Tag Archives: home

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?

 

My downsized goals: chasing the miniature American Dream

The baby (singular or plural) may – or may not – happen. But, I’m turning 34 NEXT FUCKING WEEK and I feel like I need to have some new goals in my life. Some new goals that involve not living like a just-graduated-from-college person for the rest of my life.

I was absolutely fine living my 20s in shared living situations to save money, and my early 30s were completely acceptable sharing a 1 bedroom apartment with my husband. But – as I’ve taken home $160k+ per year, minus taxes, for the last 3 years – I wonder what on earth am I doing this for if I can’t have some semblance of the adult life I want.

All the east coast dreams of the grande house with the huge backyard are gone. I’ve downsized my objectives – but I still have them. I’d like to own a house on not-the-crappiest street. I’d like to be able to take time off in the future (in health or in sickness) and not worrying about running out of money. I’ve made progress, but I still have a long way to go.

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The plan (with flat stocks):

2017 – close the year with ~$525k networth
2018 – savings = $45k investments + $30k after-tax bonus = $600k
2019 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $685k
2020 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $770k
2021 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $885k

OR

The plan (with ~5% growth):

2017 – close the year with ~$525k networth
2018 – savings = $45k investments + $30k after-tax bonus = $625k
2019 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $740k
2020 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $862k
2021 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $990k

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This all assumes I can perform well in my current job for the next four years, age 34-38, and not take significant time off, all while (hopefully) having two children.

My goal has always been to have $500k in the bank before having children. I have obtained that goal. My next goal is to have $1M in the bank before 40. Ideally well before 40. I’d like $1M in the back as my emergency fund and retirement fund and the fund which I do not touch. Over this same time, my husband will be doing what he does and not investing his money because he’s very risk averse. This is fine, because he will be saving up for the down payment on our (not in this part of the country) house.

Assuming I have one child in 2018/19 (age 34-35); and one in 2020/21 (36-37); by the time I have achieved this plan, I have one child who is ~3 and one who is ~1. This will enable us to, before we have to think about putting the kids into school, move to a part of the country where housing is more affordable. My husband can continue his career as a teacher in a region it is more cost effective, and I can perhaps pursue an entirely new career – or take time to spend at home with the kids.

I realize $1M is NOT “early retirement.” This is step two in my… however many step, not very well thought out plan…

Step 1: $500k before having children (age 30-35)
Step 2: $1M before 40 / + $200k cash downpayment (husband)
Step 3: $2M before 50 / + home 33% paid off (or more)
Step 4: $3M before 60 / + home 66% paid off
Step 5: $4M before 70 / + home 100% paid off / retirement

I’m not sure if any of that makes sense. So far steps 1 was achieved (woohoo) and step 2 seems like it might be achievable, if I can hold on to this job for the full four years. I am going to hold on to it with all my might. The having kids things definitely may throw a wrench in this plan regardless, but I’m hopeful I can take minimal time off for my kids when they’re really young (and/or work remote and still do my job, which might be possible)… then, after four years, we leave. We have to leave. We will never be able to afford a house here. I don’t know why that’s so important to me – I realize homeownership is a horrible financial decision – but it is. I can’t shake it. I want to design my own bathroom and kitchen… I’d like a backyard I can sit in and enjoy the sun without feeling the prying eyes of others all over me. I want a place for my children to grow up and a home to know.

So, that’s the plan. It suddenly seems all so very short term. I feel quite old. 34 is no joke. 34 is just a few years away from 40. And 40 is no longer fake adulthood. It’s serious, full-on, you’re an adult – and you’re only going to get MORE adult until you’re PAST that… and, I’m trying not to freak out about that, because I know life is so very short, and I need to just enjoy the moments and try to achieve some semblance of both freedom and control before I’m too old to enjoy it.

 

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

Should I Buy a Condo?

Most jobs in my industry are an hour north of where I live (more than that in traffic) and I’m growing weary from the commute. We’re paying $2500 a month in rent currently for our 800 square foot one bedroom and I’m starting to think renting is no longer cost effective for us. Granted, we won’t be able to afford a 1 bedroom quite a nice as the one we are renting – BUT – we could buy a 1 bedroom condo closer to the city and then at least we’d lock in our monthly rates so we can actually afford to stay here.

My crazy thought is buying a 1 bedroom 1 ba condo. I wouldn’t have considered this before, but it’s the only way we can own property for <$600k. My goal would be to get the monthly mortgage under $2000 so with standard $500 HOA, we’d be paying the same (or even less next year) than what we are paying to rent. Continue reading

No Cable TV for Now, Fast Internet Instead

Since I’m determined to read more, get out of the house more to see friends and exercise, and generally not be a lazy couch potato, I decided to avoid getting cable for the time being. Instead, we’re getting 50MB internet and skipping cable altogether.

The cable bill for the first year wouldn’t be that bad, but then I’d get used to it and have to pay the ridiculous fees charged after the first 12 month rates expire. It really is ridiculous to pay $100+ per month for cable television when most of the shows are available through other means. I even already have Amazon prime which offers many shows and movies as part of the membership. There’s also the option to buy Hulu Plus or Netflix if this isn’t enough.

Instead of the cable membership, I splurged on a waterproof case for my Kindle ($70) so I can come home after work, fill up the tub, and read myself silly. Better that then starting mindlessly at the screen. I figure if I’m desperate for television I can sign up for the local gym, which offers tv screens in every cardio machine… at least then I’ll be able to get healthy while watching television instead of the opposite.

Buy vs Rent: A New Thought

We’re moving in together. For real this time. For better or worse, we found out the place he’s currently living in is not a legal dwelling and thus he must move out. We were planning on moving in together this year, but this also expedites the planning and upcoming move.

While it might be dumb to consider buying something together now, I have a few ideas that could make this concept be more logical than irrational. Even though I occasionally mention moving back east at some point, the reality is that I want to stay in The Bay Area. I want to live here forever and have my kids born and grow up here. Continue reading

Mint’s "Goals" Depress Me.

It’s been a while since I’ve written on here because I’ve been so busy lately. Which is a good thing. I’m working a full-time job, spending some time on a side project, and not spending all that much money. All in all, I’m doing “good.” Heck, I’m doing amazing right now in relation to how I’ve done at any point in my life before – financially, personally, etc.

Yet I feel so far away from reaching any of my goals. Mint’s new Goals feature makes my future look terribly bleak. Especially given that my current salary — of about $120k per year, give or take — is temporary at best — and even WITH that salary I can’t save enough to reach my “goals.” At least according to Mint.
I made four different goals for myself…
Emergency Fund — I have my $8k in that, and it’s the only goal I’ll reach.
Save for Grad School — I need to save $110k, I’ve saved $1.4k. Yikes. At this rate I’ll go to to grad school by the time I’m 90.
Buy a Home? Yea, right. I need to save $207k for a downpayment. I haven’t really saved anything for a downpayment yet, but I’m counting my various non retirement investment as savings for a downpayment (which, it is if I ever want to buy a house.) Ok, so how much do I have saved now? A whopping $13k. Mint so nicely reminds me that I’m “4 years and 10 months behind” my savings goal. Granted, I wrote that I want to buy a million dollar house – but that’s not unreasonable where I live. That’s a pretty small house where I live. And I’ll never do it. Ok, so I’ll rent forever. Or I need to more to Kansas (I guess I’m renting forever.)
Retirement? Well, I’m doing OK on that goal. It doesn’t LOOK like I’m doing ok since according to Mint I need to save $6,362,665 by the time I’m 65 to hit my retirement goals. Yikes. Yea, so that’s giving me $80k per year in retirement income and I doubt I’ll need that much money when I retire, but I wouldn’t mind having it. I have $22.8k saved so far, at 26. You may say I don’t REALLY have $22.8k saved because that money will probably have to go to the down payment on my house one day when/if I want to buy one. Which SUCKS because I don’t want my retirement savings to go back to zero.
I know it’s good to be honest with yourself about your goals and how much you have to save, but really this is just terribly depressing. And as I contemplate seriously applying for graduate school next year, I am forced with knowing that grad school will make my goals even further from ever becoming a reality. It almost makes me want to give up. I’ll never own a house and never have enough for retirement. I’ll be lucky if I can buy myself another car when this one dies.

Should I Rent Forever?

I’ve been fairly happy renting thus far in my life. At 26 years old, I’ve never really contemplated owning my own place until now. My rental costs have varied greatly over the years…

2004-2005: Chicago, 2br apartment shared w/ 3 people in a nice area. I lived in the living room w/ a curtain for a door for $460 a month. I think some utilities were included in that too.
2005: lived in DC, where I rented a room with a semi-private bath for $800 / month. Utilities were included. Then I moved to California, where my first place was “free” but it was really part of my internship stipend. Soon after I moved again… to a 4br, 2ba apartment shared with 3 other girls (and their friends on occasion) for $480 / month. When I got a full-time job, I decided I deserved my own place, even though I was making about $35k per year. So I found a studio with utilities included for $900 / month. In a year, the rent for that studio went up to $1100 / month. Even though I knew this was a lot, I didn’t want to deal with moving and I liked where I lived. So I stayed one year. Then they raised the rent to $1350 / month and I decided to leave the apartment complex and look for a more affordable, room-share situation. I found a place in a nice condo complex for rent with a smaller personal living area but a nicer all-around apartment for $635 / month plus utilities split between myself and two other girls.
The problem is that now I live far from my job so the cost of the monthly commute is about $230 / month for parking at the public transit station plus the train, and that’s not including the gas it costs me to get to and from the train. So… you could say now I’m spending $300 / month on transportation, or $1000 / month on “rent” including transportation and utilities. So I ask myself… should I move? If I do move, how much should I pay for a place? While my roommates and I aren’t best friends, we get along fairly well, and I’ve gone through my share of roomie nightmares in the past, so I’m not in the mood to get into any of that mess while just getting into the jive of things at my new job. Still, the cost of the commute plus the actual commute (about 1 hour 15 minutes each way) will eventually get to me. I could even find a place that costs the same or cheaper slightly closer to work… maybe 30 minutes closer… because there are some areas that are not as nice as where I live now that are on the way towards the public transportation stations. I really should be living there. But I just don’t want to deal with moving.
Then, the idea always pops in my mind… what about buying a home? Well, that’s really not possible right now… the average costs of a 1br condo here are like $600,000. Given that I only have $50k in savings at the moment… it will take me a long time before I could even afford a down payment on that. And the more I think about it, the more I realize owning a home… at least in this area… may never make any sense. It’s just too expensive. I look at how much my parents still pay for their house after all these years in mortgage and property taxes and homeowners insurance and think, wow, I should really just rent forever.
Of course, when I have kids one day, I guess it would be nice to own a home. I liked growing up in one place all my life… I think it would have been really tough to move around a lot, being as shy as I was. Then again, lots of families move a lot and they do just fine. And you don’t have to move all the time in a rental, you just never know when your landlord will decide they need you to leave. I guess that on its own is enough reason to consider owning. But really, how can anyone afford home ownership here? This year I’ve hit six figures… I may even make $150k this year, and that isn’t near enough for me to own a condo or a home in this area. I think I’d have to be making something like $300k / year before I could even really consider owning.
Do you own a home? Do you rent? What’s your monthly cost for owning or renting? Why do you own… or rent?

Savings 2009 Update

Since I don’t have a 401k, I’m always paranoid about not having enough saved for retirement. I know they advise workers to put at least the % match in their 401k above and beyond their Roth, but without a 401k, I’m still at a loss for where to save my money. Also, with grad school in the future (2-5 years away) I don’t know how much to save for retirement vs. that. Oy.

To be honest, beyond my Roth IRA, which I max out at $5000 each year, I don’t keep great track of what money goes into my other savings accounts. I save, I probably save quite a bit all things considered, but I haven’t really looked at what that means until today.

This year, so far, I’ve put $4850 in my Roth IRA. I have invested $5000 in ETFs and stock purchases in my Sharebuilder account. Plus, there’s about $600 in my 529 plan. Ok, so I think I stashed away $10k this year, or more. That’s not too bad. Then again, I know people who are saving 30% or more of their after-tax income. Which would be probably more like $20k.

Granted, I lie to my net worth spreadsheet and tell it to deduct more taxes then I will need to in order to have a fiscal boost come April 15. But that usually goes straight to next year’s Roth IRA. I always like to start it out with a $3000 one-time investment in April, then add in for the rest of the year until I hit the $5000.

I really wish I could buy a house right now, but besides not having the money to do that (I only have $30k saved, and much of it is in retirement accounts) it just wouldn’t make sense. So I’ll keep throwing away $600/month on rent. I was at my friend’s house yesterday — the one she bought with her engineer fiancee — and I’ll admit, I’m a bit jealous. But then I remember I don’t NEED a house right now. What would I do with a giant house besides pay a lot in bills and make a mess of it?

Moving: The Latest On My Decision

I’ve decided to move.*

(*”decided” in the dictionary of me = decided for today. That could change tomorrow.)

I don’t want to live in a super-cheap living space, per say, but there are a lot of big-ticket items I want to buy within the next few years (including cosmetic teeth work and a condo), and spending $1300 a month just means that my dream purchases will not be possible.

I looked at a place for about $960 that I like, but it’s a bit out of the way and I feel like if I’m going to move, I might as well try to get something even cheaper than that. I’m not sure how cheap I can go… The $960 place at least has its own bathroom (just a shower, no bath), and anything less than that will undoubtedly be a shared bathroom situation.

There are plenty of random roomshares on Craigslist for about $500-$700, and some of them even include utilities, but the majority of them do not have kitchen “privileges.” I don’t really understand how using a kitchen can be a privilege, it’s not like you’re at college with a cafeteria to eat at. Not that I use my kitchen all that much other than to microwave something, but I still think I ought to get a place with a kitchen.

It’s looking like I’ll just move out at the end of June and look for a place in July. If I do manage to find a place for “cheap” I’m going to really be careful not to overspend throughout the year and instead to really focus on saving. That way I can save up to get my teeth fixed, maybe get some laser hair removal for my face, and finally one day buy a condo.