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My dream retirement home is an RV. That’s right, I said it.

When I retire, I don’t dream about living in a million dollar home on a huge plot of land. I don’t dream of living an extravagant lifestyle. I don’t dream of owning 5 cars, a boat, or wearing expensive designer clothing.

When I retire, I want to see the world. I want to travel, experience different cultures, and I want to do it without having to worry about money. Another big part of retirement for me is to live a simple life, while doing the least possible damage to the environment surrounding me.

This is NOT a sponsored post.

I was watching a design show yesterday called Small Space, Big Design. It featured a Canadian architect by the name of Andy Thompson, who has created something called the miniHOME. It’s an off-grid ecologically designed home that has been made affordable for anyone. It combines resource-saving features like solar power and a composting toilet with luxury items like a full soaker tub in a cedar bathroom. It’s classified as an RV because it’s on wheels, but it has been designed to feel like a real home.

This is the world’s first off-grid, high-style, portable house. At only 325 sq. ft., it’s packed with amazing little nooks and crannies, and all the modern conveniences of a typical house … except that it uses just 1/10th of the energy.

I love how functional everything is in the home. The dining room table is rigged to triple as a side table, a kitchen table, or a dining room table, depending on how many guests you have. The sliding full-sized closet doors also double as the washroom door. The staircase upstairs to the loft doubles as a bookshelf, and the kitchen has 4 ft. of space in-between each side, so it can easily accommodate 2 people … plus, with the loft, that means the ceiling is 13 ft. high!

There’s a lot of appeal in the fact that this home is off-grid. I’ve been watching a lot of shows lately that deal with just this sort of lifestyle. In particular, I’ve been fascinated by Les Stroud and his show, Off The Grid. This is the same guy who does the show Survivorman. I love this guy, and he could not be a bigger badass.

This home is honestly everything that I’m looking for. All I would need is a remote plot of land on this island somewhere in the mountains, nestled by a beautiful lake, and the means to get this home to the location. :)

For more information and more pictures on the miniHOME, check out!

Condo ownership is starting to become a reality

You know what I just realized? In less than one month, my probation at my job will be over, I will be a quarter-century old (uggg), and I can finally start to look seriously at a condo!

I’ve done a lot of thinking about what kind of condo I’d be happy with. My Real Estate Agent has been sending me listings, and I look at and religiously for about a year. I also went to see a few condos just for reference – to see what was out there. And I’m really glad I did that, because I know there are some things I just cannot sacrifice. So in no particular order, here’s my list of things I’m looking for:

  1. A $215,000 mortgage maximum – So after my down payment, I don’t want to carry a mortgage bigger than $215k. I’m going to be priced out of a lot of places, but I know eventually I’ll be able to find something. With a 30-year amortization and accelerated bi-weekly payments, I’m looking at approximately $639/payment (or $1278/month). That is definitely doable, and would amount to 31% of my gross annual income. Of course, this isn’t considering utilities, property tax or strata fees, but it also isn’t considering rental income either. I would probably be able to charge $400-500/month, depending on where the condo is located. I would definitely have to find a plan where I could increase my monthly payments, or put down money towards the principle without penalty if I wanted to.
  2. 2 bedrooms – this is really important because of resale potential and rental potential. Since I’m buying a condo by myself, the BF is going to pay me rent. If by some chance we break up, I’ll have an extra bedroom I can rent out if to help with the mortgage payments if I want.
  3. In-suite laundry – After doing the whole shared laundry room thing in college, and in my first two apartments, I’m never doing it again. Gross.
  4. Balcony – If I’m going to be living in a building packed with other people, I’ll need room to breathe! Plus, I over-heat really easily while indoors and I like sitting outside on my current patio and just reading a book.
  5. Location – Ideally I’d like to live near my work because I don’t have a car and there isn’t a bus route out there … but I would consider living in town if it were for the right property, because I could always arrange some sort of car pool. Plus, the properties are cheaper than in the areas I’m looking at, so if I can find something at a good price, perhaps I could afford to buy a (used) car. Just a thought. I don’t really need a car, but it would be nice to have one.

October is going to be a big month for me. I’ll have over $20k saved (including RRSPs), which isn’t a lot, but I don’t expect to find something right away. I really just want to view properties with my Real Estate Agent and get her insight into each place we visit … I don’t really want to buy anything until my contract with my 2nd job is up (mid-November), and I can have more time to devote to condo shopping and moving, if it came down to it.

Getting closer to the ultimate shopping trip

I just got off the phone with my mortgage broker. Because I just started my new job, he said it would be easier for me to get the best mortgage rate possible after my 3 month probation period is over. He said by that time, I’ll have a good sized down payment, a permanent full-time position, and will be an “A List” candidate because my debt-to-income ratio will essentially be zero.

But for now, he’s going to run my numbers and see what it comes up with. At least that’ll give me a ballpark figure and I can start looking at places with my Realtor. And then, if I find a place I love, and I don’t have a mortgage rate that I’m satisfied with, I can try and negotiate a closing date after October 16th (my 3-month anniversary date), to get the best mortgage rate possible. He said right now, I should be able to get pre-approval for a 5-year 5.35% variable or a 5-year 5.79% fixed. Those are decent numbers … not the best I’ve seen, but definitely not the worst either.

He also pulled my credit score, and it’s 774!! I checked it in March, and it was only at 727 … so that’s a pretty significant jump, and I’m really proud of that. I guess it’s due to the fact that I don’t have anything owing on my student loans anymore.

Anyway, that’s all the news I have right now!

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