Thursday, October 4, 2012

Nest Eggs and Chickens

Since the sale of Tara, there has been a cloud of unknowing hanging over our life. "What's the next step?" it seems to ask.

Naturally, since our "ultimate dream" is to live off the land, we quickly assumed that is the next step. So began our search for "Yumbumland".  Visiting Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountain land however,  quickly put things in perspective. What perspective? We have to have a lot more money for the kind of set up we are imagining. And here's the problem. Both Travis and I like to work, but neither one of us likes jobs. They just don't make sense. Why work for money to buy a tomato, when you can work to grow your own tomato?

So, slowly the question has become : how do we turn this nest egg so beautifully laid by Tara, into a whole basket of eggs, that we can then hatch into chickens who will produce more and more eggs?

If you are now thinking that we have fallen into the trap of the capitalistic world, wanting more and more, I'm right there with you. This kind of thinking and scheming is really not my first priority. However, in order to realize my first priority - a self sustaining life that benefits my own highest potential and helps to realize the potential of others - practical decisions have to be made. Yawn. I hate practical decisions. Even writing this is bristling every hair on my lets-go-on-an-adventure soul.

However, seen from another perspective, this is uncharted territory, and as good explorers and adventures we should pursue all unknown trails to see where they lead. As such we decided to take a look into the real estate market here in Baltimore to see if there were any houses that we could fix up and sell in the near future. Houses are much easier to work on then boats, and if we could double our money while doing what we don't hate and are pretty good at, then why not look into it?


 Our maximum price was $50,000, which living in a city where row houses sell for 7,000 seemed like a decent amount. So for the last two weeks we have been crawling around basements, peeking into attics, and tapping on walls to see if the next step was a fixer upper in Baltimore.


The answer, so far is a resounding, no!


Our best prospect was this place we named the "white house".  It had a great yard, a new roof and nice new windows. It needed the plaster walls tore down and replaced with drywall and insulation (doable) the bathroom relocated (doable) and the back section of the house raised up and a new foundation poured (are you effing crazy!!!) Price $38,000

The next best thing we found was a cute yellow house in a great location.



Again it had a big yard, and...well thats about it. It needed a new roof (ok maybe we can work with that), plaster walls and paneling replaced with drywall (doable), nasty carpet removed (doable),  and the upstairs bedrooms redesigned (maybe doable). The biggest irreconcilable detail was the low ceilings. They measured 7 1/2 feet from floor to ceiling, not counting the unexplainable drop ceiling. Just couldn't live with that. Price $48,000


So for all our crawling, peeking and tapping, we only got a few stained articles of clothing, and a very realistic look at what $50,000 will get you in Baltimore, - a whole lot of shitty work!


12 comments:

jomomma said...

I'm sure you've looked into buying property and building a Tiny House as in the Tiny House Movement....

Travis and Maggie said...

Travis' response to that was "we live in a tiny house!"

We did investigate that option before the whole boat thing, even found a design we liked that put the house on wheels so that one could avoid property taxes( we were specifically looking at West Va.) But, now there are several things we wish to have, like an art studio for me, that doesn't jive with this idea. Our ideal now is an Earthship. We love them, and if we build anything it will be based on that design. However, and this is perhaps just the exhaustion of the past five years talking, we would rather buy something already finished or at least started then go from scratch.

jomomma said...

I think your boat has more room than some small houses. Earthships are AWESOME. But like a cob or strawbale house, do Earthships stand up better to the dry arid areas of the Southwest better than other regions? I would love to have a strawbale house but we get too much rain here to have one, it would mold right out from under us.

Colin said...

Even if it exceeds your budget. leverage your $$ and look for a neglected house in a nice neighborhood. Once you finish, the surrounding homes with push the value of your hard work to their level or beyond.

Colin said...

I admire efforts to revitalize a neighborhood but like the saying sez...Pioneers get slaughtered, settlers prosper.

Travis and Maggie said...

Jomama- yes Earthships were originally designed for those dry climates, but have you seen his movie "Garbage Warrior"? He's built Earthships all over the place, including some "wet places". One design will not work for all places, but this man has done his homework and actually followed thru to make his ideas work. i think in the movie he says that the Earthship building is not so much in what materials you use but how you adapt to the environment to make your house take care of you.

Colin, I think you're saying a good neighborhood is a better investment even if the house is more expensive initially. Since we're talking about this next property being an investment I would have to agree with you. We have visited some scary neighborhoods with nice-ish houses that I could never imagine putting the time into. Sad but too scary.

jomomma said...

Thanks, I'll check into that. I have a cousin that lives north of us in subterranean house. They designed and built it themselves and have had 4 tornadoes skim right over it. They love it, their heating and cooling bills are next to nothing.

I agree with Collin, I see it happen every year in our neighborhood. Average home in this hood sells from 60K for totally trashed and needs to be gutted to 100K move in ready/remodeled or recently gutted and refurbished. We've had some people add on extra bedrooms or a gameroom and even build a second floor. But they never recoup their funds. The houses sill sell for the same or maybe a smidge over the going rate as any other ready to move in home in the hood. You just have to be careful not to price yourself out.

Colin said...

I've flipped 5 houses with my wife's help. We found A cool 'Atomic ranch' 2 years ago and we are nearly finished.I bought for 138K. Everything else on the street is 200K on average. I dropped 8k into it and of course a lot of sweat. I will ask 190k with no agent. People argue that you are not getting much back for your labor, BUT...you gotta live somewhere so subtract that and it works! can I get an eh men?

jomomma said...

Colin, you live in the houses that you are flipping? Awesome! Our son wants to start doing this. After he's backpacked and motorbiked Central America.

Travis and Maggie said...

EH MAN! I love it. Restoring Tara has been so much work, that a house seems like a piece of cake. Not to mention the profits are a bit bigger, even in the instance you are talking about.

Jomama, you should do a blog on that underground house. Sounds awesome. Another idea we have tossed around just coz they seem like such a no duh solution.

Travis and Maggie said...

BTW I love your son's priorities! I hope he speaks Spanish

jomomma said...

Oh, I would so do a post on their house, but I've never seen it! My parents saw it just after they moved into it. Dad said it was really cool, but my mom got claustrophobic just thinking about it.

Jeff, yeah the priorities are awesome, and NO, he doesn't speak Spanish but he's a quick learner and so far he says that he's not had a problem finding someone who speaks English every where he goes. Costa Rica is primarily English speaking.