If you would have asked me ten or even five years ago if I thought we’d be completely debt free in our mid 30s and renovating a gigantic building without any loans or debt I would have told you that you were insane. Yet here we are, completely debt free.
I have been contacted by many people over the past two years who are considering purchasing a historic building or house asking how we were able to get a loan on a building that is so old and needed so much work as it is a hurdle they are currently facing. I wish I had some advice to offer but I don’t as we paid cash for our building.
I have thought about writing this post for a long time, pretty much since we purchased the building. It has always been in the back of my mind but I wasn’t exactly sure how I would write it. Today I figured I would just bite the bullet and just go for it.
Living a debt free lifestyle in this day and age isn’t easy. It’s not always glamorous but it is possible with hard work and a lot of determination. Our lifestyle in San Diego was vastly different than our life here. You could definitely say we were bound by the golden handcuffs. We made pretty darn good money, lived in a really nice desirable neighborhood, and were able to live a lifestyle without needing to budget. The only debt we had was our mortgage, which if you know anything about the housing market in California, it wasn’t a small one. We have always paid off our credit card every month to maintain a zero balance and we have never had to pay interest. This has also helped us maintain sterling credit for going on two decades. I realize this isn’t possible for everyone and others may choose other means (like using only cash to pay for things as part of the budgeting and debt pay off process) but it has worked really well for us.
When we stumbled across the building and fell in love with it, at first it felt like we were thinking impulsively. After spending 2 hours inside absolutely mesmerized by its beauty we told the realtor we would have to think about it as it wasn’t the farmhouse with land we were looking for. (If you are newer to this blog and want to know how the backstory of how we came to find and purchase the building click here).
We spent a couple of weeks researching our tails off regarding details like how much it would cost to heat and cool the building, electrical bills, rough renovation cost estimates, taxes, insurance, potential business possibilities etc etc etc.
We paid cash for the building and sold our home in San Diego before making the big move east. Cue instant debt free status. The money we had left over after paying our mortgage off on our San Diego house was enough to fund many of the major renovation things upfront right away.
Before we purchased the building we had a long chat about me working full time while Atom jumps into doing full time renovations on the building while also being a stay at home dad to our children. We knew this would make things financially tight and I’m not going to lie- it was a HARD transition to make. Prior to our move I worked part time in a hospital in California and spent the rest of the time at home with our children and Atom worked usually 6 days per week. I have absolutely loved jumping into full time employment here at the hospital. It was definitely an adjustment for Atom to be home but still working on the building at the same time. There is absolutely no way we could have been able to afford contracting the renovations out. The building is just too massive. Maybe if we won the lottery? Wishful thinking!
Living off one income is possible for us and we are pretty comfortable doing so, even if it is nowhere near what we made in California. Learning to stay within a budget has been a team effort and is honestly something I never thought I’d be able to do prior to moving here. This is the reason we are taking our renovations significantly slower than many other people who take on these massive historical buildings that need saving and brought back to life. We aren’t taking out any loans for projects and going at the pace we can within our means. We still pay off our credit card every month and maintain our perfect credit. Moving at a slower pace not only is better for our budget, it still allows us to spend time together as a family and not focusing every minute of every day on the building. And that makes this whole process even more worthwhile.
We were able to break free of the golden handcuffs and it feels pretty darn good!