Tuesday, April 7, 2015

1man2wheels wrote me yesterday. He had been reading a story of my travels to Panama back a few years ago;


In it I mentioned the house I bought in Nebraska for 7500.00:

He wanted to know more about living a minimalist lifestyle in the northern plains. And how to go about finding a cheap house. It’s hard to beat rural Nebraska for cheap housing. I chose a small county seat of around 700 people. The smaller towns far from the big cities are still cheap. I bought my house 8 years ago for 7500.00. Taxes are 160.00/year. I haven’t seen anything that can touch that anywhere in even the third world. It was cheaper than buying a used truck.

Initially I rode out to Nebraska to build a brick wall on my Aunt’s ranch house addition back in 2006. She lives out in the sticks on a ranch and nobody around there does brickwork. So her room addition had been sitting with building paper covering the outside for years waiting for the final brickwork. I told her I could do it and rode my BMW motorcycle out, shipped my tools out UPS and used her ranch truck to get supplies in town. Small ranch towns are a dying breed in rural Nebraska and I saw lots of empty houses. I found out that people practically give them away once the owner dies, because none of their kids or grandkids want to live out in the sticks. Lots of them sell for under 10,000 dollars.

The thing is, houses that are move in ready are probably more like 20 or 30K. And of course there are really nice McMansions around that are 100K. My house had been sitting empty for over 10 years and I needed to replace the plumbing and update the wiring over the first couple years. No big deal for me. I’m a contractor. It was just a few hundred bucks in parts. I was just buying it as a hobby house because it was so cheap. But people kept knocking on the door once they found out I was a contractor and asking me to fix this and that and I never ended up leaving. After several years, I started shutting off the electricity, draining the water lines and letting the house freeze over the winter while I headed south. First to help my sister remodel her house in Arizona, then to Panama and a couple winters of riding to South America.

So far it’s worked out great for me. But here’s another thing. I don’t have pets, a wife or kids to think about. Where I live is the furthest place in the lower 48 from a Walmart. There isn’t any kind of shopping other than for basic necessities. There’s a lumber yard, hardware store, grocery and gas station and that’s about it. For me it works out, because I’m on the road most of the time. But if you have a wife or family, they would have to be minimalist and not too materialistic for it to work long term. Unless you shop online or on Amazon I guess.

My advice is to try out some rural places. Rents are cheap. 3 bedroom houses in Bassett rent for 300 to 400 a month. Go down to the local cafe in the mornings and hang out with the locals and find out who is doing what to who and who just died and contact their kids. Drive around and look at empty houses and ask the gal at the courthouse who owns them. That’s what I did. Linda up at the courthouse knew everything about all the houses. Who had lived in them. When they died. What was wrong with them. That sort of thing. And she gave me phone numbers off the tax rolls. I called the owners of the empty houses that looked decent and offered them 5000 bucks cash. I called quite a few until the one old lady said she’d sell my house to me for 7500.

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