Cracking the Real Estate Nut

Living in the yurt in Portland has me dreaming of living more lightly. Unlike most people who simply talk about building their own house, my friend and previous housemate Lee actually has engineering plans that are about to pass the dreaded gauntlet of City Code muster. He’s already bought a small property as cheaply as possible, and is actually going to be breaking ground soon on his new home. And he’s not doing it in some boondocks miles outside the city, either. He’s doing it in the suburbs. The upshot of all this?

Urban living with *no* *mortgage*.

I’ve mentioned in recent posts that it seems like the hardest nut to crack in terms of implementing Sacred Economics is real estate. It’s possible to grow a lot of one’s own food, maintain one’s own car, bike to the grocery store, etc. But figuring out how to live somewhere for long enough to *do* these things without contributing to the Usury Economy seems nearly impossible. But Lee has figured it out. He’ll still have to pay taxes, but they won’t be that big, since his property was cheap and his house will be small. While I have objections to my federal tax dollars being spent on things like illegal foreign wars, and NSA surveillance, local taxes are something I can get behind, at least for now.

I currently live in a large suburban house. Although me and my 3 roommates do a good job of effectively increasing population density, I still hold the mortgage, and it remains my largest expense. Because I refinanced to smooth my career transition, most of that money is currently going in interest to the Man, who, in this case, is Wells Fargo. I do all the maintenance myself, which is a huge time sink, and I don’t do accounting for hours of labor, which are many. Because it’s standard, crappy American Suburban construction, and an older house, the list of maintenance tasks is *always* getting longer. My roommates have been a *huge* help in getting the place to look better and be easier to keep up with, but even so we’re all busy people. I had dreams of turning it into co-op, but at this point I don’t think I’m willing to do that unless we could do it without a mortgage.

Living in the yurt for weeks at at time has a few problems, but none of them would really be *that* hard to solve. The biggest limitation right now is my dogged instance that everything I carry fit into my tiny Geo Metro. I’m not just carrying my house on my back, I’m doing it at 50 mpg! However, if I had a more semi-permanent setup somewhere, I not only could live full-time in a yurt, I think it would actually be a lot better than living in the house. And if I could actually create my own small home and have no mortgage, I’d be able to spend *so* much less time and money serving my house, and by extension the Usury Economy. And since my entire cost of living would go down drastically, I would need to spend less time working for money or donations, and could put more into supporting the local food movement, spending quality time with friends and family, and traveling to Forward the Cause.

Is this this right plan for me? It’s too early to tell. It would be a huge change that would require Big Planning, likely some family financing for things I can’t do myself like the roof, etc. But thanks to Lee for actually finding a way to solve the Real Estate problem, the hardest nut to crack so far in implementing Sacred Economics.

I’ve also been wanting to move toward a gift model for some of my income, but I’ve been reluctant because I kind-of feel like I haven’t “done anything.” However, I *have* quit the corporate scene and drastically reduced my own spending and environmental footprint. And I’d be a lot more willing to donate to someone taking it to the next level and living even more cheaply, especially since every dollar I donated would go further toward making ends meet.

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