Few would deny that these are trying times. Finding a way to live a good life in the face financial crises, uncertain weather, spiraling fuel costs, expanding population, decaying infrastructure, job losses, and the social unrest that all of this will undoubtedly foment is a challenge, to say the least. I have some simple advice for how to carve out a niche where you can not only survive, but prosper, and much of this relates to exactly where you live…real estate.
First of all, find a way to own your home! I know that this may sound either impossible, or counter to the common advice of financial advisors, but I see it as the very best insurance that you will continue to have a secure roof over your head in the future. Collapsing financial institutions, mortgage foreclosures, or perverse landlords will not threaten your wellbeing. If this means downsizing to a smaller, less expensive house, then this is a small price to pay for security…you can likely expand later, if necessary.
Locate your house where you are not reliant on a car for the necessities of life. This means being able to either walk, bike, or take public transit to shopping and work, enabling you to avoid the escalating cost of fuel and develop a healthier lifestyle. And you will also be doing your share to diminish greenhouse gas emissions. You can still have a car to use when necessary for some occasions, but can use it much less. This will also save on maintenance costs.
Avoid natural disasters, such as flooding, high winds, or fire. This may not always be easy to foresee, but care can be taken to live outside of flood plains, areas exposed to recurrent hurricanes and tornados, and fire danger. Simple measures can be done around your home to make it more fire-safe, less prone to flooding, and less susceptible to wind damage.
Make your home energy efficient. Perform an energy audit on the home to find places where you can improve heat losses through poor weather stripping and insulation or lack of caulking. Take advantage of passive solar opportunities to help heat your home. Buy the most energy efficient models when replacing home appliances. Consider adding solar water-heating panels or solar electric panels, as these will save you money over time and make you less reliant on escalating costs for fuel and electricity.
Create space for a small garden or greenhouse. With this you can supplement your food supply with healthy organic vegetables and fruits, and be less reliant on imported foods. The time you save by not having to commute far to work can be devoted to enjoyable gardening activities…and nothing tastes better than fresh produce!
Start a savings account. With all of the money that you will save by the above measures, you can put some of it away for the future. There is no better security than having some money in the bank, assuming that you choose a stable risk-free institution. Saving money has become a lost art in our debt-ridden society, but you can buck this trend.
Having done all of this, you will be in a great position to enjoy the gifts that a good life can offer: health, wealth, and happiness!