This is a multi-part question, where some parts may not suit this forum especially well.
My family lived in a very remote part of the B.C. coast (canada) for the past 4 years, on an island with about 90 residents (8 kids) next to another island with a First Nations reserve of about 1500 people. We were surrounded by primeval wilderness, wolves, whales, sea lions, bears, fish, wild berries etc. Some of the time we lived on our small old sailboat, we lived off-grid on a float house for almost a year, and in various other spots while we repaired the boat or during the long dark rainy winters. In all I think we moved 8 or 9 times (ie. too many). Our son (now 13) attended a 1-room schoolhouse. Partner and I worked, but nothing very secure. I've gone from single mom on welfare, to student loans, to scholarships, to NGO work over the past 13 years, now on parental leave for another 5 months. We left there to have a baby last Nov., went to a bigger island in civilization. My son loves the school and the high school here has a great reputation, very 'alternative', lots of programs. We can afford the rent here only because of my parental leave - DH (I don't know all these abbreviations but I'm guessing that means dear husband) is doing odd jobs and getting more work but we are still spending more than our income, partly because we have been going on short trips to look at properties in other places.
We inherited a chunk of money and now have to figure out what to do...ie. where to settle down. It was looking like there would be f/t work for DH up north where we were living before, and there was one property we could buy with income potential (B&B cabin) and mortgage could be manageable, but the job isn't looking so likely now, and I worry a lot about our teenager not having a good peer group, missing out on educational opportunities, the influence of heavy drinking among the adults, restricted work opportunities, being so far from family and civilized things like piano lessons (travel is expensive). HOWEVER, it is paradise, and he had experiences there few people will ever get to have, and the community is wonderful and dotes on the children.
Property values are through the roof where we are now living; if we were to buy something here it would be at the very bottom of the market and prices will likely go down in the next while. We could buy a bigger boat with part of the money and live on it here at least through the high school years and go up north when there is work or other opportunity, but I worry that on one low income (at least for the next year and a half or so) we wouldn't be able to maintain it very well and it would depreciate in value even more than boats usually do. But at least we could put some money aside for the eventuality of wanting to buy property and have the best of both worlds. OR, we found some land opportunities on an island mid-way to our old home, where there is a great community, no high school but lots of home-schoolers (although this would be a whole new paradigm for us as we've never home-schooled before), where we could build a simple house and probably end up with minimal debt given a reasonable amount of available work. We could buy into that and try to find cheaper rent here through the high school years, but then we would not be establishing ourselves in the community where want to live long term, and I feel like our energies would be too spread out. We want to settle into our own space and stop paying rent, ideally, after so many years of moving around and wondering where the heck we are going to go next. For example we have to leave our current rental at least for the summer for the owners to move in (it is their summer cabin).
Yes, we want to live our dreams on a very low income! Somehow we've managed to do it up until now. I'm going around sleep-deprived all day long obsessing in my mind over what is the best choice, while my DH keeps churning up listings on the internet to consider. I'm sure you can read my confusion! We don't have great financial sense and it's pretty hard to budget with a variable income. Over the last 2 years before the baby we made quite a bit of money compared with our average, so we have potential! Our income is generally of the thrift-store scrounging, meals-in variety, which is fine with us. We have started keeping track of our expenses at least. I don't know how we are going to manage the shift once my parental leave runs out, but somehow we have to plan for that too in this decision.
I need a sounding board!