by Lee Flynn

How I Created a Personal Retreat with Minimal Cost

3 years ago | Posted in: Articles | 813 Views

If you met me, you wouldn’t really think of someone who likes his relaxing time. I’ve kind of built up a reputation among my friends and colleagues as a “prepper,” someone who spends all his time preparing for whatever life throws at me by building up my food storage, stockpiling cash, and just making sure I’m ready for the inevitable. But that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally like to unwind and relax.

Of course, when you’re funneling resources into nonperishable food and water purification equipment, that doesn’t leave a lot to spare for creature comforts around the home. Fortunately, one sense I’ve developed in my years of preparation is a sense of how to spot a deal. That, plus a willingness to adapt my expectations led me to build a great place to retreat for a few moments to myself when I need them without dipping too far into my savings.

So what things did I focus on as I was planning out this private space?

A Comfortable Space

The most important thing to me as I was building this backyard retreat was that it needed to be comfortable. After all, if it wasn’t, then what was the point? So I kept my eye out for deals on outdoor furniture that was both durable and comfortable. I searched a lot of local listings like and craigslist, trying to find a good product for a decent price. Probably the most important decision I made in the beginning, though, was that I wasn’t going to rush. This place to relax was a want, not a need, so I didn’t have to be in a hurry to buy the first thing that came along. I’ve often been told that out of fast, good, and cheap, you can only expect two of those qualities. Since I was willing to sacrifice “fast,” I had the chance to wait for good and cheap to come along. In the end, I found a nice set of outdoor chairs with really comfortable cushions that could be removed in the event of rain. The set had a matching filigree-style table made of coated cast iron that’s the perfect place to rest a cold drink or to set down a book for a brief catnap between chapters. Grand total? $100 cash.

A Place to Cool Off

I live in a desert, and in the summer, it can get hotter than 100 degrees sometimes, so I’ve got to have a way to cool off and stay hydrated. I’ll admit that I splurged a little bit, but a while back, we decided to add a pool to our backyard. We had the space, and we figured it would be nice to have as our daughter grew up. But again, we weren’t in any huge hurry, so we took our time looking for a bargain. As I scoured the internet and yellow pages for affordable pool builders near me, cost and quality were at the forefront of my mind. While most people are thinking hardest about a pool when it starts to get hot in the summertime, I decided to wait until things cooled down a little.

Because a lot of people are most interested in getting a pool at the beginning of summer, the demand on pool installers is a lot higher then. As the weather cools off, so does business for pool companies, and the prices drop. I didn’t want to have to worry about a potential snowfall mid-construction, though, so we ended up getting started right around the beginning of September. We were fortunate enough that we didn’t run into any hiccups during construction, which meant that the pool was pretty much complete by the beginning of November, a few weeks before we saw any snow.

The other benefit of starting so late was that we were able to replant the grass around the area in the fall, which gave it time to develop deeper roots before springtime, and so it was healthier than it would have been planting in the spring.

Other than the pool and the place to sit and chat with company, I didn’t really need much more. I have a buddy who’s an electrician, and we worked together to put in some nice backyard lighting so that we could enjoy the space even after the sun went down, but that’s basically it. Most people get caught up in having the nicest space and trying to cram every possible amenity in, but that’s not really practical. What’s really important is to build a place for yourself that suits your needs and fits within your budget. You don’t have to blow all of your savings on your retreat. Just plan ahead, be patient, and in the end, you can have a space that’s perfectly suited to you.


by: Lee Flynn

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