Why Are So Many Americans Choosing Alternative Lifestyles?
Do you cringe every time you pull up to the gas pump? With the cost of gas now averaging over $5 a gallon and still on the rise, it’s no wonder! Plus, the cost of Inflation is at a 40-year high. Most U.S. residents feel the strain on their budget, and many feel forced to use credit cards for necessities like groceries and medications, making the “American Dream” even harder to achieve. If you can’t keep up and are looking for a way out, maybe there is an alternative lifestyle right for you. Millions of Americans have chosen (or feel forced) to take a different path to make ends meet. These are some of the more popular lifestyle options that are becoming increasingly more popular.
Vanlife or Full Time RVing
According to the RV Industry Association, an estimated one million Americans live full-time in an RV or van. Some do it for the adventure, but many do it because they can no longer afford to pay rent or a mortgage. Before gas prices escalated, it seemed like a dreamy lifestyle to be able to pick up and head to the nearest National Park at a moment’s notice, but now, due to the price of gas, many full-time RVers and Vanlifers are having to pick a place and stay put. Spending $500 a week on gas can quickly equal paying rent. Plus, there is the cost of a campsite! Still, you don’t have to pay utilities, renters insurance, and HOA fees. If you’re considering trying out this lifestyle, make sure you realistically run the numbers and do a trial run before jumping in one-hundred percent!
Have you considered ditching your three bedrooms, two-bath home for a tiny home? You’re not alone! The Tiny Home market is growing at about 7% annually and is estimated to grow even faster in the coming years, according to iProperty Management. The idea of a smaller carbon footprint and a simpler lifestyle appeals to many people. Still, not everyone is ready for the patience it takes to live in 500 square feet, but at an average cost of around $110,000, it’s a more viable option for many people who want to be homeowners. Remember, though, you still have to acquire the land to put it on, which is an additional expense.
Once upon a time, intentional communities were called communes. Back in the 1970’s they may have been villages full of “free-lovin” hippies, but now they are much more mainstream. If you spend a little time on the website IC.org, you’ll see hundreds of intentional communities worldwide, and many are well organized and established. Some are eco-villages, emphasizing working in harmony with the planet. Others are spiritually based, and some are considered co-housing. The central theme in all of them is sharing resources. Think about it, how many hours a week do you really use your oven? What if you shared an oven with a few other families instead of you all having your own?
Moving to a Foreign County
The Association of American Residents Overseas (AARO) estimates that about 8.7 million Americans (excluding the military) live overseas. Nearly 40% choose to stay in the Western hemisphere, including Mexico and Central America. The driving force for many Expats, of which I am one, is the cost of living. Since I’m a remote freelance writer, I can earn U.S. wages and enjoy the Mexican cost of living. In Ensenada, Mexico, where I’ve been living, you can rent a two or three-bedroom home for only $700 a month. Try to find that in San Diego, which is only two hours away!
As a bonus, if you are a U.S. citizen or a U.S. resident alien who stays in a foreign country for at least 330 full days in twelve consecutive months, you may qualify for a foreign earned income exclusion and be exempt from paying federal income taxes! Of course, you should check with your CPA, but that can mean significant savings.
Before you make any significant life changes, be sure to do your research. Take your time and ask a lot of questions. Have a plan B if the lifestyle doesn’t work for you. Try to gain the support of family and friends and proceed with caution. It could be the start of a whole new adventurous period of your life!!