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To Move or Not To Move… That is the Question

7 months, 3 weeks in counting until the arrival of baby “E” (we have two names picked out for girl or boy child, both start with E, so calling it baby E .) 7 months, 3 weeks is not that much time before our lives change forever.

Outside of finally figuring out how to keep my apartment clean, focusing on obtaining stability at my job, and trying to eat healthy and exercise and such, I’m perturbed  by our housing situation and whether or not we should move or stay put. The general consensus until my anxiety attack of this last week was stay put until kid is 1, then figure it out / move to a two bedroom / etc.

But then I started thinking about how I will be going back to work after 3 months (maybe sooner) and my baby will be 45 minutes from my office. What if something went wrong? What if I just want to go home to breast feed at lunch time? What if we are both sick and need a separate guest room for his dad or mom to stay overnight to watch the baby (assuming they’d be willing to do so?)

Our options are as follows:

  • A. Stay put. Live in our 825 square feet, 1 bedroom, 2nd floor, $2400 a month apartment for the first year of Baby E’s life.  Possibly husband’s father comes to watch baby a few days a week… he doesn’t drive but can take the train down to us and my husband would pick him up and drive him back. We haven’t asked him yet but hubby thinks he’ll be interested in helping.
  • A2. Same as above, but find a daycare close to my office to put young baby in, vs having husband’s dad watch kid. Then I can visit the child at lunch to nurse. I’ll still have to pump at work, but I’ve been reading a lot about breastfeeding and I’d like to have the option to breastfeed during my lunch hour. This won’t be possible if it takes 1-1.5 hr to get home and back.
  • B. Move closer to my office into a 2 bedroom apartment, likely $3500-$4000. Options include moving really close to the office (I’m not in love with the area) or back to the town that we DO love where my husband’s parents both live (neither drive, so this would make it super easy for them to get to us if needed)
  • C. Buy a house / condo closer to work. Ok, this isn’t really a very feasible option, but it’s on the list because maybe we could make it work. My monthly take-home income after tax is about $7500. My husband, for now, makes about $3000 after tax. When he starts teaching that will be more like $2000? (*who knows what will happen w/ the new tax plan, but we’ll be making even less if we can’t deduct state income tax.) So we’re looking at about $9000 a month after taxes – if we keep our jobs for the next 30 years and all…

More on option C… I’ve always said (and still believe) buying a house is a bad financial move. Yes, where I live, in the past 5 years houses that were selling for $800k are now worth $1.3M… $500k increases in a very short time. They may go up forever, but probably not at that rate. Even if they do, all the other houses nearby are going up at the same rate… so it still won’t be possible to trade in and move into a nicer place (unless you leave the area.) To stay in this area long term, renting seems like the most financially-wise option.

However… now I’m having a child (knock on wood) I’d really like to have stability for Baby E. I grew up in a nice middle class development where generally you could walk into the street and not get hit by a car. It was very family friendly and just felt like a permanent home, not an apartment where I don’t know any of my neighbors and everyone is so transient. There’s benefits to that as well (with my social anxiety, it’s not like we’re going to be bringing jello molds to our neighbor’s house anyway) — but it would be very nice to be part of a community and live in an area where I’d love to push a stroller down the street. Not that where I live now is horrible… there is a nice park around the corner… it’s just, fine for us as DINKs, not for + kids. I really would like a private backyard, even a little tiny one.

So… I keep coming back to the house buying thing. It would certainly be easier to house buy now before baby comes vs after (I think?) Especially given how we like to look at a billion options for everything and houses here tend to get overbid and snapped up fast.

In reality, though, we probably can’t afford a house. I don’t want to buy a condo but I’d be open to a townhouse (with no one above or below.) A townhouse might not be a horrible idea since the outside of the home would be fixed by the HOA and we could focus on upkeep of the inside only. I’d prefer no shared walls at all, but given our income, we’re going to have to compromise somewhere. I don’t want to be on the bottom floor in a condo, though, with people walking upstairs. Right now I’m in a 2 floor apartment and we’re on the second floor. The walls are thin and we can still hear things through them, but it’s not too bad…

For buying property, according to the Smart Asset calculator, we can afford a $1,000,000 home (with a $200k down payment.)

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The problem is, we can’t get a heck of a lot for $1M here. I did include a $700 a month HOA (which is high but reasonable for some of the communities I’ve been looking at closer to work) — we’re not going to get a house for $1M.  And this assumes I’ll be keeping my job of at least $160k income and my husband $55k income for 30 years consistently starting at the beginning of the mortgage. So much for early retirement.

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So, we could go that route. Find a $1M 2br, 2ba townhouse (still very hard to do around here) and hope that we keep our jobs for the next 30 years. If our total monthly payment is $6000, and I paid $3000 a month and hubby paid $3000, then… I’d be ok with $4000 left in post tax money a month… but he’d be using his entire salary on the mortgage. It would be very tight. Maybe in 20 years we’ll have a lower monthly payment then a comparable mortgage. But we’ll also be stuck if prices go down or we need to move for a job. It’s probably not a good time to buy… and it wouldn’t be horrible to wait one more year anyway and stay in the 1 bedroom to save up money for a downpayment… but it seems silly to move closer to work and pay $3500-$4000 a month for a two bedroom… at that point, shouldn’t we just bite the bullet and buy a home?

 

Lessons in Adulting: How Much Should Living Room Furniture Cost?

When we moved in together two years ago, my Craigslist-purchased couch with ripped cushions and protruding feathers, along with my once-glued together, now peeling-apart IKEA coffee table and self-desctructive Tar-gey bookshelves which are not safe to be around a small child, seemed perfectly fine for a trancient space. With barren white walls and a few half-filled and altogether empty frames scattered about the floor, this now-married couple is trying to figure out how to create a place that feels like “home” without overdoing it (you know, like we (…ahem… I) overdid our wedding.)

Right now, we really can’t have guests over because the place is embarrassing, even on its good days when I’ve cleaned up the piles of mess. Our lease is up in May, but it is doubtful we will move next year or anytime soon (the only real reasons for us to move is 1 – rents going up an unreasonable amount, 2 – we have a child and said child turns 2, or 3, one of us gets a job super far away, like, in another state, and we need to move.) Otherwise, it looks like we’re hunkered down for a few more years in our 800-square foot, overpriced-due-to-Silicon-Valley-rental-costs abode.

This furniture has got to go. Continue reading