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World’s smallest Master Lock?

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This tiny lock came with a pistol that I just bought. I’ve seen smaller locks but they were toys.

Ugly Ducks

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Some people think the Muscovy duck is so ugly that it’s cute. I wonder how they taste? http://www.wildlife-removal.com/muscovyduck.html

Living Life vs Living in Fear

Everyone’s mindset falls within a range, or on a curve, from those who are paralyzed with fear to those too reckless for their own good.  To me it seems there’s a wide area of healthy balance that will allow people to enjoy many things in life, and narrow areas of extremity where life is either not lived, or too often risked.

Nick and Terry Russel are full-time RVers and publish the Gypsey Journal, a monthly newspaper about the their journey and the RV lifestyle.  Today in his blog Nick talks about a reader who seems far too worried to ever enjoy the RV lifestyle.

http://gypsyjournalrv.com/2013/03/living-in-fear/

Going Part-Time: Mac and Chris buy a house

HomeShoppingYes, we’re buying a house!

Where?  In Florida north of Tampa

No, we’re not going to stop traveling!  (What, are you nuts!?)

No, we won’t stop blogging either.  So don’t worry, you won’t have to see the doctor and get prescribed sleeping pills, we’ll keep boring you to sleep just like we have since 2004.

Will we ever return to fulltime RVing?  Maybe.  We hope to travel extensively in the future, even more so after we actually retire in 5 or 10 years, but we will probably always have a home base so we won’t technically be fulltime.

What brought this on?  As with most things it’s a combination of events, circumstances, and opportunities.  Over the last three years we’ve thought about the need for a more permanent home-base.  We almost bought a condo in Las Vegas back in 2010, but instead we became leaseholders at The Ranch an Escapee co-op park.  We’ve watched interest rates and 3.25% on a VA loan seems to be a pretty good deal.  We’ve also noted that home prices are recovering in some areas of the country and figure that it’s a good time to buy with some hope of the home increasing in value.

Why Florida when you love Las Vegas so much?  We have family here in the Tampa area; my mom who’s 87 and not in the greatest of health, one daughter and her family (son-in-law and two grandkids).  Our older daughter who lives in Illinois and those grandkids like to visit Florida too, and may some day move here.  So it’s a good location for us.

In the coming days we’ll post about our search for a house and the thought processes we’re going through.  Once a house is purchased we’ll write about the process of getting moved in.  We anticipate some big differences from previous moves we’ve made because we’re starting without any furniture!

Our adventure continues…

House Shopping Our Way

I can’t tell you the best way to shop for a house, but I can tell you how we’re doing it.  This will be our 4th house – not counting the 14×70 mobile home we dragged around the country when we were in the Air Force.  We bought that trailer in Minnesota, then moved it to Ohio and finally to Massachusetts where we sold it to a coworker.

1.  We set our budget

2.  Decided on a general area to live in.  Remember the three most important things in real estate are location, location, and location.  In our case it was a 13 x 17 mile rectangle

3.  Found an experienced Realtor with an office inside the search area.  This is very important to us, we want them to be highly knowledgeable of the area.

4.  We gave the Realtor our “must haves” and our preferences.  As both evolved we kept her informed.  For this home our #1 requirement was “zero outside maintenance”.  We want to be able to lock the door and leave for months at a time.

5.  Searched for neighborhoods that seem to provide the lifestyle we’re looking for.  In some ways owning a home is like owning an RV, it’s mostly about the lifestyle that you want.

6.  We didn’t just let the Realtor look for houses, we searched too and asked her to look into houses that we thought were interesting.  Two main sites we used:

  • Zillow.com gives you access to the MLS with many custom search features and the ability to see prices on homes sold in the past few years and both the sale history and listing price history of houses that are for sale.  I love the mapping function.
  • Homepath.com lists foreclosed homes with government backed mortages.  The programs available allow you to purchase much quicker than a typical short sale and with special financing minimizing your required down payment and other out-of-pocket expenses.

 

 

 

Evolution of Home Desires

We went through the same thing when we went fulltime.  At first we said we’d start out with a trailer that our truck would pull, then we started looking at small 5th wheels, then we thought about buying a truck and 5th wheel, then we ended up with our first motorhome, a 37′ gas engine 1996 Fleetwood Southwind.

New Home

Our first criteria for a home never wavered, it must have zero outside maintenance required of the owner so we can travel anytime we want.  For this reason we first searched for condos — but guess what?  The VA will only finance select condos.  It has something to do with owner occupancy rates vs. investors and also the financial health of the condo association.  Good things to know, and this caused us to look more broadly at homes that functioned like condos without being them.

We looked at a town home that we thought we would like, but with Chris’s knee replacement, and the other knee not doing great, we quickly eliminated anything with stairs.  Then we discovered the “villa”.  The best way I can explain it is

  1. A villa is duplex home on a single level…
  2. owned completely including the land it’s built on…
  3. but with the homeowners association doing all routine maintenance of roof, walls, and grounds (exception of glass breakage and storm damage)

We found a nice 2 bedroom villa in the West Meadows community of New Tampa.  Unfortunately it was a short sale, but we made an offer anyway and waited.  Then, as we were preparing to take our trip to Texas I saw a villa that I loved in another community.  We debated having me fly back to see it and make an offer, but we decided that if it was supposed to be ours it would happen.  We’d wait until we returned from Texas to see it.