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Old 02-05-2008, 06:40 AM
 
Location: Spangdahlem, Germany
7 posts, read 21,146 times
Reputation: 11

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I just got notification that I'll be re-assigned to Peterson this summer. We've been out of the USA for 5+ years, so I know there will be a bit of a culture shock. But I'm really concerned about housing.

BAH for Peterson is currently $1230 for E-7, which translates to about $200K mortgage (without any escrow payments taken into consideration) and utilities out of pocket. I've read numerous posts about homes in the mid- to upper-200's. That's a little scary.

1. Are there any decent (read: safe, clean, friendly) areas in COS (or surrounding areas) where we would be able to purchase a 4/5 bedroom home under $200K? We don't mind a bit of a commute (under 30min) and more land/less people is okay, too.

2. If buying won't work, how is the rental market (home, not APT)? We have a small dog, so we need a place that takes small pets.

3. Housing is expensive; what about the rest? For example, we spend about $175/wk (family of 7) at the Commissary; 80/L ($3.15/gal) for auto fuel; enormous auto insurance ($300/month for full coverage on 2 late model vehicles/good driving records); and ridiculous phone/Internet rates (150/month). I won't even mention clothing prices/selection. Can a family make it on a single income in CoS?

Any other tips for a semi-smooth trans-atlantic relocation are greatly appreciated.
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Old 02-05-2008, 08:12 AM
 
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
2,221 posts, read 4,595,958 times
Reputation: 1675
Quote:
Originally Posted by ernieg92 View Post
I just got notification that I'll be re-assigned to Peterson this summer. We've been out of the USA for 5+ years, so I know there will be a bit of a culture shock. But I'm really concerned about housing.

BAH for Peterson is currently $1230 for E-7, which translates to about $200K mortgage (without any escrow payments taken into consideration) and utilities out of pocket. I've read numerous posts about homes in the mid- to upper-200's. That's a little scary.

1. Are there any decent (read: safe, clean, friendly) areas in COS (or surrounding areas) where we would be able to purchase a 4/5 bedroom home under $200K? We don't mind a bit of a commute (under 30min) and more land/less people is okay, too.
Unless you are in a position to hold the house for 5-10 years, you take a real risk of finding yourself in the middle of a PCS a few years from now selling the home for less...possibly a lot less...than you paid for it. Home prices are declining and are likely to continue to decline for several years more and then flatten out--and there's a significant risk that it could turn out much worse than that, too.

Unless holding on to the house for an extended period is an option (i.e. you are planning on retiring there) the risk you would be strapping on by buying now could very likely come back to haunt you later.

Realtors will always tell you that now is the time to buy...the reasons change like the seasons, but the tune is always the same. Two years ago it was buy now or get priced out forever. Today, "it's a buyer's market, it'll never get better than this." Oh yeah, it's gonna get much better I believe.

Call up your new unit and talk to some of the guys there who own houses. Lots of folks are very, very worried about being trapped in the vortex of a collapsing market. You have the good fortune to have an opportunity to make an informed choice that will keep you clear of what is shaping up to be a once-in-a-century train wreck...proceed very, very carefully.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ernieg92 View Post
2. If buying won't work, how is the rental market (home, not APT)? We have a small dog, so we need a place that takes small pets.
I suspect that many of the folks PCS-ing out this summer will end up renting their homes rather than selling into the teeth of the worst market downturn since the First Great Depression. There should be plentiful supply of rentals. You might try looking at MilitarybyOwner.com - Real Estate near U.S. Military Bases to see what people are listing for rental about now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ernieg92 View Post
3. Housing is expensive; what about the rest? For example, we spend about $175/wk (family of 7) at the Commissary; 80/L ($3.15/gal) for auto fuel; enormous auto insurance ($300/month for full coverage on 2 late model vehicles/good driving records); and ridiculous phone/Internet rates (150€/month). I won't even mention clothing prices/selection. Can a family make it on a single income in CoS?
Sure, a family can make it on an E-7 paycheck in COS, provided you're not trying to maintain a lifestyle beyond your means. I know E-7s who were responsible with their spending who retired far better off than O-5s who lived like they thought they were rock stars.

You'll find fuel maybe 5% cheaper, insurance should be about half to 2/3 of what you're paying now, internet/phone probably a third as much. But there's no COLA in COS, either.
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Old 02-05-2008, 09:06 AM
 
Location: Colorado Springs
641 posts, read 1,918,432 times
Reputation: 423
Ernie,

I'm a retired AF E-7. I'm single and moved here last year from the DC area.
Don't sweat it too much. There are tons of military families here in town (AF and Army) and they do just fine, so will you.

I bought my first house last year and paid $217K. It's a 4 bedroom and my mortgage is about $1100 per month.

Unfortunately, I don't think you'll be able to get into a 4/5 bedroom for under $200K, but I think you'll be able to afford a place in town.

There are plenty of rental properties all over town. You won't have any problems getting into a rental house if you decide to go that way.

Gas is running about $2.77 to 2.85 these days. The Commissary and Exchange on Peterson are awesome and the prices are good at the commissary.

Cable internet and expanded cable from Cox runs me about $95 a month. That's steep, but not unusual. You can go with DSL and Direct TV for cheaper.

You'll be fine.

Terytee

Last edited by Mike from back east; 02-05-2008 at 10:00 AM..
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Old 02-06-2008, 02:24 AM
 
Location: Spangdahlem, Germany
7 posts, read 21,146 times
Reputation: 11
Thanks for your input!

I haven't decided on rent-vs-buy or not. But, is there an area of town better/worse than others? What about some of the outlying area to the east? Trying to look at homes on the Internet is like finding a needle in a haystack. But if there's an area or two to focus in on, we can at least get an idea of what's available. We don't want to live in an expensive/'ritzy' area but need an area that is (relatively) safe (our kids like to play outside a lot).
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Old 02-06-2008, 07:16 AM
 
Location: Colorado Springs
641 posts, read 1,918,432 times
Reputation: 423
My reply might cause a bit of debate, but everyone's going to have a different opinion on this one.

Personally, I would stay clear of the very southern part of town and focus on the northern part of town and even northwest part of town.

I've lived in different parts of town and to me, the southern portion of Academy can be a little rough and the housing areas are kinda' run down.

There are also areas right outside Peterson's gate that are a little beat up.
The further north you go, the nicer areas get, but the prices also go up.

There's a great thread on this forum that Mike from back East created that indexes a lot of great info, such as school districts, neighborhoods, traffic, weather, and heck even people that hate it here. You should check it out thoroughly and it will provide a lot of answers.

Personally, I retired here intentionally and love it. I hope you will also.

Last edited by Terytee; 02-06-2008 at 07:50 AM..
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Old 02-06-2008, 08:34 AM
 
Location: Spangdahlem, Germany
7 posts, read 21,146 times
Reputation: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Terytee View Post
Personally, I would stay clear of the very southern part of town and focus on the northern part of town and even northwest part of town.
What would the commute time (in good weather and typical traffic) be from those parts of town down to Peterson? I'd like to avoid a 30-minute (or more) commute, if possible. Right now I've got about a 20-25 minute commute (98% Autobahn) and I really don't want to go futher than that.

Also, are those areas (NE, N, NW) newer subdivisions? If we're in a city/subdivision, we're looking for a more established neighborhood.
What about going east on 94 or 24 (don't know if that's still CoS or another town)? Ideally, a little bit further out of town (no more than the aforementioned 30 minutes) would hopefully yield a little bit of room/land (possibly more home for the money).

Sorry for all the questions; it's a little intimidating making the jump back across the pond without really knowing much about the area.
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Old 02-06-2008, 09:40 AM
 
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
553 posts, read 1,391,275 times
Reputation: 501
Quote:
Originally Posted by ernieg92 View Post
What would the commute time (in good weather and typical traffic) be from those parts of town down to Peterson? I'd like to avoid a 30-minute (or more) commute, if possible.

Also, are those areas (NE, N, NW) newer subdivisions? If we're in a city/subdivision, we're looking for a more established neighborhood.
Personally, I think there are some good bargains to be found in some established neighborhoods. I live in the Garden Ranch area (if you look at a map, it's inside the triangle formed by Academy Blvd, Union, and Austin Bluffs. Very centrally located. Safe. Quiet. Homes in the neighborhood are running around $200K, some with 4 bedrooms. Commute time to Peterson is no more than 20 minutes.

Village Seven also has homes around $200K. All these were built in the early 70s. Established neighborhoods. They're not castles, but you're not going to get a McMansion for $200K.

My experience after numerous military moves, is that an existing home in an established neighborhood is going to be cheaper than new construction, and it will be easier to sell when it comes time to go.

Best of luck.
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Old 02-06-2008, 10:10 AM
 
Location: Colorado Springs
641 posts, read 1,918,432 times
Reputation: 423
Quote:
Originally Posted by ernieg92 View Post
What would the commute time (in good weather and typical traffic) be from those parts of town down to Peterson? I'd like to avoid a 30-minute (or more) commute, if possible. Right now I've got about a 20-25 minute commute (98% Autobahn) and I really don't want to go futher than that.

Also, are those areas (NE, N, NW) newer subdivisions? If we're in a city/subdivision, we're looking for a more established neighborhood.
What about going east on 94 or 24 (don't know if that's still CoS or another town)? Ideally, a little bit further out of town (no more than the aforementioned 30 minutes) would hopefully yield a little bit of room/land (possibly more home for the money).

Sorry for all the questions; it's a little intimidating making the jump back across the pond without really knowing much about the area.
I also agree with Maynerd's post.

The commutes within town aren't bad. Of course it all depends on the time of day that you hit road. I hit the road at 0630 and shoot all the way to the very north side of town from where I live which is in the central area of Powers Blvd, and it takes about 15-20 mins, but that's just traffic lights. If you can catch all at green, then it's 10 mins.

The commute to Peterson would be an easy one, especially in the early hours. Powers Blvd and Academy Blvd are two main strips that extend north from the Air Force Academy entrance and south all the way down to the Airport and they're the main drags through the eastern part of town.

Powers Blvd moves faster than Academy Blvd.

I think the biggest delay would be just getting through the gate at the base, not the drive through town. On PT days, everyone's trying to get to the base gym at the same time.
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