Travel Plans

The Mexican good times can’t last forever. Really. At some point the government here is going to recraft their foreigner hospitality program and guys like me are going to be shown the border.

It’s only a matter of time. And I have to plan accordingly.

So what is my Plan B? Ahh, that’s complicated. And trust me, I have been giving the subject a great deal of thought. I have been overstaying my welcome here for some years and the fear of the boot is ever present.

I do not want to go back to the US but I have to face facts that is a very real possibility. Where else can I go? Places like Australia and Europe offer such limited access. Looking at visa requirements by country and the typical stay allowed for US citizens is generally something like 90-180 days.

I think short term I am going to do my visa u-turn to Las Vegas in December. Then for my next compulsory visa trip out in June, I think I will venture up to Oregon and visit my daughter for a couple of weeks. And then for the following December/January I am going to see about renting an apartment in Paris for 2-3 months.

Note: U-Turn is what I call my one night stay stateside to renew my 6 month Mexican tourist visa before catching the next day’s flight back to my home in Mexico.

I can see no easy solution to the visa dilemma, a problem that has plagued many a renegade expat. There simply so many of us who never want to go home. And after a couple of years the physically of home becomes blurry. And if you’re gone long enough then I reckon it’s fair to say that there really isn’t any home left to return to.

Ry Cooder’s lament says it all on the first cut of ‘Into the Purple Valley’.

“How can you keep on moving unless you migrate too?

They tell you to keep on moving, but migrate you must not do.

The only reason for moving and the reason why I roam is to move to a new location and find myself a home.”

Ideally I would find me a great spot in the US, buy a nice little piece of land, and build myself a tiny house. From there I would cease being a vagabond and would then only launch one or maybe two trips a year. That sounds easy, right?

Actually there are two significant wrinkles in that plan. First, where is that  nice little piece of land to be found? I’m looking very hard using a combination of Google Maps and Craigslist and I’ve yet to find it. Hell, I even created a Move Matrix in the form of a spreadsheet to keep track of move criteria, search events and whatnot.

Second, the very notion of tiny houses appears to be extremely problematic in the US these days. Each county in every state in the union has it’s own take on what qualifies as legal permitable building size. These rules and requirements are generally published in legal documents called ‘Restrictive Covenants and Subdivision Regulations.’

Just because you buy a piece of land – even rural – doesn’t give you the authority to put any house you see fit onto it. Nope, there are a butt load of regulations that come part and parcel with every purchase, however remote.

For example, I was looking online at some land in southern New Mexico in the mountains around the tiny little town of Timberon (el. 6500 ft.) and I thought what I found looked highly promising until I went to the county website to discover that the town and immediate environs had been parsed into several hundred developments and the few development parcels that I clicked on for their Restrictive Covenants all insisted on houses to be no less than 800 sf. And this rural, mountainous outback! Whatever happened to the idyllic mountain cabin? Seems you can’t build those anymore.

I want to build a cabin on the order of less than 500 sf: one bedroom, a loft (for a guest), a single bathroom and a small kitchen. How practical is that? Less to clean and maintain than a big house. Also less space to heat and cool. And building it myself I can make it super energy efficient which with other steps would serve to make the place very environmentally friendly.

But oh no, at least not yet. And as I’ve been researching this move project it turns out that I also have a lot to say about the subject of tiny houses – if you’re interested, do a search on the subject – because tiny houses are so what are needed these days to solve a bunch of parallel housing problems like providing more options for retirement people, students, and beginning homeowners. Not to mention the urban homeless, the poor, and the under capitalized.

However urban planning – and as it seems rural as well – is still impracticably stuck back in the 1960s with those ill conceived unsustainable specters that apexed into the suburban sprawls that has blighted the American landscape ever since.

The time is long past due that all the public sectors that govern planning need to pull their heads out of their asses and realize that both people and communities desperately require a modern refresh on their housing options.


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