Author Topic: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$  (Read 17320 times)

2handband

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Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« on: May 19, 2012, 03:30:44 AM »
K, here's the situation:

My wife cannot work, for various reasons that I shall not go into in a first post.

For those same reasons, I have to be home more often than not. We have a four-year old daughter that needs an active parent. I make my living playing guitar in bars on weekends and doing occasional odd jobs. As you can imagine, it's not a lot of money. But it allows me to be at home most of the time which is fine... I don't like working much anyway!

The reason this works is that our expenses are exquisitely low. We have no debt except for student loans which are forever buried in Income Based Repayment (we make so little money that our payments are $0 a month), I grow most of our food, and we own our mobile home free and clear. Our only significant expense is trailer park lot rent, which is highway robbery at $250 a month. There are less expensive parks in town, but oddly they're all quite a bit more upscale and won't let a 1974 trailer near the place.

I'd like to get out from under the lot rent. Part of it is that true freedom is owning your home and the land it sits on (we've got the first but not the second), and the other part is that my wife hates bitterly living in what is indisputably the crummiest neighborhood in our small city of 12,000 ppl. Unfortunately my wife's condition also precludes us going very far, and the cheapest house in town is 40,000. I could buy a vacant lot with cash on hand, but the nazis on the town council have decreed that mobile homes must be confined to mobile home parks (some horseshit about propping up property values), so I'd have a lot with no house. I could probably build a house, but with building codes being what they are I'd stand an excellent chance of running out of dough before the project was completed.

Bottom line: I don't have a lot of money, and am not likely to get a bunch of it in the immediate future. We are trying rather desperately to get out of the trailer park we are in, but are not willing to increase our living expenses in order to do so; in fact we want to reduce our living expenses by owning a place free and clear! I have some money saved up, but it will not buy a pre-existing home in this city and I can't put my trailer on a vacant lot. We've considered a lot in one of the small towns in the immediate surrounding area (where I could put the trailer), but that brings up the nasty subject of car dependency.

Any badass ideas? I've been trying to think outside the box and come up with something completely wild to do, but all I can think of is the mundane. If it wasn't for my wife I'd pack up and move out to one of the rust belt cities where houses are being sold for like a dollar, but that simply isn't an option at this point.


arebelspy

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2012, 08:19:34 AM »
Have you looked into the idea of buying a multiplex (duplex, triplex, or fourplex) and living in one unit while renting out the other?  Have the other tenants cover the costs (utilities, mortgage, etc), meaning you live for free.

Take all the money you were putting towards (lot) rent and aggressively save up until you have enough to do one of the other options you were discussing (buy a lot and build a house up to code, for example), and then move there and rent out the unit you were living in as well.

Depending on your proclivity towards leverage and "good" debt, you could aggressively pay down that multiplex first and then when it's mortgage free implement phase two.

I suppose the biggest difficulty with this idea is getting a mortgage with your (lack of) income.  Maybe if you know someone who can cosign with you?
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Lars

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2012, 10:30:47 AM »
My gut instinct is your decision hinges on the non-negotiables - what you must have as a result of this decision - and if your family has any they are willing to give up or relax. So before I offer any crazy ideas - not that I promise I'll have a great one - I have a few question for you to explore that.

- Where does your home need to be to avoid car dependancy?

- Do you need to stay in this area?

- Are you interested in getting earning more money short term such as getting a part time job?

- You know your wife better than anyone but in my experience things are often not about what they seem. Could your wife's dislike of the neighborhood really be about isolation she feels with illness or discomfort with raising a child there, etc? If that changed, would you still move?

gooki

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2012, 03:34:21 PM »
Are the taxes, maintenance and insurance on the $40,000 property more than your current lot rent?

If so I'd only buy if you were generating additional income from the property (letting out rooms etc).

What I'd plan to do is find some friends and move onto their back lawn. Give them free gardening services in exchange for land rent.

Alternatively, can you buy that $40,000 home rent it out and move your mobile home onto the back lawn? (or rent out your mobile home and live if the house).

PS congrats on keeping you living expenses low - that's half the battle.

2handband

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2012, 05:54:34 PM »
My gut instinct is your decision hinges on the non-negotiables - what you must have as a result of this decision - and if your family has any they are willing to give up or relax. So before I offer any crazy ideas - not that I promise I'll have a great one - I have a few question for you to explore that.

- Where does your home need to be to avoid car dependancy?

- Do you need to stay in this area?

- Are you interested in getting earning more money short term such as getting a part time job?

- You know your wife better than anyone but in my experience things are often not about what they seem. Could your wife's dislike of the neighborhood really be about isolation she feels with illness or discomfort with raising a child there, etc? If that changed, would you still move?

To take your questions one at a time:

1) In order to avoid car dependency at the moment, we need to have close access to a grocery store and a clinic. There's also the fact that most of the surrounding communities that I could move the trailer into have aging populations and very limited social opportunities. The last things my wife and daughter need are extreme social isolation. Not to mention that i rehearse here in town. In our present situation there's nowhere in town that we can't reasonably bike to, even though we live on the extreme edge of town. We do own a car, but it only gets driven a few thousand miles a year, mostly during the winter (we live in Minnesota).

2) I cannot take my wife away from her present support system. It would be disastrous.

3) Yes, but I need to be home a lot as my wife is not always capable of taking care of our daughter by herself, and I am damned if I'm going to let her be babysat by a TV set. As it is if I'm doing an overnighter out of town (which happens a lot of weekends) I have to make sure I've got assistance arranged that can be there in a few minutes time. We're needing that less and less as time goes on, but it's a long shot from being over with. As it is I just joined a second band that plays jazz in supper clubs one or two nights a week to make a little extra cash, but what it adds is really only a nice little supplement. So the answer is yes, I'm willing to work a bit more in the short term. But the work has to be compatible with a difficult home situation.

4) The issues my wife has with the park mostly has to do with the fact that we live in what is generally a very middle-class sort of town, and where we live makes social situations a bit difficult. If you live here people automatically assume you're a loser. I don't mind so much (I'm sufficiently arrogant to not give a fuck what people think of me) but it's harder for her. My big thing is that I would like to see the lot rent go away so yes... I'd still like to move. Most of the urgency comes from my wife's hatred of the place. If it was just me I'd just save cash for another year or two (I've been reading the tea leaves and expect another leg down for the housing market) and then make a move.

@arebelspy: I'm fairly debt-averse at this juncture, and honestly I doubt like hell anyone's gonna give me a loan. I don't make that much, and a lot of what I do make is under the table...

@gooki: The taxes and maintenance would be less, but the mortgage would be a lot more. The moving onto someone's back lawn is being considered. I just picked up a heavy-duty trailer for pennies and am thinking about building one of those tiny trailer houses using scrounged materials. Gets you around the building codes. So far that's the only really good idea I've come up with.

arebelspy

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2012, 08:34:07 PM »
So you don't have money, don't want to relocate, don't want to earn more...

You're in sort of a tough spot.  Seems like something's gotta give.

Maybe work on a priorities list, and do some deep introspection as well as discussions with your family, of which of those things are most important to you?
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Lars

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2012, 08:42:33 PM »

4) The issues my wife has with the park mostly has to do with the fact that we live in what is generally a very middle-class sort of town, and where we live makes social situations a bit difficult. If you live here people automatically assume you're a loser. I don't mind so much (I'm sufficiently arrogant to not give a fuck what people think of me) but it's harder for her. My big thing is that I would like to see the lot rent go away so yes... I'd still like to move. Most of the urgency comes from my wife's hatred of the place. If it was just me I'd just save cash for another year or two (I've been reading the tea leaves and expect another leg down for the housing market) and then make a move.


I just can't think of anything unconventional since, when it is comes to social stuff, a lot of people are damn conventional. My three ideas are -

- If you are not completely loan adverse, look around town for some banks that have some local discretion on loans. Feel them out for what it would take to qualify for a loan. Since you are an edge case, I suspect learning to talk their talk, dress, relationships (even friend of friend), and reliable payment history will have a significant impact.

- Multigenerational home - A couple of my friends have went this route. Do you have a older family member on fixed income that could use some help? Avoids the whole issue of charity since you are helping each other.

- Find out what the minimum requirements are for the other mobile home parks so you can minimize the cost of upgrading to a newer mobile home. Find out from them - See if its flexible? Which one has more space? Do foreclosures, distressed homes ever come up for sale?

James

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2012, 08:52:04 PM »
You have a lot going for you, you don't have a ton of debt and you have steady, though unpredictable, money coming in.  I think you are on the right track trying to think outside the box.  Your situation doesn't fit in any of the "normal" checkboxes, so the obvious doors are closed to you.  Keep following the various rabbit trails of possibilities.  The tiny house or trailer in someone's backyard, etc.


Have you gone to the city and specifically asked about options?  Sometimes just talking to them about your situation can give you ideas specific to your area.  I think networking with everyone you can think of to contact in town is probably worth doing, though it obviously might not lead to anything new.  How big of a city are you in?


Regarding the other mobile parks not allowing your trailer, have you talked to them about options to make it work?  Maybe find a way to make the trailer look more modern, with new siding or something?  Just a thought.

2handband

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2012, 07:23:14 AM »
@arebelspy: It's not a matter of not wanting to make more money, it's just that it's not very easy. I'm in a situation where I'm needed at home. I'm doing the things I can, for example taking on this jazz gig (which I can tell you I did NOT really want to do). If I could find a way to earn money from home that would be great, but we all know that this sort of stuff is a scam 90% of the time.

@Lars: the social stuff is a big problem. My wife takes our kid to ECFE at the local elementary school once a week, and desperately wants to make friends with some of the other moms taking their kids there. The problem with this is that all those other moms are firmly entrenched in the middle class, and don't have much interest in anybody who's not.

I'm not completely debt-averse under the right circumstances, but it would probably be very hard. Income aside, I haven't borrowed money in six or seven years and thus have no recent credit history to speak of. If i find something I really want to buy I will definitely look into it, though.

@James: I thought I was a really resourceful dude, but of course in our society there comes a time when you just need money. This may well be one of those times. I probably should go talk to some building inspectors and see what I can get away with. I hadn't thought of modifying the trailer... I'm not sure i want to continue paying rent for the rest of my life, but if I could significantly cut that rent it might be worth pursuing.  And to answer your question, this is a city of about 12,000 ppl.


arebelspy

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2012, 09:46:54 AM »
@arebelspy: It's not a matter of not wanting to make more money, it's just that it's not very easy. I'm in a situation where I'm needed at home. I'm doing the things I can, for example taking on this jazz gig (which I can tell you I did NOT really want to do). If I could find a way to earn money from home that would be great, but we all know that this sort of stuff is a scam 90% of the time.

I put it the way I did for a reason.  I was hoping to get more of a rise out of you.  ;)

I was brusque on purpose, to hopefully make you reflect.  You're not going to want to do anything that may be needed. You may need to though.  Sure, of course you'd want more income.  But that takes a sacrifice as much as the other things.  Saying "I'm needed at home" may well be true, but it's also quite limiting.  You're correct about those "work from home" things, in general.

There won't be a magic solution.  It's going to be a hard solution with sacrifice.

Again, think about this:
So you don't have money, don't want to relocate, don't want to earn more...

You're in sort of a tough spot.  Seems like something's gotta give.

Maybe work on a priorities list, and do some deep introspection as well as discussions with your family, of which of those things are most important to you?

Good luck!
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velocistar237

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2012, 01:03:34 PM »
Finding ways around building codes reminds me of this guy.
http://faircompanies.com/videos/view/mortgage-free-tiny-home-on-a-housekeepers-salary/

Is there a minimum square footage requirement for houses?

One group of people who are usually more educated and interesting, yet still poor, are artists and musicians. Is there any sort of community like that around you? (I imagine that if there were, you would already be plugged in.)

2handband

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2012, 01:44:11 PM »
Finding ways around building codes reminds me of this guy.
http://faircompanies.com/videos/view/mortgage-free-tiny-home-on-a-housekeepers-salary/

Is there a minimum square footage requirement for houses?

One group of people who are usually more educated and interesting, yet still poor, are artists and musicians. Is there any sort of community like that around you? (I imagine that if there were, you would already be plugged in.)

I've been scouring the internet looking for people building tiny homes but hadn't seen that one yet. Building the garage and then skipping the house... that is fucking brilliant. that gets you around the biggest single problem which is, yes... minimum size. Something in the neighborhood of 1200 square feet for a single story.

I'm practically falling out of my chair right now; of course you couldn't have known but the very notion of a hippie-ish musicians enclave in this uppity little town is hilarious. We don't even have a proper coffee shop to hang out at...

That said, I have a handful of good buddies who are musicians here in the area, including the ones I work with. Most of them have full-time jobs and are in fact pretty well-off, but musicians tend to be not quite as bigoted about such things. They actually think our lifestyle is kind of cool. Their wives, on the other hand, see things a bit differently.

2handband

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2012, 02:05:14 PM »
That story kind of inspired me; I'm going out to look at lots tomorrow. If I can find one I like that can be bought with cash on hand (which I can probably do) I could build most of a "garage" before the snow flies this fall. The project would by no means be complete, but it would be livable. Then next summer I can finish it up and just never build the "house".

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2012, 03:05:23 PM »
   Good luck.  You are in a hard situation, and I wish you and your wife the best.  Some thoughts - is there any government assistance or assistance through a church or non-profit your wife and you could get?  Also, $250 lot rent sounds tiny to me.  It may be unreasonable where you live, but I wonder if part of the stress you are feeling is made worse b/c you feel you are wasting so much money.  I think that is a very minimal amount for a lot.
   We put a trailer on a vacant lot a few years ago.  The plan was to save money.  Yeah, not so much.  Make sure you know the cost of utilities going in.  Are you going to need to put in a septic system?  How much is water and electricity?  Are your neighbors going to call zoning?  Make sure you have all the permits for everything you do - your neighbors might not like your garage.  I speak from personal experience.
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SpendyMcSpend

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2012, 03:13:54 PM »
$250 is actually pretty low for a place to live overall.  Property taxes (which last forever) are generally more than that even if you own a very cheap home in a low-tax area.   

Bakari

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2012, 03:38:23 PM »
"taxes, maintenance and insurance..."

and the interest part of a loan, opportunity cost of down payment, additional utilities, higher energy bills, annualized cost of closing costs, repairs, appliances...
Buying a house costs a lot more than the mortgage payment, its just that people tend not to notice if its not all rolled into a single bill.
Depending where you live, I think many people pay over $250 a month even if the house is fully paid off, when you consider all of the costs.

I know in CA any home with wheels and less than 400SF is considered an RV, not a mobile home, and therefor property taxes are charged for an improved lot instead of a home.  In urban areas city codes usually won't let you live in one, but many rural areas will; its not a state level decision.

I like the idea of rental property, but with lot rent, I think it makes more sense to buy a multi-unit... and then rent them both out, while continuing to live in the trailer.  As long as you can rent each unit out for more than you pay in rent, it makes sense.  Thats my plan, as soon as I can save up for the down payment.

BTW, I live in my (fully paid) 35ft RV trailer, and pay $485 for space rent (garbage paid, but water and electric metered)

2handband

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2012, 03:48:01 PM »
"taxes, maintenance and insurance..."

and the interest part of a loan, opportunity cost of down payment, additional utilities, higher energy bills, annualized cost of closing costs, repairs, appliances...
Buying a house costs a lot more than the mortgage payment, its just that people tend not to notice if its not all rolled into a single bill.
Depending where you live, I think many people pay over $250 a month even if the house is fully paid off, when you consider all of the costs.

I know in CA any home with wheels and less than 400SF is considered an RV, not a mobile home, and therefor property taxes are charged for an improved lot instead of a home.  In urban areas city codes usually won't let you live in one, but many rural areas will; its not a state level decision.

I like the idea of rental property, but with lot rent, I think it makes more sense to buy a multi-unit... and then rent them both out, while continuing to live in the trailer.  As long as you can rent each unit out for more than you pay in rent, it makes sense.  Thats my plan, as soon as I can save up for the down payment.

BTW, I live in my (fully paid) 35ft RV trailer, and pay $485 for space rent (garbage paid, but water and electric metered)

$485??? That's highway robbery. But I'm not surprised, I guess. I looked into an RV park and was shocked at what they cost. A mobile home park is way cheaper.

Yeah, building codes are a bitch. They're basically designed to make banks and contractors rich.

velocistar237

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2012, 06:56:44 PM »
Any chance you could buy a larger lot and start your own mobile home park?

2handband

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2012, 07:05:14 PM »
Any chance you could buy a larger lot and start your own mobile home park?

Interesting idea, but I imagine a lot that big would be damn expensive! I'm looking for something I can buy with cash.

gooki

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2012, 07:06:54 PM »
Your small house on a trailer, moved onto a friends lawn sounds like a good plan to me.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2012, 07:30:10 PM by gooki »

2handband

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #20 on: May 20, 2012, 07:12:56 PM »
Your small house on a trailer, moved onto a friends law sounds like a good plan to me.

That's the current plan. I'm exploring others, which is why I started this thread.

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #21 on: May 20, 2012, 07:32:21 PM »
Another idea is to become professional house sitters - live rent free, look after peoples homes while they're off on holiday. No need to own a lot of stuff, and you get to live in some nice neighbourhoods. But may not be viable in your town, and you may have to put up with moving a few times per year.

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #22 on: May 20, 2012, 08:32:40 PM »
$485??? That's highway robbery. But I'm not surprised, I guess. I looked into an RV park and was shocked at what they cost. A mobile home park is way cheaper.

I live in a mobile home park that accepts RVs.  $485 is cheap for a mobile home park in the SF Bay Area.  Around here it generally costs $600-700 for a ROOM in someone else's house, or $800-1000 for a studio.
The San Francisco area has the highest cost of housing in the country (the world?), even higher than NYC (or so I've read).
Upside is the salaries are high too, so living relatively cheap, in a trailer park, I get the best of both worlds

2handband

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #23 on: May 21, 2012, 05:16:49 AM »
Another idea is to become professional house sitters - live rent free, look after peoples homes while they're off on holiday. No need to own a lot of stuff, and you get to live in some nice neighbourhoods. But may not be viable in your town, and you may have to put up with moving a few times per year.

Another idea that's been considered. I'm just not going there with a four-year-old child who's not accustomed to being in an environment where she's not allowed to touch anything because it's all breakable and spilling a drink on the couch is a major crisis.

velocistar237

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #24 on: May 21, 2012, 06:28:32 AM »
Any chance you could buy a larger lot and start your own mobile home park?

Interesting idea, but I imagine a lot that big would be damn expensive! I'm looking for something I can buy with cash.

Well, what legally counts as a park? Could you rent out to one other person and call it a park? Are they approved on an individual basis, or is the law more specific?

2handband

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #25 on: May 21, 2012, 06:50:34 AM »
Any chance you could buy a larger lot and start your own mobile home park?

Interesting idea, but I imagine a lot that big would be damn expensive! I'm looking for something I can buy with cash.

Well, what legally counts as a park? Could you rent out to one other person and call it a park? Are they approved on an individual basis, or is the law more specific?

Good question. It's worth checking out.

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #26 on: May 21, 2012, 02:59:22 PM »
If your daughter is already 4 she should be starting school soon, right? Once that happens you'll be able to work a more steady day job and save up for a place in a nicer neighborhood. Anyway to just tough it out until then?

Edit to add: depending on what is available in your state, you probably qualify for childcare assistance based on your low income. That would allow you to work more now (which is, in fact, the intention of the assistance). If there is a Head Start in your town you should look there first. Our foster daughter was in Head Start and we were very pleased with the program.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2012, 03:03:08 PM by AJ »

2handband

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #27 on: May 21, 2012, 03:10:42 PM »
If your daughter is already 4 she should be starting school soon, right? Once that happens you'll be able to work a more steady day job and save up for a place in a nicer neighborhood. Anyway to just tough it out until then?

That would be a viable option except for one thing: I have no intention of sentencing her to 13 years hard time in some educational concentration camp.

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #28 on: May 21, 2012, 03:16:49 PM »
If your daughter is already 4 she should be starting school soon, right? Once that happens you'll be able to work a more steady day job and save up for a place in a nicer neighborhood. Anyway to just tough it out until then?

That would be a viable option except for one thing: I have no intention of sentencing her to 13 years hard time in some educational concentration camp.

Ah, I see. Best of luck to you!

arebelspy

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #29 on: May 21, 2012, 03:47:07 PM »
If your daughter is already 4 she should be starting school soon, right? Once that happens you'll be able to work a more steady day job and save up for a place in a nicer neighborhood. Anyway to just tough it out until then?

That would be a viable option except for one thing: I have no intention of sentencing her to 13 years hard time in some educational concentration camp.

Ah, I see. Best of luck to you!

That was almost word for word the same reply I ended up giving to the OP in another thread!
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Mr Mark

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #30 on: May 21, 2012, 04:04:11 PM »

It's obviously a conspiracy. As we all suspected.

2handband

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #31 on: May 21, 2012, 04:18:00 PM »
Okay, yes... I'm a radical on a number of levels. If those aren't welcome here just say the word.

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #32 on: May 21, 2012, 04:36:53 PM »
Nothing wrong with home schooling. The only family I know that home school are very successful.

arebelspy

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #33 on: May 21, 2012, 04:59:48 PM »
Okay, yes... I'm a radical on a number of levels. If those aren't welcome here just say the word.

You're plenty welcome.  You'll just have to realize that many won't agree with you, and consequently you'll need to have a thick skin sometimes. ;)

Nothing wrong with home schooling. The only family I know that home school are very successful.

My current plan is to home school my kids.
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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #34 on: May 21, 2012, 08:10:11 PM »
Okay, yes... I'm a radical on a number of levels. If those aren't welcome here just say the word.

By American standards, everyone of us here is radical.


I remember reading a long thread on here about homeschooling, so your definitely in good company.
Personally, I had an absolutely wonderful experience in public school. 
I think it totally depends on the specific school (or rather, the teachers and students)
« Last Edit: May 21, 2012, 08:12:34 PM by Bakari »

2handband

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #35 on: May 22, 2012, 06:24:46 AM »
Okay, yes... I'm a radical on a number of levels. If those aren't welcome here just say the word.

By American standards, everyone of us here is radical.


I remember reading a long thread on here about homeschooling, so your definitely in good company.
Personally, I had an absolutely wonderful experience in public school. 
I think it totally depends on the specific school (or rather, the teachers and students)

When it comes to your school experience, I think you're probably the exception. For every kid I've ever met that liked school, I've met 100 who hated it. This is not the fault of the kids, it is the fault of a system that was designed not to benefit children but to benefit the economic system by breaking them to the habits of the workforce. BTW, that's not just me blabbing; the public education system as we understand it today came together under the Wilson administration. The system was designed to specifically combat the labor problems that had come with industrialization up to that point; politicians and captains of industry had very quickly discovered that humans don't take naturally to factory or office conditions! So they designed a system in which children learned, from a very young age, to sit quietly and do boring, repetitive tasks for long periods of time, to promptly follow a carved-in-stone schedule, and to obey a managerial class that they vastly outnumber. I'll find a link if anyone wants to see it, but in a speech given to a group of high-level politicians and industry leaders, an ivy league college professor who was amongst the architects of this amazing new system told his audience that they were going to turn out a superior product (workers), and the specifications would come from government and industry. Yes, that's your kids they're talking about. This is why I turn off my ears when people start talking about "reforming" our educational system: the system works. Just like our political system works, and a bunch of the others that we'd like to reform. They work with nearly 100% efficiency; we're just in denial about their purpose. Look at it this way: last night 10 million kids went to bed hoping for a snowstorm to close the schools... and it's late May! Can this really be the fault of the kids?


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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #36 on: May 22, 2012, 07:35:58 AM »
I loved public school :)

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #37 on: May 22, 2012, 07:38:26 AM »
Me too! And most of the people I knew. But science tells us that for everyone I was friends with, there were over a hundred more people I wasn't friends with who hated school. Which means, in my graduating class of 270, I must only have been friends with about one and a half to two people, and that's why I have such a skewed idea of how many people like school.

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #38 on: May 22, 2012, 07:42:55 AM »
Me too! And most of the people I knew. But science tells us that for everyone I was friends with, there were over a hundred more people I wasn't friends with who hated school. Which means, in my graduating class of 270, I must only have been friends with about one and a half to two people, and that's why I have such a skewed idea of how many people like school.

Ask yourself this: given a choice between sitting in that classroom doing repetitive stuff assigned by somebody else and being outside with the same group of kids doing whatever you wanted to do, would you have chosen the classroom? Really?

No 8-year-old child should be cooped up in a classroom and made to sit still for most of a 6-8 hour day. There's a reason so many kids are on Ritalin and shit like that.

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #39 on: May 22, 2012, 08:15:07 AM »
Count me among the people who enjoyed school.

Sure, you may rather be playing or watching cartoons.  Doesn't mean you can't learn a lot from school.

Life is what you make of it.  In spite of obstacles.

Most kids don't like school.  Most people don't like work.  Neither of these are inherently bad though, unless you're a straight hedonist, I suppose.
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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #40 on: May 22, 2012, 08:23:12 AM »
Count me among the people who enjoyed school.

Sure, you may rather be playing or watching cartoons.  Doesn't mean you can't learn a lot from school.

Life is what you make of it.  In spite of obstacles.

Most kids don't like school.  Most people don't like work.  Neither of these are inherently bad though, unless you're a straight hedonist, I suppose.

I guess you can count me as a straight hedonist. I kind of go for hunter/gatherer principles: do the bare minimum work necessary to sustain your existence, and spend the rest of your time fucking off. If everybody did this, it would be a happier world and we'd get to watch the horror that is industrial civilization collapse overnight.

grantmeaname

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #41 on: May 22, 2012, 08:36:44 AM »
That's a pretty gross oversimplification of "hunter gatherer principles" -- if we even accept the notion that all hunter-gatherers would have shared any principles in common by virtue of their common economic strategy, which anthropologists do not. It's a simplistic and inaccurate stereotype that reduces the magnificent complexity and diversity of humanity's oldest food procurement strategy to an idiotic and simplistic meme that's then appealed to as the authority for any number of hair-brained schemes from diets to business communications.

Shifting from an anthropological to a philosophical critique, not everyone derives happiness from "fucking off". Even if they did, the happiest world isn't necessarily the 'best' -- to people other than you, virtue is measured by things other than happiness.

Finally, let's talk ecology. Industrial civilization's overnight collapse would lead to a hell of a lot of famine, for one thing. And malaria. And the return of the 1800s' diseases, killing more than half of children before the age of 5.

Any more brilliant ideas?

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #42 on: May 22, 2012, 08:56:48 AM »
I think happiness is a reasonable measure - as long as you are talking about long-term overall happiness for all sentient creatures, as opposed to moment to moment selfish pleasure sensation seeking.   That tends to encompass all (non-religious) values.  Ecology, for example, is done for the sake of animals, which also (probably) feel pleasure and pain and want to have good lives (not about "the planet" which is really just a big space rock)

Being a hunter-gather seems like it would get pretty boring and repetitive to me.  I'd love to spend a few months, maybe even a year, in deep wilderness learning nature first hand and not relying on human technology.  But not more than that.

I am aware of the history of formal education, and I don't disagree with 2hands interpretation...
But see, this is why I said it depends on the individual teachers. 
My mother went to the school before each new semester and sat in on the class of every teacher of the grade I was going into, and then told the principal which class she wanted me in from kindergarten to 5th grade.
My school experience had basically no busy work, ever. 
I remember very clearly the one time we did - it was under a long-term sub in 5th grade.  I lead the entire class (in two groups) to the principals office during recess to file a complaint about him.  The principal said our real teacher would be coming back next week, so just try to stick it out - but the last couple days we actually did get a different sub.
We had several recesses per day, and we would get up and do hands on projects during class time.
I would guess this could be different know, with the schools being mandated to teach to the test - although last I heard Obama was doing away with no-child-left-behind.

The only thing I didn't like was homework, and in junior high and high school I did exactly enough of it to get the grade I wanted. 

It definitely helped that my (public) high school was on a college campus, and we were allowed to take college classes that counted toward both HS and college.  But some of my favorite classes at that school were actually the HS classes, because of the hands on work (I'm not 100% sure we even had a textbook in science class), and the projects (we could turn in movies we made instead of reports!), and the teachers (my history teacher would sit on his desk crosslegged and tell us the "history" of his personal experience of the 60s)

You should read Summerhill.  Its a book about a boarding primary school (of the same name) where all classes were voluntary, and all the rules were set democratically (all staff and all students, one vote each).  And indeed, most new kids would spend the first semester or two fucking off.  But after a while, they would get bored, start going to class and end the end they had a similar graduation rate as traditional schools.

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #43 on: May 22, 2012, 09:17:55 AM »
That's a pretty gross oversimplification of "hunter gatherer principles" -- if we even accept the notion that all hunter-gatherers would have shared any principles in common by virtue of their common economic strategy, which anthropologists do not. It's a simplistic and inaccurate stereotype that reduces the magnificent complexity and diversity of humanity's oldest food procurement strategy to an idiotic and simplistic meme that's then appealed to as the authority for any number of hair-brained schemes from diets to business communications.

Shifting from an anthropological to a philosophical critique, not everyone derives happiness from "fucking off". Even if they did, the happiest world isn't necessarily the 'best' -- to people other than you, virtue is measured by things other than happiness.

Finally, let's talk ecology. Industrial civilization's overnight collapse would lead to a hell of a lot of famine, for one thing. And malaria. And the return of the 1800s' diseases, killing more than half of children before the age of 5.

Any more brilliant ideas?

My dear, you're talking to a man with a bachelor's in anthropology. I realize that doesn't mean diddly-shit; you're not fit to call yourself an anthropologist until you've got at least a masters, which I will never obtain. That said, even if HG societies as a whole would never codify such a thing as a principle (really, they don't think much about it at all), it's a pretty damn accurate synopsis of what they do. I can recommend some reading if you like (assuming you have an appetite for absurdly priced books)... start with Stone Age Economics by Marshall Sahlins.

How exactly do you define "virtue"?

I'd suggest to you that if industrial civilization went away tomorrow, the vast majority of the world's population would be better off. the moment the people in the third world had access to the land that has been taken from them to mine raw materials for export to the first world or worse, to produce luxury crops for export to the first world, their lives would immediately improve. Only in the first world, a relatively small percentage of the human population, would things get worse, and even there only for awhile. I won't even go into how industrialization requires humans to be stuck in hundreds of millions of jobs that nobody would do if they had a choice, or how it's killing the planet.

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #44 on: May 22, 2012, 09:41:11 AM »
My dear, you're talking to a man with a bachelor's in anthropology. I realize that doesn't mean diddly-shit; you're not fit to call yourself an anthropologist until you've got at least a masters, which I will never obtain. That said, even if HG societies as a whole would never codify such a thing as a principle (really, they don't think much about it at all), it's a pretty damn accurate synopsis of what they do. I can recommend some reading if you like (assuming you have an appetite for absurdly priced books)... start with Stone Age Economics by Marshall Sahlins.
Absurdly priced? My copy was less than $15 two years ago, and the same version can still be found for under $20. Sahlins' work was written as a reaction to the "brutish, nasty, and short" mindset that was prevalent around the time of his writing. He overstates much of what he says, and much of his theory is not entirely grounded in his own empirical work. That's not to say that his work has no points that are both revolutionary and true -- it's well written and advanced early 70s anthropological theory as well as moving the field's understanding of forager economic practices from one dramatic stereotype ("brutish, nasty and short") to another (leisure and plenty). Unfortunately, his stereotype is little more accurate than the one it replaced. The Inuit don't work four hour weeks like Richard Lee's !Kung, one central topic of the contemporary Man the Hunter conference. Finally, behaviors that don't serve a direct economic function need to be accounted for: ritual is needed for social adhesion, for example. These, combined, make the life of "leisure and plenty" less full of leisure. One of the only significant statements you can make about forager societies is that they are exceptionally diverse in their economic behaviors and their environments.

Quote
How exactly do you define "virtue"?
That's my point. If I thought toil defined virtue, then your world would be the worst I could imagine (I don't). If you thought that short-term pleasure for humans was what defined virtue, and that the best possible moral outcome would come from maximizing it, your world would be the best I could imagine (again, I don't think so).

Quote
I'd suggest to you that if industrial civilization went away tomorrow, the vast majority of the world's population would be better off. the moment the people in the third world had access to the land that has been taken from them to mine raw materials for export to the first world or worse, to produce luxury crops for export to the first world, their lives would immediately improve. Only in the first world, a relatively small percentage of the human population, would things get worse, and even there only for awhile. I won't even go into how industrialization requires humans to be stuck in hundreds of millions of jobs that nobody would do if they had a choice, or how it's killing the planet.
It seems to me like the population of the world is a little higher than the resources that we could extract from the earth without industrial agriculture, based on historical precedent:

I don't think that makes industrial agriculture virtuous or defensible, but you're sorta blithely ignoring the fact that something like 99.99% of the humans alive today would have to die off if the world were to return to population levels stable without industrial agriculture. Maybe that cost is worth it; it's hard to say. But you can't dismiss the fact that even if we weren't mining the third world's resources, not all 7 billion of us would get to keep living.

Yes, people could quit their day jobs. But some of those day jobs send food and mosquito nets to Africa (again, I'm not defending the ecological sense of doing so), which increases the number of people that can live on that chunk of rock. Would the people who are left be happier? Maybe so. But do you have the moral authority to say that 1 person exiting an existential crisis and a 9-to-5 is worth 10000 others' deaths?

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #45 on: May 22, 2012, 10:30:09 AM »
Back to the original point...perhaps starting your own service or small-scale manufacturing company?  Uppity people like their lawns mowed...  Or look back at MMM's postings about welding or building a crossfit box or something like that.

grantmeaname

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #46 on: May 22, 2012, 10:37:49 AM »
Back to the original point...perhaps starting your own service or small-scale manufacturing company?  Uppity people like their lawns mowed...  Or look back at MMM's postings about welding or building a crossfit box or something like that.
On this note, what about making a small, clever, well designed but ultimately useless thing and then selling it for a lot of money on Etsy? Wallets, journals, handmade jewelry, anything knitted or crocheted...

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #47 on: May 22, 2012, 11:04:49 AM »
If everyone in modern society (let's say the U.S.) did the bare minimum to get by with a hunter/gatherer style, it wouldn't be sustainable.  You can't have everyone make under 20k to be on IBR, pay 0 in school loans and pay 0 or very little in income taxes.  That would just be too many drains for any society to handle.  Thus, in the long term, it would collapse and everyone would be on their own.  I think the benefits that you would lose from modern society would FAR outweigh the benefits from going back to the Stone Age to save a few bucks on a societal scale.  But, to each their own.  I personally get enjoyment from paying my taxes and loans that I have taken out as well as enjoying the benefits of modern innovation/society. 

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #48 on: May 22, 2012, 11:15:04 AM »
I think the benefits that you would lose from modern society would FAR outweigh the benefits from going back to the Stone Age to save a few bucks on a societal scale.

This. However, I do think there are things from previous eras that we can/should emulate, even while retaining the benefits of our technological advancements. Namely, our current social structure is very isolating for many people, and loneliness can kill. I wish we were somehow more tribe-based and less individualistic. I think if could somehow reserve the use mechanical transportation for only food/supply distribution and emergency services, and our day-to-day transportation was via foot or bike that would be a step forward toward. That being said, I like antibacterial soap, toilet paper, and women's lib. I also like living to 80 rather than 40. Sorry, I know that was off topic...

simonsez

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Re: Getting out from under rent on limited $$$
« Reply #49 on: May 22, 2012, 11:48:46 AM »
Sure, some things were better.  Of course this is all subjective but I just meant the net benefits of modern society would be positive, not necessarily that everything in modern society trumps what was done in older civilizations.  Yeah, antibacterial soap is pretty cool.  But as far as being tribe-based, I don't see how that can be imposed.  Maybe ignorance was bliss back in the days when tribal societies were more prevalent with regard to individuality.  But now, I just don't see how you can force transportation patterns (foot or bike only) on a large scale.  But the great thing about the modern individuality is that you can choose to place yourself in a living situation that meets your own definition of Utopia.  You can choose to live where you can bike/walk to work or for groceries and schools etc.  Just don't be mad if others do not share the exact same values.  To each their own.