Finally, a plan...
Okay, not so much a plan, but at least a step. We had a clear realization some time ago that there are two ways to tackle this financial problem that we're all facing. The most common approach is to adopt the philosophy we've all been force-fed since youth. Get a job, make money, buy stuff. Get a better job, make more money, buy more stuff. There's nothing wrong with this approach...it works and is certainly widely used, but just doesn't seem comfortable to us.
The approach we are drawn to is the opposite. Living more simply and with less stuff, and therefore in need of less money. This approach fit well with our travels and was quite easy in remote mexico. There, cheap living wasn't something that required a great deal of thought or planning. But we seem to have made things exorbitantly more difficult for ourselves by deciding that we actually want to be here. Here in society and among a community of friends, and with a home. That is more difficult and requires both planning and creativity (and likely, eventual employment). Here there are rules and expectations. We need insurance, and food and we have to either pay rent or mortgage. We have to shop at the grocery store rather than out of the back of a produce truck and with friends comes the desire to go out with them when they make plans and attend events...most of which also come with a bill being delivered at some point in the evening.
Nothing reminds us that we are currently living in a bit of a fairy tale like looking at the balance in our bank account. This is clearly a temporary path and the steep decline in our savings is an ever-present reminder. We've done a good job of being realistic about that pending dilemma, but choose to focus instead on our goal of following our passions and creativity. That hasn't yet led us to riches (in fact the things we have made have so far only led to more spending), but it has fueled us and kept us happy.
We haven't yet been willing to talk about the the future, the what ifs or the ways to make money at the end of this fairy tale, but we have spent countless hours discussing possibilities for trying to extend this phase. As it turns out we quite like being jobless and having no commitments...and would like to do it for longer. Nothing quite like living on borrowed time and begging the time bank for a loan.
On the upside... we have finally come up with what we consider a pretty good idea for cutting out at least the largest of our expenses. Few things felt better than the moment we moved out of our house and let someone else continue to pay the mortgage each month. Our house isn't ideal, in fact it's probably the worst house in the neighborhood- but we made it work and we love the neighborhood.
On the road having the rental was perfect. We never made money off it, but at least someone else was covering (most of) the expenses. The bottom of the market had also dropped out when we left, so selling it was never really an option. Now that we're back we find ourselves paying rent (someone else's mortgage) while someone else is living in our home blocks away- slightly less than exciting.
The tenants' lease on our house is up at the end of this month. We had discussed moving back in, but know we couldn't possibly afford the mortgage. We also have no need for the 3bedrooms and 1200sqft of living space that we would need to fill with stuff we no longer have. We thought of renting out rooms and going the route of "shared housing", but have no desire to return to our college days. Just before renewing the lease, it finally hit us. Wouldn't it be great if we could move back into the house, but keep having our tenants pay the mortgage?
It was like a light going off that i cant believe hadn't occurred to us before. The house has a 2 car garage that sits barely used (other than parties and to fashion a makeshift rock climbing/bouldering wall in).
That space is almost 480sqft of wasted walls and roof. Why not convert the garage into a small loft apartment for us and let the tenants stay in the house?? It's almost perfect! A tiny home for us in portland and in our favorite neighborhood. One we already own, and small enough that we could simply close it up (or possibly rent/trade it out for others) when we travel.
I'm certain it wont be without hiccups (we've seen a few already), but the plan is hugely exciting to us. As i mentioned in our last post, we are officially homeless yet again as of tomorrow. We've been racing to get a set of plans to the city for building permits and have been trying to line up contractors. Our preference would be to do all the work on our own, but city building codes frown upon that type of thing. We will have experts run electrical and plumbing and then we will move in and take over the reigns from there to "dwell" the place out.
More to come!