Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A Re-Look at Real Estate -- Mar 22, 2016

As I mentioned in my last post from here in Payson, AZ, I am parked in a rather unique little community.  It is unique relative to many places I have visited and lived.  It may or may not be unique to real estate in your area.  Either way, I think this community shows us that there can be a misconception of certain types of housing….specifically, “manufactured homes”, “mobile homes”, and “trailer homes”.

Historically, in many – if not most – areas of the U.S., this genre of housing is not considered a “winner” when it comes to overall appreciation.  Yes, the property value or lot value may appreciate to some degree, but the dwelling itself often depreciates...and the lot will usually only take you so far. This is based primarily on the materials used to construct these homes…and their “foundations”.  They are not built like your traditional “sticks and bricks” housing.  The general consensus is the quality of construction is substantially less stable than your typical stick home, therefore, a big loss in value. No matter how you cut it, the construction differences are a truth that is hard to deny.  

However, with this said, I will attempt to show you that misconception and overall negative real estate “advice” about these structures is not taken to heart in this little community. It is just a block or two from all the main “goings on” in Payson….a town with a population of about 15,300.  Payson is about 1-1.5 hours northeast of the well known [and quite expensive] cities of Scottsdale, AZ and Fountain Hills, AZ. 

This community is dotted with a few “sticks and bricks” homes…not particularly “fancy”, but traditionally built.  There are probably about 55-65 lots here…some larger than others, but overall, the homes are close together.  The majority of homes are “manufactured homes” which have been here probably about 20-25 years or more.  So, there is nothing new about this area to enhance values.

Now….let’s look at some examples of what I’m talking about….

This home has had a nice screen porch added...

This house was being worked on last summer.  It needs work, but has potential.
No one is living in it yet, but it is on a quite large corner lot and has a small addition on the back.

This home is well maintained and enclosed with a chain-link fence which is 
common here and not frowned upon at all.
Many homeowners here have dogs!

What's the point??

This 3 bedroom/2 full bath manufactured home is a good example of my point of this blog.
Last summer it sold for $65,000 and needed massive work.  The buyer put maybe $25,000
into it, including a new furnace and A/C...new baths and new kitchen, plus overall "fixing".  
He flipped it in December for $140,000.  Do the [profit] math!
I had a tour and the renovations were masterfully done...nothing "cheap" about it!

The manufactured home below is currently for sale for just under $140,000.  Nothing has been done to it and no one has lived in it since it was purchased about 2 years ago for approx. $111,000.  (Again, do the [profit] math!)  It has a double garage in the back and doesn't need "renovating"....just some updating....to make it a really great space.  Two "sticks and bricks" homeowners within the community are quite interested in it and totally agree with the asking price. Just to show, selling their stick home to purchase a manufactured home is totally realistic for them!  They love the lot, the fenced back, the garage and the single level living with a great layout.

The stick house next door to the above manufactured home is going through a major renovation and will probably appraise for $200-225,000.  The fact it's neighbors are a manufactured home and a somewhat dilapidated mobile home has no affect on it's potential value.

A few more examples....

This home just sold for somewhere between $200-220,000!

There are a few typical "mobile homes" -- some better than others.
 This one is kinda cute in it's own way, albeit a little cluttery.

So, there you have an overview of this little community.  For most, it is year-round living with four seasons.  For others, their homes are second homes to escape the summer heat in the Phoenix valley.

Often when we are on vacation, passing through small towns and communities, we say, "Oh...this looks like a nice little town...maybe we could get a place here sometime".  Well....research these types of neighborhoods. What you might initially think of as a less than optimal area because of general consensus commentary, could very well be a good investment for a "flip", a second home or eventual full time living. These homes are easy, single level living as we get older.  Most are convenient to shopping and services.  Don't judge a book by it's cover!

The other type of housing here are birds' nests!  They love the pines!  This little house finch has been working day in and day out on her new home!  Her tree of choice is about 18" from my window. 

The male is reddish in color.  He's not much of a builder but he guards the doorway!

I hope you enjoyed the tour!  The weather here is still perfect.  Nikko and I are enjoying it very much!

As always, thank you so much for your purchases through the Amazon link here on my blog.  Every order, large or small, is appreciated!

Speaking of guarding, Nikko sleeps next to me with his head propped on a pillow at the window.  He pushes his head through the curtains so he can see everything going on out there in the dark.  Any movement or unusual sound provokes a mean growl or ferocious barking.  I feel safe!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

From Palms to Pines! -- Mar 17, 2016

Nikko and I have landed in Payson, AZ.  I’m not sure how long we will be here, but one thing’s for sure….we are out of the 90’s of the Yuma, AZ desert!  The weather here is close to perfection!  The elevation in Yuma is 141' above sea level (mid 90's)  Scottsdale is 1,257’ (about 90*) and Payson is way up there at 5,000’ (mid 70's!!)

We stayed one night in Scottsdale…a stop over to presumably put some things in the storage unit I have there.  UHHHHHH – that did NOT work out!  I unlocked the door and I thought I was watching that cable TV hoarders show!  I was surprised everything didn’t tumble out on top of me and bury me alive!  I had remembered it was “pretty full”, but I didn’t remember it like that.  It’s only 5’x10’ and I do remember, for the most part, what’s in there.  I think what happened was at the end of deciding what was going to be stored, at the last minute, I just threw in (or more accurately, “shoved” in) the final remaining items that I couldn’t take with me when I went back to Ohio.  At that point, there was no rhyme or reason to it….just get it all in there!  Someday, I’ll figure out what I’m doing with it all, but I doubt it will be anytime soon. 

Soooooo….I bought two new totes for the back cargo rack.  The originals were almost two years old…cracked from the sun and various “accidents”.  The new ones are a little smaller but fit better on the cargo rack.  I reorganized “stuff” throughout the RV to try to redistribute weight.  The new totes are now secured, tarped and ready for travel.  I won’t need to get into these at all for travel, so I’m not concerned about the ease of “unwrapping”.

Moral of this story?  If you are planning to full time RV, get rid of everything BEFORE you embark on your new lifestyle!  To my defense, at that time, I had no idea I would be a full time RVer, but for those of you who might be thinking about it, just keep in mind, it will not be something you will want to deal with later! Trust me on this!


The drive from palm tree laden Scottsdale up to pine tree encased Payson is a pretty one.  60 miles on a mountain highway (Route 87).  It’s a roller coaster with curves and 6-7% grades which are a little unnerving.  The key is….just drive an RV slower than you would normally drive a car.  You can’t care that cars are passing you…let them! 

Before the pine trees start, the drive quickly leaves the palms behind and the climbing terrain changes to mountains and huge groves of saguaro cactus.  Cactus doesn’t always mean “desert” in the dry, sandy sense of the word.   (Photos taken while driving --- NOT recommended!)

Being springtime, the brittle bushes are in full bloom along the way.  Vast amounts of yellow everywhere!  Great bursts of color penetrating a more or less camouflage-like background. 

Other spring blooms appear along the roadway, too.

Once in Payson, the cactus and anything resembling the aforementioned landscape vanishes.  Pines are everywhere!  Payson is virtually in the middle of the Tonto National Forest.  There’s not much dispersed (free/no amenities) camping in Tonto for some reason.  That’s unlike most every other National Forest.  However, there are “pay” campgrounds.  With my “Golden Pass” I would pay only 50% of the normal camping fee…maybe something like $7/night...that's doable in the budget.  Before we leave Payson, we might go into Tonto and camp for a few days…whatever campground is closest to town.  I don’t want to get too far away from Payson because, ultimately, we will probably be going in the opposite direction for the summer. 

So, we went from literally sleeping under palm trees to sleeping under pine trees….all in about 1.5 hours!  Such a nice change!  I never want to take my house on wheels for granted.  It's the perfect solution to changing your environment rather quickly!  

The inevitable pitfall has landed, too.  I’m back to the real world of paying the high Verizon internet fees.  So ridiculous!  Any purchases you make via my Amazon link give me a small commission (your costs are not affected) which goes directly toward my internet bill so I can continue this blog.  The link takes you directly to Amazon just like you are used to. I very much appreciate your purchases!  Thank you!

That’s a wrap for now from our residential driveway parking spot in this small, unique Payson neighborhood.  More on that in the next post.  It will be especially interesting to those of you who take note of the differences in real estate from one area-city-state to another. 

So long for now!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Au Revoir, Adios, Arrivederci! -- Mar 10, 2016

Well, it's time to "break camp" and leave my winter spot here at the Imperial Dam BLM in Winterhaven, CA.  And it has been a "winter haven"!  Fellow RVers are noticeably leaving now.

I will be pulling out on Saturday morning.  First stop will be down to Yuma for errands, etc.  I'll spend the night somewhere...probably the parking lot next to the laundromat.  That's exotic!  Rt. 8 out of Yuma will take me right up to Scottsdale on Sunday morning.... probably arriving at my friend's around noon.  He is going to help me move some unnecessary stuff from the RV to my storage unit in Scottsdale.  Things I don't need from day to day and I need to get some weight out of the RV.  Just like a house, it is easy to accumulate "stuff"!  The scary thing is.....I haven't looked in my storage unit since July 2010!  All I remember is.....it's full!  Yikes!

I'll  head on up to Payson, AZ mid-day on Monday.  What a change in climate that will be!  But, just in time!  It will be in the 90's soon just about everywhere south of Payson.  I'll be getting my sweaters and down comforter back out!  Nikko will love it!

I have no idea how long I will be helping out my friend in Payson.  You are probably thinking.....gee whiz.....it doesn't sound like she will be showing us much in the way of "travel and adventure" for awhile!  Well, you are probably right.  A lot of RVing is following the weather. (I had snow up near Flagstaff last May 9th!)  Payson will give me and Nikko that interim "springtime" where it's too hot staying south, but still too cold [for me!] going much further north, not to mention shopping at my favorite thrift store!  I have many months to travel around and show you the sites....at least six! That's plenty of time for exploring...and I do have a plan in mind!  Please stick with me. I am trying to give everyone a realistic view of this lifestyle....the way I experience it, anyway. Remember, I'm all about living off grid whether it's in a forest or in a friend's driveway.....not jumping from one RV park to another and spending unlimited amounts of money. Parks are great for scores of RVers...just not for me...even if I had that kind of money. Park living and boondocking are totally different ways to experience RVing.  As is the way all of us "boondockers" boondock!  We range from those who have every luxury to those who have a simple roof over their heads.....and everywhere in between!  But we all have one thing in common....we "get it"!  

So, that brings us to some cool highlights...in pictures... of my winter haven....just a little overview of my time here.  

We all boondock differently!

Lots of opportunities to be a kid again and fly kites!

Nature's wonders!

Thanksgiving full moon....

High flyin'!

Christmas full moon....

Desert starkness...but beautiful!

Part of my golf gang!

Best RV canine in the universe! :-)  
Maybe I'm a little biased!  LOL!

Unbelievable sunrise!

Sunlight playing a creative game!

A pilot's zoom through the sunset....

Only about an hour from Mexico!

Delivering the Native American message....

A puff of color!

And finally, my view every single day!

A fond farewell to all my friends here and a hello to what's ahead!
We'll see you on the flip side!

Thank you for shopping Amazon via my link!  It all goes toward bringing you this blog!
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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Making Sense of Cents -- Mar 1, 2016

March 1st!  I'm into the countdown days now of leaving my winter spot!  People are starting to slowly trickle out of the BLM....not a big surge yet, but soon there will be a noticeable difference when I look out over this huge area.  I've made a tentative plan for summer travels, but need to veer away from that initially and head up to Scottsdale to put stuff in my storage unit (since I'm evidently never going to get it cleaned out!) and maybe head back up to Payson, AZ to help a friend out with some things.  Just have to see how it works out...nothing carved in stone quite yet.

People ask me....."So how do you afford to live this lifestyle?"  "How much does it cost?"  Not unusual questions at all!  Some parts are easy to answer, others not so much.  But it's a lot less than living in a house, I can tell you that...especially if you take the "boondocking" approach!

This perfect site cost me absolutely nothing!

Here's an overview of my particulars. Skip this entire section if you have unlimited money resources! Personally, I have about $500/month in "fixed expenses". Those expenses include RV insurance, health insurance, the storage unit, a credit card payment, and Verizon...they are the same every month.  These fixed expenses would be different for everyone, so that's something you would have to calculate for your own particular situation...you may have a car payment and/or an RV payment, for example, and also, I am just one person.  Start with that.  The other thing to try to start with when considering this lifestyle as a full time endeavor would be no debt.  Now that I'm on a totally fixed income, I keep a spreadsheet of all my expenses.  In addition to the fixed expenses, my other expense categories are:


As you see, I have no "RV Park" category.  It may happen that one day I might need to stay in an RV park or other "pay" area, but it's not something that is a constant, reoccurring cost.  You may want to include it, however, if you plan to do something besides boondock.  My goal has always been to "stay for free"!  Side note:  I did just receive my "Senior Pass" (I can't really be a "senior" !!! ACK!) which entitles me to 1/2 off for life at any federal-run park.  That would include National Parks, national forests, etc.  Cost? $20.  Period. So, I may utilize that here and there.  

Most of the above categories are self-explanatory.  Nonfood consists of items like paper towels, soap, batteries, duct tape, postage, general household items...anything you buy that you don't eat! Entertainment consists of something like a book, or magazine, McDonald's fish sandwich - because "eating out" - anywhere - is "entertainment" for me!...most anything that you buy that is not a necessity, but a bit of a luxury (for me, maybe a "pay" area), is what I consider "entertainment". Cash - I carry very, very little "cash".  But occasionally I think I should have a few dollars in my pocket, so I'll get $40 when I check out my groceries.  I do not account for where this money goes.  $40 in cash lasts me a  long time....like weeks.  Nikko - Nikko's dog food, treats, and if there are any, vet bills. Medical - anything not covered by insurance, including your initial deductible.  Gifts - we don't exchange gifts to any great extent in my family...we're almost all adults, so this category sees few entries.  You will include at least some of these categories in your spreadsheet, and perhaps others.

The last column on my spreadsheet is "Savings".  So far, I have actually been able to save some money back out of my fixed income check....which is just an average amount....nothing to write home about.  Now, having said that, I have not been driving hardly at all over the winter.  That will change very soon, so my gas column will see more entries and my savings column won't be accumulating at it's current rate.  But that's all part of the plan.  I can calculate a rough estimate of what my mileage might be over the summer...I know I get 7.4 mpg, I can research the average gas prices....so therefore, I can get an idea of what I might spend in gas coming up. Thank goodness gas prices are so low now!

All sound like too much work????  Well, it takes a few minutes to make the spreadsheet entries, but it's worth it to be able to live this lifestyle on a minimal fixed budget and not wonder why you have no money for gas or food.  So, there you have it.  This will be of utmost consideration if you are planning for fulltime RVing.  Let's stop talking "shop" now!  Here are a few miscellaneous photos....

Remember my Mexico post with the vendor making something by hand for me?  

Here's what he was making....totally from scratch..15 minutes...
with just a few skeins of heavy threads:

A bracelet for my great nephew, Ryan...for his 13th birthday!  He liked it!

A few interesting campers have come and gone from the BLM...
This very cool Airstream, for one!  I think he was here a few weeks last year, too.

This next one is really different!  The owners, Becky and David, are from Andover, Illinois and purchased this camper last year.  These train car campers are made by Glenn Wallin in Dixon, Illinois.  This was his 12th creation.  No two are alike as each one has a different theme.  #13 is a Pullman car style.  They are built on a Coleman Camper pop-up frame and are 11' long.  A fellow camper saw the inside and said it was flawless - meticulously designed and constructed!

We had our little 9-hole golf tournament over at Coyote Ridge...part of this BLM area.  There were four teams.  My team came in last, but I did make a par to try to help us along!  Here's one hole of the course....see the little white flag?  Very hard to find your ball with all the trees and brush!  Very different than where I play most days!  Afterwards, there was ALOT of food!  All in all, a fun day!

That's about it from here for today!  Except for a few signature sunrise and sunset shots!

As always, thank you so much for shopping Amazon via my blog link!
Time to start thinking about  "spring gardening"!

So long for now, from me and Nikko!

"Let's see some new places!"