Thursday, October 15, 2015

That Time We Accidentally Bought a Bungalow

It wasn't a complete surprise, but it hadn't necessarily been on our radar.

Our tiny home, up on the mountain with no road and no running water, wasn't designed particularly for the winter. Not to say we couldn't stay there in the winter but the plan had always been to travel during that time of year. First, we would go see family for the holidays and then we would go somewhere warm. Location independence was as important as building a tiny home. But somewhere along the way our priorities changed.

We fell absolutely, madly in love.

Asheville City Building
Not with each other. I mean, yes with each other. I mean we were already in love with each other. But we fell in love with the city of Asheville. Not in an "I kind of like it here, I think I'll stay" kind of way but in a desperate, soul-wrenching kind of way. I found that I simply couldn't breathe any more if I didn't have mountains in my line of sight. I found that the culture, community, and people were the ones that I had been searching for my entire life.

Asheville is, without a doubt, our home.

It is a city that gets under your skin, but it is also a hard city to live in. The cost of living is high and the jobs are scarce. But we weren't coming at it conventionally in the first place so we believed we could make a go. We decided after living in our tiny house 30 minutes away for almost a  year that we really wanted to put roots down within the city limits.

And that was how we accidentally bought a bungalow.

City House, Halloween 2014
Well, I mean it wasn't an accident as in, "Hey, how did that happen!?" I just mean that it wasn't exactly in the plans. Our first winter after moving into the tiny house was already sort of planned. We decided to go to Michigan for two months to spend time with family and friends. Originally we thought we might go somewhere else after that but the aching feeling of being away from Asheville for too long was hard to ignore. Then we thought maybe we'd rent for a couple of months downtown so we would have a downtown experience and go back up to the tiny house after that. Then we discovered that rents are high in Asheville, and higher still for month to month.

Just for kicks we checked out the local real estate market. And I'll tell you - that's not inexpensive either. But we were patient. So we worked with a local Realtor and started scouring listings in our spare time. When suddenly, a little 700 square foot bungalow in need of a LOT of TLC came on the market.

"There isn't anything in that neigborhood in your price range," our agent said. But we pushed him to look. He quickly changed his tune and said we needed to see it right away. So we did. But in those few minutes the seller had accepted another offer.

We started looking again. And to our surprise the first offer fell through for a variety of reasons so we immediately put in another one. We got the house. For way under market. But it needed a lot of work - which we were now prepared to do because we had just spent 3 years building a house from the foundation up. It's amazing how things work out like that.

As it turns out, part of the reason we could buy this house was because we had reduced our expenses so much. It is all related. Simple living meant more savings which meant more possibilities for the future. 

We just finished the attic in 2015.
So from 2013 to earlier this year we spent a lot of our time fixing up the city house. We're kinda slow that way. It was helpful to have the tiny house to retreat when things got a little messy. But in that time we realized that being walking distance to the downtown we love so much was something we didn't know we were missing.

The division of our time becomes more complicated every day. As we become more involved in social activities and advocacy in Asheville the less time we spend up in the mountains, but we have by no means abandoned the tiny house. In fact, as I continue to share some of other things happening over the coming months you'll see that the tiny house is playing a very large part in our future.

For now we are fortunate to be able to have both in our lives. And we are fortunate that it has given us immeasurable opportunities, and will continue to pay those dividends in the years to come.

I'd love it if you stick around to see what's in store next. 


4 comments:

  1. Congratulations! I think it's wonderful that your tiny house has provided you with both financial flexibility and location flexibility.

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  2. That's great. And yes it is a wonderful city.

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  3. I found your blog looking for 120 sq ft homes....the county limit for building without a site plan, big fees, etc. What an awesome tiny house you built. I just bought property with a terrible bungalow on it, so I'll start with a tiny house until I have the resources to rebuild the bungalow (837 sq ft). Thanks for your blog.

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    1. Thank you!

      Sounds like you have an ideal situation. Most municipalities allow homeowners to build second structures on their property as "accessory dwelling units." So since it already has a bungalow, even a not so great one, if you build your tiny before you work on the "big" house you should be golden. I hope I get to see the progress!

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