the American Dream
We’ve come to a realization over the last few days. We love home. We miss it. We crave it. The same way that when we’re at home we miss and crave travel and adventure and exploration but with the added reinforcement of friends and family. More poigniant...we also learned that we cant afford to live there. Not possible. We tried tirelessly to solve this for months, but all spreadsheet paths lead to the same dismal answer.
We tried the approach of simply returning to our old home, replacing the renters with ourselves and going back to paying the mortgage bills on our own versus waiting for their deposit to do so. Their rent still doesn’t cover our mortgage, but it gets close and now the idea of us paying that much money on our own seems ridiculous. Laughable. More than all our expenses living a month on the road...way more.
We talked about moving in just long enough to finish some needed improvements we didn’t get to before we left and then listing it for sale, but capital gains would wipe away any profits we might hope for. We could live in the house for two years and conquer that problem, but our mortgage during those two years is comparable to or more than the potential profit.
Maybe we buy a foreclosure or small fixer that would allow us to own without the mortgage? This route looked promising when the home next to one of our friends was apparently going to be sold for almost nothing. Supposedly. The market, it seems, has recovered enough that we aren’t even close to being able to buy even the smallest most miserable home. Good for all of us owning real estate i presume, but not recovered enough for us to actually sell our home for much more than breaking even. And that is what were already doing with renters, but we get to keep the home.
There’s also the path of pouring our remaining funds into remodeling the home into a commercial building, which would allow us to open a small shop or gallery and potentially gain rent from another small shop. Our creative minds LOVE this idea- our finances don’t. Thanks to the setup of building codes and zoning maps we would need city approval, which would cost us almost 20k just for application, which in turn could likely be denied...thats a hefty price for a maybe.
We even discussed living in the van, or better yet transforming a garage or one room into a living quarters for us and renting our the remainder of the home, rather like a duplex but with 90% of the house (and mortgage) still paid by the renters. This idea actually has promise and will likely happen at some point in the future.
All of these ideas have us blasting through the remainder of our cash reserves/travel fund at a mindblowing pace. They certainly don’t provide any funds for us to try something new, to try making a living by doing what we love or by doing something creative. Bummer. The idea of living at home amongst our friends so lights us up....but seems to only be achievable with the help of a stressful job, the same thing we are running away from and trying to solve.
The funny thing is, that any of the options we put together somewhere south of the border are far more financially plausible. Maybe its the lower cost of real estate or the enormously more affordable living expenses. The fact that business licenses and building codes etc are easier to come not only means we can build/renovate for cheaper but it also means we could do a lot of the work on our own and without having to pay both architects and engineers for a stamp.
I could actually design and get something built (something that would require me going back into architecture for several years, taking all the exams and getting licensed/starting my own firm). All which i have no real interest in doing. We can also live for months on the same amount of money we would spend in a single month at home. Our average living expenses here are about $50 a day with gasoline. When we stop and remove gas from the equation, our expenses are closer to $30. Back in mexico those numbers were even lower (central american isnt really equipped for camping which means we have to pay lodging prices just to park out front). Regardless, that amount of money barely buys us a pizza back home.
We continue running numbers but have had to face the realization that following our dream of moving home to be with friends almost assuredly means giving up on dreams of starting a business, being creative with our futures or making a living in a different way than before.
For us it seems, the american dream isn’t dead...it just moved south of the border.