Notes before the post COVID bubble bursts.

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This post started two ways. The first is that we have seen a number of people find themselves out of work quite suddenly, while at the same time the amount of money that has been spent on upgrading homes and selling homes – in winter, which is usually when real estate agents go on holiday – has increased.

The second part was that son one (who lives in the big city) has been costing the market rentals for apartments. In the parts of town that were sort of OK on the edge of the inner ring of suburbs, you are facing around 2200 a month for a one bedroom apartment with no car park, no laundry, and no laundry facilities on site.

The conventional wisdom is that my Mum and Dad still believe in. Stay in the market, tighten the belt, and ride this storm out. I don’t know why, but I saw something coming years ago so we deliberately have not leveraged ourselves and live not in the biggest house in the nicest street. We moved out of town a bit, into a nice village. We like it here.

But… what if we were in our thirties? Mortgaged, Struggling to get senior positions, and on a tight budget? What happens when one of the main sources of income you have dries up? What do you do?

Because the storm has not hit NZ yet. We have not seen our decrease in GDP figures for last quarter and for the current one. We have a lot of people still on wage subsidies for the COVID lock down – but they finish at the end of this month. What to do?

Panic? No, pray. And plan.

Get out of Dodge.

In this case, Dodge is the big city: if you can do your job by distance do so, and go into town as little as possible. If you can move to a rural branch or a hardship post, do so. If your job is fragile, look at something rural: do the needed jobs, particularly dirty, dangerous, and in difficult to get to places.

If you have a trade or skill, this makes it easier. If you come from a rural area, return. You want to look for good churches, good farmland, or places that make things. In NZ, avoid tourism areas such as Central Otago or Rotorua: the are the areas that are suffering the most.

Deleverage.

Sell your assets now, before the file sale. Prices are flat to going up: use that. You need to free up capital. Sell your house first and rent out of town.

Look around the house: Do you need have collectables? Downsize your car,. Get the mortgage gone and the credit card paid up and torn up

If we head into a depression, cash is king. Kea and I have spend hours looking at youtube videos on how to do things. around the house – and we don’t want to move, but we don’t want to spend ecess money right now. There is a chance that the government will either hyperinflate or confiscate savings, but the biggest risk right now is a global depression, and in such a time you want to have cash for the fire sale that will happen after the storm and when the banks are forced for foreclose.

If you do sell, don’t spend your capital. You are going to need it.

Settle out of town

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Depending on your circumstances, be as far away from the middle of town as you can be with reasonable logistics. Some will need to, according to contact, be within 20 minutes of work: draw a circle around that place and look. You want to be able to pay cash down.

You may have to compromise: modify what is there to make it livable, find a tent from a glamping company t (no tourists at present). Or a Yurt. You will need advice real soon if you stay in a tent too long, but start somewhere. If you can, get land with a house or budget to build on the land.

You don’t want big. Big is hard to warm. You want warm.

You want land, not necessarily good agricultural land (that costs extra) but ideally rural land. You want access to water (in much of NZ there is drought) and you want either a house or an ability to live until you can get a house on the land. You should be thinking about being off the grid if there is no power: getting a power line in runs into the tens of thousands now.

If you are close to the city you may be in the city region and be paying city rates – for the library, pool and recreational grounds you use, but in addition for the latest project of the mayor, the woke promotions, and services you don’t have. In our biggest city, that can and does include paying for the water you use from the tanks you have collecting rainwater because it goes into the sewage system.

Minimize.

Live not as your parents lived. They grow up with inflation: if you did not buy something now it would be more expensive in a year’s time. That includes my parents, and they predate boomerdom. Instead think of their parents who lived during the depression. They did not have much, but what they had was very good quality and they cared for it.

The aim here is to spend as little as possible over the long term, use as little outside the house as possible, and survive on one full time income – which may be two or three part time jobs.

Buy carefully and buy quality. Have good clothes (it is time tor resurrect “Sunday best”) and work clothes and then rugged clothes: for many work clothing will be rugged clothing.

Get good tools, learn how to use them, sharpen them, and repair them.

About a year ago (after the first weight loss) we went through a lot of our clothes, got dir of the worn out ones and the things we did not wear, and bought a few needed replacements. We had found, when traveling, we only wore half of what we bought. Do likewise: repair, reuse, wear out. Shopping is now hunting for quality – and you won’t find that in the main city streets, but you may find it in the farm equipment shops.

Vegetables

You need to grow as many calories as you can, as reliably as you can. So you need to have multiple vegetable beds, you need to work on them now, and this will be basically a part time job for one of you and more than a part time job for the other one.

In the ideal world, we would get most of my calories from animal sources. Because of issues we have. But in crisis, a vegetable patch is insurance. We have one – to feed the rest of the family.

Meat (no pets)

You cannot afford pets. I am married to the most gentle and sentimental animal loving women in the antipodes. If we have any animals in our property they are fed, looked after, and the idea that they may be in the pot would cause tears and tantrums before bedtime.

But if you are living in the country, you have to understand that one of the things animals are raised for is for the table, so you never make them pets.

I would add that the same thing applies to cats and dogs.I recommend you have both.

Cats are hunters, and that will help keep the mice away. Go big: you want a cat that will scare opossums and rats.

Dogs are needed for herding, and a good dog will patrol the area and will work as an alarm system, Both teach kids how to care for and love animals.

But you want a farm cat and healthy, good natured dogs. I recommend you find good ethical breeders, and save up the money – or foster animals before they are bred and then adopt them after they have finsihed that part of their life.

Home School.

This is much more common than you think, as many senior high school students take advanced course by correspondence school . But I recommend that you investigate and home school because

  • you can concentrate on getting the work done faster and then have hands to help in the Garden or helping around
  • you can remove most if not all of the propaganda in the curriculum and teach the old stuff
  • you know your children better that the teachers will and
  • this will save dollars.

Most of the time, one to one attention by a parent who can work through the book with the kid is all that is needed. Much of the material is online, but never forget that the old fashioned paper, pen and book are more efficient ways of learning. Which is why when I go to talks I take a notebook and pen, not thumb type on my cellphone.

You won’t have to drive the kids to school.

You won’t have to front up with money for school camps, extra sports, and multiple mandatory projects.

You won;t have your school lunches inspected by the teacher (who is using guidelines from big agriculture) or the other kids. My kids stopped eating lunch early, because they wanted fried rice and noodles – and both got too many questions..

You won’t have peer pressure for the trip to somewhere that everyone speaks a language, or the school rugby trip to Australia.

You won’t need uniforms – or worse, girl mufti days.

No horses.

The horse culture requires a trust fund. You don’t have one of those, and you can’t keep up with them. Horses are like Ferraris. Look at them, admire them, and be glad someone else is maintaining them.

Worship God and support others.

At this point you hope and pray that you have some income, but much lower expenses. You may have a surplus. You may still need help.

Join a local church. You will need support, you will need friends, and you will need advice as to how to live in this lifestyle change. Your kids need friends.

Do what is needed. Most churches need your time more than money.

In general, support the good guys in your neighbourhood. Buy local. Avoid Amazon – most of the time rural internet speeds are appalling anyway.

Find a good gym and sports club and join it. If you are musical, join the local music group or choir. Become part of the community.

Help your neighbours out when you can.

Do not worry too much about things more than a good bike ride from where you live, or that local town. Look after your own family first, then help others.

And, who knows? You may find that this kind of life is richer than living in the big city. I did.

4 thoughts on “Notes before the post COVID bubble bursts.

  1. Definitely NZ parameters. 20 min is considered living *quite close* to your job here in dear ol’ Cali. More than 1.5/2 hours (one way) is considered “living outside the circle”.

  2. I was writing for NZ conditions, which differ: we don’t have race riots, COVD is basically gone and we are no longer social distancing. But we are a small exporting nation, and when the rest of the world has a depression we have it bad.

    Peter Grant at bayou renaissance man has good advice for those in the USA, and he’s in Texas now.

  3. Nice post, lots of useful information. I live in a small town in between two large cities, with an international border between. I have started looking for outlying property, not necessarily in the same corridor. It definitely involves an upheaval and I think that’s why many don’t do it. I have a job I like as well as a small business that I have built up over the past fifteen years that brings in significant extra income. I would have to give up both of those (although there might be a small potential for the small business in any new area I moved to). Also familiarity with local businesses, friends and acquaintances, nearby family, etc. Unfortunately I don’t have a family to move (wife or kids) so it is a one person decision (which I suppose also makes it easier in a way). Fortunately I have a job that is easily transferable (math teacher) but it still requires that there be an opening where I choose to settle.

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