Boat, land, school, baby, teen: heart-centred vs. pragmatic decision-making - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 05-11-2011, 09:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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!

Thanks,

krista

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#2 of 13 Old 05-11-2011, 01:55 PM
 
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I have always liked the idea of income producing property. Are there other B&B opportunities, or, rental properties in your price range? Or, you could rent your property as a "summer home" and spend your summers visiting further north - the best of both places! I do know 2 families that make a nice living renting property, and, plan to invest any windfalls I get into a duplex.
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#3 of 13 Old 05-15-2011, 10:10 PM
 
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In case you haven't already ventured this way, the West Kootenay region is a great place to setlle down and raise a family with lots of opportunities for outdoor recreation, arts, sports (good variety for smaller towns) and there's also lots of people around living off the grid/homeschooling, etc.  Rossland and Nelson are friendly, diverse communities (although pricey in real estate but nearby communities are more affordable).  Nelson has a Waldorf school and a bit of a boating culture.  Best wishes on your journey!

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#4 of 13 Old 05-15-2011, 11:00 PM
 
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What does your teen want?

 

Could you buy something for the future and rent it out now until you're ready to live there?


Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and tomato free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.

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#5 of 13 Old 05-16-2011, 05:30 AM
 
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You said you inherited a chunk of money.  Would you be able to live off of that until your son graduates in 4-5 years instead of keeping some back for land?  I, personally, put a lot of stock in meeting the educational needs of children, so that would be a priority for me.  I don't know how important it is to you or to him, but if you are living remotely, and have never homeschooled, this (IMO, in my opinion) is not the time to start.  He's going to need advanced math, physics, chemistry, calculus, biology, etc. and if you don't have the resources, it will be a disservice to him.  There are always summer breaks from school for your son to have the experiences in the more remote places.  If you've managed to live off-grid for a year, you certainly have the resources (that is skills, etc.) to spend summers very frugally.  I guess I'm just saying that, for me, my child's needs would play a huge role in this... moreso than probably any other factor, although it would not be the only factor.

 

I agree when you say that you don't want to buy a boat and not be able to maintain it.  That is a very important point.  If you are young enough and the inheritance is big enough, perhaps you can consider using the whole of the inheritance to live for a while and then when your son has graduated, work your butts off to save some money to find that piece of land where you want to settle down.  I guess I'm suggesting settling down in the area where your son gets the best education and use that inheritance to do so.  Is that plausible?

 

I doubt my post was very helpful, but... welcome to MDC, too.

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#6 of 13 Old 05-16-2011, 08:13 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post

You said you inherited a chunk of money.  Would you be able to live off of that until your son graduates in 4-5 years instead of keeping some back for land?  I, personally, put a lot of stock in meeting the educational needs of children, so that would be a priority for me.  I don't know how important it is to you or to him, but if you are living remotely, and have never homeschooled, this (IMO, in my opinion) is not the time to start. 

 

Ummm...I wouldn't take advice about homeschooling from someone who's never homeschooled. I am guessing this pp has never homeschooled.

 

We homeschool because we "put a lot of stock in meeting the educational needs of children." If you'll research homeschooling you'll see homeschooled kids have higher scores on college entrance exams (the ACT has been studied) than schooled kids. Homeschooling is not appropriate for every family, but for us it is so much better than letting someone else take responsibility for our kids' education.

 

I suggest you and your son read http://www.amazon.com/Teenage-Liberation-Handbook-School-Education/dp/0962959170/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1305558315&sr=8-1 See if this is something he is interested in.

 

I would not fritter your inheritance away on day to day living. Use it to do something substantial that will take you into retirement.


Created an instant family (7/89 and 5/91) in 1997. Made a baby boy 12/05 adopted a baby girl 8/08. Ask me about tandem adoptive nursing. Now living as gluten, dairy, cane sugar, and tomato free vegetarians. Homeschooling and loving it.

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#7 of 13 Old 05-16-2011, 09:33 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SundayCrepes View Post

Ummm...I wouldn't take advice about homeschooling from someone who's never homeschooled. I am guessing this pp has never homeschooled.

 

We homeschool because we "put a lot of stock in meeting the educational needs of children." If you'll research homeschooling you'll see homeschooled kids have higher scores on college entrance exams (the ACT has been studied) than schooled kids. Homeschooling is not appropriate for every family, but for us it is so much better than letting someone else take responsibility for our kids' education.

 

I suggest you and your son read http://www.amazon.com/Teenage-Liberation-Handbook-School-Education/dp/0962959170/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1305558315&sr=8-1 See if this is something he is interested in.

 

I would not fritter your inheritance away on day to day living. Use it to do something substantial that will take you into retirement.

 

Ummm... I wouldn't take homeschooling advice from someone who has never lived remotely and off-grid, either.


Nope, I haven't homeschooled, but we have no less than 9 children in my close family (that is, nieces and nephews and cousins) that have been or are being homeschooled, 5 of whom are now adults.  I'm well aware of the ins and outs of it.  I won't argue with you, but my advice is valid because it is my informed opinion.  The OP lives in a remote area.  Educational resources are going to be limited.

 

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#8 of 13 Old 05-16-2011, 11:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much everyone! This is my first experience with an online discussion forum. In answer to your questions:

 

-The B&B opportunity is up north, and we haven't found any income generating properties in the civilized areas where we'd consider living that we could afford, but you're right that if we had a house or even a cottage we could rent it out in summers so that we could go away.

 

-We definitely feel we need to invest the money in property or a boat before we spend it all. We have a new baby and my partner is older and probably isn't going to develop a huge income-generating capacity in this lifetime. Likewise I have put myself 'out of the loop' in terms of my field of study and work to the extent that I will be earning below what someone with my education level probably would be normally. (Long-term planning and decision-making have not been my forte. I really respect you mothers in this forum for your pragmatism.)

 

-My son and I lived in the west Kootenays when he was little for a few years and we loved it and still have really great friends there. We left so I could back to university. At this point we are married to the coast, being on the water, and being closer to family (most of whom are on the south coast - in Canadian terms) is one of the reasons for not settling way up north.

 

-My older son would first prefer to settle down way up north, which is what he knows best, and second to go to high school where we are now, on Salt Spring Island, which has exorbitant property and rental prices. My mother thinks that if we were to settle down up north that he will want or need to leave to go to college or whatever, and never come back, because there aren't  a lot of job opportunities there, and visiting is pretty epic because of the time and expense involved in travel. Her advice was probably intended to scare me out of wanting to go back there, and it worked, to some extent. The reality is that there is no living accommodation for us there right now and not much work for my partner in the foreseeable future anyway.

 

-I think home schooling is definitely an option for my older son depending on the circumstances -- too many possible scenarios to go into it here! Thank you for that link, we will check it out.

 

We have to leave the rental we are in now at the end of June. We have arranged to camp out on one of the properties for sale on the island that is midway between here and our 'up north' home for July to try it out. It will be tough with the baby but we have some contacts in that small community and it seems like people are really welcoming us there. We will check out the kid scene, and see if hubby can line up a job and if yes maybe a rental for over the winter to try it out for a year or so. Rent is much cheaper there. At this point that's the clincher for me - if he can't get steady work we will be in trouble no matter where we are. The only problem is that our teen has just been offered a job as deckhand on a friend's fishboat on the north coast for the month of July, so he wouldn't be with us to check out this new community, but I am excited for him. I'm feeling relieved about not having to make a decision immediately, and the meantime possibilities seem to be either ruling themselves out or becoming more feasible. Just sometimes I can't get my mind off the hamster wheel of trying to think every scenario through. We will put the word out for caretaking or low-rent opportunities on Salt Spring so that our teen could go to school here, and see if anything comes up.

 

New baby at 5 months is very active and social, which makes me realize even more that I don't want to be too isolated.

 

Thanks again...Any strategies for putting money away so that you won't touch it but so that it's there when you really need it?

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#9 of 13 Old 05-16-2011, 03:38 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ruby3bears View Post

Any strategies for putting money away so that you won't touch it but so that it's there when you really need it?



Tax-Free Savings Account!....it's what we do with our emergency fund anyway. It's only ever a phone call away (not locked in for years). The accounts are easy to set up with a local bank (~15 minute appointment).

 

 


Laurie, wife to guitar.gifDH (Aug/04), mom tobikenew.gifDS1 (Nov/05) and bfinfant.gifDS2 (June/12).

 

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#10 of 13 Old 05-16-2011, 05:47 PM
 
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Good luck with your decision. IMO, the smart thing to do is to invest it. At least with property, you could always rent or sell. Or, as a pp mentioned, an investment account might have some possibilities.
I have a good friend who inherited quite a bit of money about the time she had her ds. She chose to use it for living expenses and to be a SAHM for his toddler years. She is now scrambling for employment and broke. You seem very wise to be attempting to avoid this scenario and to find a way to make the money work for you long term. Keep us posted!
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#11 of 13 Old 05-17-2011, 09:30 AM
 
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I agree about tax free savings account.  Van City seems to offer better rates and a better package than any other credit union I've tried to deal with (1.4% on a savings account that allows easy access and not locked in.  fees waived when min. balance over $1000 or pay-as-you-go package - have never paid banking fees).  Access is perhaps a bit too easy though as they offer full internet banking (why we deal with them and not our local CU).  However, I've just made it a habit to never touch the TFSA and I have an automatic debit set up to add a set amount to it every month from main account.  I think ING Direct probably offers better rates but I haven't dealt with them.

 

Also - you may have already checked this out....but maybe it's worth looking at WWOOFING opportunities in your area as a way to temporarily reduce expenses while making more permanent plans?  Free meals/accommodation in exchange for 4 hr work/day.

 

Good luck :)

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#12 of 13 Old 05-20-2011, 07:06 AM
 
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because you have a baby, i think it's pretty important not to use the inheritance money as living expenses. you have another 18 years to support a child and your partner is older. it's a good idea to take a long hard look at your retirement options. how many more income-earning years does he have? do you have any plan for your retirement? IMO, TSFAs are for savings AFTER you have dealt with retirement, education and so on. they are not meant as a primary savings option.

 

in your case, my first priorities would be:

 

education/income earning for the adults. what do you need to do to safeguard some kind of steady, reasonable income for both of you? do you need to use some of the inheritance to improve your hireability (courses, certifications etc)?

 

retirement for the adults: have you contributed to an RRSP? do you have plans for your retirement? income properties are a decent investment, but i wouldn't rely on them solely.

 

education for the kids: canada has great options for education savings plans, which are probably a great option for your baby, not so much for the older child. however, it's probably a good idea to find out what he wants to do with his life and go from there. homeschool or highschool, you need to help him make a rough plan for his future.

 

where and how to live right now would be secondary considerations to me. but it's all about your personal comfort level. i really wouldn't want to live even in paradise, without a decent income and savings for the future. but my threshold for risk might be much lower than yours.

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#13 of 13 Old 05-20-2011, 11:57 AM
 
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B&B is a business that requires capital and knowledge.. I wouldn't buy a property assuming you can make money as a B&B unless  you had very carefully researched the matter, new the expenses/licensing etc. B&Bs on the whole, fail, at a rate not much lower than restaurants.

 

I would advocate investing the money and/or buying a house but not advocate living off the income. You've said both of you have limited income at the moment. You probably need to choose the place that has the best work potential for you both, buy or rent there, and find the best educational experience for your son.

 

I, too, wouldn't advocate homeschooling for the high school years  if you haven't done so in the past. Remote living will make it doubly complicated, especially if your son has already expressed a preference about where he wants to be schools.

 

 

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