This year our conversation started out on a rather drastic note. Around Christmas time we were able to spend some time out at our property to enjoy some snow and the company of my parents. The kids sure loved spending time with Grandma and Grandpa!
While we were out there, my wife and I walked around our housing site and talked about our longer term plans as they relate to our property, which today is essentially a Bug Out Location for us.
That conversation as we walked around in the snow is what triggered one of our major priority shifts, which I want to talk about today.
Several years ago we found a perfect plot of land in Eastern Washington. My extended family (brothers and sisters and parents) decided that buying this land was the right thing for us to do as a family.
So we ended up with a just short of 200 acres of land in a nice pasture/timber mix, with water and utilities. Amazing!
While my folks have since built an outbuilding with an integrated apartment, my siblings and us have varying levels of ‘vacation spot’ built out, ranging from 30′ travel trailers, bunk houses, or simply just tent camping.
My wife and I have always had the long term vision of building a home and moving our family from where we live today to The Farm, as it is affectionately known. We want to do this before our oldest gets too old and established in high school, but up until now we’ve been making slow progress.
At this point in time we have a nice 30′ travel trailer for us and our youngest, with the other kids sleeping in tents. Though this year they’ll be able to sleep in the new bunkhouse I built for them last year.
The last year and a half or so has been spent building up alternative streams of income for us. I haven’t had the time to dedicate to them, however, and while they have grown nicely, they aren’t to the level of ‘house building’ like we had intended.
During our initial conversation in the snow, it became apparent that we had been operating under our old assumptions. We were still mentally living in the city, not recognizing that the life style changes would allow us to modify the house we thought we had to have into something that was more optimized for a rural lifestyle.
I had always realized academically that your core house doesn’t have to be all that big when you can build whatever outbuildings you need for non core tasks and activities. But it didn’t really click until we had that conversation.
We also realized that if we were out there, our living expenses would drop dramatically. Having done the math, we’re talking about a huge drop in expenses. That alone would free up quite a bit of cash to build and expand.
We will be building it in stages, with a core that is livable for our family and that gets us out there ASAP at minimal expense. It won’t be fancy, and it won’t be big, and it will probably be downright cramped.
But just getting out there frees up money and opens up time for other activities that help our overall situation, such as raising livestock for food or larger scale gardening, that it’s a good compromise in our mind.
We’re actually meeting with our architect this week to flesh out the plans and the phasing of the build. We’ll get what we want in the long term, it will just take a bit longer to get there! But I guarantee we’ll have more fun along the way, and we won’t have to live in the burbs anymore.
When we discussed this shift with my parents, they were a big fan of the idea. My Dad has a construction background and him and I went rather deep into the logistics of building a house in phases, the planning, etc.
They also offered up their building site. As it turns out, they’re so happy with the apartment in the shop building, they have no intention of building a house on the site they had designated for one.
So it looks like we’re going to shift our planned location from the site that we’d originally planned for, and we will build closer to my folks. There’s some huge advantages to this, though there’s definitely a significant mental shift we are still making to get used to the idea.
Overall it’s the right thing. We will be able to share core infrastructure, which is a big deal since we’re likely to be the only family members out there for a while yet. It’ll also save us a good $20-25k in expenses related to septic, power, and water.
Another infrastructure benefit is related to livestock. The main barn(s) for the farm will be located close to my parent’s shop. It’s where the horses will be, and any other non-pastured livestock. Since the kids will be doing quite a bit of the chores related to the livestock, it makes sense to be closer in as opposed to being a decent walk away.
All in all, like I said it’s the right thing for us to do, just a bit of a mental leap for us to start picturing something else as our eventual home site.
The Plan, Revised
So we’re going to aggressively get something built that we can move into. We hope to be able to move next summer, about 18 months from now. We’d love to move this year, and maybe we can pull that off, but I’m guessing we won’t be able to do that.
We’ll be building the house in several planned phases, resulting in a house that covers our needs and has the size we want, vs a size we can live with.
The kids don’t know. In fact, we never told them about plan A either. Clearly as soon as we start construction they’ll find out, but we know that there will be some trepidation about a move like that. And we’re just not quite ready for the inevitable freak-out that we’ll get!
No child likes to change schools, and every child is convinced that they won’t have any friends after the move. We’ll have to spend this summer getting to know more friends for the kids to ease that worry.
From a financial standpoint, this is something that is more doable. I still need to work out some of the income aspects. While my job in theory can be done from anywhere in the world, there’s still some question about whether I can do it via telecommuting full time or not.
We do have some alternative income streams planned, but I’m going to write a separate post about that one of these days, so I’ll skip the details here.
This is going to be an exciting time for us. It will definitely be full of change. But I’m confident we’ll pull it off, and I’ll be writing about it here.
I hope that what we’re doing can help you, whether it’s by learning from our mistakes, copying some of the things we do, or simply being encouraged and inspired and know that if we can do it, so can you.