I grew up moving between Indiana, Ohio and several third world countries. Outside of the US it was common to build a house for under $30K and consider it a more than adequate solution to living needs.
Things are more complicated and expensive in the states, yes. But does it really have to be this way?
Tiny houses are one alternative. There are great architects designing these things, and a movement of people that value them because of the ecological implications of living smaller. I like the idea of having less stuff to deal with. I like the gadgets that allow a person to live in 100 square feet of space. Oh, and I like the idea that your heating bill could be under $100 -- for the whole winter!
You could have the whole thing built and paid for for under $40K. Of course there's a lot of things you wouldn't have and people in your neighborhood would think you're weird.
So there you go. You got a blog on shoes once, now tiny houses. Bet you can't wait for the next curve ball on this art/community/spirituality blog.
If you want to know more google "Tiny House Movement." Be sure to take a couple virtual tours.