|Literally, my fortune the day I got back to Arizona.|
Let's back up a few weeks.
I've been at the farm for eight weeks. To secure a home for my family I have tried and failed at the following:
Attempt #1) Secure a traditional home loan to buy a home or have one built. My credit score was 640 which isn't terrific but I never thought it would have given me trouble. Turns out, traditional banks (at least where I was) wanted a score of 660 to do business. The other issue that crippled me here was the fact that I had my own house in Arizona.
Since so many people in 2008-2009 created a false renter's agreement in order to qualify for a home loan (told to me by my lender) and then DEFAULTED on the first home once they moved in to the new residence, banks now want to see a solid six month rental history (including deposit history). I do not have this. As you know, my family is still living in my house in Arizona.
Bottom line, no traditional mortgage. Yes, I tried with multiple lenders.
|Acquired an orange canoe along the way.|
Attempt #2) Secure a modular home loan and place it on the farm. The salesman told me over the phone that he could get me qualified with a 640 score all day long. I visited the sales lot and picked out a nice modcl that would fit my family plus my mother-in-law. THREE WEEKS LATER, I finally get the final numbers that yes, I did qualify for the mobile home but the mortgage lender wanted 10-20% down or in my case $10,000.
If I haven't stated it already, I BORROWED $1000 to get to Oklahoma in the first place. I had been out of work for a solid month before I moved. Before that, I was half way through a medical program for which I dumped $12,000 into from my savings. I was broke. I was also looking at needing approximately $3,000 to move my family from Arizona to Oklahoma with the use of a uHaul truck.
So to get the mobile home I needed $10k + $3k and I had...zero. I was slowly building up savings while working in Oklahoma. I had saved up $1500 in the two months I had been working. That is a far cry from $13,000 and simple math told me I would be living without my family for nine or more months to get a mobile home. This did NOT take into account the need to put in septic, water and electric to the trailer.
Caveat #1) My original plans to live adjacent to the farm house and use the existing water well, electric tie in and possibly the sewer changed weeks into my arrival at Oklahoma. A concerned family member voiced that if I lived next to the farm house, thereby making the farm house somewhat my front yard, other family members who may have wished to visit the "family" farm might now feel as though they were infringing on my privacy when they paid a visit to the "family" farm. They politely asked that if I were to live on the farm, that I not set up a homestead in the same proximity as the farm house. I completely understand this concern and wish not to "take over" the family farm in any way. So this relegated me to a different section of the farm where I would now be responsible for putting in a complete sewer, water, electric connection. (read: more money and see caveat #2)
Caveat #2) My father made it clear to the family (including me) that he intended to sell his entire share of the farm and either retire to a town farther south in Oklahoma to be near his grand-daughter (child of his adopted daughter, long story) OR relocate to Hot Springs, Arkansas. This meant that the "family farm" would no longer be inheritable (if that's a word?) to me in any way in the future. Any and all improvements that I would make could potentially be for naught. I asked him if he could leave me ten acres to homestead on the farm to which he declined. It is what it is, I can't beat a dead horse. This was quite a blow to my whole intention of cleaning up the family farm and making enjoyable for everyone.
|Father/daughter football game with Sis #LoveMyGirls|
Attempt #3) I downsized my living quarters to a bumper-pull trailer and had a dealership running numbers for me on a 26 foot Jayco with double pull outs. It would have slept eight people and we could have lived in it for six months to a year until I had the money saved up for a mobile home. TWO WEEKS LATER, after being moved from a new trailer to a used trailer back to a new trailer again by the dealership because they couldn't decide which one I could qualify for "easier", I finally got some numbers.
$5,400 down and $531/mo at 17.7% interest. What the...? Why is this so hard? I could go on and on about why this game doesn't make any sense to me. I have come to the conclusion that it is all my fault for not having saved enough money. With no land in MY name, I had to have money down. I didn't have either. I had seen my family for 4 days in a ten week time span and it was wearing thin. I really wasn't seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.
No house, no mobile home, no travel trailer, and no farm house to live in for my family. I had landed the perfect job nearby but it would still take me months to reunite with my family. Mind you, dozens of people were now helping me look for a home to rent.
That's when I learned that there was a renewed OIL BOOM in Oklahoma like that of the late 1970's. Roughnecks from all over the country were flocking to my little section of Oklahoma and scooping up every rental available (house, trailer, room, apt, hotel) for the asking price. In most cases that I was directly involved in, the house for rent was snatched up within 48 hours of being posted for rent. And if that wasn't enough, a veteran that I worked with informed me that the local Air Force base was running an abnormally high number of "studens" as he called them, through the base. So many studenst that base housing was running short and the students were also gobbling up the public housing. I was witnessing a perfect storm for NOT being able to rent.
And then I got a phone call.
A hospital, which shall remain nameless, contacted me for a management position. For those that don't know, management is what I had been aspiring to for years. I am passively seeking my Masters degree and have been in healthcare for over 20 years. After several management interviews failed in and around Arizona, I sought the Oklahoma job (non-management, average pay) and acquired it. To keep food on the table for my large family, I immediately left for Oklahoma and started earning a paycheck. It was my ONLY option for work.
|One last look at the farm.|
Now, almost ten weeks into the homesteading adventure that seemed to be failing, a hospital has offered me not just a job in management but a salary THIRTY percent higher than I was making in Oklahoma. They have offered to MOVE MY ENTIRE FAMILY to the new hospital location AND a hefty sign on bonus. So, by now you've noticed that I said "was making in Oklahoma." That's because I packed up and left two days ago.
I accepted the offer, arrived back at home in Arizona and happily celebrated my oldest daughter's Sweet 16 birthday (Sis). The next day, we loaded up the family Suburban and headed to the new town to look for a rental house. Unlike Oklahoma, there were several to look at. We saw seven all together and settled on a beautiful home on 2.5 acres, nestled between gorgeous mountains. There is already an established chicken coop with layers, a three car garage/workshop and although they call it "outside of town" it is only 20 minutes drive to work. The exact same it took from the farm to the hospital in Oklahoma. The generous Sign On bonus will take care of first and last months rent leaving me nothing out of pocket to pay for except the gas to drive my family up there. Our entire house will be packed, moved, and unpacked again, at the expense of the hospital.
Only, there are no hordes of bugs crawling everywhere, billions of grasshoppers eating everything in sight, or sweltering hot and humid days because we are at 7,000 feet in elevation and to my surprise nobody has an air conditioner on their house (hello, I've lived in a desert for 20 years). It is that nice...all year long.
I didn't want to leave the farm. Honestly, I felt like my dream of homesteading had somewhat failed. But when I look at how it all played out, I can't think anything other than this is where HE intended for my family to be at this time. Several of my family members shared this same thought. Oh, I forgot to mention the rental houses in Oklahoma that I had secured also. Slowly, one by one, they backed out of our agreement for one reason or another. Two solid rental agreements found buyers paying full price at the last minute. Others said my dog, the German Shepherd, was not acceptable because they are considered "dangerous just like a pit bull or rottweiller". What?
I was lamenting about how I would get the money needed to both relocate my family AND afford all the down payments necessary to establish a new home in Oklahoma. Then this hospital offers to pay it all. It was unbelievable but still left me torn about leaving the farm. I took the tractor for one last joy ride and gently eased her into the barn where I had found her. I sealed up all the doors and took the air conditioners out of the windows. I turned the water off at the toilet but left it on at the well. The sticker bushes had grown up so quickly with all the rain we had received that I could barely see the roof to the well. With no lawnmower, a broken brush hog and no weed eater, I had no means to clear the brush.
It's like mother nature what swallowing the farm back up and erasing everything I had done over the last nine weeks. All that remained as a sign that I had been there was the snake skin wafting in the breeze on the barbed wire fence where I had left it. I took some final photos as I pulled out and thought about all I had learned while I was there. It will serve me well in my next attempt to homestead.
For now, I will regroup with my family and focus on attaining a few more tools that I wished I had already purchased (chainsaw, wood splitter, generator, etc). I will work feverishly at establishing a decent savings with which to purchase a homestead on property that I can call my own. Property that I can do anything I desire with only Wifey to answer to.
For those of you that joined to follow my homestead adventure, I thank you for your kind words of encouragement and knowledge. I hope that you will stick around to see where I take this adventure next. If not, I understand and bid you farewell. To anyone else that might still be reading, I haven't given up on the homesteading dream. If anything, I have had the privilege of experiencing a nine week practice run and will be all the stronger the next time around. This new property has a garage just waiting for me to put my OWN tractor in it. It already has chickens and we know exactly where we want to put the garden. The views are breath-taking and I will post them as soon as I can.
The one thing I can already see that is different between the farm in Oklahoma and my home here in Arizona is that I had all the time in the world to type posts for the blog in Oklahoma. Here at home, I get interrupted every five minutes by any one of my six daughters...and I wouldn't have it any other way.
~OJD & Family