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After Retirement and Going Off-Grid - In the Beginning

My husband is 81 years old and I'm 67. Seems an odd age to take on this type of adventure but you do what you have to in hard times .

Western Washington - Beautiful, Just Unaffordable


How It All Began

First, let me give you a little history of us. We have been married almost 45 years and lived in Georgia until 2016 when we moved to Western Washington to help out family. I'm still in pretty good health with my only major issue being my back (fusion in 2018) and I am a two time stroke survivor. My husband is 14 years my senior and has had quadruple bypass surgery and is a polio survivor. Having had polio leaves him disabled enough that he uses a wheelchair for the major mode of movement. My husband had retired years ago, but I decided to attempt working until my full retirement age of 67. So much for that! The pandemic arrived in February of 2020 and my job ended in the following March, almost 2 years earlier than I expected.

So, now here we are both on Social Security having suddenly reduced our income. My severance package was a nice padding, for a while and allowed the opportunity to purchase an older Class C RV that we used for a cross-country excursion with the grandkids in 2021. What fun! But, now back to reality.

Prices began to soar shortly after our return home, and still having some of our retirement funds left, we decided to try buying either a home or property. We had been living in rental houses since our move to Western Washington in 2016. It wasn't supposed to be like that, as we moved here to help our son and his wife with their business who knew our desire upon leaving our home in Georgia NOT to live the rest of our life in a rental home. Let me assure you, some in your family will help you while others will turn their backs! Our case was the latter. So, here we are with us aging rapidly, a raging pandemic, rising prices, our home gone and now living on Social Security with no family support. Ain't life wonderful!

The Happy Couple!

The Happy Couple!

The Search for Affordable Living

Living in Western Washington, somewhat near the Canadian border, one quickly realizes that home or land ownership for real people is impossible! Our rent shot up over 20%, which frankly is more than my Social Security. For at least $100,000 you can buy a 1/2 acre of land in this county and it goes on from there.

So our decision was that we needed to move from Western Washington after a search for vacant land proved much too expensive for our pocketbook. We hated to move to the other side of the mountains for the sake of our Granddaughter and her kids. The oldest boy, our great-grandson, will be the one we hate to leave mostly, but he's a teenager now and understands our reasoning. You see, we raised him for several years from infancy and we are very close to him as a result. I still plan on continuing his homeschooling just need to figure out the logistics should our move come sooner than later, but still will be here if he needs us!

The best piece of property we found was on top of a long, narrow but beautiful drive. The only problem was it was too far from any town, a steep narrow road that was never plowed unless you did it yourself and a lot of snow all winter. Otherwise it was a perfect spot! So, after a long search and many hours of driving, phone calls and emails we finally found a piece of affordable land. We were able to get almost 40 acres with some grassland, some mountain for less that half the cost of it in Western Washington. The catch, and here it is, it is off-grid. Located in the Okanogan Highlands in North Central Washington, it is a beautiful spot with warm to hot summers and snow in the winter. It's free-range area, which means someone's cattle might end up in the road, your yard, your garden or where ever they want to go, but it makes it different than living in a subdivision, listening to trains, cars, people yelling and so much crime as we see today. Cows are much more understanding and they don't hold grudges, carry weapons or try to intimidate you!

Looking West across the new property

Looking West across the new property

The Decision to Build - Small but Efficient

While we are both older individuals and short on funds, we realized right away that this will be a hands-on project. We both have experience with building homes and knew we didn't need a mansion to live in, only a modest little comfortable, open floorplan cabin.

With the hubby needing the use of a wheelchair, finding housing can be difficult, so that was another of our reasons for the building decision and one of our major difficulties in finding a ready-made floorplan. So, keeping our expenses down, we finally ordered a set of plans that we can alter to our handicap needs and are now in the editing process of those plans for approval for a building permit.

Then there is the cost-factor. Having a home built by others is very expensive here in Washington, or for that fact, anywhere in the country. Especially since the pandemic with the prices soaring. So, we found that he and I could do the majority of the work ourselves and have it ready to move into, even if not finished completely within a year. Then, the monies we spend for rent will go toward the finishing of the inside and additions to our power sources which I'll discuss later.

The Beauty of Western Washington

  • Enjoy the Beauty of the Little Things!
    How often do you take little strolls, walks or hikes? How often do you just take the time to walk around your yard? How often do you stop and look...REALLY LOOK at the Little Things surrounding you?

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© 2022 MaggieMarie M

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