Rehabbing for fun and profit

We are getting ready to sell our house and move to a new one. As Laurie and I started this new transition, moving from an intentional community out on our own again, we wondered what we would do to make a living. We didn't want to jump into a "new career", so to speak, feeling a need for space to let ourselves settle down a bit.

I am a big believer in going with the flow, not irresponsibility, but a peaceful and conscious watching for opportunities that have a good fit with who we are and where we want to go. When I was young, mostly as a teenager and the time from my mid twenties until early thirties, I struggled greatly with the pressure of needing to know what I wanted to be when I grow up. At the same time, I knew I didn't want to buy into the western culture's standards in this area. Sometime in my early thirties, I realized that the past several years were controlled by fear and the resulting attempt to conform to standards that really were far from my heart. I took that opportunity to connect more deeply with myself and learn to function more congruently with that reality. Although the struggle continues, I have been able to embrace life more as a journey than a destination . Rather than knowing what I want to be when I grow up, I realize the real question is who do I want to grow into being and what is the next step that will take me in that direction. That drives me nuts at times, and can be a very insecure place. But, then I remind myself, that security is just an illusion that keeps us disconnected from ourselves and others.

So, we found ourselves at another of life's junctures and wondering what we could do to support ourselves. I knew my most marketable skill, and one that I could be comfortable using at this time, was carpentry and general home improvements. Laurie and I work well together in this area – she is a wonderful decorator, painter, organizer, plant person, and general helper. We worked briefly for a woman that owns a small resort on Cedar Key in Florida. It was a great time to consider our direction – and we thought of many options. We knew this transition would take some time to go through and wanted to do something that would best help us navigate. We eventually settled on what now is clearly the next best thing we could do. We bought a house that needed to be totally remodeled.

We had good credit and some resources where we could scrape up enough money for a small down payment, so we began the search for an opportunity that would work. Gainesville, Florida is home for the University of Florida and was an hour away from Cedar Key. We had been there several times and really liked the area, so it was a natural to begin our search (Cedar Key was much too expensive). We started driving the streets, getting a little familiar with the area and looking for houses of interest. We wanted a house with some character that we could work with. We contacted a few realtors , and looked at lots of houses,but found nothing. Finally, I posted on a local real estate investors discussion group and got a few leads. One turned out to be just what we were looking for.

We found a ranch style home built in the 60"s that was structurally sound but needed a total updating. It was a rental property in a sought after established neighborhood. The person that pointed us to it had wanted to buy it himself but decided that it was not profitable enough for him because he hired out all the work. It was perfect for us – we were in the right place at the right time. The owners turned out to be a very nice couple in their 70's that were wanting to get rid of their last rental property. We were able to quickly agree on a price, and he was willing to hold the mortgage for two years.

The house was empty and we were able to move in within two weeks. As we got into the project, we realized it was a perfect fit. It gave us an opportunity to continue processing where we were at in this transition and allowed us to express our creativity at the same time. We were under little pressure and easily finished the house and had it sold in six months. During that time we kept our eyes open for another house and, to our surprise, the woman next door offered to sell us her house.

I could probably go on and on about the benefits. It offers us almost total flexibility and very little pressure. It is like a large art project and gives us much freedom to express our creativity. It allows us to meet wonderful people who we buy from and sell to. And, of course, it adequately provides for our needs. The downside is that it lacks social contact – but that can be found in other areas.

As I continue the journey, I would like to pursue other interests but, at this time, they are not clear. For now we are more than content with this opportunity. In three weeks we will be closing on our second house (next door to the first) and moving to Wisconsin to begin another house. That's another story on a couple different levels – but primarily it is an opportunity to reestablish some family relationships that have suffered from much estrangement. I will, hopefully, stay up to date on this blog with the progress in both areas. Our desire is to offer information, hope, and resources for others on the journey


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