Monday, November 14, 2016

Why aren't you moving into your house? (And where are you moving next?)

Oh, guys. I have so much to say on this topic and I want to make sure I say it all the right way. That's a lot of pressure for a post, or at least a lot more pressure than I normally feel. That's why I've been putting off posting about this. But now that my house is done and settling into its temporary home, it feels like it's time to address this.


Does anyone else feel like I've already talked about this? Because I feel like I have. And I'll likely have to talk about it again. That's how my life is going to go now. I'll spend a lot of time explaining my unusual choices to people for the rest of forever. Good thing I like to write.

So to answer the immediate question . . . I'm not moving into my house yet because I'm not ready to move into my house yet. And there are a few reasons why that's the case, but most of them come down to my finances.

I know money isn't the most exciting thing to talk about (or read about) so I'll try to make this part quick. Basically I've never been a fan of debt, and I've had to take on a lot of it in order to build this house. I had always planned to rent a space to park my house, but when I switched my plans from living in Utah to living in California, I realized that it was going to cost me a lot more to park/rent land here than there, not to mention the added expense of towing the house to California and paying higher taxes on it here.

Don't get me wrong; I'm totally glad I moved back to California. That was always in my long-term plans, as was working remotely. So I'm super glad that I'm now doing both of those things. But because I made those major life changes (moving and transitioning to working remotely), I decided I didn't want to change all that at once, plus move into my tiny house, and have to worry about all of these bills at the same time.

I needed some breathing room and I needed time to make sure I didn't overwhelm myself. Once upon a time in my 20s, I'm sure I would've jumped into all of this willy-nilly. But now as a wise, old 30-something, I have learned that as much as I love change, even I have my limits.

So I decided to plan for some transition time. At first I was considering putting my house in storage temporarily. That would be cheaper than renting a space where I could live in it. But then I found an even better solution: a tiny house bed and breakfast where they rent out tiny homes on Airbnb. This means that instead of costing me money, my house has now become an investment property and will make me money.

I don't know exactly how much money it will end up making me, but anything is better than the alternative: paying to have it sit in storage.

Um . . . let's see. Were there other reasons I wanted to mention? I talked about finances; I talked about not changing everything all at once. What else? Oh! Right! The whole parking situation.

So there are very few places in the Bay Area where you can legally park a tiny home. I don't want to get into a long discussion about zoning laws because that's even more boring to talk about than finances. To sum up: the best options are usually RV parks and some of those are really sketchy and if they're anywhere close to civilization, they're out of my price range. The funny thing is, my parents' house has plenty of parking space for a boat or RV. My tiny house would totally fit in our backyard. But the zoning codes prohibit it. You're not even allowed to store an RV there, let alone live in it.

What I will most likely end up doing, once I'm financially ready for this, is move my house to a tiny-house-friendly RV park somewhere on the West Coast either in Portland, southern Oregon, or Northern California. When will that be? I don't know for sure. But definitely not earlier than May 2017. And possibly as late as May 2018. Somewhere in that range.

Of course, I would like it to be sooner. I bought this house because I want to live in it. But I also want to be smart about this whole process and not end up moving in and then having to sell my house immediately because I can't afford to pay for it.

If anyone is actually interested in the full financial picture here, I would be happy to lay it all out for you. I am super open about my money and how I work through all that. But I'm omitting it here because I don't want to bore anyone to death.

In the meantime, until I can afford to actually live in my house, I am staying with my parents temporarily and I might start looking for another place to live with friends in the Bay Area. Or I might move to Arizona.

What?! Arizona?!


Want to know why? Because yesterday I made a whole list of places that I've always wanted to live/visit/see. And then I categorized them according to how long I think I'd want to stay there.

(Side note: It's kind of mind-boggling to me that I've finally reached the point where I can make plans like this. I've always wanted to create a flexible life where I could move as often as I wanted to without disrupting anything major. Now that I've got a mobile job, a mobile house, and a slimmed down minimalist lifestyle, I can really do it. It's so great!)

Anyway, there were only eight places that made the list of locations where I'd like to stay for a year or more. And one of them was Arizona. I know it's a big state, but I haven't narrowed it down any more than that yet. Probably somewhere close-ish to Phoenix, though. Or Tucson maybe.

I also might move to Eureka. That was on the list.

Or Santa Cruz. Or San Luis Obispo. Or Monterrey.

Are you seeing the trend? Most of the other seven places are in California. And a lot of them are locations where I would like to park my tiny house someday. But Arizona stuck out to me as a place where I wouldn't necessarily want to live in a tiny house, mostly because with a tiny house, outdoor living becomes super important and in Arizona the outdoors are sometimes inhospitable what with the extreme heat and all.

The way I see it, the next six months to eighteen months are like my last chance to live with friends or experiment with living situations that are not so tiny before I settle into my little house permanently. Or at least for a long time.

Speaking of the long term, this listing-places activity that I did yesterday also helped me to map out my plans for the next five-ish years. They look like this:

2017: Rent out my tiny house, live at home/in the Bay Area, or move somewhere like Arizona.
2018: Move into my tiny house in an RV park in Portland, Eureka, the Delta, or maybe central California or southern Oregon.
2019: Take a West Coast trip with my tiny house. Start near Seattle. Stay in RV parks for a few weeks at time. Work my way down to the San Diego area.
2020: Do the same thing on the East Coast. Start in Maine. End up in the South. Maybe head to Texas on my way back West.

So there you have it, folks, my entire life plan for the next five years. I know it would be more exciting if I were quitting my job and doing all of this cool traveling and tiny living right now, but not only would that be unrealistic financially, it would also just be too much for me. That kind of life makes for awesome television, but the drama is only sustainable for so long before you burn out and wind up selling your tiny house and moving right back into regular old traditional housing.

I don't want to do that. I want to experience my tiny house journey in a way that makes sense for me, even if that means waiting and being patient and doing things slowly.

Of course, no one really knows what the future holds. My list of places where I'd like to live might change dramatically before I ever get a chance to take my tiny house on the road. Who knows? I might even get married and that could change everything. But I feel pretty good about the fact that I have a plan for now. And I'm really excited that my tiny house is done and that it will be waiting for me whenever I'm ready to move into it.

Sorry this post was so boring and informative. I'll finish it off with a picture I took at the beach yesterday because life is lovely and when you have less stuff and less money you have more time to enjoy all the beautiful things around you that don't cost a thing.