A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Where are you and where are you going?
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IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Mon Jun 09, 2014 6:15 pm

Henrik, I would most likely start with a canoe or kayak, but a boat would have it's advantages.

Hank, I've been incommunicado in this area before. I don't worry about jason popping out of the lake or a zombie invasion. If I had a stroke or something I'd be screwed, but a guy's got to keep living even if it means he might die.

Dragline, my only hurry would involve getting it in time to be able to let my dad enjoy it. However, you're right. It's best to wait. If I rush and act impulsively it's likely to turn out suboptimal. The idea I'm kicking around now is to find a way to spend my first ER summer there in the most cost-effective way I can and do some detailed explorations. The area has no shortage of options for living on the edge of the wilderness. That way I can dial in on what I really want and do some detailed valuation research. Hopefully they won't experience a robust recovery in their real estate market because best case I'll be approaching this with marginal resources relative to the market.

Thanks for the thoughts, guys!

George the original one
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by George the original one » Mon Jun 09, 2014 9:03 pm

When it comes to vacation property, renting is definitely better than owning.

And I say this as someone who falls on the other side of that argument when talking about rent vs. own for a residence!

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Gilberto de Piento
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Mon Jun 09, 2014 10:26 pm

Northern Wisconsin is a good choice if you are looking for solitude. I like the Hayward/Cable area and Bayfield but they may be more populated than what you are looking for. Get away from towns and you'll have remoteness. You should also consider the upper peninsula of Michigan.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Tue Jun 10, 2014 4:52 am

Hey George, well it'll be a vacation place for a few years if I pull the trigger early, but once I'm ER the "vacation" will be 6 continuous months every year or a little more. "Vacation" rentals in the area seem to average about $1000-2000/wk (though it's possible to do better if one shops around most likely). I'll be too old to spend that much time in a tent every year. :) I know that's a weak position relative to ERE.

Gilberto, Northcentral Wisconsin (Rhinelander/Eagle River area) is where I first caught the Northwoods bug when I was a kid. I definitely keep an eye open there because it would be preferable for other members of my family, but because Wisconsin is much closer to a much larger population base than NE Minn (Chicagoland, Rockford, Madison, Milwaukee versus Twin Cities and ??), prices seem commensurately higher.

Thanks for the suggestions though, I'll look into those areas. I'm pretty flexible in the sense I don't insist on absolute remoteness. I'm probably not quite a recluse/hermit. But I want to, at times, be able to hear the silence, if that makes sense.

Yesterday I had pretty much resigned myself to holding off on this until ER but was exchanging notes about it with my dad, saying, "You know, I really shoulda thought about and done something about this years ago." His response was, "Yeah, I know it's not an easy decision, but 'I wish I had' is a phrase that is haunting to an old man."

That was a pretty extraordinary thing to hear coming from him. Now I'm back into a bit of inner turmoil over this. I'll be busting out the Mother of all Spreadsheets today and starting a new tab to see what I could do and how it will change my future finances. Plans, much like money, are somewhat fungible with me.

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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Wed Jun 11, 2014 5:04 am

Now it's just time to decide ...

Don't read this if your tired of my hand-wringing over the cabin. What follows is a cathartic self-indulgence.

Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between prudence and timidity.

I spend a lot of time in that gray area.

I seem to have three choices:

1. Forget the whole idea, or

2. Pay something on the order of $60K for a super-rustic getaway accessible only by water or on foot. this would cause me to forgo $150/month in ER income while adding about $8/month in property tax and an estimated $80/mo in lease fees for 30,000 sq ft of Superior National Forest land with 150 ft of lakefront. No electricity, no well, outhouse.

3. Pay something on the order of $200K (would require a mortgage if I did it in the next 2 years) for a more conventional cottage/cabin with road access, electricity, a well, septic. I would forgo $500/mo in FI income plus add about $210/month in property tax. I would own the ground, but would be under some legal restrictions regarding what I could or couldn't do on the property since it's shoreline property on a lake part of which lies inside a federally protected wilderness area.

I haven't researched insurance in either case but it should be modest--the main property value is derived from the number of feet of lake frontage associated with the property.

In both general scenarios I'm looking at about 400-500 sq ft of living space. In both cases heat comes from a wood stove.

The second option intrigues me because:

-more affordable,
-moderately more private
-there are opportunities to find "green" solutions to some of the challenges associated with lack of utilities. E.g., even so far north solar panels can harvest enough power to occasionally run a fluorescent light or two and operate a pump/inline water heater. It would be a fun challenge to create a bit more comfort with a low environmental footprint.

There are less green ways to take some of the edge off the option 2 experience using propane-powered devices or even a gasoline generator for occasional electric power.

The third option has its advantages too. Road access is a big relative plus, and I have no guilt about enjoying some of the creature comforts provided by electricity and potable running water.

I am also engaging in a lot of rationalization:

-real estate prices in the area are still substantially depressed and actually worsening since 2007-2009. But the proximity of the properties I'm exploring to the BWCA wilderness area and Superior National Forest as well as being lakeside on what I consider "prime" quality lakes means there's a better than 50-50 chance the property values will move back towards their pre-crisis levels over the next 10-20 years. So while I'm certainly tying up money, it should be recoverable, and it's not an absurdly remote possibility that I could make a profit.

This truly is something I've wanted to do since I was a kid, but for various reasons it's remained in the realm of wishful thinking. There is also a mid-life crises/facing the reality of entering my 50s visceral sense of urgency to this. But it's not a complete whim.

It comes down to the age old choice: do I want to take an amount of risk to make it happen, or play it safe and always wonder what if?

I'm really thinking it's time to grow a sack. I've been there and don that with the prudent thing. There's virtue in dancing with the one who brung you, but there's room in this to maneuver short of being imprudent.

And for the record, the fact that the real estate agent I contacted turns out to be exceptionally good looking and grew up on the lake that #1 on my list has nothing to do with my decision ;)

There's nothing wrong with wanting something to be there at the end of a guy's dreams.

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Chad
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by Chad » Wed Jun 11, 2014 5:44 am

IlliniDave wrote: Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between prudence and timidity.

I spend a lot of time in that gray area.
I spend a lot of time in that same area for big decisions. Hell, I spent a lot of time in that area when I was just buying a high end blender (I mention this because Jenny just brought up the juicing thread), but I think it's good. It allows me to feel out if I really want it. Nothing wrong with taking your time, but don't take too much time. We only have a limited amount.
IlliniDave wrote: 1. Forget the whole idea, or

2. Pay something on the order of $60K for a super-rustic getaway accessible only by water or on foot. this would cause me to forgo $150/month in ER income while adding about $8/month in property tax and an estimated $80/mo in lease fees for 30,000 sq ft of Superior National Forest land with 150 ft of lakefront. No electricity, no well, outhouse.

3. Pay something on the order of $200K (would require a mortgage if I did it in the next 2 years) for a more conventional cottage/cabin with road access, electricity, a well, septic. I would forgo $500/mo in FI income plus add about $210/month in property tax. I would own the ground, but would be under some legal restrictions regarding what I could or couldn't do on the property since it's shoreline property on a lake part of which lies inside a federally protected wilderness area.
Keep in mind that you will be old some day and that super-rustic cabin might be great now, but no road might really suck when you are 70.
IlliniDave wrote: It comes down to the age old choice: do I want to take an amount of risk to make it happen, or play it safe and always wonder what if?

I'm really thinking it's time to grow a sack. I've been there and don that with the prudent thing. There's virtue in dancing with the one who brung you, but there's room in this to maneuver short of being imprudent.
The risk seems minimal, as even if you would sell the place at a loss it's probably not a huge loss. So, it might be time to grow a pair. I know it is for me. It's time for me to make some decisions either way, on my issues, and either do something or move on.
IlliniDave wrote: And for the record, the fact that the real estate agent I contacted turns out to be exceptionally good looking and grew up on the lake that #1 on my list has nothing to do with my decision ;)

There's nothing wrong with wanting something to be there at the end of a guy's dreams.
Could always look at a few more cabins.

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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by henrik » Wed Jun 11, 2014 6:36 am

I get the impression that you really want the remote cabin and came up with the more expensive third option just to make #2 the "middle" and "reasonable" one:)
Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between prudence and timidity.
Yes!

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Wed Jun 11, 2014 7:31 am

henrik wrote:I get the impression that you really want the remote cabin and came up with the more expensive third option just to make #2 the "middle" and "reasonable" one:)
Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between prudence and timidity.
Yes!
Actually the third option would be choice one, for the reason Chad mentioned above. As age increases the viability of the middle option could quite reasonably be expected to decrease.

I actually just realized that the middle option costs about the same as many of my friends are spending on their German cars these days. And I'm sweating it like it's an outrageous extravagance.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Wed Jun 11, 2014 7:42 am

Chad wrote:
IlliniDave wrote: And for the record, the fact that the real estate agent I contacted turns out to be exceptionally good looking and grew up on the lake that #1 on my list has nothing to do with my decision ;)

There's nothing wrong with wanting something to be there at the end of a guy's dreams.
Could always look at a few more cabins.
Haha, those last two sentences were meant to be separate thoughts, not connected, the latter pertaining to the entire process of expending financial resources this way. Maybe though, my subconscious is toying with me. :)

You're point about age is well-taken. And is why the third option would carry the day if I was in the next tier up in terms of wealth. Second option is akin to buying a luxury car. Option 3 is something I would need to think through.

If I wasn't concerned about the real estate market up there regaining its legs and pricing me out of option 3 in the reasonably near future, I'd go with option 2 for about 10 years, then upgrade to option 3 when my bones started to get weary.

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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by tommytebco » Wed Jun 11, 2014 8:15 am

RENT FIRST! RENT FIRST!! RENT FIRST!!

This will fill out the dream. An
Many better ideas and sites may reveal themselves to you.
Just sayin'. It's your dream.
Tom

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Wed Jun 11, 2014 7:27 pm

All Coming Together.

From pursuit of mindfulness I've come to understand all of life happens in the present moment. All else is just electrochemical brain activity dredging up imprints stored in the past or creating fantasy futures that may or may not come to pass. Both are fine as long as we keep them in their place.

The only things I can do to affect the future are my actions in the present. I might wind up striking out, but if I do I want go down swinging, not standing there with the bat on my shoulder.

The path ahead scares me, but I'm going to take it anyway.

http://www.lifebuzz.com/jim-carrey/#!WZaIU


IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:28 am

Thanks for the link, sky. I still have some threads to pull regarding number 1 on my desired destination list before I move on.

I had a long chat with a friend from long ago last night. Neither of us knew it then, but we share a common passion about this particular little corner of the world where I'm looking to stake a claim. She gave me some rather strong (and convincing) encouragement for me to get my teeth into this and not let go.

I'm too rational for my own good, but even reason is failing me here.

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Chad
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by Chad » Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:42 am

IlliniDave wrote: I'm too rational for my own good, but even reason is failing me here.
My earlier rationale that one day you will be old and this should prevent you from getting the remote cabis is probably another over-rationalization of your situation. I thought about this when I initially wrote it, as it is reasonable to assume one day you will be old feeble. But, it's also possible that one day you will be old, but not feeble. Maybe the lack of feebleness would stem from living in a slightly harsher environment...say a cabin on a lake with few amenities and no road for an easy car ride to it.

By the way, I really liked the Jim Carey video. As a former accountant who hated it, I completely understand. Thanks.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Fri Jun 13, 2014 4:53 am

Chad wrote:
IlliniDave wrote: I'm too rational for my own good, but even reason is failing me here.
My earlier rationale that one day you will be old and this should prevent you from getting the remote cabis is probably another over-rationalization of your situation. I thought about this when I initially wrote it, as it is reasonable to assume one day you will be old feeble. But, it's also possible that one day you will be old, but not feeble. Maybe the lack of feebleness would stem from living in a slightly harsher environment...say a cabin on a lake with few amenities and no road for an easy car ride to it.

By the way, I really liked the Jim Carey video. As a former accountant who hated it, I completely understand. Thanks.
Well I wouldn't call it over-rationalization. I'm pretty sure I've used this line here: "You don't stop moving because you get old, you get old because you stop moving."

To an extent that is true. But only insofar as an 85-year-old man who stays physically active on a daily basis is probably going to enjoy a higher quality of life than an 85-year-old man who spends his time in a recliner watching Fox News and worrying about whether he should sell everything and buy gold and ammunition. But even the active 85-year-old is still 85 years old and not 19.

Seems like the obvious compromise is to go for voluntary simplicity while I'm a younger old dude at a place that later could be improved with a few hard-labor replacing conveniences.

I'm actually starting to rationalize in a way that is attempting to be justification...making the arguments to myself that I'm buying lakefront real estate in a market that was bludgeoned in 2007-2010 and has not recovered at all. Even if my vision for myself does not pan out the financial downside to me is not catastrophically low, the corresponding upside is potentially high, and the property could produce income. Usually trying to justify lifestyle expenses as investments is a dangerous fallacy, and the most dangerous phrase in investing keeps popping into my mind: "this time it's different...".

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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by Dragline » Sat Jun 14, 2014 8:57 pm

IlliniDave wrote:
To an extent that is true. But only insofar as an 85-year-old man who stays physically active on a daily basis is probably going to enjoy a higher quality of life than an 85-year-old man who spends his time in a recliner watching Fox News and worrying about whether he should sell everything and buy gold and ammunition. But even the active 85-year-old is still 85 years old and not 19.

Seems like the obvious compromise is to go for voluntary simplicity while I'm a younger old dude at a place that later could be improved with a few hard-labor replacing conveniences.

I'm actually starting to rationalize in a way that is attempting to be justification...making the arguments to myself that I'm buying lakefront real estate in a market that was bludgeoned in 2007-2010 and has not recovered at all. Even if my vision for myself does not pan out the financial downside to me is not catastrophically low, the corresponding upside is potentially high, and the property could produce income. Usually trying to justify lifestyle expenses as investments is a dangerous fallacy, and the most dangerous phrase in investing keeps popping into my mind: "this time it's different...".
As for the 85-year olds, the first one is my father and the second is already in the earth. He says the weirdest thing about aging is that almost everybody you knew earlier in life is dead.

That real estate is unlikely to be an investment in our lifetimes. Outside of a few places like Door County, houses/property in the Northern woods have been cheap and plentiful all our lives, and will remain so unless they find shale gas. It's full of old people who die and heirs that don't want to keep the property from Duluth to Rhinelander to Copper Harbor. The hey-day of that area was in the early 1900s. Beautiful place to live, but not an investment in terms of appreciation. Like most of territory of the US, actually.

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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Sat Jun 14, 2014 9:40 pm

Dragline wrote:
That real estate is unlikely to be an investment in our lifetimes. Outside of a few places like Door County, houses/property in the Northern woods have been cheap and plentiful all our lives, and will remain so unless they find shale gas. It's full of old people who die and heirs that don't want to keep the property from Duluth to Rhinelander to Copper Harbor. The hey-day of that area was in the early 1900s. Beautiful place to live, but not an investment in terms of appreciation. Like most of territory of the US, actually.
They're somewhat plentiful, cheap is relative I guess. They're cheap if your coming from a coast maybe, but expensive if you live in Flyover Country already. Number 1 on my list is the little northeast corner of Minnesota tucked in Superior National forest near the BWCA wilderness. Pretty desirable for those that have a bug for the area. I showed one to a friend who like me is smitten with the area. She lives in Seattle and was aghast at how little it cost (apparently much less than her second home they recently built on Vashon Island), but I had showed it to her as a lark because it was way out of my price range, listed at a good deal more than my current home is worth.

I think you're right. I didn't mean an investment in the sense that I'd expect to make big real appreciation gains (although it's possible), just meant that most if not all of the purchase should be recoverable so long as I'm not selling in a panic. So it's not like I'm dropping $80K-$100K on a car or something. I think the air is mostly out of the bubble there, so things should mostly float along with inflation in the future. The wilderness and the lakes have been about the only "industry" there since the early 20th century, so there's nothing left to really collapse and cause further problems.

Very happy to hear your dad is active and doing well at 85! I hope when that day comes (about 10 years) mine is doing the same. Happy Father's day to him, to you, and all the good dads out there :)

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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by IlliniDave » Thu Jun 19, 2014 5:10 am

Before Sunrise on a Thursday

Reality is starting to catch up with me regarding my rekindled longing for lakeside solitude in the Northwoods. It's nice to imagine an IlliniDavid Thoreau retreat but when I begin to hedge in consideration of things like age, desire for others in my family/a few key friends to enjoy the property with me, desire to have liquidity commensurate with general residential real estate, etc., a different and sobering picture begins to emerge. Long story short, a property that meets all the requirements is going to gouge me for about $200K (1000 sq ft, running water, electricity, waterfront on a lake of average to high quality there), and even then there will be a substantial inconvenience in that the only properties that appear to be available that meet that meet all the criteria are water access (meaning there is no way to drive to them).

That $200k, while obviously an investment of sorts, if sunk in a second home will cost me $500/month in ER income on top of adding expenses. To do this without a large erosion in the financial margin I've planned for myself will require that either I get a second job for the next 5 years, or work about 2 years longer than I've been planning. Neither will be easy. So now I'm sharpening the old pencil to see if ER is workable on a thinner budget. An option is to forgo living alone while I winter 90 miles west of Chicago near my family (I'll be the snowbird that just doesn't quite understand the concept). Renting in Illinois versus buying could possibly help that out a little.

The more selfish option of buying a zero amenity shack remains.

It's odd, almost ironic, that the one time in the last 6+ years I've wished I had a "partner" is while stewing on this decision, which at it's core is about achieving a certain type and measure of solitude.

I've also started an accounting of the bits of my ER "dream" that I'll be giving up by planting myself in the Northwoods: gardening, working in my dad's vineyard, having the option to maintain part-time employment if it's something I want to do.

This is translating to some renewed vigor on the frugality front. Unfortunately I'm to the point that all the low fruit is harvested and grinding out a few nickels of savings takes quite a bit of effort, so I can't make a material difference in the outcome, but I'm improving my mental/emotional conditioning.

I've been practicing being deliberately nonjudgmental on an ongoing basis. I don't mean judging or not judging other people (fortunately that habit is one I never really acquired a penchant for), but rather I try to avoid dwelling on thoughts like, "Man, this chore sucks" or "This is the most stupid and awful meeting ever." Sounds corny, but it does help. There's a lot of power in accepting the present moment for what it is, rather than focusing on what it is not. Occasionally changing things is imperative, but most of the time for me, ongoing dissatisfaction is a choice. Slowly I'm learning to choose it less and less.

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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by jennypenny » Thu Jun 19, 2014 1:05 pm

If you did option one, how many years could you realistically enjoy it? Twenty-five? Twenty? If you used it 20 years, it would cost you $4K/year including fees (assuming it had no value when you were done with it). Is it worth $4K a year to you? Or would you rather rent something for that much?

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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstr

Post by Spartan_Warrior » Thu Jun 19, 2014 1:24 pm

Occasionally changing things is imperative, but most of the time for me, ongoing dissatisfaction is a choice.
Well said. That whole paragraph resonated with me. I'm still learning not to choose dissatisfaction too, but I think realizing that it is a choice is a large part of the battle.

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