43 thoughts on “灾害”

  1. I bought a house in Jax FL a year ago and had a targeted date to leave Brooklyn NY and move down May 1st. Then Covid came. I was laid off from my job, and (luckily) my tenant decided he wanted to leave end of March. The crazy thing is i would have quit with no benefits package and only lived off savings. Now i’m getting unemployment plus the Covid payout (grateful and thankful for the luck on that) I have so many projects to work on at my house to keep me happily quarantined. Install water barrels to gutters. Start the raised garden beds. Get a hen house. Windows need replacing. I’m already thinking of investing in a nearby property for rental income soon as yes i think prices will come down. It was funny, when i was reading your post and seeing the first set of pics i was thinking all those same things – he should add solar panels on the south, gardens in the back, a gate to the sidewalk etc.. Then you laid it all out!

    1. I’m all about older Rust Belt cities in the upper Midwest. Milwaukee is a great option. Love your example. I selected Beaver Dam because I have a relative who grew up there and moved to LA twenty years ago. Beaver Dam is a theoretical for-instance. It’s just a thought experiment to demonstrate parameters that could be applied in a lot of places.

      1. Johnny, I did a double-take when I saw the name Beaver Dam.

        I grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota and during 1975-76 I worked for a food wholesale company in a Minneapolis suburb (so I could earn enough money to go to the U of Oregon the next year.) I became good friends with four guys who worked there (all of their last names began with H: Hanson, Holter, Hop & Hofer.) Hop was Stan Hop and he was from Beaver Dam. We used to tease him about the name.

        You should ask your relatives if they knew a Hop family. Beaver Dam probably isn’t that small but you never know.

    2. I like to do a quick search in any random town. I use the real estate listing sites and filter for multi-family and lots above a quarter acre. A tiny handful of properties will pop up. Here’s one in Milwaukee. The location is less than charming, but you could ride a bike to the supermarket along the highway if you really had to. Mostly I like the two separate cottages and large sunny garden. After the economy gets whacked a little more and prices fall I could make this work as a suburban homestead. https://www.trulia.com/p/wi/greenfield/6617-w-forest-home-ave-greenfield-wi-53220–2101154048?mid=2#lil-amenitiesTab

  2. Getting back you Johnny’s initial point about the comparison between COVID-19 and AIDS, with regard to AIDS it took a full year for public health officials to figure out that many people were getting sick for the same reason, and two years to identify the virus. There was no test for three years, and no commercial test for four years.

    As bad as this is, and as feckless as our government institutions have been, the advances in science and communications over four decades ARE making a difference. We have reached a four year milestone for AIDS in four months.

  3. This is tangential at best to the subject of your post, but one thing that has struck me about your preparations is that they would seem entirely sensible to most people in history. The “American Century” made a lot of people complacent about the possibility of truly bad times. Covid-19 is bad, but not as bad as the Black Plague, or civil war, or any number of other calamities that litter history. Not to mention plain old poverty.

    Are there any histories or memoirs you have read that you found especially useful or insightful in thinking about how to prepare?

      1. I was raised by parents who were (poor) children during the Depression, and I knew 3 of my 4 grandparents who lived through it.

        There are lots of people between 55 and 75 who learned from immediate family most of the lessons Johnny teaches. I helped as soon as I was capable with my parents’ vegetable garden, and as a family we would go to u-pick-it farms for fruit (apples, strawberries, blueberries, peaches). Only in the past year (mom and dad are in their mid-late 80s) have they quit gardening.

        1. Hit “post” too fast. I meant to agree with Isaac, as I am one of the people he describes:

          “The “American Century” made a lot of people complacent about the possibility of truly bad times.”

  4. Hi Johnny, as someone trying to make moves towards a more resilient future and “get my house in order” you have been a valuable resource for ideas for years. I’m assuming you get this a lot, but do you do any personal “consulting?” I’d love to get advice on my specific situation and referred to resources that you yourself use. If not, no biggy, just figured I’d ask! Thanks, Gen

    1. I’m happy to provide advice. Free gratis. Ultimately you know your needs and circumstances better than I do. I can only describe what I do and let you modify as you see fit. jdsfrisco… gee… mail.

      1. That is very generous of you and perhaps I can return the favor in some way. And yes, understood, any advice would be adapted to my own situation. I’ll be in touch! Cheers

  5. Question I have relates to securing the right ‘type’ of tenants for a property like this or for that matter any property. Isn’t it a bit of a lottery though depending on when you are going to market and who happens to come along at the time? What techniques can you use that go beyond standard searches or reasonably high level criteria for example that would ensure a tenant from the available pool matches desired attributes? I can think of a number of tenants who have sold me a very good story only to find later there were cracks with consequences for how they treated the place etc ..

  6. I just checked my own house on Project Sunroof, and despite have over 1900 sq ft of space and over 1800 available sun hours, it says I might save $13,000 in utility bills over 30 years. Thirty years! How does that possibly pencil out as justifying the upfront investment?

    As for housing as an investment, a pleasant community with severe building restrictions probably offers reasonable opportunities.

    1. Solar could pencil out depending on your parameters and goals. I installed four panels on the south facing roof of my well pump house. They were $200 each so a total of $800. Those panels pull water up all day long and fill a 5,000 gallon surface tank. No batteries, no charge controller, no inverter. No grid tie. I now have a reliable source of water even if the power goes down.

      Here’s another way of looking at these systems. I installed a very small wood stove. The stove itself cost a couple thousand dollars and another couple to install with slate floor, safety rails, roof perforation… I installed the stove as a Plan B for emergency heat, cooking, and water heating. I will never recover the up front cost. But saving money on gas and electric was never the goal.

  7. Have you thought about international? With your ancestry, you could probably get Italian citizenship, which is effectively EU citizenship, assuming the EU survives. I’m in process. Fair warning: it’s a long process.

    Anyhow, I’m holed up in quarantine and looking at real estate in Turin, Italy. It’s the home of Slow Food, Barolo and an economy that is pathetic by German standards but tops by Italian standards. Fertile plains and a climate like the Upper South. Walkability and gorgeous architecture. Famously dysfunctional country, but not violently so.

    Chieri is a pretty medieval town at the end of commuter rail, home to the International School of Turin and a small community of expats. Relatively affordable. Here’s a few listings I liked under €300000:

    https://www.immobiliare.it/en/annunci/75678760/ (the bachelor penthouse)
    https://www.immobiliare.it/en/annunci/75685386/ (lawn to garden?)
    https://www.immobiliare.it/en/annunci/72406402/ (How much would this cost in Petaluma?)

    This is a thought experiment of course. And yeah, it’s halfway around the world and a foreign culture. But for all intents and purposes, I’m a foreigner in Wisconsin too. Maybe even more so. Just saying…

  8. After giving up on mainstream media in 2015, and devouring all the most rational sources of information since, I have to admit that your blog is one of the best sources of quality thinking around today. Kudos on your common sense and nearly unparalleled intelligence.

    1. One further comment – the world will be de-populating over the next decades. Real estate probably won’t be a good investment. It doesn’t mean having a good safe home is a bad idea, just don’t look at it to provide real long term returns.

      1. I’m not looking for any kind of “investment.” I’m looking for physical shelter, community, and basic needs being met in a way that doesn’t involve crazy amounts of debt and vulnerability.

  9. I live in a coop in a tight knit community on the northern tip of Manhattan, and 40 % of the land is public space–parks and rail yard primarily. Now, how can I convince the powers that be to convert some of that land to food production? As a coop, we are putting solar on the roof…. but we have no land and no balconies.

  10. Since becoming chronically ill and not being able to earn money I’ve become even more of an energy (saving) nerd than I used to be. When I look at that house I see some passive solar potential, although the duplex to the south may be a little too tall and might block the low winter sun. If not, that garage on the south unit could be turned into a passive solar “heater” for the main house by adding a lot of windows and skylights. The north unit is out of luck, though.

    I don’t know if you are using mini-split heat pumps at any of your properties, but that technology seems to have come a long way and I think these systems can provide almost all heating and cooling needs in most climates. In areas with high electricity prices they may not make sense though.

    1. As I said, I will not be buying this property. It’s just a thought experiment. In Wisconsin there is a dark trimester in December, January, February, and March where there just isn’t any sun and/or the roof panels would be covered in snow. So solar is for summer and the shoulder seasons – basically air conditioning. I’ve done a lot of research and there are now DC mini splits that work well with off-grid solar. For winter I’d add loads of extra insulation and get a wood or pellet stove to heat the house, supplement cooking/baking, and also help heat water. Or so my thought experiment goes…

  11. This would be a good choice for extended and/or multigenerational families pooling their resources. The exterior plantings could also disguise the plain vanilla outside. I agree with your line of thinking.

  12. What part of the country is this property located in? PS I love the way you think and found you through YouTube when you had the garage house in Hawaii.

  13. Great post, Johnny. This duplex is a very common (likely pattern book) form in my City during the 1970s-early 1990s. Your analysis and reasoning is spot on. depending on distance, much of our post-WWII development is actually quite human scaled and walkable. Your targeted micro-neighborhood in this post is common throughout much of the edge 1st ring and full 2nd ring suburban development areas.

  14. I know you mention that you won’t necessarily buy this particular house, but if you do, I would recommend you spend an afternoon in the back yard and see what kind of noise the ice arena chillers make … depending on what side of the arena they are on they might be very, very loud.

    While on that topic, it is interesting that the ice arena has no solar panels on it … there is so much untapped potential, everywhere, for that kind of thing … they probably have enough area to power their own operations and a few of the adjoining houses along with it …

  15. Opportunities will abound.

    For one thing, it will become undeniable that this country and the later-born generations that live in it have been left much, much poorer. But they will still want to lead the best life possible. And therefore the expensive patterns that prior generations had enforced may finally, eventually, be overthrown in favor of something more affordable. You might even be able to covert that one-family suburban house to a two-family, or at least mother-daughter.

    Already the savings rate is rising. Supply chain disruptions mean some production will be localized, which will make goods more expensive, so people will be able to buy less of them. This may reduce their tolerance for the extent of unrepairability and planned obsolescence built in.

    The internet revolution has been associated with very little in terms of real economic gain. This mass quarantine might change that. People are working at home, shopping at home, teaching and learning at home, consulting their physician at home. Some of that will remain.

    As for real estate, perhaps the latter shift will bring about the dispersion to small rural towns people predicted in the late 1990s. What I would look to buy as prices drop, however, is a 2-3 family house in our neighborhood in Brooklyn for my kids, who want to be able to stay here, and don’t want to have a car at all. My wife thinks condos will better, and cheaper. But in the coming fallout, having your life and finances bound up with a bunch of random people may not be wise.

  16. I really like all those ideas, just one thing that would worry me personally is buying a duplex suburban type house for rental. I would imagine that it could get extra complicated if conflicts arose between each side over issues like noise for instance. I think you would have to select the tenants very carefully.

    1. Landlords always have to choose tenants carefully. So… How is a duplex any different from a building with ten or a hundred units? Isn’t there always the problem of people hearing each other?

      1. I just thought it would be more likely the walls of a suburban style duplex would be less noise resistant than a large multi apartment complex.

        1. Is the sound of the people next door really the biggest problem we all have at the moment? Really? I think you’re touching on something important here. A significant number of Americans have never had to make such compromises before. I remember when a friend’s son went off to university and was scandalized that he had to share a bathroom with a single room mate. We’re all going to have to make much bigger compromises moving forward. The physical problems all have reasonable solutions. The emotional discomfort probably doesn’t.

          1. During the era when the cities were being abandoned, and the ideal was a one-family house on a LARGE piece of land far from other land uses or even houses, noise pollution was thought of as a big issue. From 1971 — The Fight for Quiet.


            In light of what has happened since, I think loneliness will be more of a concern going forward. The fact that Brooklyn is suddenly very quiet just means the sounds of all the ambulances is echoing everywhere.

            1. Soundproofing a building isn’t a huge technical challenge. It might cost a little money. It is probably always worth it.

              Doing the walls is easier and cheaper than doing the ceilings.

  17. I’m a little skeptical of integrating fruit trees too closely with vegetable plots. My experience has been that the fruit trees cast long shadows, and love to run roots under the vege’s, where they steal water and interfere with cultivation.

    1. I plant dwarf and semi dwarf fruit trees as well as espalier fruit trees along fences and walls. I interplant grape and kiwi vines in addition to berry bushes and such. The veggie beds are far enough away that they aren’t in shadow and the roots don’t compete. My crude drawings on this post weren’t meant to be super accurate.

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