Friday, April 4, 2008

Breaking Free: Junk Land and a Cheap Trailer

In this post, I introduced you to Creekmore. How many of you thought "Creedmoor" when you saw that name? If so, you might be a rifle crank!
Anyway, the subject of that article was being a handyman for a living, but that is far from the only interesting conversation going on at his blog. In fact, the bedrock of his blog, and what I find most interesting, is how he broke free from the rat race by selling everything he could in order to buy a cheap piece of land and put a cheap trailer on it to live in. You can read his account of it here.

James Dakin of Bison Blog also weighed in (no pun intended; you'll see what I mean when you read the title) thus:
"...The family house you grow up in is what you see as normal. That is the definition of shelter in your life. If you encounter a new product, that first price is what you use as a “normal” one. So everything can suffer from your first encounters ( or look better in comparison ). This is why most people won’t look for shelter. They look for a house. Or an apartment. Whatever they are used to. They are not used to finding a way to keep the elements out, they are used to finding a house or apartment. This is the way it is done and any suggestion otherwise is ignored. They might pretend to be open to new ideas but once they find fault with any way other than their own they can claim to be objective while remaining safely cocooned in their normal world...

...Creekmore has his own land with a trailer... How did he accomplish the freedom? By not being anchored to conventional thinking. By not defining shelter as a house or an apartment. By not defining a proper trailer lot as one with utility power...
Junk land, junk trailer, secondary income skill. Now it’s not just me that’s saying it."

Read Dakin's article

Actually, I've been saying it too. My homestead is now my "SHTF retreat", in the parlance of modern survivalism (a term I usually avoid because of some of its connotations) but I did live there for a few years. I bought my land on a land contract, where the seller financed it for me. This meant that I had to continue working the "town job" to make the payments, but on the other hand, it facilitated forming a strong friendship with the farming family who sold me the land; a friendship which continues to this day even though I have paid the land off. So don't put off buying that land just because you can't pay cash for it.
Anyway, about 6 months after signing the contract on the land, I arrived there to stay, driving an old, small motor home. The land was 100% wooded and lacked any sort of road to access it, but it had road frontage, so I parked on the side of the road and called it home. Within a couple of months, I had cleared a spot and hired a bulldozer operator for a few hours, to level my spot and build a dirt driveway. This cost me $300, which wasn't easy to scrape up but at least now I could park my motor home off the road, and on the land.
It was cramped in that small motor home, but I made it through that first summer, running a $500 generator at night for air conditioning and charging my battery bank. In fact I would shut down the genny at bedtime, and run the air conditioner overnight on my battery bank and inverter.
Just before winter arrived, I added living space in the form of a 16' travel trailer. I traded a local man a Rossi .357 Magnum lever action rifle for it, and he gave me $150 to boot! So I parked that trailer parallel to the motor home and about 16' away, with the doors facing each other, and built a covered patio between. I put a wall-mounted propane heater in the travel trailer (the vent-free, blue flame variety with a thermostat) and stayed warm that winter, even when the mercury dropped below 0 degrees F every night for a week. The 100 lb portable propane tank only had to be filled once per month, which surprised me.
The following year I found an old 12x32' house trailer. It was in a trailer park, and it had to go because it was just too old and small. I offered $50, which was accepted. It cost me another $300 to have it delivered, but that was still cheap. I moved the motor home and put the "new" trailer where it had been.
The gas heater could not keep that trailer warm, and gas usage increased exponentially as it struggled, so I started looking at wood stoves. After seeing the prices, I built my own wood stove, which solved the problem. But that is a story for another day.

BTW, there is another option that is, in some ways, better than either a travel trailer or an old single-wide house trailer: How about a trailer the size of a standard car-hauler trailer, but it folds out to a 15'x21' cabin? For as little as $3000, or perhaps even less?
Click here for more information.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is the way to do it. Once you make your life so that you are not paying someone else just for a place to lay your head at night (what a crazy idea when you think about it) you can then use your money for building up the lifestyle you really want. And for most of us, it is not the "rat race".