If you asked most people what their biggest payment was each month, it would be their mortgage. Given that I’m just moving out of my parents house and looking to enter the real world, I’ve been doing a lot of research about these sorts of things. When I sat down to find out how much housing costs, as well as how much the mortgage payments on the housing would be, I was shocked. Expenses add up REALLY fast.
While I could afford a fairly decent smaller home at this point, I’ve found that there’s usually a way to circumvent or at least improve on the things that most people do. And housing is no exception. Plus, as I’ve decided that credit cards and financing a car are all really bad ways of handling money, I knew I wanted a way to create adequate housing without having to borrow money (and paying interest) to do it.
This is the solution I found.
Go Small and Go Home
The truth is, most American housing is way oversized. The only reason it might not seem big enough is because we as a consumer nation collect an absurd amount of junk in our lifetimes. But with some simplicity and a little Zen thinking, it’s quite possible to live well and spaciously in a very small house.
How small do you think I’m talking about? If you’re anywhere over 1000 square feet then you’re way off. If you’re thinking closer to a studio apartment that’s perhaps 500 square feet, then you’re getting closer. Of course, I hate monthly payments, and I’d rather own something than rent it, so apartments are personally out for me, but for size comparisons it’s a good starting place.
Of course, even 500 square feet can be pretty roomy if you’re not a complete packrat. Try *drum roll* 89 square feet. That is not a typo, and you’re not in the Twilight Zone. While most people’s argument against a really small house is “my bathroom is bigger than that”, your argument may now be “my toilet is bigger than that” but don’t worry, just watch this video.
Did you watch it? If not, please do. It’s short, and awesome.
Honestly, the house is still somewhat cluttered by unnecessary items. You can make it look even roomier if you wanted to. The point is that even just 89 square feet is quite liveable.
The Tiny House Movement
I’ve been doing a lot of research into small homes like this, which are collectively referred to as the Tiny House Movement. The idea is to reduce consumer waste and save a lot of resources, including money. You can build one of these things from anywhere from a couple thousand dollars to around 15 grand if you really want to get fancy. They cost almost nothing (literally nothing if you get solar panels) for utilities and are a fantastic idea in general. They can also be quite quaint – I love the one in the video.
Of course, all this being said, I decided that I don’t want a “tiny” house. I think it’s a cool idea, but ultimately unnecessary. The main benefit behind having such a small house is that you can build it on a travel trailer and literally live anywhere, plus they’re small enough to get around any housing regulations so you can put them just about anywhere. But for me, I want something a little bigger.
I’m still in the beginning stages of this idea, but I’m thinking of somewhere around 400 to 600 square feet. It has to be small enough for me to build it myself, which I’m very determined to do, yet large enough so I don’t feel entirely claustrophobic when I’m in it. I’ll probably go for a similar design as you saw in the video, meaning there will be one or two large rooms and a loft, which I really love for some reason, I think it would be awesome to sleep up there by a nice window and wake up with the sun shining through every morning.
See, it doesn’t sound so bad now does it?
How I’m Going to Avoid Paying a Mortgage
The most obvious way that I’m going to avoid paying a mortgage is that I’m going to pay for everything I do in cash, which is quite a possibility in this scenario. I’ll be building my home step-by-step, which will allow me to pay for each part of the work individually. I can save up for a month or two and complete new portion of it. And because I’m building so small, I don’t think it’ll take me very long to do it. Of course I’m not going to move forward until I know specifics, as well as more about building, but this is my plan thus far.
I still need a place to actually put the home. My parents have an extra field on their land, but due to regulations I probably won’t be able to build there. My dad told me he would give me the field if he could, but I would insist on paying for it anyway. I really want to do everything myself, fair and square.
Do It Yourself
I’ll probably end up buying land here in Oklahoma somewhere. As I understand it, land is relatively inexpensive here as compared to a lot of places. I could probably pick up an acre or two for around 10 grand or less. Add on another ~10 grand for my housing project, and you’ve got a homeowner and landowner with no mortgage and absolutely zero loans – not a bad proposition.
It will probably take me a year and half to two years to save that this much money as I don’t earn all that much. If I could become a regular at the post office I could likely do it in six months, but it takes ages (approximately 5 years here) to become a regular, so I’ll be keeping my one day a week job at the post office and I’ll pick up something else on the side.
The reason I’m saying that is to tell you that it’s actually quite easy to solve the main big kid problems of life without going into crazy amounts of debt. At the time of this writing, I have approximately 0 net worth. Yet I’ll easily be able to purchase land and build a home for myself with cash within the next couple of years, even if I had to work a minimum wage job most of the time. If land is more expensive where you live, or you have a family, it may take longer, but it’s still doable.
The problems come when we add things into our life that we don’t really need. When traveling between my parent’s house (2700 square feet) and my friend’s apartment where I often stay (650 square feet), one thing I’ve noticed is that I really don’t feel much different staying in either one. I never think “WOW so much room!” at my parent’s, nor do I feel cramped at my friend’s. Part of this is due to sheer lack of clutter in the apartment, but even then if I’m being honest her apartment is a little cluttered, yet it still doesn’t feel cramped. Given my almost anal nature about not accumulating crap, I am sure even 450 squre feet we feel quite adequate. Or perhaps even smaller.
Part of the reason I’m doing this is because of money, but a big part of it is to prove to myself that I really don’t need that much to be happy. Even if I were going to inherit millions, I’m fairly certain that I would still undertake this project. I can already imagine how satisfying it will be to build my own simple home that I paid for myself. Plus, being able to say that you never had a mortgage or car payment and you did it without having any more money than anyone else is pretty darn cool.
What are your thoughts on this idea? How much space do you really need? Can you forsee any problems with my idea? Let me know in the comments below!
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