Tag Archives: real estate

Still Shopping For a Home—Will We Ever Buy One?

Nine weeks pregnant with number two. Wide awake at 4am due to some pretty bad nightmares and a moderate amount of dehydration. I would go to the kitchen to get a water bottle but I can’t because I live in a one bedroom apartment my son sleeps in the living room, next to the kitchen.

I feel so ridiculous to consider my problems problems when the real problems in this world and in this country are so, so much worse. Anyone reading my story, especially without context, would think—man, what a crazy rich woman who is afraid of spending money. Maybe I am. Maybe I shouldn’t be. But my mental health issues make it really hard to know what my life will be like in a year let alone a day. So what do I do?

Looking at houses here that are under $2M and you wonder why anyone buys a house. If they cosmetically are acceptable then there is something wrong with their bones, if their bones are in good shape they are three bedrooms in a space only slightly larger than my current one bedroom apartment. With my husband’s mission to have his dad live with us (which I support IF we could find a place that worked), it makes it all the more difficult.

Part of me says — rates are so low right now, now is the time to buy your forever home. It will hurt financially for the first 5-10 years and then not be too bad. But that is if I can maintain employment for 30 years. I cannot imagine doing what I am currently doing for 30 more years. I desperately need a career change. Without a clear vision of what that is or the income on the other side, I really don’t know how to plan at all. And my husband mutters how I make unreasonable requests of him like try to earn $150k in 5 years (he is at about $80k now but works part time, and he is 38.) I try to tell him I don’t care about his income but if we are going to buy a house that changes things. I need to know we can afford the mortgage or at least most of it on one income—mine OR his.

I know many families have one SAH parent and buy a house. But around here the only families like that I know are one engineer households. If you are a good engineer at a good company you are pretty much set for life unless you massively fuck up. I’m not in a position like that. My job is a weird one that in some companies would be considered a junior role and in companies where it is paid anywhere near what I’m making it would require a lot more management experience.

So I am in this weird spot. I am earning more than I ever thought I would and my networth is climbing (it is realistic to think, if I can keep my job, I’ll have $2M in 2-3 years saved up pre tax, unless the stock market crashes) but I still don’t feel at all stable or accomplished. Yes living in the Bay Area is living in lala land — anyone reading this post from anywhere else would say leave! But my husband grew up here, our friends are here, I am better mentally without my typical seasonal depression in most of the country, and we really want to stay.

I just wish my husband would step up a bit. I know he is tired since due to COVID we lost our part time childcare and now he is watching our son all day while also working part time at night or whenever he finds time to do his work. So maybe I am asking for too much. I would like him to take an online class or something—just to move in the direction of building a career. Like my job, his doesn’t really make sense outside of his company. Some skills would translate but since he has worked for one small company his entire 13 year career, it’s harder to show variety or new learnings. I still think he could get a better paid full time job if he tried, but he never has been interested in having a career.

And some days I think—maybe I can just work my way up to VP and consistently earn, say, $300k a year. For others in my position, that might be doable. But I’m no VP. I do not like managing people or hiring or firing people. In my creative field, I find it very difficult to give feedback without redoing the work myself—and even then I don’t like what I’ve done so how am I supposed to guide someone else to do better?

All of this is to say, here I am, 36, pregnant with #2, with a good chunk of change in savings, and I feel more vulnerable and scared than ever. Up until now I’ve lived with no debts. Some of that is due to fortunately having parents who footed my bill for college (and I really want to pay my mother back for that one day!) But I’ve also bought my cars used with cash and live in small apartments that are less than I can afford based on any housing to income cost calculators.

It’s hard to go from NO debt to $1,500,000 in debt.

But isn’t that how wealth is acquired? My friends who 11 years ago paid $800,000 for a small house, probably with $180,000 down, now own a small house valued at $1,700,000. Maybe $2,000,000 in 10 years will sound as cheap as $800,000 sounds now? Though it’s hard to imagine these homes being worth $3M let alone the $2M they are going for today.

On top of all this, I dislike the real estate business as a whole. Sure, if you know what you are doing and buy the right investment properties you can do very well for yourself. But when you are buying a home for yourself, you are in it on your own while all the people who are supposed to help you don’t really have your back —

your lender — well they want you to be as low risk as possible and any small risk they say you have gives them a reason to charge you more for it. This makes sense for actual risks — but my latest finding from one lender is that we qualified for 3.125% 30 year fixed except when they realized my husband is self employed it jumped to 3.85% (clearly they don’t care that my husband has worked for the same one non profit for the past 13 years and has always made the same annual income with them plus raises while in that same time I’ve had six jobs. Whose income is more stable???)

Then, since you can’t do contingencies in the Bay Area if you want to buy a house, you apparently have to risk 3% of the price of the house (your “earnest money deposit”) and pray to god your loan closes in the allowable amount of time. If not, bye bye $30k! Well, none of these lenders are giving me much confidence our loan will close with no hiccups. With my husband’s self employment status and some new rules around that, not only will our rates be higher, they also will need to see some crazy things like a deposit within 10 days of close. Maybe that makes sense for someone with ongoing business income, but my husband gets paid four times a year for each quarter of work. That is not a big deal—to hold a check and deposit it, but only one lender told me this. What other weird rules will pop up during our closing process that we don’t know about?

your realtor — she drives a nice car, always. And she is an extrovert and smiles and sells you on why to buy a house. She may look at the disclosures and warn you of major risks, but she isn’t really an expert on that stuff, that’s what inspectors are for. But you don’t need an inspector to see that this house built 60+ years ago has issues. There are tiny cracks here and there. The floor is uneven. A tree looks like it’s roots might be going under the house. Everything creeks when you walk upstairs. The layout is nonsensical which is a cosmetic issue but still will you regret having to walk a weird way to get around for the hundredth time? What other issues are lurking in the foundation and in the walls?

The sellers, at least here, pay for their own inspections. I’ve read plenty of reports. Termites. Water damage. Fungus. Liquefaction zones. Flood zones. Seismic hazard zones. Environmental hazard zones. The list goes on. In any area where we are considering a $1.8M home (that will probably go $2.1M anyway) the ground water apparently is 0-10ft deep. That’s not in the inspection report, I found that online! But two “tanks” with one leaking(?) is in the report. What does that mean? My realtor said she would be comfortable with that risk. But we don’t know what’s leaking.

I’d feel so much better buying a 3/2 for under $1.4M. If it turns out to need work we would have the money to do that work. Husband refuses, wants a large home on a large lot with an in law where his 76 year old dad (who can pay $2000 a month until he goes into assisted living) can live. I want that too—but without me knowing I can maintain a mid-senior role in public tech companies every month for the next 30 years, well, that seems like a horrid idea.

your inspector — ok, they are going to try to find issues to help you out (that is their job after all) but given no inspection contingency is allowed in most cases, you won’t actually have your own inspector.

Ok, so maybe we should rent-forever. It is difficult to find rentals I want to live in (at a reasonable cost) and I can’t fight the nagging feeling that if we don’t buy now we will be priced out forever. I certainly know most people would recommend we rent for a few years then move to an area with a lower cost of living. But we really plan to stay here forever. At some point, into the far off future, buying becomes a better financial Option than renting. Emotionally, it is a better option day one.

The reality is that houses that really check all the boxes are around $2M-$2.5M. Y’all think I’m crazy but look at Bay Area listings on the Peninsula and in the nicer areas of San Jose. Can we get a house for less than that? Of course. It’s even possible to get a dump for $1M! But if we get what we want — 1800 sq ft, 4br/2ba with an in law or ADU on 7000 sq ft in actual good shape, in a half decent school district, that’s easily $2.2M. So then I question should we just wait until we can afford $2.2M? Will we ever be able to afford that? And by then I won’t that house be $3M and the mortgage rates will have gone up?

i know I know first world rich people problems. But most rich people have either trust funds or faith in their career and ability and skills and value, and often two parents who are earning a good income. What do I have? A few crazy good years of income thanks to RSU growth then back to earning $150k a year, if that?

I feel like I can’t buy a house until I figure out my career but at 36 that now seems like it’s never going to happen. I want my son and tbd child 2 to grow up in a house. It isn’t necessary, it is a want. But when I’m making $600k a year (what I will likely earn this year if I keep my job which is absolutely insane) I feel so confused about how I should think about my “class,” my risk tolerance, and my home purchase price. A few more years at this income and I can afford that $1.8M house. Heck, I can afford that $2.2M house. But in 2 years my income drops to $300k, then $210k, as my stock isn’t being refreshed enough since I am not a very valuable employee. I should get some small stick refresh this year so I’ll probably hover around $210k if I stay in this company in this role forever (last year I got a 1.7% raise so I’m not expecting any big salary growth here.) $210k isn’t bad either, but with my husband’s $80k that is not enough to afford $2.2M or $1.8M.

AND that $210k is IF i keep this job forever. It is good for now—I am going to stay at least to get all of my initial grant as long as I don’t get fired or let go, and maybe one more year, but then I need a change. Maybe I need to make $80k for a few years (or less) while I figure things out. Maybe I need to go back to school. Maybe I want to take some time off to spend with my kids while they are young and consult part time, I don’t know what I want but I know I don’t want to overbuy and close doors to whatever out there could make me happy, if such a career exists.

So this is where I am. We’ve agreed it we don’t buy a house by October we will rent a bigger place for a while. We are considering putting a $1.8M offer in on this 5br listed at $1.875, which I am fairly confident we wouldn’t get. I’d prefer to lose out on a bunch of bids then overpay. The house is far from my current job but I won’t have to go back to the office this year and in 3 years I can change jobs. But it’s also far from SF which most jobs I’m qualified for are. If I change careers, maybe that doesn’t matter. But it’s scary to think I might get stuck with some crazy San Jose to SF commute one day to not lose our house.

we are looking at another two coming up—not as nice, both $1.8-$2M, both with built in laws. The inspection report on one was pretty scary though most old buildings have issues so who knows.

I wonder at what networth I will be able to relax a bit and enjoy life. I have the $5M number in my head. It’s arbitrary, as all my numbers are, but I think that’s it. That’s enough for a $2.5M basic house and enough to stay in the stock market and grow as long as we keep working and at least pay our living expenses each year. That’s enough to pay my mother back for college and my wedding and help my sister out a bit if she is still earning minimum wage or close to it. And to start giving to charity in substantial ways. I mean, $10M sounds better, but more realistically I want to aim for $5M. I guess that’s my FAT FIRE number. I don’t know how I’ll get there (unless I manage to keep getting jobs at rocketship companies where my RSUs go up in value.) I mean, realistically I’m looking at $2M by 38 or so. If I don’t touch that and get 5% on it YoY, in 20 years we will have $5M. Of course, in 20 years $5M won’t be worth $5M today. The real question is how do I get to $5M by 45? That’s saving about $400k a year for 8 years in a mix of interest, stock growth, and new earnings. It seems impossible. But my first $100k also seemed impossible. So maybe it is possible. Maybe it’s only possible if I buy a house. Maybe it’s only possible if I don’t.

 

 

 

Figuring Out How Much House We Can Afford with RSUs

We are going to buy a house. It is not the most financially wise decision, but life isn’t about always being financially wise–sometimes you have to splurge (within reason) and take risks. I accept that buying a house will reduce our total networth in the future, and I’m ok with that. After all, what is the point of making money if you can’t enjoy it, and what would I enjoy more than having a home of my own to raise my kids in? Sure I’d love to take lots of international trips and such, but with a toddler and one on the way (and maybe one more in 2-3 years), that’s not happening for a while. My house will be my Paris and Prague and Tokyo.

But one thing has been very difficult to figure out — how much we can afford. All home buying calculators assume you have a fairly consistent income that goes up by a consistent percentage every year. That isn’t reality for us. There are many ways to figure out how much you can afford, but one model that I’ve decided I like is 28% of pre-tax income (I’d prefer to do post-tax but if I do that I’ll never afford a home here.)

I worked out the chart below, which shows potential annual income (pre tax) with the amount of mortgage (PITI total) we can afford per month (on the right) and then on the let, I have the house price and the total amount of PITI with a 3.5% 30 year fixed loan. Our goal would be to afford a $1.7M home with an in-law, where my father-in-law would pay some rent. This means based on the chart below we need to make $320,000 per year, consistently, to afford a home at this price point. (*my insurance estimates are probably way off but I tried to figure out what home insurance would cost in California with earthquake insurance tacked on — if these numbers look wrong please let me know in a comment.)

Total Year Total Month Mortgage Max (28%) Total Monthly House Price Mortgage (3.5) Taxes Insurance Earthquake
$210,000 $17,500 $4,900 $4,872 $1,000,000 $3,412 $933 $167 $360
$255,000 $21,250 $5,950 $5,957 $1,200,000 $4,310 $1,120 $167 $360
$300,000 $25,000 $7,000 $6,862 $1,400,000 $5,029 $1,307 $167 $360
$320,000 $26,667 $7,467 $7,767 $1,600,000 $5,747 $1,493 $167 $360
$400,000 $33,333 $9,333 $9,936 $2,000,000 $7,543 $1,867 $167 $360
$500,000 $41,667 $11,667 $11,381 $2,200,000 $8,801 $2,053 $167 $360

 

Right now, I’m earning $170,000 in base income, and my husband makes $85,000. Based on our minimum income, that gets us to $1.2M of house… which isn’t enough here. To get to that $1.6M target (which is still a small house and a fixer upper), we need $320k in annual income. So either I need to consistently make $235k, or my husband needs to increase his income, or some combination of both.

What the above does not account for is that my annual bonus is $34,000. I have no idea if I will get a bonus this year or how much of it I will get. I have received my full bonus every year for the past 3 years BUT there is no guarantee I will receive a bonus in the future, or that future jobs will pay such a sizable amount in bonus. I’m not sure if I should include my bonus in my calculations or not. I’d rather not, because a bonus is nice to have for an extra vacation or gift for the kids vs worked into our planned home expenses. It would be nice if my base was $200k, so I could actually include that in the calculations. If I could get my base to $200k and my husband could figure out how to make $120k, we’d be in pretty good shape.

In addition to the base and bonus, I also receive a large amount of my income in RSUs. My refreshes have not been great, though. And if I lose my job, then I will not be able to obtain the same amount in RSU.

When I joined my company, my total compensation was as follows:

  • $165k (base)
  • $33 (bonus)
  • $56k (RSU/yr for 4 years) (*currently worth ~$350k+/yr)
  • TOTAL = ~$254k

My current compensation once I fully vest my first grant is:

  • $170k (base)
  • $34k (bonus)
  • $12k (RSU/yr)
  • TOTAL = $216k

So, that’s good, with bonus and RSU I’m still getting close to the $235k I need to make to afford a $1.6M home, but not quite, and that’s including bonus and RSU which are all variable.

What’s scarier is that if I lose this job, I have no idea if I will be able to do better than $150k salary with no bonus or RSU (I feel fairly confident I can find a job with $150k salary since before I started this job I had a few offers for that amount at startups that I turned down as they were way too low.) So do I base my home purchase off of $150k (me) + $85k (husband) = $235k/yr of income? Then we a afford a $1M house… so we can’t afford any house here and we’ll just continue renting. However, with my RSU growth, my income this year and next year are very high, and it “feels” like I should be able to afford more house. But can I?

Am I Having Another Baby?

Given it took months and $5000 of fertility treatments to conceive our first child, I was momentarily bewildered by a very faint pink line on a cheap-o pregnancy test I took two weeks after our first month trying for number two. I joked to myself, as I do, that of course my previously infertile PCOS-ridden womb would get pregnant the first month we tried. I’d be taking the test on Mother’s Day weekend, so it was only appropriate to find out that I was to become a mom – again.

I had taken a test two days prior and it was negative, but I figured I’d waste another cheap-o test and move on with my life. I was convinced that it was impossible to have conceived this month anyway, since my husband and I missed the time in the month I thought I was fertile. But then, as I blurred my eyes at the test, I saw not one, but two lines. I blinked. I waved the strip in the air. I walked away and came back. I took a picture of the strip and sent it to a close friend who knew I was hoping to get pregnant by fall. She responded, “you’re pregnant.”

I dug through my drawer of random things I never used and pulled out the more pricey early response tests I saved for when I might actually be pregnant. Took one. The positive line came back dark pink. “I’m pregnant.” My friend, with one more photo to document proof, confirmed.

Suddenly, my next year flashed before my eyes. I had imagined it all, but not quite so so soon. And with the coronavirus, everything became much more difficult and scary (I was aware of the pandemic when we were trying and decided at 36 with fertility problems and the hope to have at least one if not two more kids, we should get on with it — I figured we’d probably get pregnant in a few months and I’d be giving birth in spring 2021, maybe around the time a vaccine would be available–not exactly January 2021, in the middle of what could be a bad second or third wave.)

So the next year blur — a stomach growing bigger and bigger, being unable to sleep well and having all the horrible third trimester symptoms, not being able to travel to see my mother or sister or visit my childhood home that needs to be sold, the worst possible ways one might have to deliver with COVID-19 around–laboring with a mask and with full-blown corona symptoms unable to breathe, and then just the reality of now having 9 months to move from our one bedroom apartment (a needed impetus to stop being so frugal and get more space), I sat there and took in the reality of what this little pink line meant.

And despite all that worry, I felt really happy. I pictured my son, not able to interact with any other kids these days, having a sibling to grow up with. He has no cousins, and it’s unlikely he will have cousins (my sister is our only hope and if she does have kids it won’t be for quite a number of years), and I want to give him a family (this is also why I want 3 kids even though that’s kind of crazy… we’ll see how I do with two.) I pictured my kids growing up together and fighting and laughing and having fun and being silly.

I went to get my son out of his crib and he was the first to hear the news, and he kept my secret all day. We often jokingly ask him if he wants a brother and he exclaims “or sister!” so I asked him again and told him there is a baby in my stomach. He’s 22 months old so he isn’t going to understand but I made a cute video of telling him and planned to show it to my husband at some point. I knew he would be quite surprised.

That evening, as he was putting my son to bed, I sent him the video and told him I took a cute video of our son but it was too big to upload to instagram. I videoed him watching it. At the beginning I go “do you want a brother?” and so on. My husband, watching the video clueless looks at me and says “it’s a good thing you didn’t post this to instagram, people will think you’re pregnant” (classic) — a few seconds later, when the video reveals me handing a positive pregnancy test to my son as his “present” my husband figured out that he was right about one thing… people will think I’m pregnant.

But over the last weeks, I’ve had some reasons to think that this baby won’t stick. I won’t go into details, but I ended up having an early ultrasound and with only a gestational sac and a yolk sac seen, it’s possible the baby isn’t growing and isn’t viable. It’s also possible I’m just earlier than they think (which I know is true at least somewhat) and we just need to wait and try again in a few weeks. So I’m in wait mode now. I have another appointment on June 15 and will find out if there is a baby or I’ll have to make a horrible choice between getting a D&C, taking a pill to miscarry, or waiting for my body to handle it naturally. I’m hoping I don’t have to make that decision, but accept hat may be the case. I’m 36 now, and it’s just more likely that anytime I get pregnant we’ll hit a bad egg. I’m trying to tell myself that it’s good news either way–I’ve proven I can now get pregnant without fertility treatment, and I should be able to again. And if I am actually pregnant, well, that’s terrifying but amazing and I really can’t wait to have a baby again and grow my family and continue building the life I want.

I successfully achieved having $1M before baby #1 and I wanted $1.5M before baby #2 and I should get there, adding in my husband’s savings. And $2M before baby #3, if there is to be a baby #3, also seems possible. My personal capital account, which shows our pre-tax networth, is at about $1.4M right now. That seems insane to me, as I still remember looking at my mint account with about $10k to my name, wondering how on earth I’d ever save $100k. I have a good $350k sitting in cash for a downpayment (and soon will have another $50k more thanks to some strong performing company stock vesting soon) so everything is really just working out… somehow.

Why is it I still feel so out of control though… afraid to purchase a home… afraid to make any commitments or live slightly less frugally? I really want a home. I want a reasonably nice home, which seems to cost like $2M in the Bay Area, but I’m willing to settle for something a little cheaper, like $1.7M (sigh) and handle a house that isn’t perfect but that is a place to call our own… a place to make our memories. It’s time to leave this 800 square foot apartment and move on with our lives. I’ll miss it, but I won’t miss it that much. Not if we have a home of our own.

At this point, I’m waiting until my appointment next week to see how much we need to rush the moving situation. If there is no baby, then we have a little more time. If there is a baby, then we have less than nine months to move. Even if we wanted to, we can’t legally stay in a one bedroom with two kids. So here we are, family of 3 maybe about to become a family of 4, in the middle of a pandemic, having to buy a house and move and set up our life and figure out if we move south to have a little more house for our money or stay in the area we want to live and have a lot less house or who knows. I realize financially renting makes way more sense but I’m at this point where I feel like what is the point if we don’t have a home to put down our roots in… and a sense of stability and a place that is ours. I’ve saved $1.2M on my own and I know that’s not enough to really buy a house here… but on the other hand, having all that invested in the stock market is risky too and while it will probably perform well over time, why avoid buying the one thing I really want just to have a big number in the bank?

I hope I am pregnant and I hope this forces us to move and find a house and meet our neighbors and be grown ups and grow up. Life is so short and I can’t believe I’m almost 37 and really almost 40. I thought I’d be a lot more settled by this age, but I do think that my 40 I want to have some serious domestic accomplishments, not just financial ones. And I hope that when travel is possible again I can have a guest room for my mother and sister to come visit. I hope I can have a yard to have friends over and sit around a fire pit and maybe eventually buy myself a hot tub though that will probably never happen but it’s a thought. And a garage where I can store my bike and some other things so my living room doesn’t have to be my storage room and my living room and my son’s room with his crib and toys and slide and rocking horse. And my bedroom doesn’t also have to be my husband’s office.

I guess I’m tired of making smart financial decisions and want to make ones that make my life better now. I know I’m so fortunate to be where I am and have what I have. With all that is going on in the world right now, especially the injustices against the black community, I feel guilty being concerned with any of this mundane life stuff. But life still goes on, even as the world needs a big kick in the ass and a whole lot of fixing. I’d like to figure out how to contribute to fixing the world too, but I think part of that comes with my settling down and not having to spend a lot of my energy thinking about “what’s next” and instead focus on stability in my own life and how I can then give back to the world.

Anyway, lots going on right now. I very well may not be pregnant… but I could be. If I was 5w6d at my prior appointment, or even 6 weeks (which I think I was), then maybe it was just too early to see the fetal pole and heartbeat. Or maybe the doctor I saw (not my normal doctor) rushed the appointment and didn’t spend enough time looking because she knew if she found it or didn’t, it didn’t really matter at this point… she was just confirming the pregnancy was not ectopic, which it wasn’t. She did say maybe it’s just earlier than we think and gave me a glimmer of hope pointing to a little speck on the screen saying “maybe something is growing there” so there’s nothing I can do but wait.

…And even if my next appointment, where I think I’ll be 8 weeks and some-odd days, shows a healthy embryo and heartbeat, I can still miscarry at any time or have other complications before a healthy baby is actually born. So I don’t want to get my hopes up. My last pregnancy was relatively smooth, but my childbirth was not. I am trying to just have not expectations here other than hoping that I remain healthy and safe through whatever happens. And that maybe all of this leads to purchasing our home and really starting our life as a family together–I realize that owning a home is not a requirement to do that, but it still feels like something that needs to happen before I feel like I’ve made it as an adult.

 

Should We Buy a Home or Rent a Home in the Bay Area?

East Bay. North Bay. South Bay. Peninsula (Bay). So many–unaffordable–options where to live!

Sane people would take this pandemic situation and pack their bags and head to any reasonably blue part of the country that doesn’t cost $1000 per square foot.

But we’re crazy and want to stay. And there is no reasonable way to calculate how much house we can afford because our income is SO variable. This year we might make $700k (yes that’s crazy and like double our best year ever)! Two years from now, we might be lucky if we make $200k. How on earth do we figure out what we can afford?

28% of Lowest Income Earner After Tax
The safest way to figure out how much you can afford is to plan on spending 28% of the lowest income earner’s income after tax. My husband makes $90,000 but since that doesn’t include benefits I’m going to say that’s $75,000. If we as a family made $90,000, our taxes would be lower. That would be $7500 a month pre tax or maybe $6000 after tax. We could afford $1680 on rent or mortgage per month.

Well, that’s not going to work… we’re already spending too much at $2600 per month on renting our one bedroom. I guess we can’t plan based on this conservative model.

28% of dual income assuming minimum earning potential
If I assume my husband can keep his $90k a year job even and I can manage to make $150k on average, that gets us to $240k a year. I think I can probably make more than $150k but I don’t feel comfortable committing to more than that (my base is now $170k.) So At $240k a year that’s $20k a month pre-tax, or $10k after tax. So we should spend $2800 on housing a month.

That’s about what we spend now. :/

36% pre-tax dual income minimum earning potential
Same numbers as above, but I’ve read some more risky plans suggest 36% of pre-tax income. That gets us to $3600–still not going to buy us a house in the Bay Area!

Ok, so none of these models work. So how do we figure out what we can really afford?

  • Downpayment & Emergency Fund: $380k
  • Pre-Tax Taxable: $197k ($98k after tax)
  • Taxable Accounts: $294k ($205k after tax)
  • Retirement Accounts Pre Tax: $346.5k ($242k after tax)
  • Retirement Accounts Post Tax: $70k
  • 529 College Fund: $52k
  • TOTAL NETWORTH AFTER TAX = $1M
  • Potential earnings next 1.5 years = $710k pre-tax ($355 post tax) + ~$100k savings from bonus and income (if we stay in our current apartment)
  • TOTAL NETWORTH AFTER TAX IN 1.5 years = ~$1.45M

So if I can maintain employment until January 2022, and my husband keeps his job, and the stock market doesn’t totally tank (which it could) we will have about $1.45M after tax, with $1M of that being in non-retirement and non-529 accounts (or maybe little less if we put more into 529 which we probably will.)

So let’s say in 1.5 years we have $1M in cash and after-tax taxable funds. But our income ratios say we cannot afford a home that costs more than $2800 a month.

Do we put down a large downpayment?

One way to reduce the monthly cost of a home is to put down a giant downpayment. Do we wait until we put down 50% or more on a $1.7M home? Does that work…

$1.7M home
55% downpayment = $935k!
$3875 monthly payment

Ok, so we put down almost $1M and we still have a $3875 monthly payment, which according to above calculations is still more than we should be spending on a mortgage based on our income!!!

And I don’t think we should $1M into a house probably, but it seems to be the only way to get our monthly costs down to something within a reasonable range.

How does anyone afford a house here?

Even though my income is good now, I cannot assume this will go on forever. I already know I need to change jobs in two years to get another stock grant, and it’s highly unlikely my next job will see growth at the same rate my current company has over my tenure here. I’ve been very fortunate to be part of this growth, but that’s not the reality of my future jobs. I already want to take on less stressful roles so I can actually see my children grow up. This shelter in place situation has made me realize just how important that is.

Before you say WHY DON’T YOU LEAVE THE BAY AREA just know that my husband refuses to. I don’t WANT to but every time I run these numbers I think what we need to do is rent here for another 1.5 years so I can vest my stock and then we need to GTFO of this HCOL area and live a slower, better life somewhere else. We’ve talked about moving to maybe Seattle, but I’m not a fan of the Pacific Northwest. I’m not sure where we’d move. He likes rain and grey skies, I like sun and heat. I like oceans. He likes being close to the Bay Area because his family is here. My family is in PA and FL. I feel comfortable with the job situation here–I don’t know if I could get a job or have job stability elsewhere. Maybe New York. I’d move to New York, not sure he would.

So we’re kind of stuck in this dilemma. I want to buy a house because to me that feels like I’ve made it. I want to settle down and meet the neighbors and really feel like we have a place for our kids to grow up. It also feels so not worth being in a career I don’t love and being so stressed (though less so not having to go into the office) and making $600k a year right now to not be able to afford a house because that $600k is meaningless in the grand scheme of things. And I know I sound like I should be thrown in the looney bin because $600k is a fucking lot of money–especially when a huge chunk of the country isn’t even getting a paycheck right now. I know it. It doesn’t change the math. We can’t afford a house. Not here. Not if we’re being remotely risk averse about it.

It is more challenging in that my husband is requiring us to live with his father-in-law. His father-in-law does provide part-time childcare, so I am supportive of this–and he can contribute to the monthly mortgage–but it makes it even harder to find a house that  is within the ballpark of reasonable for our projected income levels. I can’t expect my husband to get raises as he never asks for them. I got a shitty 1.7% raise last year so I’m just estimating I’ll stay flat for the foreseeable future, esp given the state the world is in today. We really need to find a $1.5M house with an ADU and put 50% down ($750,000) and then his father can contribute $2k a month and we’d be ok.

I don’t know what to do. I feel like until I have $5M in networth, I won’t feel like we’re in a good place to buy a house. But with one toddler and a kid on the way, I feel like it’s the right time to buy. What do we do?

Buying a House in Silicon Valley (Spoiler Alert: LOL)

It’s been two years since we sauntered into our first open house. I brought us to a home selling for $1.7M list, and that would inevitably go for at least $1.9M more than that. I brought us there to see what we “couldn’t afford” expecting to be at least somewhat impressed.

Nah. The 1300 square foot 3br/2ba house on a 5000 square foot lot needed a lot of updating. Thus started our ongoing and continually more depressing adventures in buying a home in Silicon Valley.

Who the flying fuck can afford a $9k a month mortgage? That’s what these houses cost if you put down 20% (if you have $360k or so lying around for that.) It’s just frustrating that I DO have the $360k but a $9k/month mortgage for 30 years is not in the cards for us. On my husband’s salary we can afford about $2k a month which leaves me with $7k to cover–and god forbid one of us loses our job (given I’ve been fired 6 times it’s bound to happen.)

So we’re not really going to buy a house with a $9k mortgage. Either we have to save up a lot more for a giant down payment to get the monthly mortgage to about half that–or we’re not buying here. And… we are probably never buying here.

This makes me very sad, but I’m trying to get over it. It’s upsetting to know that where I raise my child/children will not be a home that will be filled with memories for many years to come–or that we won’t be able to make our home really ours in the way you can when you own a property (even though it’s a pain in the ass to do so and really is that how we want to be spending our time or money?)

Well, I definitely feel we’ve outgrown our 800 square foot $2500/month one bedroom apartment. I’m ready to move yesterday, but hubby wants to keep seeking out the perfect home–one that we can buy with his parents. Together we can pool our money and afford something and then live happily ever after on the same property, or so that’s what he’d like me cheerfully accept as our real estate fate. I hate to be Debbie Downer, but I’m not into the idea of living on the same property as his parents. I just want our independence and to deal with it being tough together as a team and I don’t know, maybe I romanticize that a bit but living so close to his parents just doesn’t appeal to me. Down the street? Fine. In our backyard or attached to the same building? Eh…

The problem is that if we’re not going to live with his parents, I have to figure out a strategy to earn more money for the long term. I basically just have to assume my husband’s income is $0, in case it is, and somehow come up with a plan to afford $9k a month, or something, that would be a realistic mortgage here.

Why don’t you just move? Yea, thought about that… but husband is committed to staying in the Bay Area, and I’d like to stay here as well if we can make it work. I’m starting to look at housing options in the east bay but I really don’t want to lock myself into 1.5 hr commutes each day in massive traffic.

So the most likely option is that we’ll look at houses until late spring then rent a bigger place by summer. House rentals are about $5000-$6000 a month, which will be hard to stomach, but that’s better than $9000 a month and at least if I lose my job we can get out fairly quickly. PLUS we can keep the $360k that would be stuck in a downpayment working in the stock market. Maybe houses will continue to go up in value here as much as they have in the past 10 years, but I doubt it. Who knows. I just think putting that much money into a downpayment is giving up on gains that one could have in the market. It’s worth it, for so many reasons, but if we can’t make it work I’m just trying to remind myself of the positives. Like, we can pick up and move for better jobs. We can rent in a crappy school district then move to a good one in 4 years when our son is old enough to go to kindergarten. We don’t have to deal with the many costs of home ownership. And such.

Yet I still just feel fucking depressed about not being able to afford a house. I know we’re not the only ones but it’s one of those things that makes me feel like a failure, even though I know not being able to afford $9k a month doesn’t make me a failure. I mean, it DOES, because I could be a VP already and spend the next 30 years earning $250k plus annual raises and bonus and whatever, but instead I’m insecure and can’t get my shit together to convince anyone I’m worthy of keeping my job, and I can’t convince myself of it either. I guess that’s the big issue. I’d like to completely change my career but doing that all but guarantees buying a house is impossible. It’s just all kind of nauseating to be where I’m at (and where I’m not) at my age–doing so well financially, yet also it not mattering at all.

 

The Job Downward Spiral: There’s a Physics to my Employment

Either I’ve done a better job overall this time around or things just move slower in public companies. I think it’s a mix of both. But now a year-and-a-half in and it’s clear I’m past the phase of newcomers victories and excitement and well into the phase of “I suck at this.”

I’ve been assigned a few larger projects to manage and after failing at one or two my boss was really hoping I could pull off the latest and greatest, but nope, I fell right on my face. Looking back I see a few areas where I could have improved, but overall I just feel lost. I don’t know how to help drive collaboration when I’m unsure what the expectations are. I did uncover these expectations along the way (and feel I could do a much better job managing a project like this next time) but the problem is I seem to keep missing the obvious and not getting what I’m supposed to be doing… which at my level, as my boss points out, is not acceptable. She used nicer words, but that’s what she meant.

The good(?) news is that I’ve been assigned a slew of projects that I HAVE been successful at. Unfortunately, these projects are one-off “do not make any sense on a future resume” type of projects. Maybe it’s time I stop caring so much about said future resume and just try to do what I do best–which is run with the punches and take on creative projects that no one else would have the foggiest how to manage versus trying to become a manager of cut-and-dry processes and failing time and again.

At 35, it’s no longer cute to fail or figure shit out. I should have it figured out by now and it’s clear I don’t. I’m scared because without resume-building projects I have no where to go after this. It’s hard to have that conversation with your boss because you aren’t supposed to be thinking about “after this.” And it’s less about moving up at this point and more about maintaining some semblance of a living wage once this job is no more. Maybe I’ll stay in this role until I retire with inflation-based raises, but that’s unlikely. I know my boss sees that I can do SOME things well (otherwise I’d be OUT already) but is that enough? I don’t want to be the easy to cut person in the organization and without adding clear value I’ll be cut sooner or later.

I just wish the last project didn’t end up the mess it was. I really don’t know how I could have done it all better. I still am not sure I could really do it better if I started over, which is the scary part. I don’t know how to get teams inspired to do great work, or to collaborate. Everyone seems to think I go off and come up with ideas on my own and decide everything without consulting others, but I keep asking everyone else what they want and I’m not getting any answers. I guess I’m not asking them in the right way. Or… they just hate me and don’t want to collaborate. I don’t know. My one co-lead on the project was super nice, but he also ended up driving things down a path that made it all more complicated and took away my control–which, funny enough, is what my boss wanted me to have… control to make the project great, but then also be collaborative and get everyone else’s input, but to lead. At the end of the day, I’m a shitty leader. But I’m not going to stay in a senior-level role without BEING a leader in my field. Independent contributor is not worth much and I’m way overpaid to be one right now. Good problem to have? I guess. It makes me feel like crap every day. I can’t even look my colleagues in the eye anymore.

I’ve set 7 time-based goals for myself to stay in the company and just try to survive. And by survive I mean do great work that keeps me employed, but also do not try to move up or gain resume-building experience… just do whatever my boss(es) want me to do and stop trying to do the things that would help me move up but do not come naturally to me. That’s 7 dates across 33 months that I need to survive and then, as long as there isn’t a major recession, I’ll have some sort of flexibility to figure out my next steps… I mean, not a ton of flexibility because if I have a mortgage and another kid, flexibility is out the window unless my husband is willing to move to a lower cost of living area and he isn’t.

It is just all so suffocating… I’m so fortunate for all I have and I know I’m in a much better spot than many others in this country, but I just can’t breathe. I don’t want to get caught in this self pity crap but I also don’t know how to be better. Once I start thinking this way it’s hard to focus and be productive. Every little thing I do I self doubt so much that I slow down my output and my output gets worse and worse until I inevitably get let go. Fired. Whatever. That’s what I do. It’s not funny. It’s not poetic. It’s just my life.

But with a toddler and wanting another child, it CAN’T be my life. I’m really fucking scared right now. I don’t know if I’ll ever see the day I have a. job where I’m not worried about getting fired. This is the best situation yet as the head of the department likes my work and has given me the opportunity to do projects seen by our senior leadership team, but that still doesn’t make me professionally immortal. And I know even if I can hold on for dear life these next 33 months, there’s still after that… if my resume has nothing on it other than weird projects that make no sense at another company, or would be comparable to what a much more junior person would do with a much lower salary, I don’t know what I’ll do —

I was talking to my husband and we agreed that our mortgage should be no more than $5000 with his father adding another $2000  in rent (basically $2500 for each of us per month plus $2000 for his father.) My husband really wants his mother to go in with us on the property but I’d prefer to buy separately and just have his father rent from us (his parents aren’t married, it’s complicated, but I am comfortable living with his dad if he is renting from us and it’s clean cut like that.) So we can put down $300k on a $1.5M property which is about $7k a month. That might be doable even if I lose my job, but it will be hard to maintain 30 years of a career that can support $2500 a month. And it’s going to be very hard if not impossible to find a place that costs $1.5M that has a good place for his father to live.

Ugh. When will my life not be a mess?

Another post on the impossible goal of buying a home in the Bay Area

When I drive from point A to point B I’m often calculating various life possibilities in my head. As of late, my math is focused on determining what kind of mortgage REALLY makes sense for my family. I figured $8000 a month DOESN’T make sense, but given prices of housing here are ridiculously high, I was hoping to at least get a number that felt somewhat doable.

Even though our household income should be over $400,000 this year (as long as I maintain my employment), there is absolutely no way to guarantee we’ll come close to this every year for the 30 years ahead. With my husband making $90k 1099 (I consider that $60,000 salary equivalent since it has no benefits and is taxed at a higher rate), and my income ranging in the past 10 years from $150,000 to $400,000 (total compensation), I feel fairly comfortable committing to $200k total family income for next 30 years–a combination of my husband staying in his job OR getting a job with benefits with a $60k salary minimum, and my having a job making at least $150k a year on average (which seems reasonable based on the various offers I’ve received in the past.) Theoretically our income would go up with inflation and more experience, but my husband has never asked for a raise and is not inspired to take on more clients beyond his one client, and I am fairly confident I’ll have to take a pay cut over and over again to remain gainfully employed, not to mention that I’ll likely take some time off to have kid #2 (and #3?) Plus, I figured out recently that we spend about $3500-$4000 a month not including housing on our lifestyle. Sure, we could be more frugal BUT I don’t want our housing to get in the way of being able to travel to see my family, see the world, send kids to summer camp, etc. I don’t think our lifestyle costs will go down that much as our kids get older–we’ll cut in some places and add to others.

So $200k a year in salary is $16k a month. If we max out our IRA/401k, that’s about $3k a month, leaving us with $13k pre tax, or about $8k after tax.

I think planning our next 30 years based on $8k after tax income makes a lot of sense. It still feels aggressive and scary to commit to anything based on it, but it’s not unreasonable.

If we make $8k in after tax income and our monthly expenses are $3500-$4000 a month, then we have $4000 left for a mortgage OR rent. Of course a mortgage is fixed while rent can go up over time… but let’s ignore that for now and just say that we can afford a $4000/month mortgage (including taxes, etc, esp since there are no meaningful tax deductions for real estate anymore.)

If my math is correct, IF we can put $600,000 down (50%) we can afford a $1.2M home.

But we don’t have $600k to put down, and the opportunity cost on putting that much of our life savings down will basically kill our retirement. We can put down less but then our monthly costs go up, which would significantly impact our lifestyle.

Even if we got our living costs under $2500 a month, that leaves $5.5k for a mortgage, taxes, etc MAX. That seems like better math… a $1.2M home with $300k down (more reasonable at 25% down) would be about $5.5k a month. BUT I don’t think we can find a house for that in this area — if we buy a condo, then condo fees would be on top of the mortgage, meaning we could afford less in a condo than in a house (sort of… maintenance costs in a house would eat up the HOA fees and then some.)

I keep running the numbers and I just don’t understand how anyone can afford a house here. I’m terrified of being stupid about this and buying something far from perfect for way too much money because I really want to own a house. It just doesn’t make sense.

I wish I could have a rational conversation with my husband about this. He just wants his mother to gift him the money and then we’ll live with his parents for the rest of forever. I want to find a place WE can afford on our salary without his parents living with us. He isn’t willing to consider getting a job that pays more and I can’t commit to earning more than $150k a year for the next 30 years.

My thought is that our best strategy right now is to rent a 2br/2ba and stay there for a few years and wait to see if our savings increases or what happens, but he’s pretty adamant about not renting. He makes me feel pretty crappy about not wanting to commingle my savings with his mother’s money (even if she is “gifting” it to him.) It’s beyond a matter of pride, though that’s part of it. I just want to have flexibility and once we buy with his parents we’re stuck for the next 30 years.

We could rent a 2br/2ba for $4000-$5000 a month now.

We could stay in our 1br for another year (or two, depending on when I get pregnant) — for $2500 a month and continue to save. Once we hit $3M in net worth, I can see putting $600k down on a house as we’re still diversified. But $600k on $1M in networth is too much.

That said, we’ll probably have a recession in the next year or two and our $1M will be worth a lot less. So selling stock now to buy could be a good move… or will housing prices come down with a recession? I wish I had a crystal ball.

 

Another Sunday, Another 20 $2M houses

They range in price from $1.4M to $2.2M — that is, houses that in any other part of the country would range in price from $200k-$600k, but in the Bay Area are priced beyond comprehension. I took a solo day of open house touring to check out a few on the “lower” end of the range that I thought might work for myself, my husband, my son, my future child(ren), my husband’s dad and my husband’s mom. You know — a 1500 square foot 3br/2ba on a lot at least 6000 square feet with an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) that we could all live in together as one big happy family…

I even started, in previous weekends, exploring further south (as in San Jose) – but prices aren’t much better there. You get a bit more for your money space wise, but you’re still spending $1.5M+. For a 2 hour commute to SF, you can possibly find something for $1.2M. It’s just extremely depressing and every day it weighs on me. I constantly text my husband “let’s move to NY” and I’m partially serious but he’s very serious he doesn’t want to leave. He’s right that with his mother and father we can afford something here. And I do want to stay but it’s just too much pressure if he’s going to continue to make $90k freelance income per year without asking for a raise or seeking additional projects –though his flexibility is helpful with childcare, but not so much with home buying.

I know, I know – we should keep renting. We’re fine in our 1 bedroom right now (which at 800 square feet and $2500 rent controlled to inflation is a STEAL!) When I have kid #2, we can move to a 2/2, which will likely be $4500/mo, but that is going to be in at least 21 more months. (hopefully) as I don’t plan to get pregnant again until May. That’s nearly two years of saving $$$ living in a one bedroom if we can survive it.

But I’m still just a train wreck over the whole “so this is it” mentality I have now… this is it… I’ve “made it” – heck, this year I may bring home over $350k in total income – and yet there is no way I can buy a house as my career won’t consistently deliver $350k / yr in income. I’ll be back to $150k in a few years probably and we can’t afford to buy on $240k income. I don’t know how anyone does it.

I’m trying to just let it go… to stop wanting so much because I know that’s what makes me unhappy, and outside of feeling a little distraught by the state of my bedroom (because it includes my husbands office and looks like a college dorm room in terms of furnishings), I’m pretty happy where we are now. I wish my son had an outdoor space to run around in,  because we don’t get to the park often enough and our balcony isn’t safe for him – but he has the entire living room floor as his toy room. There are no stairs (inside our home anyway) for him to hurt himself on. We have a pool in the apartment complex I’ll definitely be enjoying with my son this summer. So it’s not all that bad.

I just don’t see how I go from where I am now to that next step. Buying a home is probably the wrong move financially. So we wait. We wait and probably get more and more priced out of the area until we have to move. Maybe that’s the strategy now. I wish it didn’t have to be. But these $2M houses make me spit out my water and laugh so hard… $2M should buy you luxury and I don’t think I’ll get over that to buy a home in that price range, nor can I get over spending $1.5M to buy a fixer upper on a not-so-great street. So, yea, for now, for-ever?- we rent.

New Goal: $1.3M Networth by 2022 (age 38)

In 2008 or so, I had $29k in total net worth. Ten years later, my net worth closed out the year at $625k. Ten years ago I couldn’t fathom having more than $100k in a bank account. At age 24, I was just getting started in my career, making very little, and wondering how on earth to save money.

I started out ahead of many–a college degree with no loans. I’m not sure I’d be where I am today or even close to it if I had massive loans to pay back, because that would have not only cut into my savings, but also likely prevented me from taking some of the risks I’ve taken over the last 10 years that helped me save so aggressively. But, I do try to take a few moments to be grateful for what I have, and how much I’ve been able to save–despite not being able to afford the high cost of living in the Bay Area.

Today, I’m especially grateful that my current path has not only enabled me to hit my goal of saving $500,000 before giving birth to my first child, but also is looking to possibly support my second goal of saving $1M before my second–which was a long shot just years ago.

Screen Shot 2019-05-11 at 9.26.43 AM

The last few months have been especially fruitful, thanks to vesting stock–my first stock vesting period working for a public company–and selling it off immediately. I do not include any unvested stock in my networth calculations since if I lose my job that $ isn’t real. But it’s hard not to fantasize about it being real–even with it being not that much once taxes are taken out–it’s still a substantial amount and can be life-altering given my whole financial strategy is save as much as possible as fast as possible… not for FIRE, but for financial freedom (working PT, consulting, or pursing more risky opportunities, or those that don’t pay as well, in order to help others and/or just spend more time with my family.) And I won’t give up a decent lifestyle today to assume that I’ll have enough money for a frugal one “tomorrow” that doesn’t require working. I want to LIVE today but support a future where I’m not worried about money and can afford a decent lifestyle with a family.

I’m still uncertain what my “number” is. At last estimate it was about $4M-$6M, including a house worth about $1.8M. I still don’t think I’ll EVER get there, but as I set new financial goals for myself along the way, it helps to keep focused on these mini wins towards this major goal. Even if $4M is my “goal” that’s far off.

I had said I wanted to hit $1M by 40. Right now, I’ve sped up that goal to 38 (I’m 35 and a half now.) Within the next 3 years, I’d like to get to that $1M mark. A lot will depend on the volatile markets — if we have a crash, there is no way I’ll get there. If they stay stable or keep growing, there’s a good chance…

  • April net worth: $847k
  • Remaining 2019 stock value after tax: ~$92k
  • 2020 stock value after tax: ~$123k

With saving my stock amounts, and with the markets staying stable, it’s quite possible I’ll get to $1M even earlier… by 37… which actually is my goal since I want my second kid by 37 and I would like to get to $1M before I give birth. I won’t feel any richer for it, but I think with $1M in the bank I’ll start feeling ok about taking a few more risks when it comes to buying a house. Ideally I’d have $1M in the bank (investments) plus enough for downpayment and closing fees in cash. Perhaps I can get there in 3 years. That requires saving $500k in 3 years, or $150k per year.

  • 2019 (35): $92k (stock) + $25k (interest) + $35k (income savings) = $152k
  • 2020 (36): $123k (stock) + $25k (interest) + $35k (income savings) – $50k (IVF) = $123k
  • 2021 (37): $123k (stock) + $25k (interest) + $35k (income savings) – $20k (preschool) = $153k

Total end of 2021: $1.275M. Not quite $1.3M, but close. Close enough where at that point I’d be willing to put $300k down on a $1.5M house and have $1M in the bank as a safety net.

Past 2021, my savings will go down again… my stock will be vested and it’s unlikely I will find another job where I make anywhere near this much. If I can keep this job until the end of 2021, I just realized… I’ll be really close to my goal–my new goal– $1.3M by the end of 2021.

BUT – big but here – is that to do that, we need to stay living in our 800 square foot one bedroom apartment rental for the next 3 years/until I have my second child. Maybe that’s crazy–but it won’t be that bad. If it means in 3 years we can buy a house and feel financially stable (ish) then it’s worth it, right?

Against a Wall: HCOL and Those Golden Handcuffs

Driving to work in traffic the other day, I kept thinking–how am I going to do this for another 30 years? Even with splitting the cost of a $2M home with my MIL, we still end up with a very high mortgage that means I’m at best stuck working high-stress jobs that pay well and at worst burning through my savings faster than my baby lunges for my chest when he’s hungry.

There are parts of my current job that I like. My boss is actually really awesome. I know I’m always a heartbeat away from falling out of favor with her, but she’s a good person and I like to work for people who are not self-absorbed sociopaths. She’s just really good at her job and also really good at all the things I’m not — being poised, being a leader/executive, managing lots of things at once, staying cool under pressure, et al. Luckily, she also respects my skillsets–despite surely wishing I was better at being a “professional” my value add is, well, valued. It feels good to be valued. I wish I could be a perfect employee, but I’m far from it, and after this chapter is over it may be my yet-again downfall… but at the least I’ll walk from this one knowing I’ve done some good.

Yet at the end of the day, I know this isn’t sustainable. I’m in survival mode… and we all are, because that’s how business is run these days. Maybe in government jobs things go slow… but we don’t have time to stop and think and be super strategic we just have to go go go. For all my shortcomings, I can take some pride in my ability to be flexible in these types of environments. I know not everyone can perform when every day is another day of fighting fires and not enough time to get things done. But somehow I do get things done. It’s usually the last minute–which I want to be better at–but they get done.

I can do this for a few more years at best, but with one kid and hopefully with another one or two in my future, this can’t be my life–at least, not forever. And the hardest reality to face is that even WITH this being my life, I still cannot safely afford a house here… not even a townhouse or a condo within 45 minutes of work (or at least I think I can’t afford one… it’s so hard to gauge what’s affordable because it all depends on making a crazy amount of money via bonus and stock. Sure, my next few years, if I can keep this job, will be quite lucrative – but that doesn’t mean 30 years of such high pay.)

My husband is pretty adamant about not moving into a condo or townhouse… he wants a house. He wants to pay $2000 a month for the mortgage from his income, wants his dad to pay $2000 a month, wants his mom to put down $1M in cash (possible) and wants me to make up the rest… which will be anywhere from $3000-$6000 a month for a house that we all live in together. But, houses cost more than the mortgage and taxes. There’s fixing up and fixing in general. Running the numbers, the picture looks so unpretty.

I’m sitting in my 1 bedroom apartment thinking– how long can we last here? It’s certainly the safest way to live right now. In our $2500/mo 1 bedroom, I’m saving a lot of money. Worst case, we rent forever. Best case, the money I’m saving and investing in the stock market goes up to the point I have enough for a sizable downpayment on our own place without needing his parents to buy with us. But then there’s the whole matter of him WANTING to live with his parents. Ugh. Is this why marriage is so tough? I’ve spent my whole life trying to obtain independence and I know it’s nice to have grandparents nearby but I’m not so sure I want them literally in our backyard…

My realtor has pretty much disowned me at this point. I feel bad because she spent so much time with us taking us around and showing us houses but at the end of the day I can’t buy a $1.7M home that needs a lot of work. I can’t buy a $1.2M condo that’s a 2 bedroom and needs little work because it’s a 2 bedroom and why would I buy a 2 bedroom condo when we want more kids and will want more room?

But we’re stuck. We can’t leave… well, I can’t leave because my husband refuses to leave and I don’t really want to and we have, at least for now, free childcare here so why would we leave? And our friends and his family are here. And there’s no where else we want to go. And my job and my 10,000 recruiter emails are here (there have definitely been an uptick in recruiter emails lately- mostly from San Francisco-based companies.) So. Even if I won’t always make $250k+ a year, I still will likely be able to get jobs here making $150k+. But that’s NOT ENOUGH to live here when your. husband makes $90k 1099 and especially when you’re prone to losing your job for a few months every few years.

It’s just super depressing and I feel like a spoiled brat every time I talk about how depressing it is… I’m so lucky… I need to learn to be grateful and get over it, right? But it is suffocating–the way we work. The way we’re expected to work all the time and because I can’t do that effectively right now even if I wanted to because I have a young child then I feel like I’m letting everyone down because I can’t get through all my work at the office (and I’m half asleep all the time to add to that.) I could try harder. Be more organized. More focused. Drink more coffee. Wake up earlier. I don’t know. Again, I’m in pure survival mode… but that’s not living. That’s hoping and holding your breath that you’ll make it three more months to vest another stock grant. Another chance at maybe being able to have a future here.

But what is that number anyway? The “number” — net worth number– is probably far to large to ever be possible. My husband and I have a joint net worth now of $925k (about $800k of that is my savings.) That’s SO MUCH MORE than I ever thought was possible to save. We’re close to hitting $1M! That’s insane. So why do I feel so broke? Maybe I should take more risks. Buy a house and figure prices will go up… that inflation will make $9000 a month in mortgage seem sane in a few years down the road? With my mental health situation and now with a kid, I just can’t take those kind of risks. Not with $1M in the bank. Maybe with $2M in the bank… or $3M. I’m not sure how many million but definitely more than $1M. Ideally enough to buy a $2M house outright with $1M in retirement savings, so $3M seems about right.

So if I (we) add $50,000 a year cash to our investments, assuming $800k is invested now, in 16 years at 5% YoY interest we’ll have $3M. Of course by then houses will cost a lot more than $2M. That doesn’t work. If we add $100,000 a year, then we have just 12 years to wait… but then in 12 years if a $2M house increases in value 4% YoY the house will cost $3.2M… nope, that doesn’t work either.

I know everyone says just take your money and move somewhere cheaper… but let’s assume that’s not an option. Then what do we do? The house we wanted for $1.7M (that would require about $400k-$500k work) is still available – hey at least I called it as being over priced. But, it will be gone soon enough. The market will get competitive again. Now is a “good time to buy.” Another house we looked at was shown one weekend and gone by the next. Most decent properties still go that fast around here. And I still don’t want to live with my husband’s parents so… my only option is figuring out how to save $300k for a downpayment AND how I can afford $5,500 a month while my husband pays $2000 a month ($7500 total.) That’s what a $1.5M house costs, give or take. $300k down and $7500 a month (at 4% interest, so it’s prob more than that depending on when you buy.)

could sell $300k (+ capital gains tax) worth of stock AND just commit to paying $5500  per month on my own for the next 30 years (and hope my husband can keep doing $2000 a month.) I need to keep saving because if I need to take unpaid leave or god forbid lose my job for a few months (which will happen, let’s be real we’re talking about me here) then… well, I need enough cash to cover $5500 a month for about a year, so $66,000 cash, not counting general emergency fund. And where does the money come from to send our kids to preschool? Or after school activities? Or summer camp?

The numbers just don’t add up.

Ok, so let’s say… probably more realistically… we buy a $1.3M condo (priced at $1.2M, but it goes for $1.3M because that’s how real estate rolls in these parts.) HOA is something like $333/mo. Some are higher, some lower, but that’s about average. It could go up. There could be a special assessment. But nonetheless… with $333 / mo HOA and a $1.3M condo/townhome… that’s $260k down and $7000 a month… so I’m still paying $5000 a month, just $500/mo less and $40k savings on the downpayment. Substantial, but then the value of the home won’t go up as much because it’s a condo.

Or, we say… you know what, we’re going to move to the east bay because houses are cheaper there. We can get a house in a decent but not great area for $900k. Phew.  Our downpayment is JUST $160,000. Yes! Doable. Our monthly payment is $5000, leaving me with JUST $3000/month to pay. This looks a lot better. But then I’m paying $6 a day for bridge toll ($120 / mo) and commuting an hour or more to work each way – maybe more, if I work in the city again one day. Still, not so bad. But, wait, then we have to add in childcare because my husband’s parents do not drive and can’t get to us. So that’s $2,000 a month, if not more. So then we’re back up to $7000 a month anyway… and that’s with just one kid (I know, this is just for a few years… but still, it’s the years the $ costs the most before inflation kicks in and makes the mortgage somewhat ok.)

How the fuck do people do this?

Maybe we should just suck it up and buy a $900k home in the east bay and pay for childcare and drive to see his parents on the weekends. That’s probably what normal people would do. Or they’d move to Denver. Or Austin. Or Boise. Or Portland. Or Raleigh. Or anywhere else things make mathematical sense to live.

Welp. That’s my rant for the day.