How We Planned and Saved to Move to the Mountains
Today I have a guest post from Angela of Money Mountain Mama. Angela was able to reach her dream of buying a home and moving to the mountains. Here’s her story of how she and her family did it.
Before I explain how we were able to move to the mountains, let me go back in time to my childhood. My parents had issues and finally split up when I was 7 years old (my sister was 5 years old). We lived with our mother and struggled to get by. We were latch key kids as my mom worked nights leaving us to fend for ourselves. It was not fun or easy.
We had some reprieves from our daily life. Our grandparents had a little cabin in the mountains. I remember every detail of that cabin - the big fireplace, the cozy furnishings and the scary bathroom downstairs where the bedrooms were (it was dark and cold). I also remember collecting lady bugs, sitting with my grandparents while they played cards and just being happy. Later they got a bigger cabin and we went for Easter and a few times over the summer.
On Sunday mornings, my grandpa made pancakes on the wood burning stove and let me have the little dribbles (cooked batter that dripped off the spoon). Meanwhile my granny made sausage and gravy in an electric skillet across the kitchen. Those were the best pancakes I have ever had.
When I was about fourteen we stopped going to the mountains. My grandpa's vision was too bad to make the long drive. I don't even remember the last visit because we didn't know it was the last time we would go. All I had left of the mountains for the next several years was a lot of great memories.
Years later after some rough teenage and early twenties years, I met my husband and we started going camping. Later we moved to Colorado sight unseen because we thought it would be like living in the mountains. We moved to Denver (not the rocky mountain high we thought it would be). After a few years we moved back to California to a community about 1/2 hour from the mountains.
We had our son and continued camping and then a friend offered to let us stay at her and her husband's house in the mountains. Wow! We had such a great time that we would go home and grab our laptops and start searching for a house in the mountains. That would last about 2-3 hours and then we would go back to our daily lives and not talk about it again. We did this several times over the next 10 years.
Finally, our son was off at college, my husband was working in the mountains on the weekends and I was off work on the weekends at home alone and unhappy. Don't get me wrong, it was a great home.
- Three bedrooms, two and half baths, a huge living room and separate family room.
- A great backyard with a huge garden and chickens.
- A wonderful next-door neighbor.
But it wasn't in the mountains!
One Saturday morning after my husband left for work, I went online and found a tiny (480 square foot) cabin in the mountains. I started sending him pictures and he replied, "Why don't you find a realtor?" Well that was the green light I was looking for. I called a close friend that had recently sold her home and got her realtor's name and number. I called and left him a message and he called right away (on a Sunday!).
After several months fixing up and putting our house on the market we had it sold and were waiting for our "dream" home in the mountains to close. We even stayed in a friend's trailer at a camp ground for 3 weeks with all our stuff in storage. We finally got the keys and we were homeowners in the mountains!
You are probably thinking, "Well that is all fine and dandy but how were you able to afford your dream house in the mountains?"
Our new home is much smaller, 2 bedrooms and one bath, with a tiny little old kitchen. One bedroom is in the loft area with a pitched roof and not a lot of living space. And there is a huge family room. This place had the ugliest dark paneling, popcorn ceilings in most rooms, 70s and 80s multicolored carpet and a fireplace that didn't work (we pulled it out last summer and now have the pipe with a trash bag over it while we figure out exactly what we are going to do).
We bought and sold at the perfect time (our new place was only $10,000.00 more than what we got for the old place). We have a lot of work left to do on the house, but it is livable. Heck, we are in the mountains. That was the goal. We decided to live in the house as is for at least a year to be sure the upgrades we want to make are not a rushed decision (and we still have 1 more semester of college for our son to save for).
I have never felt at home like I did in my grandparents’ cabin until we moved to the mountains!
We are living what I refer to as a "money conscious lifestyle" meaning we use planning and creativity in place of money when possible to get the things we really want and forget the rest.
I am not interested in stuff. I enjoy food, wine, coffee, experiences (playing games, going for a hike, hanging out with family, friends and our dogs (even alone).
- I don't have fancy stuff or extra stuff.
- I don't wear makeup or jewelry. I don't get my nails done. I get my haircut once a year.
- I buy as much of our necessities at the dollar store or Aldi's as I can to save money.
- We would rather plan and make food at home. We have friends and family over instead of going to a restaurant. We like to play games or cards and watch movies.
- If we do go out to eat I always drink water and look for the deals or best priced options and/or use gift cards and/or Ebates and Groupon to get great deals and try something new and different.
- We don't buy anything on impulse. We research, read reviews and wait for sales for things we really want or need.
- We charge everything and pay our credit cards in full each month (to get cash back).
- We have a budget, goals and plans in place (they change, and we re-adjust).
On the flip side, I enjoy wine and have a wine club membership. We enjoy taco night at our favorite Mexican restaurant a few times a month. And going to the local bakery for a pastry with coffee to sit outside and visit with people. Sometimes we just grab pastries to bring home and enjoy with our own coffee on our back patio staring at the pine trees and watching birds and squirrels.
The trick is to identify what gives you enjoyment, a sense of security or just plain makes you happy and redirect your energy and focus to get it and forget the rest!
Angela enjoys sharing her money saving ideas and insights. She is always looking for more ways to save, spend wisely and live the life she was meant to live. You can read more about her smart frugal lifestyle and mountain living at Money Mountain Mama.