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.


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7 thoughts on “Buying a House in Silicon Valley (Spoiler Alert: LOL)”

  1. Is there a middle ground between a 1/1 apartment and a 3/2 house that you might be able to afford and would be willing to settle for? Something like a 2/2 condo? It sounds like no matter what you’ll have to compromise on something, whether it’s living with your in-laws, moving out from the Bay Area, long commute, being tied to high-stress jobs to afford the mortgage, etc. Have you stack ranked those preferences? It might make help you decide the best course of action moving forward.

    Also, how involved is husband in the house-hunting process? This seems like a lot of stress to take on one person’s shoulders. Is there a way you could convey your preferences to him and have him do the leg work and see the constraints you’re under for a while? He should understand the stress you’re going through both in finding the house, and figuring out the math on how to afford a place without burning you out.
    Yet Another PF Blog recently posted..All The Clothes I Bought In The Second Half of 2019

    1. You are very right on all of this. Husband is super involved in the house hunting process but he’s still stuck on buying with his parents. I decided I don’t want to do that because even if we put $1M down we still have a HUGE mortgage on a house that works for all of us and that’s a weight on my shoulders that I don’t need when I want to probably change careers and/or reduce my work stress. I don’t think a condo makes sense to buy — honestly right now renting is the smartest move and renting forever may be wisest. It’s hard to accept that–I probably never will accept it, but who knows, maybe one day I’ll find a career I love and feel more stable and have a lot of savings and buying will make more sense. We’re not leaving the Bay Area for a number of reasons so renting it likely is. I like the flexibility of renting and when my son is old enough to go to school we can rent in a better school district then we can afford to buy in AND I can put away more in investments for retirement and passing on to my kids one day! It will suck to rent also but I’m kind of accepting it now.

  2. Lordy I misread at least $1.9M more than that as $3.6M . If it closed for at least 10% more than asking that’s not as crazy as more than double asking speaking from a bubble city perspective.

    So Cal offers a lot more affordable housing at reasonable prices n finer weather. Any work from home opts?

    So u r at least Director now or VP?
    That’s impressive only as I’ll only ever be an individual contributor at most.

    1. I’m “director” but it’s a bs title I’m an individual contributor. It’s great to get director pay but the problem is I’m stuck and I’m not building “director level” skills on my resume. But as of today I decided I’m definitely changing careers. I want to be a product manager long term and I think if I can figure out how to be an engineer for a few years (like super super junior level) it would really help me with that. It would be super hard but I’m so done with marketing. There is nothing I want to “move up” to in marketing. I can’t imagine doing this for 30+ more years.

  3. Average 2.5 years at a job in bay area is great track record. Don’t let your self worth be tied to tenure at post. Think of the bigger market in general where ppl are changing positions every 2 year in a dynamic unprecedentes job market n economy n it will just feel like a passage to where u r headed . Based on all the entries I’ve read so far it’s either down to happiness as renter in bay or happiness as hone owner elsewhere. Try to reframe the state of mind n u will feel better. Even if u can’t change the circumstances u can choose to at least change your attitude towards it. Cheers
    Financial Orchid recently posted..How to Mentally and Financially Prepare for Life after a Divorce?

    1. I know. Right now I’m holding on for dear life to get 2 more years of RSUs that make my total take home crazy high and impossible to match in the future at least for many, many more years. It’s kind of like I have a winning lottery ticket and all I have to do is keep my job (easier said than done) so that’s the goal at the moment, get my total 4 years in at this job. I need to focus on getting experience in another field while surviving these 2 years so after 2 years I can transition to a junior role. I’m really thinking engineering though that might be an insane idea but it feels like the right thing to do in order to be a product manager which is my end goal. I want to really be able to communicate with engineers so I’ll never feel confident until I’ve gotten my hands into coding for a bit. I know I’m not a “lifelong” engineer but then I can transition into product management and leverage my marketing background as well. I mean, it’s a thought.

  4. I moved in with my in-laws temporarily after the birth of my baby, and I feel like it damaged my marriage. I still resent my husband for pressuring me into that decision. Despite that, I get along great with my in-laws.

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