Monday, December 20, 2010

If You Need Another Reason to Own Land...

I was just reading a discussion about vandwelling, "mobile homelessness" or whatever you want to call it, and the subject of storing valuables came up. Almost everyone alive has something that needs to be stored in a location that will be safe, and if you live on the road, that is not a safe place to keep stuff. What if your RV catches fire and burns your important papers? What if you have a prized firearm that is legal in your state of domicile, but is illegal to possess in some states you may be passing through in your travels? You can rent a storage unit, but if you are short of funds and can't pay the rent, you could lose everything in the unit. Same thing with a safe deposit box, plus there are some things you just can't store in a safe deposit box.
It's good to have a piece of ground anyway, to use as your permanent domicile address. Barron's Banking Dictionary defines domicile thusly: "Permanent home or principal establishment of an individual. Residence is not the same as domicile, since a person can have many transient residences but only one legal domicile, which is the home address to which he always intends to return for prolonged periods. The domicile of a business is the address where the establishment is maintained or where the governing power of the enterprise is exercised. For purposes of taxation, it is often a principal place of business."

I have been a longtime proponent of establishing your domicile in a state and county with laws that are favorable to your needs, and in a depressed area of slow or negative growth, low property values and taxes, and no zoning laws. Preferably out in the boonies rather than in Detroit, although anti-agriculture laws are being lifted in Detroit and it seems that people will almost pay you to take property there, so who knows...
But anyway, having such a place as your domicile doesn't necessarily mean you have to reside there at any given time. I mean, especially in today's economy, how many people do you know who have to rent a room in a distant city because that is where they can find work, or that is where their job sends them? Does that mean they have to make that city their permanent home? Of course not. So just because present circumstances preclude you from living fulltime in a certain area, doesn't mean you can't establish your domicile there.
All that is an aside, though. Even if you don't decide to make your cheap piece of land your domicile, you can still store stuff on it. And if your own personal SHTF event happens, you have some place to fall back on. You can never be truly homeless, as long as you have a place like that. You can buy an excellent canvas wall tent for $500. People have lived in tents for centuries, and you can too, if you need to. It sure beats sleeping on a park bench. Just make sure you do your research before buying, so as not to end up in the same situation as Dick Thompson, the 72-year-old man who is being evicted from his own land in Madison County, Indiana.

Cheap, unrestricted land is available, too. You just have to know where to look. I have one piece of land that I paid $1000 for. Property taxes are $15 per year. I can pick up aluminum cans, if I have to, to keep the taxes up to date. Not only are there no restrictions, but the county seat is nearly 100 miles away. I doubt they are likely to bother with my little piece of land, if they could even find it. I have seen other pieces of land available for as little as free for the asking, with $5 per year taxes, for a half-acre lot. Of course you need a jeep, a GPS receiver, and time to get to it. But if it's hard for you to get to, it's hard for other folks to get to, as well. Here is an article about finding a piece of land.
Wherever your place is, if you are not planning to live there right now, it is a good idea to go to the place and establish a campsite. Camp on it for a few days, get a feel for the place, and make whatever campsite improvements you need. Then dig a hole in the ground at a high spot on the property, certainly in a spot that never, ever floods. Make the hole whatever size you need for storage. Perhaps four feet deep and four feet square. Line the bottom and sides with a few thicknesses of six mil poly sheeting, then put in about four inches of gravel. Follow this with reinforcing wire, and pour a concrete slab. I know, it's work; but you can haul a few bags of cement, sand and gravel, and a 55 gallon drum of water just about anywhere. While the cement is still wet, place a run of concrete blocks around the perimeter and stick some rebar through the holes into the cement. Then follow that with two or three more runs, overlapping the blocks but aligning the holes, so that rebar can tie the blocks all together. Fill the holes with more concrete mix to strengthen the structure, and make some kind of lid for it. The best would be a steel and concrete lid that can be locked and is heavy enough to need a hoist and tripod arrangement to open it. Put your valuables in the box, after rustproofing and sealing them. Seal any papers in two or three thicknesses of plastic, or roll them and put them in a waterproof tube. Now seal the lid and locking arrangement with poly and tar, and cover the whole thing with dirt. That is the ultimate. You may not need anything that secure, but if you do, it's nice to have peace of mind that nobody is likely to go to the trouble of digging it up. If you don't need to store anything in it right now, so much the better. Build it and seal it up, then if you need it five years from now and find that it has not been tampered with, that is a good sign that you chose a good location.

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9 comments:

irishdutchuncle said...

merry Christmas to Tracy, and his.

Tracy said...

Thanks, IDU! Merry Christmas to you and yours, as well.

Nan said...

Even easier than messing with the concrete and block would be to bury a plastic 55-gallon drum that has a good tight lid. For added security against water damage you could put items in smaller plastic or glass containers, like those one-gallon institutional size pickle jars. Less work, easier to tote in, and physically achievable by anyone who can still lift a shovel.

Hope you had a nice Christmas and your move to your new place is going smoothly.

Tracy said...

The drum is a good idea if you don't need the tamper resistance of a block structure.
The move is going great. We're slogging through snow, but at least we don't have to dig through 9' deep walls of the stuff.
Hope you had a good one. When you talk to Tammi, tell her I said thanks for the loot!

Kulkuri said...

It doesn't have to be tamper resistant if it is completely buried and only you and/or a trusted someone know where. One way would be to put a planter like one made from a wheel and tire over it to mark it. Another would be to put a steel plate over the barrel with a couple of inches of dirt over that and do a fire ring. That would mark the site and who would think of digging under a fire ring to find something??

Hope your move goes well and maybe we'll come see your new place next month or so.

Tracy said...

Good points, Kulkuri.
We look forward to seeing you again.

Nancy said...

Good idea. I will keep it in mind after I find that sought after piece of inexpensive land.

ldenny58@yahoo.com said...

I'm glad to have found your blog. We recently bought a few acres in the boondocks in addition to the little house we own in town. We put a camper on it and are building a cordwood addition. There's a creek nearby. There are no nearby permanent neighbors. One side is owned by a gun club...which meets only about once a month, and the back is bordered by a large ranch. It's a haven!

Tracy said...

Congrats on the land purchase. Sounds like you've found a good one.