To Move or Not To Move… That is the Question

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

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

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

Our options are as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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5 thoughts on “To Move or Not To Move… That is the Question”

  1. Condos tend to have more soundproofing then apartments. We live in a condo building and never hear our neighbors – above/below or on the sides. The key is to look for concrete and steel construction, if that’s an option where you live.

    We lived in a townhome before this and everyone had wood floors. I was surprised I could hear my neighbors on the side when they walked, so it really depends on the individual property.

  2. If you end up eventually switching jobs, are most of the jobs you would be considering in a similar geographic area to your current job? Moving to be close to work has a host of benefits, but if your job changes, then are you still close to work?

    I would seriously consider the daycare-close-to-work option before buying if I were in your shoes.

    In any case – good luck! Very exciting times!
    SP recently posted..Privilege, Inequality, Charity, Activism – How Do We Save Our Country?

    1. Good point. The majority of jobs I was looking at are actually 1-1.5 hours north of where I live now. I was working there (in the city) prior to this job for the last 2.5 years and it was too far. Then I got this job which is about half way to the city and I still hit traffic but I don’t have to deal with the getting in and out of the city during rush hour traffic. I know worst case that I’d be better off being closer to the city if I needed to get another job. There are definitely jobs in the other direction as well (I live half way between two major job centers / cities right now) but so far the jobs I feel I can get if needed would be in the “right” direction if I were to move closer to job. That’s also why housing costs even more in that area… even though I’m not exactly in a cheap region right now.

  3. You’re not going to rent anymore. Every single one of my friends who are moms now went into auto must buy house for stability mommy bear mode whether they could afford it or not. You should see how house aggressive pregnant women are at open houses. It’s completely illogical. I used to be in real estate. There must be biological support where some kind of house lust hormone secretes once pregnancy occurs. I guess that’s part of the nesting instinct. EVERY pregnant specie on the planet reacts this way. The ones who truly can’t afford it like a single mom or people with no savings stay renting because they have no choice but u can damn well know they want to own a house. Proper portfolio asset allocation does not exist during pregnancy

    1. Interesting. I definitely feel the “biological buy” signals. But in this area, buying may just be impossible. Given I understand money at this point I also know how much stress owning would add to our lives… and having to keep a little human alive is enough stress for now. I thought about it a bit more and think owning WILLL probably make sense after baby #2… my goal is to have baby #2 in 3-4 years. So baby #1 will be turning 3-ish, and then we can buy a 2 or 3 bedroom (here, or elsewhere) and I’ll have a room for the 3 year old and can keep the baby with us. I do think once the kids are old enough to know what’s going on I’ll want to own. I don’t mind the stress of having to move from a small apartment with 30 days surprise notice, but the idea of having to move an entire rented house that fast is more stress than I need in a lifetime. 🙂

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