They built a small house in rural Thailand for $22,500. They don’t have debt, but that doesn’t mean the lifestyle is easy. – DIGIWIZ CENTRAL

They built a small house in rural Thailand for $22,500. They don’t have debt, but that doesn’t mean the lifestyle is easy.

The exterior of Ryan and Damo’s home.

Ryan and Damo/Life in Rural Thailand

Ryan and his wife Damo moved from Bali to a village in Thailand during the pandemic.
They built a small house and an outdoor kitchen for $22,500.
Now, the couple has no housing debt, and their monthly utility bills come out to about $155.

For Ryan and his wife Damo, the pandemic was a catalyst for a lifestyle change.

Ryan had been working in the hotel industry in Bali, Indonesia, for two years, when COVID-19 hit. As tourism on the island came to a standstill, the couple decided to return to Thailand to be closer to their relatives.

They headed to Damo’s village in Buri Ram in east Thailand, where Damo’s family had given them a plot of land.

“We already had this land and we had planned to develop it in the future for our retirement,” Ryan, 35, told Insider. “But since we had time on our hands, we ended up starting work on it during COVID-19.”

The couple, who have two young sons, asked to be identified by only their first names in order to protect their privacy. The couple provided Insider with a breakdown of their monthly expenses, as well as all the costs involved in building their home and outdoor kitchen.

As the pandemic dragged on, the couple ended up falling in love with the rural lifestyle and even started a YouTube channel documenting their lives on the farm.

The couple lived in Thailand for 10 years before moving to Bali because of Ryan’s job. When the pandemic hit, they moved back to Thailand.

Ryan and Damo/Life in Rural Thailand

But far from using their YouTube channel to paint the picture of a romanticized countryside life, they are open about the struggles they face adapting to life in the countryside. Hardly any topic is off-limits: They’ve spoken about everything from the cost of living to the difficulties of farming in their videos.

As their audience grew, Ryan realized he didn’t want to go back to corporate life.

“We saw that we could actually do this on a budget, living a very simple lifestyle, while growing our own food and having our own animals,” he said.

Phase one: simple bamboo huts

The family arrived in the village — which is home to about 150 people — in the early days of the pandemic. At the time, their parcel of land was nothing more than “a big flat area of mud,” Ryan said.

With so much uncertainty due to the pandemic, the couple decided to live carefully.

“We wanted to save everything we got because the pandemic could have gone on for years — we didn’t know,” Ryan said.

Since they weren’t prepared to spend a lot of money on developing the land, they decided to live in bamboo huts. Local craftsmen built two bamboo huts for them.

The family was living in a bamboo hut before.

Ryan and Damo/Life in Rural Thailand

“We did that for about a year and a half, and we were growing vegetables here,” Ryan said.

That was supposed to be the long-term plan, but then the pandemic restrictions eased — and the couple had a change of heart.

“We decided we’ll use our savings to invest in a house. We wanted to build a cottage that would be good for the children if something happened to us,” Ryan said.

Phase two: building a small house with an outdoor kitchen

The house has distinctive wooden beams holding up the roof.

Ryan and Damo/Life in Rural Thailand

With an eye on permanence, the couple designed a plan for a small home and a freestanding kitchen. They hired a local team of builders to bring their vision to life. They spent 821,593 Thai baht, or $22,500, on both structures.

“I made digital drawings and then we would just be on site every day to show the builders the details of how we wanted the house to look,” Ryan said.

It took some trial and error to arrive at the final layout, he added.

The house has a loft.

Ryan and Damo/Life in Rural Thailand

The fruit of their labors is a two-story home with an orange roof, a sheltered porch, and a small balcony on the top floor. Inside, the house has a loft-style layout with a neutral color scheme and plenty of wood accents.

The open-air kitchen is a one-story structure that’s separate from the main living quarters. It’s replete with a large kitchen bar and a cozy sitting areas in one corner.

But the most recognizable parts of the two buildings are the log columns that hold up the roofs.

The outdoor kitchen.

Ryan and Damo/Life in Rural Thailand

“It was my wife’s idea,” Ryan added. “You have to treat it for termites every year but we loved it so much. We thought it was so much nicer than a square concrete post.”

Phase three: thinking ahead

Ryan realized that in the countryside, some people turn their homes into small businesses to supplement their incomes.

It could be a little convenience store or even a kiosk selling petrol, he said: “Maybe it doesn’t make a lot, but for an old couple, a few people coming in the shop every day and spending — it gives them a little cashflow.”

The outdoor kitchen.

Ryan and Damo/Life in Rural Thailand

That made him think about how he and his wife could use their home to make money. And that’s where the kitchen comes into play.

With the addition of a few tables and a cash register, they could easily turn it into a small cafe, he said.

“It’s just a backup,” Ryan added. “If you live in rural Thailand, you’ve got to kind of think about how you earn money, even if it’s just a small amount.”

A casual corner in the outdoor kitchen.

Ryan and Damo/Life in Rural Thailand

The perks of building a forever home

Some people build houses with the intention of selling them for a profit. That’s not Ryan and Damo’s plan.

“We know this is a forever home, something that we just never would sell. And so that allows us to put our own unique stamp on things,” Ryan said.

For example, he described the floor tiles in his home office as having a “psychedelic” pattern that not everyone will appreciate, but it doesn’t matter since he’s not planning to sell the house.

The office.

Ryan and Damo/Life in Rural Thailand

“We didn’t have to think about how the market value of the house would be impacted,” he added. “We were able to create what we wanted to create.”

No rent, no mortgage

As for costs, the couple now has no rent and no mortgage. Their monthly electricity and internet bills add up to about 5,700 Thai baht, or $155, Ryan said. They’re hooked up to the grid for electricity, and they also have solar panels.

The living area.

Ryan and Damo/Life in Rural Thailand

“We have an inverter that takes the power from the solar panels and it supplements the electricity through the day, but not through the night — we don’t store it in batteries,” Ryan said. “And for water, we pump it ourselves from the well.”

The bedroom.

Ryan and Damo/Life in Rural Thailand

The couple owns about 15 acres of land, some of which is used for farming and for raising animals including chickens, pigs, and buffalo.

“I want to be able to grow our own food or have the animals on the farm for food,” Ryan said. “I want to be able to have savings, produce our own electricity, and have our own water separate from the system.”

The couple homeschooled their oldest son, Otis, until he was 4 years old. They plan to do the same for their youngest son Hugo. Otis is now 5 and Hugo is 6 months old.

Less money, more time together

The bathroom.

Ryan and Damo/Life in Rural Thailand

Ryan knows this lifestyle won’t suit everyone.

“It’s very remote where we are. We’ve got a lot of time as a family, we’re in nature, but there’s a lot of work involved on the farm. It’s tough as well to take care of all the animals,” he said.

But the biggest challenge of living a rural life is finding new ways to make income.

“You’re still going to need money even if you go off-grid and build your own house in the middle of nowhere,” Ryan said.

A mini jacuzzi.

Ryan and Damo/Life in Rural Thailand

Living off the land is more difficult than it seems, he said: “We have tried going 100% self-sufficient in producing our own food. But for us, personally, we don’t think it’s possible.”

Unexpected situations like a swarm of insects or bad weather can easily take out their crops and reduce their efforts to nothing. While he said there are plenty of other families who can go 100% self-sufficient, Ryan said they’ve been able to produce about 35% of their own food.

The balcony.

Ryan and Damo/Life in Rural Thailand

Instead, what the couple does is find lots of little things that bring in bits of money, he said.

“We sell Vietnamese potbelly pigs, and my wife sells bottled honey and honeycomb,” Ryan said. “So we have all these little things that go on that end up supporting the whole ecosystem.”

At the end of the day, they have less money than they used to, Ryan said: “We may be not as well off as when I worked in corporate, but we get to be together as a family.”

And that, he adds, has always been the aim of building their own farm and living sustainably.

Have you recently bought or renovated your dream home and want to share the details and photos of the process? Email this reporter, Amanda Goh, at [email protected].

Read the original article on Business Insider
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