Following Up on the Cost of Ownership
Special to Northeast Texan
“I’ve got to ask you about the cost of ownership,” Red said. “My wife found a house for sale for $5,000!”
“Really!” the Disaster Guy said. “Where is it?”
“Oh, it’s in a little town in Nebraska where we stopped to get gas,” Red said. “But the town looks kind of like the ‘Twilight Zone.’ You know, windows boarded up, very few cars parked in driveways or on the street – and no people.”
“You planning to move there?” the Disaster Guy asked.
“No, not at all!” Red said. “My wife says she’ll rent it out.”
“To whom?” the Disaster Guy said. “Looks like nobody lives in that town unless they’ve run out of options! Did you drive through the downtown?”
“Yeah, and the downtown is boarded up, too,” Red said.
“That downtown has been replaced by two shelves of fast food at the gas station,” the Disaster Guy said. “That town is dead.”
“But it isn’t just that town in Nebraska,” he said. “Look at a Texas road map from the 1950s, and you’ll see a lot of names for towns you never heard of before.”
“They’re gone?” Red said. “How did this happen?”
“One answer is that the cost of ownership got too high,” the Disaster Guy said. “The kids got out of high school, looked at the lack of employment opportunities locally, and moved to the city for college or work. They never moved back.”
“Their parents stayed home. Once they retired, Social Security provided almost enough money to live on but not enough to move away,” he said. “With age and inflation, the parents gradually let more things go to pot until the cost of ownership – or upkeep – became too much. It would cost more to repair their homes than the homes are worth.”
“Yes, I can see that happening,” Red said.
“The kids come home to bury their parents, and they inherit the old homestead,” the Disaster Guy said. “It would be cheaper to level the house, junk the car, and ignore the land.”
“So the kids ignore it, eventually quit paying property taxes, and forget about the old homestead because they have no intention of ever going back there,” he said.
“Think of it! The kids’ cell phones don’t work out here. There’s no nightlife! There’s no Internet!” he said.
“Yeah! Who’d want to live like that?” Red asked.
“I do!” the Disaster Guy said. “I can get satellite Internet and satellite cell phone service, and I don’t need nightlife. What I need is a nice place to live, with decent people, and good schools.”
“You see, eventually the county ends up owning that land, and they’ll auction it off on the steps of the courthouse,” he said. “Anyone can buy it, often at bargain prices. Then we start all over again.”
“Start what all over again?” Red asked.
“Why, repopulating the countryside!” the Disaster Guy said. “Towns can attract new businesses, set up industrial parks, cater to monthly bargain shoppers. It all means new jobs.”
“New jobs mean better jobs for residents, so the kids have better employment opportunities,” he said. “New jobs also attract new residents, who will settle here and enjoy the low real estate prices. They’ll build homes.”
“All of a sudden, Red, people shop locally, and the local economy booms again,” he said. “And the cost of ownership becomes affordable again.”
“I understand what you say, but what does it mean?” Red asked.
“Basically – more folks moving out to the countryside, more jobs in small towns instead of just big cities, more schools out here in the boonies, and potentially a better life for a lot of folks,” the Disaster Guy said.
“It means that if a major disaster hit, country folk would be able to survive it better than city folks,” he said. “We’re more resilient, we help each other more, and we have local churches and organizations to back us up.”
“So, the cost of ownership becomes – ah – more affordable again?” Red asked.
“Exactly, especially for people who live in the countryside,” the Disaster Guy said. “We’re already living where people want to live, and when they move out here, they bring money to create a wonderful place for them to live.”
“The new folks want the benefits of living in the country and the conveniences of living in the city,” he said. “The local economy will have to grow to provide those conveniences.”
“When the local economy booms for them,” he said, “it booms for us, too!”
Holiday Greetings from the Disaster Guy! For more information on emergency preparedness or disaster survival, go to www.DisasterGuy.com and download the free Tips. You may contact the Disaster Guy by email at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.