3 Travel Friendly Housing Alternatives
In this day and age, it’s nearly impossible for young people to escape the traps of their living in their parents' house. Gone are the days of of the “weird” 30 year old deadbeat still living in their parents' basement. Now, that lifestyle has become somewhat normal. In fact, 22.9% of people between the age of 18-34 are still living at home with their parents. This all hits quite close to home, as both Elise and I are still currently living at with our parents as we work our way through college.
This hasn’t stopped us from daydreaming about the whens, hows, and wheres of our future living situations however. One of the most terrifying prospects of either buying a home or getting an apartment is the classic, “How the heck are we going to afford any of that?” Here in Southern California, you can move into a one bedroom apartment for the low price of $2,000 a month, and being a homeowner is great if as Yotam Perel puts it, “you like the sensation of financial ruin looming above you at all times.”
When your entire paycheck is dedicated to keeping a roof over your head, it can be easy to become tied down. As two people with some pretty lofty travel goals, that can be a deal-breaker. That monthly mortgage bill can put a huge damper on extra money that could be re-purposed for travel. It seems a little ridiculous to pay for an empty apartment while you take that great American road trip you’ve always dreamed of, and for that reason alone, travel and conventional living don’t really mesh well for some people. That’s why I started brainstorming and researching to come up with some liberating living alternatives.
Whether it be out of necessity or the changing mindsets of new home buyers, it seems that the lust for the most square footage possible is a dying trend. Following the rise of the minimalist movement, many people are opting to strip their house down to the bare essentials, and I can’t say I blame them! The idea of buying a plot of land and building yourself a quaint home on it is something that really calls to me.
Downsizing is something that is rewarding within itself, in my honest opinion. It seems that many people strive to live above their means rather than at or below them, especially here in Orange County, and I’m subject to it as much as anyone else. It’s an addiction! But moving into a tiny house could push us to condense, prioritize, and obliterate unnecessary spending habits. That alone could free up extra expendable income which could be saved for retirement, put into that jar marked “travel goals,” or both! The best part is, you don’t have to feel bad for taking vacations when your mortgage is far below your monthly budget!
Here’s about what you can expect when getting a tiny home: Based on some brief research, a reasonable price for a quarter acre of land in a small city is about $50,000. On top of that, according to Tiny House, Giant Journey, the average cost for building a tiny home is about 30,000 dollars. That means you could theoretically be a homeowner in a nice area with a reasonably sized yard for just under $100,000. Pretty reasonable considering that would only add up to a $500 a month mortgage (which is less than sharing rent in most parts of the world).
A Tiny Home also gives you the opportunity to become more in touch with nature. Having a small house on a large plot of land means more room for a chicken coup, a hammock, a quiet reading spot, or really anything you can think of! What you’re giving up indoors, you make up for outdoors.
The elephant in the abnormally small room is, indeed, the problem here—we are the elephants. When you commit to living in a tiny home, you give up a lot of space. If you’re the kind of person that likes to sprawl out and walk around, you might feel a bit cramped, especially if you like to entertain.
You’ll also have to give up some of the luxuries you might have become accustomed to if you downsize. There’s most likely not enough room for a 65” TV, a dishwasher, or even a bathtub. That being said, if you choose to build it yourself, you could accommodate and make room for anything you just can’t live without. Besides, if you’re looking for the most liberating option, a Tiny House doesn't free you from a mortgage (albeit a much smaller mortgage), but that may be something to consider.
When you think about the people who live out of an RV, two things likely come to mind: retired grandparents and Walter White. I followed that the same train of thought for a long time, but I’ve come to think of it in a slightly different way as of recent: an RV is essentially a tiny home on wheels! The idea is beginning to sound a little tantalizing, isn’t it? I know it did for me when I first stumbled across the blog, HeathandAlyssa.com. In fact, their article "Six Reasons Why You Should Live in an RV During Your 20’s" was the catalyst for this article, and furthermore, my obsession with easy living.
An RV is basically an extremely affordable house that you can take anywhere, at any time. A quick search on Craigslist brought up dozens of used, really nice RVs for around $7,000. Remember when I mentioned rent around here being $2,000 a month? You could essentially pay off your new “house” in only 3 and a half months if you went with the RV option. After all, why pay over a million dollars for a beach-side view, when your home can drive up to any beach or national park on your continent for a fraction of the price? It almost seems crazy that this isn’t a more common practice!
You may not have known this, but the inside of RV’s are completely customizable too. You could always buy an older RV, gut it out, and give it a completely modern look that suits your style. If you’re worried about living a more “rough” lifestyle inside an RV, you have nothing to fear. You can park your home in one of the countless RV parks across America and live the travel-bound high life. Many of these camps vary drastically in price, from insanely cheap dirt lots with RV hookups to affordable resorts that offer pools, jacuzzis, BBQ’s, and much more.
Well, of course, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows in an RV. They bare the same problem you’ll run into with a tiny home—you only get a tiny amount of living space. On top of that, you’ll always have to find a place to park it for the night. The best solution to that problem is the previously mentioned RV parks which can run you around $200-$500 a month for place to park and some wifi. There are also plenty of free parking options with little to no accommodations if you want to keep things cheap. However, the biggest snag you can hit with RV living is if your job requires you to be at an actual location every week. What’s the point of endless freedom if you have to be parked in one spot all year? Luckily, there are a lot of options nowadays for people to find location independent work. In our case, Elise is studying to be a English teacher, giving us the added benefit of having the whole summer to drive cross country on our potential home on wheels!
The last option can be as much of an adventure as it sounds! Moving abroad can be an extremely rewarding experience. The idea of packing up all your items and integrating into a whole new culture halfway around the world may sound like fiction, but not only is it possible, but it may be even more affordable than where you are currently located!
Depending on where you live, moving to another country can be a huge cost-saving decision. For example, in the US, the average rent for a one bedroom apartment in the least expensive town in the whole country will still run you $700 a month. Extremely inexpensive compared to other parts of the country, but expensive considering that it’s basically as cheap as you can get here. Even more frightening, the cost of living in North America for the average person with no children is just shy of 80 dollars a day. On the other hand, the average cost of living in Chiang Mai (a city in Thailand known for its plethora of awe-inspiring temples) is just above $15 a day.
When the time comes to search for a new place to live, why not broaden your search to the entire globe? If you’re looking to travel, living in different places around the world can be a great way to open up new opportunities and perspectives you may not have been able to experience elsewhere.
By far, the most obvious downside I can think of for this option is the sheer amount of comfort zone shattering you'll have to do. Depending on where you choose to relocate to, there could be language barriers, culture shock, lack of certain comforts that you may have at home, and ultimately the difficulty of leaving behind friends and family. On top of that, you’ll need to prepare to find work where you plan to move, if you aren’t running a location independent business. There are some really helpful tools to help you find jobs; in fact, our friends over at Search Jobs Abroad offer this exact service. If you’re willing to get past some of these hangups, I cannot think of a more rewarding experience than moving abroad.
Stepping out of your comfort zone is what travel—and ultimately life—is all about. This applies to all of the options I’ve mentioned. Taking an alternative route in life can be risky, uncomfortable, and maybe a little hard to explain to your family, but it can also be equally rewarding in it's own right. It’s important to remember that the going to college, getting an office job, and buying a house is a path, not the path. That’s not to say there aren't many merits that come with taking that path, and if that’s what you want to do, more power to you! But, if you find yourself being pushed down a path you don’t feel is your own, remember that there are always more opportunities and journeys for you to take. Whether it be living life on an endless road trip, packing your bags to live in a new country, or another option I haven't even mentioned, there’s plenty of alternatives to where and how you may be living now. In fact, I had to cut out some of the other ideas I had to make sure this article didn’t become the length of a novel. If you want to hear about a few more alternatives, let me know in the comments and we can arrange a part two!
Thank you so much for reading our article, and special thanks to our friends at Search Jobs Abroad for sponsored this article! If you're looking for a way to find jobs all around the world, they can certainly help you. Also be sure to let us know in the comments below if you've ever considered moving abroad or living in a tiny home or RV!