What are alternative lifestyles and why would they require alternative housing? To answer the first part it is easiest to give examples. Then the answer to the second part becomes self evident.
One winter we were camping in our conversion van at a hot springs area in Arizona. We met a man who sold stuffed animals on the side of the highway. Having been through a bad divorce, and having little money, he was living in the van at places like these hot springs. Every day he drove off to the nearest highways and set up his stuffed animals for sale. He claimed to have sold $4,000 worth the first month, so his low cost living meant he could save the money and get back on his feet.
Meanwhile, another neighbor at the hot springs was living in his old RV. He had a house, but he preferred to supplement his social security by renting it out. This meant he lived in his RV for a few weeks at each location, often for free, and spent evenings sitting around campfires talking to travelers like us.
A friend of ours lived in a shack that he built for $3,000 on a small piece of land he bought for $7,000. He was there for enough time to pay off the land and sell it for a profit. This is illegal in many areas, of course, because of things like occupancy permits and minimum square footage requirements. Usually, however, you can camp on your land, so a $2,000 used RV parked on your land makes for a cheap and legal housing alternative.
Other Housing For Alternative Lifestyles
Alternative lifestyle doesn’t mean “low income” of course. There are other reasons for living differently and needing different types of housing. Whether to save money, to travel, to live creatively – there are many reasons why people choose to live in tents, RVs, cabins, underground homes, rental rooms and anything else that’s less common than the houses, condos and apartments that most people call home. Here are a few more of these housing options.
– RV Boondocking. I’ve talked to people living in Rvs that cost $200,000 and ones that cost $600, so the selection of accommodations is varied, to say the least.
– Permanent travelers. Housing is whatever works for the moment for those who work various jobs as the travel.
– Houseboats. There are whole communities of people living on houseboats, and they usually don’t have to pay property taxes.
– Basements. Even some people with good incomes choose to live in the basement as they build the house above for cash. No mortgage sounds nice, doesn’t it?
– Log cabin squatting. Yes, there really are people living out there in the national forests, moving when they get caught every five or ten years.
– School busses. Apparently old busses sell cheap. We met three young men who lived in one in the deserts of Arizona, and anywhere else they could park it for a month.
– Offices. A couple I know almost moved into the office building they owned. It was on the river and had showers, so why not? One less mortgage too.
A national magazine recently did a write-up on people who lived in the jungles of Hawaii. Rents are high in Hawaii, and life on the beach is good – at least for younger people who can tolerate camping out for years. Alternative lifestyles and alternative housing are often more for the younger crowd. Then again, tell that to the tens of thousands of retirees living in RVs.