Tag Archives: housing

Just Another Post of Sadness RE: Being Priced Out of Bay Area Housing

I really try to take life one day at a time, because thinking too far into the future puts me in a constant state of unproductive panic. Right now, I need to focus on the next four years of our lives:

  • 2018: baby #1 born (0 – 6 mo), I turn 35, 1 yr at job
  • 2019: baby #1 turns 1, I turn 36(!), 2 yr at job
  • 2020: baby #1 turns 2, preg w/ baby #2(!?!), I turn 37, 3 yr at job
  • 2021:  baby #1 turns 3, baby #2 turns 1, I turn 38, 4 yr at job

Then we… GTFO of the Bay Area. >Insert frown face and sad heart.<

I know we live in one of the most expensive places to live in the entire world. When I moved here 12 years ago, I knew that too. However, I didn’t really understand how the expensiveness of “San Francisco” wasn’t referring to just the city. It actually meant that one cannot afford to live anywhere within a 80 mile radius of the city.

While I didn’t grow up here, my husband did — but unlike many others who grew up here, unfortunately his parents never purchased real estate so there is no property in the family (other than the home his grandmother owns, which is a complete tear down once it needs to be sold.) His mother also has to figure out what to do — she, for better or worse, has been living (I think) rent free her entire life in her mother’s house. So she can buy something somewhere, but she won’t be able to buy out her siblings to purchase the entire property. We have no roots here as a family, financially anyway. Unless we somehow win the lottery, the reality is we are going to have to leave.

I’m seriously considering staying in the 1 bedroom until that point. Our rent control is helpful. We still have increases at inflation (it’s not like the SF 1% rent control or whatever that is), but it helps knowing our rent won’t go up $1000 a month in a year. Really, if we could get air conditioning to work in the living room / kitchen area, and I could get my husband to be open to the idea, I think we could make this work. At first, kid shares bedroom with us. Then, we move our bedroom into the living room and kid has the bedroom. When we have #2, perhaps we switch. Or something like that. But we have enough space here. I just can’t leave my kids in a hot room with no air conditioning, and while I could survive a few unhappy years without cooling my husband would not sleep and would be miserable.

My husband has tossed around the idea of moving to Seattle. I’m not a fan of this idea, namely because I don’t like cloudy skies and I don’t like constant rain. It’s also really not that much less expensive than it is here, as salaries would be lower and we’d have to deal with long commutes anyway. I’m not sure there’s any perfect city out there (we’re not moving to Austin, husband likes it grey and rainy, go figure.) Denver is a maybe but it doesn’t feel right for us – and we have absolutely no family or friends there. Really moving back east (for me) would make the most sense… perhaps to CT or NY, though prices are high there too… just within reach, with more options, better public schools, higher taxes, but lower cost real estate.

Then the crazy part of me starts to think – what if we could live in this one bedroom apartment forever. With one kid, and if we could figure out how to cool the other room, we could make it work. It wouldn’t be the life I had hoped for – but we wouldn’t be any worse off than other families who have no choice but to live in a one bedroom with multiple kids and other relatives. Is it really that bad? I value my privacy… but I can go for a walk and spend time in the park. So can my kids. It will force us to spend more time outdoors vs in our home, which is better anyway. We’d have more money to take trips. We could even rent an AirBnB for birthday parties. Maybe, at some point, we’d move into a two bedroom apartment. Or, whenever we reach that threshold of insanity, we’d move out and far away.

I’m angry at myself for not buying property in 2011, at the bottom of the last bubble. But how could I have known? And, the reality is I couldn’t afford much then either. Six years ago, my entire net worth was $145,000. After taxes and penalties, say that was $100k, with my 401k and everything. So, I’d have 20% down on a $500k home. Which. Still. Didn’t. Exist. Then.

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Even if there is another drop in housing prices here, that means that job security is also out the window – not the best time to buy. Unless you make $500k a year, I just don’t see buying a home here making any sense. The reality is a basic home will cost you $1.5M – that’s about $7600 a month in mortgage, insurance and taxes, not including any maintenance. We take home $9000 a month after tax… and that’s IF we both have our jobs with no periods of unemployment in the next 30 years. It’s not even like we can cut back on things like travel or going out and afford a house. It’s just… impossible.

I mean, maybe if I figure out how to become a VP and increase my base income to $250k a year with a bonus that gets me up to $500k… but even then that’s super risky on one high income. At that point, maybe I’d feel more comfortable staying in the area and renting a nicer property for $5k a month… but owning here is simply out of reach.

I’m not complaining – I’m just sad. Sad because after all of this investing and moving up the corporate ladder, it’s still impossible. It feels unfair – even though I know it’s not. It’s just how the game works. I had a few chances of striking it rich in startups. They did not pan out. They usually don’t. My RSUs now could support a percentage of a small downpayment in four years… but by then that $1.5M house will probably be $2M. I’m not sure it will ever come down again.

So, we say goodbye to the Bay Area, when the time comes. We pack up and move to who knows where. I work remote or get a new job or change careers. We find ourselves a house with a backyard for our kids to run through the sprinkler in during a hot summer day. We try to make new friends and rebuild our lives. I’m terrified of it, but that’s life. Had I known 15 years ago what I know now, perhaps I would have done it differently. But, then I would have never met my husband, never have this future child to be inside me, never have felt this, well, happy. Yes, this is about as happy as I get. 🙂

 

I want kids more than I want a house.

Continuing the “downsized American Dream” theme, I’ve been thinking a lot about the next however many years left of life I have, and I’m now comfortable with the sentiment – I want kids more than I want a house.

This all came to be when I was thinking about the potential cost of various infertility treatments just around the corner, and asking myself if spending $30,000-$100,000+ on IVF made any sense when that money should be going to the downpayment on a house.

But then, I thought about how empty that house would be without children – and, how, without kids, I don’t actually even want a house. Maybe a two-bedroom apartment… but I don’t need that much more space. I know the more space I have, the more crap I’ll collect, and I certainly don’t need to be collecting crap.

Today I’m on CD20 after having a very strong trigger shot on CD11 (I assume based on some charting that I ovulated very early on CD13.) I’m hopeful, but in a cautiously optimistic way, that this cycle worked. That, after $4000 on infertility treatment for child #1, I can move on to spending $$$$ on childbirth and the kid him or herself once born – not just trying to make my body work like a healthy person.

But I realize that the odds are still very slim I got pregnant this cycle – or that I can get pregnant at all, at least without super expensive infertility treatments. I could be pregnant now, and I want to be, but I can’t do anything about that until it’s time to take a test (next weekend-ish.) And, if I get “AF,” it’s back to the drawing board. We have to decide quickly if we want to do another $950 Femera & TI cycle, if we want to move on to IUI ($2500 cycle), or straight to IVF ($30k.) It’s impossible to make the “right” decision. It’s harder to even make any rational decision when I’m turning 34 and beyond PCOS I know in 1 year any natural fertility I have will start to “rapidly decline.”

I’m glad to not be 34 with a gaggle of children, but I also worry that I waited too long. I was still in the “don’t get pregnant” mindset they instill in you in high school… i.e. “dry hump for a second and you’ll end up pregnant with AIDS and Herpes and whatever this weird rash is we’re showing you a picture of right now.” Although a woman’s 20s is prime time to have children, in society today, we’re encouraged to wait… to focus on our careers. And, to be honest, I wasn’t ready anyway. But, what they don’t tell you is that when you turn 30… you’re running out of time. Your 20s come and go and suddenly you are approaching “much harder to get pregnant” zone. Time is running out.

I am, admittedly, freaking out about turning 34. Or, maybe freaking out is the right term. I’m accepting it, but also it’s surprisingly a very emotional transition. I’m no longer in my “early 30s” – which was, you know, just like the late 20s and the late 20s was an extension of the mid 20s which was that age you want to be always. But 34… 34 is really the turning point to middle age. It’s closer to 40 than I’d care to admit. Not that there is anything wrong with being 40 but 40 is that age you are before you turn 50, and 50 is half way through your life, if not more than that, and more than half way through your healthy years (not to mention the healthy years of your loved ones who are aging as rapidly as you due to the nature of equal opportunity time.)

On the other hand, I feel good about turning 34. I feel like it’s time to get my life in order because I have to. I’m not longer an age which is some made up extension of my mid 20s. I am definitely an adult. I’m an adult who is more than ready to have children and I hope I can. I am an adult who can admit that my once dream of owning a 3-4 bedroom, 2-3 bath house with a backyard and gourmet kitchen is just a dream – and not necessary to be happy. I’ve saved over $500k which once felt entirely impossible, and I did this before having kids, which was my once unreasonable goal. I’m well on my way to a stable retirement – assuming I can maintain employment at about what I’m making right now – for the next 15 years. By 50, I may be in a very good place to let loose and enjoy life… with my kids who then would be teens and/or pre-teens. (Gasp.)

There are many variations of “home” as are there variations of “family.” But, I want children more than anything, and I am now comfortable with doing what I have to in order to make this happen. I don’t want – yet – to think about when to give up. I’ve got a long way to go before I have that conversation with my husband… and myself.

What amount of money makes you feel free?

Wealth does not = happiness, but at some point one obtains enough money that unless it’s frivolously spent, there are many doors open for the remainder of her life. Perhaps she loves her current career and decides too stay in it today and long past retirement. Or, she is set free of the confines of taking jobs that pay well and instead tries sometimes entirely new, without concern that the investment in education may not “pay off.” Or, she decides to create art or travel the world or just sit and study the sunset over the same ocean every day while doing half-assed yoga on a beach.

In reality, my goal in life is to generate enough wealth to feel this sense of freedom. Yes, that likely means I would be in the 1%, and it is not necessary to be happy at all. Most people will never achieve anywhere close to this. I don’t know what the number is, exactly, but it’s certainly more than I’ll ever be able to obtain, especially given my proclivity for purchasing too many shoes. Yet, it’s what keeps me going – that hope that one day I’ll not only be able to afford a house, but also to decorate it, and to invite friends over for reasonably-lavish dinner parties featuring fine wines and whiskies that my husband and I have prepared in our gourmet kitchen.

When I look at my net worth, now a touch over $500k, I feel both thrilled and disheartened. I realize that most people in the US retire with a networth much lower than that – that most people in the world would be ecstatic to have this amount in savings and stocks. But, then I also spend too much time exploring housing options on Zillow.com and see that 2 bedroom, 1 bath houses in the area are now selling for $1.3M or more, and my dream of purchasing a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home with a private backyard goes poof in the night. I look around at my decent 1 bedroom apartment with its sterile white walls — my bicycle parked so elegantly in the living room filled with a Craiglisted, 10-year-old couch, broken IKEA coffee table, and two Target bookshelves that are about to crumble, and I know even at this stage of my mid-30s life I can do better.

I wish I was at a point where spending $100k on IVF wouldn’t put a dent in my savings, or that I felt I could have children and provide for them a life that is comparable to my own middle class upbringing in the suburbs of an east coast city, where housing is much more affordable. I keep wondering what that number is… even as I obtain jobs which provide greater potential for income growth, there is a giant gap between my life today and this concept of wealth I have in my head, that I haven’t fully quantified yet.

Wealth.

What is it?

  • $2M per adult in retirement (so, $4M for a married couple)
  • Ownership of 4br, 3ba home outright (additional $2M – or $1.5M for 3br)
  • 50 years of $50k / year for house fixing as needed, taxes, other fees ($2.5M)
  • 50 years of $100k /  year for eating/travel/shopping ($5M)
  • College tuition for 2-3 kids ($500k)

This is, of course, well exaggerating what is needed for financial freedom, but to put a number on the amount I’d want in the bank account to feel financially free (for family), that would be….

$14,000,000

Now, even if I get more realistic here and half that…

  • $1.5M per adult in retirement ($3M)
  • $1.5M house (can’t reduce this / basic house cost here)
  • 50 years of $20k / year for house fixes (~$1M)
  • $50k / year of food and fun ($2.5M)
  • College Tuition (assuming some scholarships) – $200k

$7,000,000 is the minimum amount of wealth for financial freedom if we continue to live in this area.

Is $7M obtainable?

Maybe. But only via compound interest, and with that one wouldn’t know if she met her goals until she was in her 80s… plenty time past when purchasing a home would make sense. So she must have blind faith in the stock market OR figure out a way to expedite the growth of her portfolio. In short, how fast can I get to $7M from $500k?

My goal at this point is to have $1M by the time I turn 40. That will only be obtainable if I maintain my current job for the next four years, perform extremely well (no pressure), and we keep our cost of living low for this time.

Contributing $50k per year for the next 6 years, if my portfolio grows at an average of 5% per year, I will have a net worth of $1M by 40. This requires maintaining my job and living in a 1 bedroom apartment for the next six years, living rather frugally, all during the time in my life when – if I’m going to have kids – I will be having children (hopefully, two, within the next six years.)

If I don’t end up having children, the numbers change significantly – but I definitely want kids and I definitely want to pay for infertility treatments as needed to have them. Which, ultimately means that I won’t likely get to $1M by 40. But I’ll be close, as long as I keep this job for 6 years (or keep this job for 4 and obtain a similar one with equal or greater salary for the remaining 2).

At that point, if I have $1M by 40, I will have 20-ish more years of prime earning, if I work full time for those 20 years. BUT I am convinced that I want to go back to school at 40 to change careers to a lower-paid job such as counseling, not to maintain my position in a role that I’m fighting day and night to pretend to be good at. So, the $1M mark is my first taste of freedom…

This is truly a recognizable moment of freedom because if I invest $1M for 20 years at 5% rate of return, I will have $2.6M by 60, and $3.38M by 65. My husband doesn’t need as much as I do in retirement, so The $3.38M by 65 is basically my half of the $7M goal. What I would be focused on then, at 40, after the $1M is hit, is obtaining a position that I can maintain for 25 years that I enjoy which enables paying annual costs, so we don’t touch the $1M in the bank.

I’d like to own a 3br, 2ba home by the time my first child is 4. At this point, I should know if I’m having 2 children or just one (or none at all.) So – some of my net worth will have to be put into the down payment of a house. I go back and forth on buying a house but I think at this point I’m diversified enough in stocks that I can afford to own real estate, even if its growth does not keep up with the stock market (and I have the liquidity in stocks to pay for mortgage should we have any bad years in the job market.) So, I’d need $300,000 for a downpayment on a $1.5M starter home, in ~5 years.

But – I need to invest for the next 5 years to hit the $1M goal… and then in 5 years, at age 39, I’d have to take $300M out of my stocks (well $366M with 20% tax) for the downpayment. My husband may be able to contribute to this a bit – probably $100k of it in 5 years, but for simplicity (and explaining to husband) we both need to provide $150k in 5 years for our down payment.  That’s a more reasonable $180k stock sale in 5 years, leaving $748k to grow in stocks…

Annually, for the $1.5M house, costs would be…

  • $90k mortgage (approx)
  • $20k taxes (approx)
  • $1k insurance
  • $15k maintenance
  • = $126k / year ($63k per person per year for 30 years …
    $5.25k / month or $10.5k per month for 30 years)
  • Which means, for our $1.5M house, all in 30 years later, it will cost $4.08M. (Is my math right?)

Ok, so, if the numbers above are right, we cannot afford a $1.5M house in 5 years. Which, basically means we cannot afford a house, unless we can put down a much larger down payment.

In 5 years, unless there’s a housing bubble burst, I doubt there will be any real estate around here that’s less than $1.5M. My take home income is $7,000 per month and my husband’s will be about $3,000…. so, even if I keep my job and he keeps his, we can’t pay $10.5k/month when we’re only taking home $10k per month.

Really, the only potential route to wealth for us is to rent. So, maybe I’ll never own a house. Even if that’s one of our financial goals. But, it’s just so much cheaper to rent an apartment than to own a house.

Maybe, one day when we can afford to put down a 50% down payment buying a house will be worth it. But by then, a basic home will cost $2M… so… I don’t think we’ll ever have enough money to own a home.

This is why I feel so hopeless… even if we have so much more than so many people right now… I just don’t know how to have the life I want, or anything close to it. I don’t need a home today, but I want to feel like I’m making progress towards not living in a 1 bedroom apartment (and a condo won’t help much, if we were to buy one since it’s slightly more affordable, because we’d still have shared walls and annoying neighbors… might as well just rent!)

I am hoping my math is wrong…

 

 

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

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Can We Afford Life on a dual-income, one Teacher’s Salary?

My husband is adamant that until I get my ADHD mess in order, we should not discuss the future. He has a point. I am good at planning for years down the line, but in terms of “today,” my life is a mess. I still cannot get myself to work on time and despite some progress in the cleaning up department – my laundry never manages to make it from the drier to my closet. It’s completely fair for him to state that until I can stick to a basic routine, we should not discuss the future.

I know if I can just keep the house clean (well get it clean and then keep it clean) and leave the house in the morning to get to work on time, he will, eventually, be willing to plan life with me. I am trying to get rid of things and simplify as much as possible so that there is just less stuff to create messes. It definitely helps. Continue reading

Put in Our Application – The Waiting Game Begins

Wouldn’t it be nice if spending $400 per month more than I wanted to on an apartment would guarantee that the place would be ours? Yes, our 700-square-foot one bedroom, should we secure the affinity of our potential landlord, will be $2200 per month. Not even the commitment to pay that much for a relatively small (and outdated) place gets us immediate confirmation.

At least we have good credit scores. I ran mine again (*expletive* Experian for being the most scammy spammy company around) and I’m  at 738. My boyfriend has a crazy good credit score over 760. I messed mine up with one or two late credit card payments in the past, but this was very clearly me forgetting the date to pay and not long-term collections type issues. However, the landlord seemed a little nervous when I told her I was changing jobs and going to work for a “startup.” I quickly responded “don’t worry, they’ve raised a lot of money. And we have enough in the bank to pay for a year of rent even if for some reason we ever did lose our jobs. Come on, how could you turn us down? Continue reading

Just Pick a Place Already You Two!

My boyfriend and I are terrible – terrible – at making decisions. He’s so terrible at making decisions at 31 he has never left his house and after eight years of dating we’ve never moved in together. I’m slightly less terrible at making decisions, but I am not anywhere near good at making them either.

So finding an apartment is an extremely difficult #firstworldproblems challenge. We’ve seen over 40 apartments and every one is not up to my standard of living, especially for the price they charge! I always thought if I decided to move to San Francisco I’d be ok with paying an exorbitant amount for rent, but it feels wrong to pay so much to live in the burbs. I don’t care how great the town is.

Continue reading

Moving in With the Boyfriend: Part 932592

Today, I decided to stop being quite so stingy. I agreed to split rent with my boyfriend based on our income. If we spend 13% of our current income, he would pay around $850 and I would pay up to $1350. That means our maximum monthly rent is $2200, not $1700 like I was originally aiming for when I wanted to do a 50/50 split. That also makes this search process slightly less painful.

I’d still prefer to spend less than $1200 a month in rent, and I’m ok with paying that much while he covers $850. It’s fair given our different income levels and either I need to be ok with paying more for our lives and deal or I need to seriously consider getting a new boyfriend. As I love him and want to marry him, I’m going with the first option. Continue reading

Is Buying a House a Good Investment?

There are many schools of thought in terms of whether buying a house should be considered an investment. I’m not sure. What I do know is that it’s expensive to rent a decent apartment and it’s unlikely I’ll splurge on on a nicer apartment when I know I’m throwing rental money “down the drain,” so to speak. My quality of life, therefore, would undoubtedly be better if I were to buy. That doesn’t mean such a choice would make sense as an investment, however.

The Motley Fools poses “Your Home Isn’t a Good Investment and Won’t Make You Rich.” Real Estate has generally appreciated 4% to 5% a year on average, compared to 9.1% for an S&P index fund and 7.16% for the “safe” 30-year Treasury. Then mortgages make your house cost more than it’s worth (and you’re throwing THAT money away too. “There are good investments in real estate, but your home isn’t one of them” the post argues. A rental property, where tenants pay rent that covers the mortgage, can earn 9.8% vs just 3.4% for a lived-in property. A commenter notes that rental property can end up with an even higher return, especially once the mortgage is payed down and all that’s left is rental income that has increased over the years. Continue reading

How Much Should I Really Pay for Rent?

After apartment shopping for a while now, I’ve come to terms with the reality that $1700/month is not going to get us a “nice” one bedroom. It WILL get us a one bedroom that has crappy reviews and doesn’t make one feel calm after returning home from a long day of work. And a long commute with a lot of traffic.

The thing is, I CAN afford higher rent. My boyfriend’s maximum is $850 so it’s up to me if I want to split 50/50 or chip in more for a place that will make me happy. My bf has lived in a shed sans running water and a kitchen for the entirety of his adult life to date, so he doesn’t exactly have high standards. The fact he’s willing to pay up to $850 actually surprises me, it turns out he does have some standards. However, he’s made it clear that he will not pay for cable and he won’t offer a penny over $850, with a preference towards $800. Continue reading