Let’s compare aspects of building a sustainable home with children’s connect the dot (dot to dot) coloring books. If you look at just part of the picture, the full image is not apparent. Take for example the recent blog post about It Can’t Possibly be Worth It. A reader left a comment on the original blog post at I Need More Life that challenged the basic concept of living in the country and building your own home as impractical, and gave a list of reasons why it was easier and better to live in a big city. That got me thinking about the larger picture. The decision to build your own sustainable home goes way beyond just saving money on a mortgage (although that’s a huge part of the equation). Step back a moment and connect the dots.
Other considerations include:
– low impact lifestyle: We all know the world’s environment is getting wrecked right and left. It seems nearly impossible to live lightly on the land if you’re in a big city.
– healthy living: It’s more difficult to be healthy when you’re breathing polluted air, living in buildings that offgas toxic fumes, surrounded by unhealthy people who are spreading disease, loud noises, high stress, long commutes, sedate jobs, etc. Healthy living is a huge part of the back-to-the-land movement. This type of lifestyle is much more in line with how humans were meant to live in my opinion.
– peace of mind: You can’t put a price tag on good health or peace of mind, and I argue it’s much easier to have a peaceful life in a natural setting where things are quiet, calm and relatively free of pollution. 99% of big city crime is mostly unheard of in rural, remote areas. The story of the Country Mouse visiting the City Mouse comes to mind. And let’s not forget the risk of losing everything if you have a problem meeting your mortgage payment. Having a home free and clear of the banks certainly adds peace of mind.
– self sufficiency: What happens when the power goes out after a big storm or other natural disaster? Lights go out. Toilets won’t flush at some point. Cash registers and gas pumps won’t work, and on and on. You’re much more at risk in a big city in these situations than someone in the countryside who has planned for such emergencies.
– greatly reduced energy costs: In addition to not blowing money on a mortgage, you can also save a small fortune on energy expenses. Suggestions include: build an energy efficient home, get a wood stove and low cost wood supply, install at least one solar panel, solar water heater, LED lighting, superinsulation, weatherization package, cool pantry, root cellar and other features according to your climate.
– greatly reduced maintenance: Asphalt shingles, pressed board siding, sheetrock, synthetic carpeting and many other modern materials quickly fail, while stone, timberframe, rammed earth, earthbag, straw/clay can last for centuries.
– quality of life: Life is short. How do you want to spend your time? Stuck in a traffic jam or working in a garden and spending quality time with your family and friends? And keep in mind it’s not a black/white issue. You could always visit a nearby city for concerts, community activities and shopping.
Image source: Teacher Vision