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Old 12-03-2016, 03:35 PM   #1
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Question Permanent Residence

Hi all,

I'm a young guy, I'm going to be turning 25 in about a week. I have a good job so I can make some money, but I don't love it. I want to quit. Throughout my 20s my plan has always been to save up a lot of money and then retire early and live an extremely frugal lifestyle.

So far, I have worked towards this by renting a large apartment in a cheap part of town and sharing it with lots of other people.. but looking back on my finances, I haven't saved nearly as much as I would like. I have had to spend a lot of money on a car to get me to and from my job. I have lent people a lot of money for rent when they were in a rough patch, like broke their leg. I don't know if I will ever get that money back. Also, I haven't been strict enough with myself so I have bought some non-essential stuff for myself and my partner, like beer, going out for pizza occasionally, new computer etc.

After all that my savings rate is about 50%. I know that's high for a lot of people but I want it to be more like 70% or 80% to achieve my goal of retiring when I turn 30.

So I have been considering alternative living arrangements for myself and my partner. Shelter is my #1 expense by far. If I didn't have to pay rent I would easily hit 80% savings rate. But for me, buying a house is totally out of the question. Most houses in my area cost more money than I plan on ever having or earning. Mortgages don't look great when compared to renting.

Ideally I could obtain a place to live and spend under:
- $20,000 capital expenditure (land)
- $10,000 operational expenditure (Bus + materials + tools)
- half a year of full time work to build it + half a year of part time and weekends.

That seems somewhat reasonable to me, however I think city ordinances and building codes would be my greatest issue and actually might make this impossible. I live in the Twin Cities area in Minnesota and I would like to stay here or stay around an urban area if I can.... It just seems to me that all of the laws in these areas are designed to provide single family home owners and landlords with a monopoly on living space.

Short of buying land out in the boonies, how would you recommend I approach this? Does anyone on this forum have experience with legal issues surrounding permanent or semi-permanent living in a converted bus?
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Old 12-03-2016, 03:55 PM   #2
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usually the least expensive housing a 'mobile home', often in a mobile home park sometimes on your own land.

The challenge is towns want taxes, safety...so they require permits and licenses (safety they say) and buildings get taxed, not RVs..so to put in utilities and live in an RV probably isn't going to be legal unless you can it zoned for camping.

Even then you may be surprised at the cost of putting utilities to an empty lot in an urban area, or putting in well and septic in a rural one. Here just the tap-in fee for water and sewage is $8,000..plus the actual digging, tapping, pipe, etc and then you get a monthly bill of course.

Most all septic now is sand mound - so $30,000-40k. A well can run $3000-5000 - depends on depth and water quality (does it need treated?)

"Urban Homesteading" is the next cheapest option..if you're brave. LOL. IN bad areas you can get homes cheap - here $10k will get you a complete 3br house. OK, so there were 6 shootings within a 10 block radius...living in the woods you could be eaten by a bear, right? LOL

Something we have here, and i know they have it in NYC and I assume other places, are 'co-ops' - you buy into the co-op and all owners share teh costs of running the place. You can get a 3br townhouse here, in a good area, good schools, for $410/ month and a $4k buy in. When you leave you get your $4k back. water, sewage, garbage and basic cable tv is included.

the only ways I know of living 'rent free' is to get a 'live in job' of some kind - 3/4 house manager, farm worker/manager, cook/chaufeur, babysitter, etc.

Or be an over the road trucker - you'r ein the truck 24/7 for 27 of 30 days, 45k the first year, 60k after that. Only expense is your cell phone and food. You don't even need a car.
Or go work on a boat. Watch the law though - we have the ohio river here and barges and working on that is considered 'intercoastal' work or something like that - pays well BUT you are NOT covered by workers comp insurance..you get hurt (common in that line of work) and you get NOTHING.

Many campgrounds have a 'camp hose' in teh summer- you 'work' in exchange for free rent and you live in your camper. Your 'work' can be checking people in odd hours, grass cutting, pool maintenace, etc.
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Old 12-03-2016, 04:40 PM   #3
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Even then you may be surprised at the cost of putting utilities to an empty lot in an urban area, or putting in well and septic in a rural one. Here just the tap-in fee for water and sewage is $8,000..plus the actual digging, tapping, pipe, etc and then you get a monthly bill of course.
Yeah, that kind of thing is what I was worried about. It would be a pain in the ass to live without running water. I might be able to do no running water as long as I have internet

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"Urban Homesteading" is the next cheapest option..if you're brave. LOL. IN bad areas you can get homes cheap - here $10k will get you a complete 3br house. OK, so there were 6 shootings within a 10 block radius...living in the woods you could be eaten by a bear, right? LOL
I could get a house in the rust-belt town where I went to college for $30k. I'm not afraid of crime and what-not, but it would be a big leap to move out of the city. Also, in my experience those bargain basement houses are usually decrepit -- heating/cooling them would be difficult due to old construction, bad insulation, and intense levels of neglect.


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Something we have here, and i know they have it in NYC and I assume other places, are 'co-ops' - you buy into the co-op and all owners share teh costs of running the place. You can get a 3br townhouse here, in a good area, good schools, for $410/ month and a $4k buy in. When you leave you get your $4k back. water, sewage, garbage and basic cable tv is included.
This is basically what I am doing right now Problem is my housemates can't always pay their rent and I end up footing the bill, but I also don't want to kick them out immediately. I should have made them pay that $4k buy in... although I think some of them have probably never had $4k in their lives

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the only ways I know of living 'rent free' is to get a 'live in job' of some kind - 3/4 house manager, farm worker/manager, cook/chaufeur, babysitter, etc. Or be an over the road trucker.
I'm a software engineer so the savings wouldn't be worth it. Engineering can be a live-in job as well, although you live in the office instead . But for some reason they don't seem to let you sleep there idk why
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Old 12-03-2016, 05:01 PM   #4
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this is in a better part of a bad town, near the college.
2326 7th Ave, Beaver Falls, PA 15010 - realtor.comŽ

compared to a camper..sure, it's gonna use some utilities but so will an RV..cold is cold! And a house doesn't burn diesel. or get parking tickets LOL
$20k..and some work.
bus..$5k and some work.
Per sf the house wins.LOL

bus can move..house can probably be sold to get back your investment, if not more. Unlikely with a bus.

YOu'll never rent out the 'spare room' in a bus..could with a house.

a house has an address - for legal reasons, for taxes, for voting. Only two states allow you to be a 'non resident resident' .. texas and one other..idaho or utah or something. person i talked to about it was going to texas - closer (from ohio) than the other state.
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Old 12-03-2016, 06:08 PM   #5
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Regulations and cost vary HUGELY by location.

The folks above that detailed additional costs and concerns make very good points. But... Keep in mind that in some places it is easier and cheaper.

I live on a beautiful wooded lot with a large creek in the back yard. Trout & steelhead fishing in my back yard.

The only utility hookup that I have is electricity. It cost me $2100 to install about 4 years ago. To manage it that cheap I had to source, transport and install my own power pole and meter base. The transport was the hardest part.....

I have no landline, cable, satellite, city water or sewer hookup.

I collect rainwater for our domestic water supply. I water my flowerbeds with my grey water (allowed here). I also have a composting toilet.

There is another lot here (not as nice as mine...) for sale for $10k. A double lot sold recently for $17k.

I live full time in an RV. This is tolerated as long as I convince them that this is a "part time" residence. As I have another spot where we spend time I can show that I am not here "full time" if they should ever actually ask.

Depending on weather my power bill runs between $45-$100 a month. Property taxes are about $380 a year and association dues are $160 a year.

I live a modest but comfortable lifestyle. No car payments, no house payment and no other long term debt.

How flexible you can be in your "lifestyle" and how frugal you can be will vary greatly depending on location. If where you are now is not a good fit perhaps looking a bit out of town may open some opportunities?

I think that you have a great idea and and wish best of fortune pursuing it.

S.
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Old 12-03-2016, 08:02 PM   #6
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Retiring early is always a nice idea and a good plan.
I worked in law enforcement all of my adult life and after getting beat to **** a few times, I found myself with the option of retiring at 31 with full benefits and pension thanks to a 15yo behind the wheel of a green grand am who nearly put me under the wheels.

I can afford my lifestyle and make the ends meet with room. After a year of retirement, painted the house, added on, bought a restoration pick up, golfed every day in summer and got very good with my firearms, I was bored shitless and went back to work.

I put about 35% of my pay into a new retirement fund while my previous para retirement stopped and builds. I pay the bills with my current wages and live a simple life. The skoolie has consumed most of my spending money and I love it. I don't want a mortgage and I want freedom to pack up and drive off into the sunset. The skoolie is personalized enough, odd enough and customizable enough to fit me to a T.

Now, depending where you are land can be cheap. I bought 40 acres for 35,000 and lotted out half of it with 6 lots. Made a profit after everything was prepped and sold. I live on the front section and tax is 350 a year, my bus is not done but, it will be very eco friendly and reduce my carbon footprint extremely.

My advise and I say this in a compassionate tone.
Knock it off, quit buying pizza and computers.
Lay off the beer it only leads to trouble.
Bank your money big time and you will feel the reward down the road.
Have fun, what do you plan to do to sustain your retirement?
Any money making ventures or talents to bring in supplemental income?
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Old 12-04-2016, 04:09 PM   #7
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Thanks everyone for the thoughtful replies.

My goal in retirement would be to make more friends, take care of myself, and spend a lot of my energy on open source software development, because I think that writing and maintaining publicly available software might be the biggest gift I could ever give to the world, plus, I enjoy it and I think I would really miss writing software otherwise.

I think I'm going to keep on renting, but try to avoid fronting other people's rent in the future. That should help a bit.

Another possibility would be to buy a house in a cheap area and work remotely for a few years. I never really considered that, but if I could do it without taking a large pay cut, it could work well. And I could sell the car!!


I never thought of a house costing less than a college education but apparently its possible
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Old 12-04-2016, 04:34 PM   #8
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you can write open source software and still make miney at it... I write software for-profit however I also contribute code to more than one open source project as i believe in passing the GPL on..

the big issue going rogue and youngly retired will be insurance.. if you get hurt or sick your life savings is just plain gone in a blink of an eye..

if you are like me you'll get bored.. I had an all expenses paid year off when I was 30... in fact really from the moey i got to do the rush project I did for my previus employer I couldve easily taken 2 years off and still had plenty of money..

I bought and restored an old cadillac.. continued to work on various computer projects and what not.. and after 6 months I said "screw this" and began to look for work...

after a month I landed a job (18 years ago) at my one current employer.. and then started a business with a couple people from it.. so now I basically have all kinds of freedom, own a business and make good money.. and still get to contribute to open source software projects.. (and have school busses)
-Christopher
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Old 12-05-2016, 08:21 AM   #9
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How flexible you can be in your "lifestyle" .
that's always the key. Humans have lived in caves (indians), tents (indians), log cabins and mud huts of all kinds (adobe, sod) as well as brick.

Lived alone and with a plantation full of servants.

What you can do for a short time is one thing, when young is one thing - long term and when you're older is another. Healthy is one, less than ideal health is another.

I can't live without running water for long - and w/o electricity just ain't gonna happen.
I love TV..but can live without it and be just fine.
I can take the heat..but I really can't stand being cold.
I don't need a stove or oven - I can make do other ways, but I really need my coffee.
I know folks that demand a shower or 2 every day (like my son) and others that well, whenever is fine with them (my daughter leans toward this).

Younger people today seem to need cell service/internet.. i like my internet but can live with books just as easily. cell phone? who cares.

I've had a few friends walk teh appalachain trail - 6 months of living in a tent, alone for the msot part. The loved it. Could you do this for YEARS? I've no idea. So goals and attitude mean a lot.

I like being settled down, but the option of going/moving is always there. Until it's not..kids in school, figure i'll stay till they're out of HS. So 10 years of ... planned nothing. Not that i'd planned to move,but to plan NOT to was a bit challenging to accept. Not sure why.

Like the first time I got laid off - worked for motorcycle shop in PA - I knew it was coming and that i'd be back in late march..but when I actually got laid off i got depressed. Surprised me that I would. A free/paid 3 month vacation SHOULD be a reason to celebrate, right?
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