and feeling a bit upset about the cabin prices so I typed in ""garage kit" more as a joke than a serious search. A whole page of garage kits showed up on this website and the prices were relatively reasonable. Much more reasonable than a cabin kit.
I decided pretty quick that I could easily build a garage kit and just leave the garage doors out of the plan. I decided to buy one and the rest is history. I bought a garage kit that is 1080 square feet. Not a huge place but the size I wanted. I bought everything that I needed except for the doors, windows and shingles and I paid about 6000 dollars. I found brand new windows on a classified site and I got 6 brand new low E windows for 150 dollars. I also found a brand new patio door with low E glass for 50 dollars and bought that. I did some checking and the patio door cost 899 dollars new at a store. So the moral of this story is that if you are trying to do this, look on classified sites for parts like windows and doors, it will save you a huge amount of money.
I had a concrete pad placed on the property and I also had a driveway put in. Those two things cost more than the garage kit. I also found out that roofing shingles are not cheap. I went with architectural shingles because they last longer and they look nicer than three tab shingles. The shingles cost almost 1000 dollars.
It may seem like I have spent a lot of money so far and you would be correct. But the important thing to remember is that you do not have to do all of this at once. You can take your time as money allows and do what you can when you have the funds. It may take longer, but when you are finished, you will not have a mortgage payment and you will own your home.
I do not have grid power. I decided that I didn't feel like paying an electric company their inflated prices so I bought solar panels and a wind generator. These things aren't cheap, but they are well worth the investment because you will no longer have to pay others for your power which will save you more money in the long run. I also use a propane stove, furnace, and refrigerator. This helps a lot because they do not need electricity.
This introduction to my lifestyle is the first in what will be a series of articles. I will do my best to cover as many topics of interest as possible. I know there are a large number of people out there that would really like to do what I have done. The thing to remember is that it is possible to do. I know it has been said before but, if I can do it on my budget, I promise you can too. You just need to keep a positive attitude even when you think it can't be done.
I hope you come back to read my next article. I will go into more detail about how you too can become self sufficient and be able to actually enjoy life instead of worrying about who to pay next.