Unless you are new here, you probably know that my goal is to officially retire by 40 and spend the rest of my life enjoying jobless bliss and never-ending happiness. We’re doing this with big-time savings and living frugally in Tucson, Arizona – one of the most inexpensive places to live in the United States.
After retirement, we plan on moving up to Sedona, Arizona – Sedona is nestled within red rock country in northern Arizona. It is a beautiful little town that attracts tourists throughout the year and is rich in hiking opportunities and generally getting more in touch with nature. We make yearly visits to both vacation and, now, to check out real estate in the area for our eventual move into the area.
Sedona is not cheap, but there are reasonably-priced homes scattered throughout the city area. The better your view of the red rocks, the more you will spend to live there (real estate 101, I know!). To my wife and I, having a nice view is far more important than a big house.
We are considering two options:
1. Buy a nice plot of land and build a small home – I’ll be honest, buying land and building our own home is completely new to both of us. Our thought is this would allow us to more effectively prioritize a view of the red rocks by dropping a little more cash for the right plot of land and, at least in theory, spending less on a smaller home. And by “smaller home”, we are talking pretty damn small – in the neighborhood of 1000 sqft, max. We would be happy in a 750 sqft home.
2. Buy a pre-built home with some view – This would be the more traditional route and would allow us to find the perfect home in the perfect spot for our budget. Of course, we primarily get what we buy into with a pre-built home. Renovations to the home itself are possible, but we can’t change the view to any significant degree. We get what we get, and we may be holding out longer for the right home if we buy a pre-built unit.
It all comes down to this: Assuming the same plot of land between both scenarios (building a home vs. buying a pre-built home), we need to figure out which one is more cost effective. Keep in mind that in option 1, we do NOT intend on physically building the house ourselves. That’s not what we are skilled at, and it would probably wind up costing us more in the long run after we hire contractors and electricians to fix our stupid mistakes.
My wife and I are torn between both options; we are not sure which one provides us with a better opportunity for the view that we want, a smallish house and a relatively modest purchase price. We’d like to spend no more than a couple hundred thousand, max, for everything.
If there are any real estate experts out there, your opinions are welcome. Is buying land and having a home built a viable option to save cash, or would this method risk pushing us over our comfortable purchasing budget due to unforeseen expenses?
Curious in Tucson.
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.