Home ownership is archetypical of the American Dream, but very few actually achieve it (at least in the sense of owning their homes “free and clear”). The American Reality is that everyone has a 30-year mortgage where, while you do get one house, you end up paying for three. Rural homesteading on the cheap might be the only realistic way to escape the trap of conformist suburbia.
Earning enough good money to be able to afford a mortgaged suburban home, driving new cars, paying the never-ending stacks of bills, and mindlessly shopping did not allow the author the time to just stop and smell the roses. Not having the precious time to write the books he wanted, or even think, he decides to take a vacation and pursue the vision he was able to have of owning his own property out in the country.
Unzoned counties, lack of covenants, and low taxes are considered desirable by Kelling when gauging where you want to buy land. It is best to pay the principal in full if at all possible, but barring that, pay as much of the principle initially so as to reduce the overall amount of interest you will have to pay when you send in your monthly payments. Tax liened properties are really only good for temporary real estate investment anyway, so don’t have any illusions about getting the property extra cheaply.
Admittedly, living in a 1972 Concord Traveler is much more probable with a hermit bachelor rather than a couple, much less a small family. Skirting the trailer is beneficial for improvising some storage underneath the floor board (perhaps as an impromptu basement?). At the very least, it’s much more plausible than my original idea that I had, during my intemperate youth, when I wanted to live in the back of a van.
Constructing a septic system can also be done on the cheap, so making do with an outhouse is no longer your only option. Having a pickup truck is not only necessary to move the travel-trailer, but also to haul water (since installing your own well is cost prohibitive, at least initially for the time being). Using a combination of solar panels and electric generators should be more than enough to supply power to your intrepid homestead.
Brian Kelling’s Travel-Trailer Homesteading Under $5,000 is an unique look at how escaping urbanization can be done on a budget. In terms of the necessary sequence of events, I can see Kelling’s book being the first one you should read if you are seriously considering moving out to the sticks. Even if you want to live in a nice log cabin home like the one Robert Williams built, you’ll still need a place to live in the interim for a few years, which is where the travel-trailer comes in. Also, canning your own food becomes economically feasible as well, even while you’re still living in your travel-trailer. Keep in mind though that this book was published in 1999, so in terms of homesteading for less than $5,000, make sure to account for inflation.