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Old 04-20-2016, 08:15 AM   #1
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The insanity of it all

A few years ago I was talking with a friend from another country. He was reading the real estate section of our local paper. At one point he stopped reading and said. " You Americans are crazy. " He went on to explain that in his country if you buy real estate and pay it off then it's yours forever. No property taxes to pay no government seizures to worry about if you can't pay the taxes. He said it was insane to work thirty plus years to pay off a house that you will never truly own since here after you pay it off you still have to pay property taxes, or rent as he called it, to the government or else they will take it and evict you.

I'm now 53 years old with twenty five years left on a thirty year mortgage and his words are coming back to haunt me. The reality is setting in that even if I manage to pay off my mortgage before I die by age 78 l will still not truly own my home. I realized all I will have accomplished is to be just one more of millions of money cows for a government to milk until I'm all dried up and no longer of use. Then I will be turned out to pasture and a new younger cash cow will take my place to start the process all over again for the next thirty years. Mooo?

So I'm changing the game. I'm planning a school bus conversion and possibly a tiny house on wheels as well. I can sell my home now while the market is still good and hopefully have enough to do both as quickly as possible. I think I just woke up from the American dream and realized it was really a nightmare.
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Old 04-20-2016, 09:22 AM   #2
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.......I think I just woke up from the American dream and realized it was really a nightmare.
Almost verbatum what i told my wife not too long ago...

This single paragraph is daunting, petrifying, sad, and inspirational...all at the same time!

IMHO, this (the economic aspect of it, at least) should be a conversation everyone should have, regardless if you're single or married.

The skoolie conversation is also a great one to have, as it is more economical than other "commercially available" solutions, and you can take pride in knowing "you did it yourself".
Be ready for a lot of and
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Old 04-20-2016, 10:16 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by skoolie_n00bie View Post
Almost verbatum what i told my wife not too long ago...

This single paragraph is daunting, petrifying, sad, and inspirational...all at the same time!

IMHO, this (the economic aspect of it, at least) should be a conversation everyone should have, regardless if you're single or married.

The skoolie conversation is also a great one to have, as it is more economical than other "commercially available" solutions, and you can take pride in knowing "you did it yourself".
Be ready for a lot of and
But in the end, it is *so* worth all the moments. Every time I walk by/look at/think about my bus, it makes me happy for just that reason. I did it myself (with lots of help from my awesome wife!) and no one can take that away from me.

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Old 04-20-2016, 10:50 AM   #4
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I spent the first 35 years of my life trying to put some big numbers on the ol' income tax return. Thought it made my d**k look bigger or something. And then I had "that moment" where I realized it was all a game, rigged at the onset, and the only way to win was NOT TO PLAY.

That was a defining moment for me.

Since then, I'm making the journey in the other direction. I ditched all my credit cards but one, emptied my bank accounts, and paid cash for whatever I needed. Took all the financial chaff and discarded it. I started planning the option of going completely off the grid, invisible if necessary, and becoming portable in an instant. Yup, I'm keeping the house, but its getting some mods (we live in the country. Nuff said). And the tax return shows I'm just "real poor folk". Not worthy of attention.

The bus is a big part of this effort. Its getting solar, and other tweaks, that would allow for an extended disconnect. Bigger tanks. A water-maker from a sailboat.

I may never need/want to go walkabout, but just having that option, sitting in the driveway, makes me smile.

Sounds like I'm in good company here!
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Old 04-20-2016, 10:54 AM   #5
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Can't ever escape "The Man" completely. Still have to pay yearly personal property tax on the bus to keep the tags.
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Old 04-20-2016, 10:59 AM   #6
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Can't ever escape "The Man" completely. Still have to pay yearly personal property tax on the bus to keep the tags.
Very true! Short of going completely Galt, everyone has to pay a tithe to The Man, but I'm okay with spending just $88 a year on him. As long as it keeps HIM happy, then I'M happy.
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Old 04-20-2016, 11:10 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Davecop View Post
A few years ago I was talking with a friend from another country. He was reading the real estate section of our local paper. At one point he stopped reading and said. " You Americans are crazy. " He went on to explain that in his country if you buy real estate and pay it off then it's yours forever. No property taxes to pay no government seizures to worry about if you can't pay the taxes. He said it was insane to work thirty plus years to pay off a house that you will never truly own since here after you pay it off you still have to pay property taxes, or rent as he called it, to the government or else they will take it and evict you.

I'm now 53 years old with twenty five years left on a thirty year mortgage and his words are coming back to haunt me. The reality is setting in that even if I manage to pay off my mortgage before I die by age 78 l will still not truly own my home. I realized all I will have accomplished is to be just one more of millions of money cows for a government to milk until I'm all dried up and no longer of use. Then I will be turned out to pasture and a new younger cash cow will take my place to start the process all over again for the next thirty years. Mooo?

So I'm changing the game. I'm planning a school bus conversion and possibly a tiny house on wheels as well. I can sell my home now while the market is still good and hopefully have enough to do both as quickly as possible. I think I just woke up from the American dream and realized it was really a nightmare.

Welcome to 'merica. Enjoy your stay.
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Old 04-20-2016, 11:43 AM   #8
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Welcome to 'merica. Enjoy your stay.
It's 'MURICA, get it right!


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Old 04-20-2016, 07:45 PM   #9
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There's a country where you don't pay property taxes?? If possible, please let us know what country this is. To my knowledge, property tax is the ONLY tax that is truly inescapable. (Smart, rich people are able to hide their incomes, but even they have got to pay taxes on their real estate.)
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Old 04-20-2016, 07:48 PM   #10
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There's a country where you don't pay property taxes?? If possible, please let us know what country this is. To my knowledge, property tax is the ONLY tax that is truly inescapable. (Smart, rich people are able to hide their incomes, but even they have got to pay taxes on their real estate.)
Not if they have good accountants and claim them on their businesses.......
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Old 04-20-2016, 07:53 PM   #11
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There's a country where you don't pay property taxes?? If possible, please let us know what country this is. To my knowledge, property tax is the ONLY tax that is truly inescapable. (Smart, rich people are able to hide their incomes, but even they have got to pay taxes on their real estate.)
Bloom County comes to mind.

Warning: terminal thread drift in progress...
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Old 04-20-2016, 10:11 PM   #12
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Actually he was from Haiti , but for several other reasons I would never want to live there.
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Old 05-11-2020, 01:38 PM   #13
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I think I just woke up from the American dream and realized it was really a nightmare.
Property Taxes are not the American Dream. There are a many things about this country, just like for every country in the world, that range from god-awful to god-awesome. Don't get that mixed up with the values, principles, and ideals of this great nation.
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Old 05-11-2020, 04:57 PM   #14
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My entire life, up until I became a real estate agent, I was under the illusion of the American Dream of home ownership as well. I thought that becoming a real estate agent, I would be helping people achieve their ultimate dream in becoming a home owner while I scrimped and saved to someday buy my own home only to learn through my required classes for my license that it was all a sham.

Not only is it a sham regarding the property taxes, but also because of all the red tape a home owner is faced with when they do anything to "their" property. The laws that define what a home owner owns (the pyramid illustration used to describe real property and one's rights) is a lie. You can't even replace your windows without a permit. Everything has to be approved, you can't just do whatever you want. Tree removal also has to be approved. Digging a well, etc. all of it...and with all of it comes so much red tape, high costs, and waiting for plans to get a pass. It is ridiculous to learn that it's gotten so out of control.

I call the tiny home/bus life movement the new American Dream. You do not have as much red tape to deal with when building your home on wheels, and - if one can go off grid with solar, etc. - less money you are forking over to a Government entity that does not serve you. It gets worse every day, too, the greed and power Big Gov encompasses.

That being said, be careful, folks. Eventually - if not already in the works in some states - they are coming for our tiny homes on wheels, too. It's just a matter of time. Get your bus built and licensed before it's too late and you can't be grandfathered into whatever new laws they come up with in an attempt to make it illegal. I believe it is just a matter of time. You already aren't allowed to "camp" on land you buy to park your bus on for any stationary living situation.
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Old 05-11-2020, 06:47 PM   #15
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Currently, the level of government intrusiveness varies from state to state. Some of their regulations make since, many are just revenue builders. And rest assured, they are constantly looking for new ways to "help" us ignorant subjects///er citizens.
All governments should be kept as small as possible. Have you ever seen a government program cancelled for being ineffective?
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Old 05-11-2020, 07:01 PM   #16
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In Cyprus, many of the homes have roofs with bare rebar sticking out, indicating that it's still under construction. They don't have to pay taxes if it's still "under construction," regardless of how luxurious the living space is on the floors below.


I sometimes have delusions of sailing around the world, being completely self-sufficient with a water maker, fishing, and resupply on shore for things like fresh food. In fact, I lived on a 35' sailboat for a year and a half in my mid twenties and LOVED the lifestyle!


But then I earned myself some responsibilities... met some friends... married one of them... and realized that despite the romance of that sort of nomadic life, it isn't for me at this stage of my life. While it's really cool do live on a sailboat (and I'm sure skoolie too), I loathed having to walk to do laundry or shower, having a tiny refrigerator, always worrying about the critical maintenance of the sailboat itself (and the resulting bills). You know what I do like, though? Hosting friends over for bonfires, having a massive garden/orchard and growing a lot of food, and going on weekend trips to all the amazing parks on the West Coast (and getting there faster than 5 knots!). That's actually why I sold the boat and bought this old 4 window short school bus--because my life and desires changed, they're largely compatible with playing the game, and since we assign meaning to our own lives and to the universe, I changed my mind about the sailing life and started a new homesteading one. Also a family happened.


Yuval Noah Harrari's book Sapiens, it really dawned on me that no matter what life you live, there will always be periods of happiness and despair, whether its filling out customs/immigration forms for Fiji and getting denied because the boat isn't properly registered with the US Coast Guard, lamenting the illusion that we actually own the property we paid for, or the frustration that results when the government takes a portion of your income to pay for things you don't give a **** about.
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Old 05-11-2020, 07:19 PM   #17
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Sounds like this will be an unpopular opinion here… but taxes pay for stuff that you most likely use and rely on. With the exception of some way-off-the-grid mountain men we're all the beneficiaries of taxes. If you're on this web page you're the beneficiary of tax-funded research that created the internet, for example.

There is definitely some romance to the idea of going it on your own and being absolutely free of The Man, but just because you're not paying taxes doesn't mean you're not benefiting from them.

If you don't like how your state or municipality raises money for shared services then by all means get involved with changing the policy. You could get rid of property taxes altogether and rely on income-tax, use-taxes, or value added taxes instead for instance. Figuring out how to pay for shared resources is tough, though. Someone's ox is always going to get gored. It's a interesting exercise, nonetheless, to seriously ask how you would pay for stuff if you were in charge.
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Old 05-11-2020, 08:11 PM   #18
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If you've ever read Rich Dad Poor Dad it makes a valuable distinction between the fallacy of property ownership and the mindset behind accumulation of wealth. Yes property taxes seem anathema but they pay for many things our society values, chiefly public education and modern infrastructure. If you could do the math and prove that these things can be funded through other means then you could make the case for reducing or eliminating property taxes but then people will just despise the alternative funding method as well. The problem in American politics is that no one has the brains or guts or whatever to challenge the status quo and also you can add taxes but seemingly never rescind them.

Here's a prime example: annual vehicle registration is supposed to help pay for the roads. Taxes on fuel is also supposed to pay for the roads. Yet the roads in much of the country are going fr bad to worse because those funds are usually diverted to other pet projects by politicians. Then when they reach crisis level they don't replace the funds they misused but instead claim the increase in overall fuel efficiency and non-fossil fuel vehicles has reduced tax receipts... Really?! Who believes this?? Then they propose an alternative funding method whereby more highways can be tolled or annual registration will be calculated on odometer reading so you pay for what portion of the road you actually use. Sounds fair, right? Except nowhere in there did they say they were going to cancel fuel taxes in favor of the alternative method. If passed they would tax you on the fuel you buy AND the miles you drive AND the value of the vehicle you drove them. They love coming up with new ways to milk the American people like so many heads of cattle.

And this is where I want to come back to Rich Dad Poor Dad. The author explains that his dad was an employee and as such he got paid to do his job. His friend's dad was an entrepreneur and when he asked what that means he is told that an entrepreneur figures out how to make money for himself instead of letting an employer decide for him. If he didn't understand the difference initially, over time he learned that from the beginning as children most people are taught how to get jobs so they can buy homes and pay taxes. That's what society wants, even needs, to satisfy it's tax receipt hunger. Entrepreneurs don't necessarily violate that mandate but they figure out how to operate within it on their own terms. They build their empires and take risks but reap the rewards of their time, patience, perseverance and creativity, usually in the form of large and diverse portfolios of enterprises. In the author's case, his portfolio happened to be real estate but the property taxes didn't pose a moral objection to him - they were simply an operating cost of his enterprise.

In summary, if you plan to resign from society entirely then I suppose a case could be made for avoiding any endeavor which government has taxes but I don't think that's the intention here. Ultimately the skoolie lifestyle is an expression of freedom, something I hoped would remain a core values of American culture for the rest of our lives at least but recent events have me wondering if we haven't crossed the tipping point into a slide towards totalitarian. In the name of the common good we'll meaning but short sighted people will surrender their basic liberties for a hollow promise of security and only after they have neither will they understand what they have lost.
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Old 05-11-2020, 08:31 PM   #19
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Yes property taxes seem anathema but they pay for many things our society values, chiefly public education and modern infrastructure. If you could do the math and prove that these things can be funded through other means then you could make the case for reducing or eliminating property taxes but then people will just despise the alternative funding method as well.
Exactly. All it takes is a shutdown of the local municipal wastewater treatment plant and people are more than happy to pay their property taxes.
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Old 05-12-2020, 09:25 AM   #20
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That's strangely relevant right now. Thanks to everyone on my block staying home all day everyday, and the 1920's sewer system, I currently have raw sewage flowing out of my access port in my back yard. Property taxes are the least concern of mine as a homeowner, especially right now
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