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Would you live in a Lazy Man designed community?

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In reading and writing about personal finance over the 18 months, I've realized that frugality is the one of the most common topics. Sometimes I like to take a good thing and think of it in the extreme sense. How cheap could you live? Looking at my necessary expenses (it represents half of our total household expenses), I realize that it costs us $2900 a month to live in Silicon Valley. Nearly $2000 of that is in our monthly rent. The rest is largely transportation and utilities.

I often imagine how I could reduce those costs. For one, we could move to place like Texas that has a very low cost of living. Our housing would be drop significantly. What if we had solar panels and an otherwise very environmentally-friendly home? We might find that our energy costs approach zero as well. What if I worked from home and telecommuted? We'd find that our transportation costs could be kept very low, especially if we buy a cheap used car.

What if there was a community that was specifically designed for cheap, frugal, sustainable living? Perhaps the community consists of a group of small apartments designed to make maximum use out of a small space. Perhaps they would come furnished with a Inova TableBed. Perhaps the community could agree to on some kind of car share like ZipCar?

The community I describe could be extremely cheap to live in. Imagine how much money you could save with a normal salary. How soon could you retire if you could really keep your expenses in check?

Posted on October 12, 2007.

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15 Responses to “Would you live in a Lazy Man designed community?”

  1. David says:

    That’s kind of why we are moving to Taos, NM. I will continue to make the same amount I make in LA but my cost of living will go waaaay down. We will have solar panels and some wind power to get us off the main grid (no bills) and we plan on catching our own water in a cistern. Good idea LazyMan, when can I sign up?

  2. MoneyNing says:

    That is a pretty good idea but it is only going to be cheaper on a relative basis to the geographic location we live in. We can save some money by living together etc etc but if California land is expensive, [email protected] will still be much more than living in Texas.

    Just let me know when you start development though since I’m always thinking about getting a house.

  3. Lazy Man says:

    My community would be in a cheap place like Texas. Let’s be honest here, I’m not starting one up. At least not yet…

  4. dong says:

    I’m not sure I’d opt to live in geographic area just because it’s cheap. I like being in certain areas. The other stuff, I’m all for. I especially like the idea of having communal cars (i’m a fan of zipcars). I mean most of the time cars are just parked….

  5. My wife would never go for it, but I think this is almost in line with an idea a group of friends and I have joked about, creating a Utopia of sorts revolving around our different abilities.

    I think the main problem you would have would be getting the investment capital to start such a thing as you would either need to build or refit an existing building for the spaces.

    That said, you could have a nice life. Get some land nearby for community farming (those who aren’t down with helping out could contribute money for supplies for a share of the output), recruit a few teachers to join (educate the youth on the cheap), and set up an active barter system.

    Etc, etc.

  6. Laura says:

    If there’s water nearby, I’ll go! It’s the problem we have in our area: high housing prices. To add insult to injury, it also has low average on wages. I’ll take your community in a heartbeat.

  7. david says:

    (a href=”www.dancingrabbit.org”>Dancing Rabbit – A little too hippie-ish for me, but still…maybe “Dancing Lazy Man”?

  8. Brip Blap says:

    @dong – right, I’m not moving to Lazy Man Ranch in Upper Northeastville, North Dakota. I’m just not that into wheat and mountains…

    The general idea is great, though. If I didn’t live in a condo association community where adding stuff to the roof, etc., isn’t allowed I would have started looking into solar panels, etc. I would love to heat our water with solar power, for example.

    Green living is definitely something that the liberal east and west coasts (particularly east) are going to fall behind newer communities in the midwest on in the near term.

  9. Bobby says:

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  10. Foobarista says:

    I like space, and don’t like being around people all the time. I don’t need 3000 square feet, but I like being able to “get away” and be alone. Also, I hate yardwork, so anything that sounds remotely like a rural commune isn’t interesting…

    Personally, my idea of a good place would be one of those multi-use skyscrapers they have in Hong Kong with a mall on the first couple of floors, offices in the middle, and apartments on top. Many of them also have access to the subway in their basements, so you don’t need to go outside unless you want to – a very good thing in hot, sticky Hong Kong. These are actually quite environmentally friendly, since residents only need to leave the building if they actually have somewhere interesting to go.

  11. Wylie says:

    I am more interested in figuring out how to live frugally in a great place, then trying to build a frugal place in a cheaper local. I love Boston and even though it is not cheap to live here, once can certainly put together a pretty frugal existence.

  12. Rory says:

    Lazy Man, I agree with you. Reducing your housing expense is a great way to put extra cash in your pocket. I live in Washington, DC and you can find nice apartments in the city for 1100 to 1200 range for a nice 1 bedroom if you know where to look. We also have Zipcar & Flexcar (a Zipcar competitor) available in the entire metro area. Car sharing is the way to go. Hopefully we’ll see bike sharing soon as well, a la the program they just started in Paris.

  13. MoneyNing says:

    I’m actually going to Texas (Austin) soon so I’d like to check it out even if it’s not in California!

  14. Heathrow says:

    We live in TX and we love it, 2500 sq ft house for 1600 a month! (including taxes) who can pass that up, and you pay 2000 in rent?? (Nearly $2000 of that is in our monthly rent.)

    Texas also does not have state income tax!!

    But we are a very conservative state, so stay away, we don’t like lazy people!!

  15. Schwamie says:

    I rarely write comments, but your article jumped out. You might enjoy reading a somewhat dated book from the 1970’s called “Ecotopia”. It was quite progressive for its time, but it also contains a few of the ideas that you have mentioned.

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