I don’t know about you, but every time I near the end of the year, I take a moment to reflect on everything that happened that year. It’s easy to feel like I didn’t get enough done, but when I look back on the year, I’m always pleasantly surprised at what was accomplished and often, the personal growth I’ve gone through. 2015 has been one of the craziest years of my life by far, so we thought we’d share some of the highlights.
It’s really important that we share the highlights of 2015 in particular because this is the year that we really committed to starting our off grid homestead, and early on in 2015, we didn’t even have our land yet! We merely had an idea of what we wanted and we were determined to find a way to make it happen. Even in June of 2015, we had no idea that we would be living on our land in September!
2015 was full of change, work, stress, uncertainty, and all of those things ended in our dreams coming true and here I am, writing this end-of-the-year summary from the comfort of a log cabin on our snowy property in Idaho. We’d like to invite you along the journey of what this year has looked like for us.
To give you a little bit of background… we made our first trip to Idaho in July of 2014 which is when we fell in love with the area. We found one property we thought we would buy but couldn’t find the property lines, we we put the property on the back burner. Here’s where 2015 picks up…
- Put in an offer on a property and it was accepted, contingent upon walking the property: As we were anxious to get rolling with land, we put in an offer on this property and drove immediately to go check it out. We walked the property lines in 18″ of snow and it was nothing like we though… the MLS map was completely wrong. The property was awkward as heck and while we could have mad e it work, it really wasn’t ideal or our first choice.
- Were introduced to a second property, 10 acres with a cabin: We checked out this property and fell in love. It was listed at $130,000 but the Realtor suggested that we offer half of the asking price because he knew the guy personally and based on life circumstances, he had a hunch he would be interested. We did, and he was. But we had to get back to Oregon quickly. And $65,000 was still quite a bit more than we wanted to spend.
- Put our search on hold and worked 70-90 hours / week each on our online businesses: We talked over the above property but couldn’t quite justify the cost. We did know that we would need a down payment for whichever land we ended up with, so we worked relentlessly on our businesses. We also knew that we needed to make the shift to making all of our income online. This was a great month for us but we definitely worked past the point of exhaustion.
- Took a trip to Southern California to spend time with my family: We needed a break from our stressful life in Oregon (working too much on our businesses and on our house rehabbing project) so we went to Southern California to spend two weeks with my family. In this time we got to lay by the pool, eat great food, share some laughs, and hot tub nightly!
- Put in an offer on the 10 acre property with a cabin and had it accepted: Although we weren’t 110% convinced this was the best property for us, we thought that 10 acres with a cabin for $65,000 was a pretty good deal even if it was more than we wanted to spend. We were also feeling desperate for some land and knew that we just needed a “starter property”. We had our offer accepted with contingencies and tried to plan a time to look at the interior of the cabin.
- Made our third trip to Idaho to look at the interior of the new property with an accepted offer and to see the property without snow on the ground: It turns out that the property wasn’t as dreamy as it was on that snowy day in January; the cabin needed a lot more work than we initially thought, the property was more logged than we would have liked, the general vibe of the land didn’t feel so great, we didn’t get a good vibe from the neighbors, and we could hear the highway loud and clear from the cabin which was a deal breaker for us!
- Splurged on new Macbook Pros and Thunderbolt Displays: We had no other properties in mind, nor were any new properties coming up for sale that we were aware of, so we spend our “land money” on new computer equipment which helped us to take our online business to a new level. Our computers were holding us back HARDCORE and this was a huge life upgrade for us. We figured that at a minimum, we could make our little office nice and inspiring so that we could continue to work hard even though we didn’t know where we were going. We knew we’d make the money back quickly.
- Put in another long stretch on our business but struggled to find motivation: We felt like we were constantly running only towards what, we didn’t know! We were constantly reminded that we were working way too hard and that we needed to do something come summer (when our house rehabbing project would come to an end), but we wanted that change to bring us closer to our goal of owning land in Idaho, not move us further away from it. We continued to work ourselves into the ground as we didn’t know what else to do, but having a profitable business is always better than having an unprofitable business, right?
- We called it quits on work because we were so burned out that we didn’t even care, nor did we have a property we were interested in: One thing we learned here is that breaks aren’t bad… breaks are good! For many weeks in a row, we would wake up daily and decide NOT to work, but to go lay in the sun or to swim instead. We had endless chats about where we were going with our life and talked about the options again and again and again. We were hoping that if we talked about our future enough that we would find a solution.
- Had the revelation that the only thing keeping us in Oregon at this point was Jesse’s business, and if we could sell it for what it was worth, that would give us a huge boost: We realized that the only reason we were in Oregon, and not in Idaho which would be closer to our goals, was Jesse’s business. He worked hard to build it in the previous three years and it was doing well, but selling a business isn’t as easy as 1-2-3. We knew that if we could sell the business for what it was worth that we could pay off the land, all debt, and give us a nice cushion, but we didn’t know how long to hold out for that option.
- We found our current land listed on Craigslist: It felt like love at first sight even though I had not yet seen the property, so we decided that we had to leave immediately to go take a look. It was love at first sight. But we also asked the Realtor for a ton of other listings so that we could see every conceivable option and hopefully come home with our name on something. We tired to remain open minded.
- Our offer was accepted and although we hoped to close on the land within a week, it was drawn out quite a while: We planned to stay up in Idaho until the land closed. We only wanted to go back to Oregon to pack up our belongings and snag the kitty cats! We did a little vacationing, some soul-searching, some swimming, and some relaxing. The only thing that was holding up the property from being closed on was the land to be staked at the property lines. We waited for a week but nobody knew what was going on, the job wasn’t getting done, so we decided that we had to go back to Oregon because it could be a month before the property lines were staked.
- We received notice that our house rehabbing project was to be completed within 30 days and then we had to be out of there: The project didn’t end as we all had hoped and the house was foreclosed on and was scheduled to go to auction. The owner incentivized us to leave even earlier sooner than the 30 days. We had to be gone, yet didn’t know if the property would work out or not! You just never know until it’s official. We packed up our bags regardless and got rid of our excess belongings as clearly, we had to go somewhere.
- Made the decision that we were going to go to Idaho: We were 99% sure that the property would work out, but if not, we really wanted to be in Idaho regardless and didn’t want to find a new area because we loved it so much. We knew we would have more opportunities living there than living over a day’s drive away. We looked for apartments in the area and even called on a couple of rentals in the same town as our property, with no luck. Land or no land, we were going to Idaho.
- Jesse sold his business: Jesse was passively (and actively at times) trying to sell his business for over a year and we had the opportunity to sell it just as all of our other plans were coming together. He didn’t sell it for what it was worth, but it the profits still made a large contribution towards our homestead.
- Sold my brand new car: It became obvious that my brand new car was of no use to use, especially when homesteading, so we sold it and were able to put $14,000 back in our pockets.
- Bought our 19′ travel trailer: We knew we wanted to live in a travel trailer on our land, and that this would probalby make more sense than renting an apartment, so we searched near and far until we found the perfect RV, just 40 miles from our house.
- Bought a used pickup truck: We knew we needed a truck to haul our trailer, and didn’t want to have to rely on family towing it for us, so we picked up a truck too.
- Bought a generator: We wanted to buy this sans-sales tax (no sales tax in Oregon, yo!) and we also thought we would appreciate having it on day one. Look back on it, it was a great decision.
- We were 100% ready to go by the end of July, just were waiting anxiously and nervously for our land to close!
- Got notification that our land was ours: We were ecstatic and you can imagine how relieved we were. We were literally ready to go and four days after we got that phone call, we were on our way to Idaho! Scary huh? Talk about good timing! HAHAHA!
- Made the move to Idaho: Watch the short video below about our move! It still gives us goosebumps to watch. Those two days were very hard, stressful and emotional. We almost wrecked, the cats were stressed, the cats tried to get in a fight in the back seat, one cat peed in the car, we ate one meal in two days, we had one cup of coffee in two days, and we arrived on our land with a truck, car and trailer full of stuff, but we made it.
- Secured a storage unit: We wish we would have done this DAYSSSS in advance!
- Put up a portable RV garage to protect our travel trailer
- Built a deck and platform for our RV garage
- Paved our driveway with rock to help keep the dust down
- Bought tools for our homestead: 4×4 ATV, a trailer, installed a hitch on our Subaru Forester, a 660 Stihl chainsaw and MORE! $$$! Stay tuned for a “what it costs” page!
- Applied for a septic permit
- Had our septic system installed
- Milled a bunch of lumber using our DIY Alaskan Chainsaw mill: We haven’t written a post on this yet exclusively, but we milled up the ends of two entire trees! We are so proud!
- Built the framework for a hot tub deck: We hoped to get this done completely, and planned to get our wood-fired hot tub hooked up, but other priorities took over. Hopefully we can finish this up next year.
- Collected $10,000 – $15,000 from one house in second-hand building materials: We paid $1,000 for $10k-$15k in building materials. Score! This is how we were able to find that opportunity.
- Demolished an old house and barn in which we collected $5,000 to $7,000 in building materials: We found the opportunity to demolish a house and barn for just $300 (covered the cost of all the metal roofing) and then we got to collect all of the lumber and materials we could salvage in a few days! This was exhausting but it was SO WORTH IT as it allowed us to build the cabin mentioned in the next bullet point for $300 instead of $3,000.
- Built a small off grid cabin addition to our portable RV garage: This was our biggest project of the year and really helped us to validate a lot of the skills we’ve been learning! The cabin came together in 3-5 days and is really helping to protect both us and our travel trailer for our first winter.
- Survived a nasty windstorm: This windstorm nearly destroyed our portable RV garage, and could have destroyed our cabin, but we prevailed! IT turns out that we got pretty luck as there was a lot of damage done to the area, many barns collapsed, trees through windows and cars, etc.
- Had our off grid internet installed
- Ended our six-month break from work: Since winter arrived this month, we decided to put things on hold and get back into our online businesses, and we need to fill up the bank account and work on building a few extra streams of passive income!
In short, 2015 was a great year for us to say the least! At the beginning of the year, we knew something big was going to happen, we just didn’t know how big. In a perfect world, we thought that we would be living on our land by the end of year but new the chances of it happening were slim. It turns out, that sometimes everything does work out exactly as you hope!
We hope that you all had a great year as well and for any of you that are embarking on similar journeys, always remember to keep your chin held high, work hard but don’t be too hard on yourself, and hope for the best. We like to think that things always work our (or don’t) for a reason, so we try to be happy with what life throws at us.
Most of All… Thanks for You Support
We hope you all have a a happy New Year and want to thank you for your continued support on our blog! Documenting the journey would not be possible if it weren’t for the support you show us each and every day, and we’ve already built some great relationships with our online friends! We look forward to sharing a lot more great stuff on the blog in 2016!
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