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Old 11-01-2013, 06:39 PM
 
14 posts, read 26,198 times
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I posted this in the NH board as well, but figured it couldn't hurt to post here as well seeing as we are seriously considering moving to Maine. Just a warning: this post is rather long but I want to explain the full situation in hopes that someone can offer me advice!!

So here is my situation. My husband and I live in NH with our daughter and another baby on the way. The cost of living in New England is just atrocious. I seriously don't know how anyone can afford to live comfortably AND buy a house that isn't a complete fixer-upper without assistance from family for a down payment or something! Anyways, a couple years ago before I had my daughter I got laid off and since have not been able to find work. When she was born we lived in MA and daycare costs were insane. If I was able to find a job the daycare we liked was going to charge $1700/month! So, my husband and I agreed that it was just best for us financially for him to work and me to stay home. He is a police officer at a college campus in Boston, and we are so blessed that he has excellent benefits and good pay for his position.

We were in an adjustable rate mortgage so we sold our condo in MA before the rate went up again and that started the dilemma of where to live within a decent driving distance. My husband was already driving 1 hour to work (we lived in southern MA), so he didn't mind the 1 hour commute.. thus, leading us to looking into NH! So we moved to Southern NH and really love the quality of life here.

The problem is that we decided to rent when we moved here. It just made more sense for us seeing as we weren't sure we'd want to plant roots in NH permanently. Well, our lease on our house we are renting is about to renew and the landlord will be increasing rent by $250/month- non negotiable... We really got a STEAL on this place, and I think he realized that and that is why he is increasing the price. Also he has done some projects around the property (painted the back deck, removed some dead trees in the yard, power washed the home, etc).. Overall we love living here but now the increase in rent is forcing us to look elsewhere.

The problem is, that MA is truly not affordable if you want to live within a decent driving distance to Boston. I mean sure we could go to crappy towns like Brockton or Lowell or Lynn but we refuse to do that. I grew up in a rough neighborhood in Boston and we don't want that for our kids. My husband makes a salary of $56,000 per year. He has to work at least 50-60 hours a week now just to provide for us. We don't go out to eat, we don't have cable, we don't vacation, we live within our means. We have even talked to a financial planner and he agreed that we don't even really have major debt (just a couple student loans but I have a 0% interest rate) and the financial planner agreed that the best thing for us to do would be to lower our largest monthly expense- our rent! But how can you do that living in New England?! It is soooo freaking expensive to live here. Commuting by train is not an option for my husband because he works 3rd shift. So we are forced to find a place within a 1 hour commute.

We looked into Nashua and the only places we could find comparable to what we pay now are either crappy or in very sketchy areas (with my husband being a cop, safety is important to him)... We are just so torn on what to do.

We are considering relocating out of New England entirely. We can't find a decent home in our price range here. Unfortunately my husband is not handy and can't fix things up nor do we want to buy some crappy home where we have to dump our life savings into it just to get it up to liveable standards. Our financial planner said that we should buy a home no more than 3x my husband's base salary (so 56,000 x 3 = $168,000)... Yeah, a decent home under $168,000 that isn't a fixer upper is nearly impossible to find. The homes we find in NH seem great but damn NH property taxes are sooo expensive that it makes it not affordable (one home we looked at in Derry had taxes of over $7k/year! Not to mention Derry is further from my husband's work so the added commute would increase our expenses). MA is pretty much out of the question for the same reason.

We are considering Maine. I don't know anything about Maine though and worry that the seemingly low home prices are going to lure us in there but it'll wind up being the same situation as MA or NH, with added expenses elsewhere. Plus, jobs in Maine pay far less than his job in MA. He applied to one department in Maine and the starting salary was $41,000. Going from $56,000 to $41,000 is a drastic pay cut! It would be worth it though if we could buy a home for say $100k- $120k, then that’d be doable! What areas of Maine are most affordable? Are the winters much worse than NH?

If Maine doesn’t seem like a good fit, then we are also considering Virginia or North Carolina. Thankfully the cost of rentals/housing is sooo much cheaper down there so even if my husband took a pay cut it’d actually be okay for us because we'd be saving in other areas.

We are just so torn on what to do. One of the benefits that my husband has being an employee at the college is that our children could get significantly reduced tuition- essentially they would be able to go to college for free (we’d just have to cover the costs of room and board and books or miscellaneous fees). Plus the pay is good and the benefits are great. It is so tempting just to suck it up and stay here in New England but we just see all of our money going to basic living expenses and that is frustrating. I do plan on going back to work eventually in about 6 years when the kids go to school but until then we have to somehow make it work. I hate living paycheck to paycheck when I know if we moved somewhere with a better cost of living that we would be able to save money. Right now when my husband works overtime it solely goes towards living expenses. I’d love for his hard work to go towards savings, and he agrees that if he is going to make a move in his career now would be the time to do it, before he invests more time at his job (he has been there about 3 years). He is police academy trained so he can lateral transfer nearly anywhere in the USA.

Our family tells us to just stick it out. But that’s easy for them to say. They bought homes back in the 1990s when you could buy a decent home for under $100k! Most of my aunts and uncles have no mortgages or their mortgages are nearly paid off. They keep telling us the benefit of my husband’s job where our kids can go to college for free is such a huge benefit. We really have no other means of saving for college right now so that does seem enticing. The problem I have with waiting it out that long is: 1) my daughter wont be going to college for another 17 or 18 years! What if the tuition benefits for employees and their children changes between now and then? And we waited it out here this whole time all for nothing? 2) What if our kids don’t want to go to that college? And then we have no other means to pay for their college. 3) What if our kids don’t get accepted to that college? 4) If we stay here in NH or MA, then money will be so tight that we won’t be able to do the things we want to do with our kids during their childhood. We’d love to sign them up for ballet or karate or be able to go on a vacation once every couple years. Heck, even just be able to take them to the movies once in a while. With money being soo tight we won’t be able to afford any of those things. And if we buy a home within our price range it’ll likely be some crappy home that we keep dumping money into.


Anyways.. sorry for the long rant/post. Can anyone provide insight or guidance? Are we being unrealistic in what we want? What would you do if you were in our shoes? Would you consider relocating? Is Maine any cheaper than NH or MA? We are so sick of seeing our friends with kids live paycheck to paycheck and racking up credit card debt and dumping money into their crappy homes, all for what? Just to live in MA or NH? It seems so silly to me when we could move somewhere else and have a better quality of life. Maybe the grass just seems greener on the other side? idk..


Thanks for the input!
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Old 11-01-2013, 08:21 PM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
30,646 posts, read 49,319,037 times
Reputation: 19059
Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetmama0067 View Post
... The cost of living in New England is just atrocious
It can be, and it often is. But not in all cases.



Quote:
... I seriously don't know how anyone can afford to live comfortably AND buy a house that isn't a complete
You are getting very close to your answer.

You are correct. You can not live comfortably and buy a nice home at the same time, unless your loaded or get outside help.



Quote:
... When she was born we lived in MA and daycare costs were insane. If I was able to find a job the daycare we liked was going to charge $1700/month!
Life in the big city.

Live in an expensive area and things will be expensive. That is a tough lesson.



Quote:
... The problem is, that MA is truly not affordable if ...
We have all heard that many times before.



Quote:
... My husband makes a salary of $56,000 per year.
At his level of income, I think he would be in the top 10% in my township.



Quote:
... that the best thing for us to do would be to lower our largest monthly expense- our rent! But how can you do that living in New England?!
Lowering your expenses is the easiest part of the formula to change.

Previously in your post, you already listed places you could move to with lower rents. But then you ruled them out, because you do not want to live there.

Another statement you made previously also applies here. Allow me to paraphrase: "I don't know how anyone can try to live in luxury AND buy a house that isn't a dump" A word or two may have been modified but. Living the 'good life' does require a higher income. Or else, you must make sacrifices.

A 'comfortable' home, a nice house, a nice neighborhood, living in one of the most expensive states in the nation, all of these things would require a higher income.



Quote:
... It is soooo freaking expensive to live here.
Yes, I understand.

We have lived in expensive places too. Before we moved here.



Quote:
... Is Maine any cheaper than NH or MA?
It can be. But not always.



Quote:
... We are so sick of seeing our friends with kids live paycheck to paycheck and racking up credit card debt and dumping money into their crappy homes, all for what? Just to live in MA or NH? It seems so silly to me when we could move somewhere else and have a better quality of life. Maybe the grass just seems greener on the other side? idk..

Thanks for the input!
We have friends [not in Maine] whose homes are 'underwater' {I hate that usage]. A home with a $300k mortgage currently worth $100k. Still making $2,500/month payments. But each payment gets them no closer to being solvent. They can not sell, nobody will pay that much.
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Old 11-01-2013, 08:31 PM
 
14 posts, read 26,198 times
Reputation: 17
Hope I don't come across as someone with crazy high expectations. We are not flashy people. I haven't had a haircut in over a year! Haven't bought myself new clothes in 2 years. I am not saying I need to live in a palace, just don't want to buy a home with mold or lead or something that is dilapidated (which is all we are finding in our price range in MA or NH). We make lots of sacrifices just to be able to afford where we live now and just to live where we do now requires my husband working overtime every week. If he did not work overtime we couldn't afford what little we have. I know to some people his salary sound ridiculously high, and I admit that we truly are so blessed for his job, but honestly our rent is what eats it all up! It'd be different if we lived somewhere like Texas where you can buy a nice home under $100k and he had the salary he has now. If that were the case we'd be living like kings! However, I am just torn as to whether or not we'll wind up in a similar situation if we move to Maine. One thing that concerns us is the heating costs and the fact that many parts of maine are rather rural and so we may spend more time driving to stores or wind up paying more at local stores than we would at big name stores such as Target or Walmart, solely because those stores are everywhere the way they are in MA/southern NH. What area of Maine would you recommend moving to that has a decent quality of life but isn't ridiculously expensive?




Quote:
Originally Posted by Submariner View Post
It can be, and it often is. But not in all cases.





You are getting very close to your answer.

You are correct. You can not live comfortably and buy a nice home at the same time, unless your loaded or get outside help.





Life in the big city.

Live in an expensive area and things will be expensive. That is a tough lesson.





We have all heard that many times before.





At his level of income, I think he would be in the top 10% in my township.





Lowering your expenses is the easiest part of the formula to change.

Previously in your post, you already listed places you could move to with lower rents. But then you ruled them out, because you do not want to live there.

Another statement you made previously also applies here. Allow me to paraphrase: "I don't know how anyone can try to live in luxury AND buy a house that isn't a dump" A word or two may have been modified but. Living the 'good life' does require a higher income. Or else, you must make sacrifices.

A 'comfortable' home, a nice house, a nice neighborhood, living in one of the most expensive states in the nation, all of these things would require a higher income.





Yes, I understand.

We have lived in expensive places too. Before we moved here.





It can be. But not always.





We have friends [not in Maine] whose homes are 'underwater' {I hate that usage]. A home with a $300k mortgage currently worth $100k. Still making $2,500/month payments. But each payment gets them no closer to being solvent. They can not sell, nobody will pay that much.
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Old 11-01-2013, 10:53 PM
 
Location: Caribou, Me.
5,450 posts, read 3,883,827 times
Reputation: 3931
With all due respect, you and your husband seem to have about three or four "priorities". If you can whittle that down to one BIG one and one big one, it will make your decision-making much easier.
Nobody can tell you what to value the most. It's a very personal thing.
Good luck.
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Old 11-02-2013, 03:23 AM
 
18,302 posts, read 23,438,601 times
Reputation: 34233
so many variables to "is livin in maine cheaper"...


so much depends on lifestyle choices. (i know couples, that have to have newer cars and have two very hefty car payments.(600-800 month)..and this alone ... straps them in all areas of their lives-
while many i know, will buy 2-4k vehicles and have no payment..

i know couples that smoke- usually a pack a day , thats 14 packs a week, even at $6 pack, thats 84 wk/ 336 month

and if you add alcohol on this,,,,it adds up quickly- and yet these same folks spout "how expensive it is in maine, because they are so poor"


if you have a small car payment,,,,control monthly expenses,,,,buy a house in a low tax town, take the time to research good deals,,
this can be done in maine... but also know,, it depends where you are in maine, housing is much much less in rural maine-than southern/coastal maine
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Old 11-02-2013, 04:37 AM
 
Location: Bangor Maine
3,442 posts, read 5,599,037 times
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I can't address all of your problems with cost of living but maybe a couple of them. To consider a job because they will cover college costs, when your kids aren't even in school yet wouldn't be a reason to stay with it. I can assure you - you would be able to find daycare in most parts of Maine that is much less expensive than $1700. You probably aren't planning to move as far north as Bangor but just for arguement's sake, there were several open houses this past weekend here. One of them was in an area where we rented years ago and it is a fairly nice area not too far from town. One offering was a four bedroom 2 bath, all on one floor with garage for $124K. That was the asking price and most are willing to accept less if they are anxious to sell. Check out the Bangor area, such as smaller towns like Levant, Glenburn, Hermon etc. I'm not sure what the police dept is paying but I do know they are always saying it is hard for them to find "qualified" help.
As far as winter is concerned it is no more severe here than NH, unless you are way up north. I'm sure with a bit of research and concentrating on your most urgent priorities you will come up with a solution.

Oh yes, we do have a Walmart and Target.

Last edited by Newdaawn; 11-02-2013 at 04:42 AM.. Reason: addition
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Old 11-02-2013, 09:36 AM
 
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Reputation: 17
Is the Auburn area of Maine affordable? How about Biddeford Maine? Would we be able to buy a home for $120k or less near Biddeford?
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Old 11-02-2013, 09:38 AM
 
14 posts, read 26,198 times
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I think you're right. If we stay here solely because the job *may* cover college costs in 17 years down the line then that is a huge what-if that we are gambling on! Do you know anything about the Biddeford area or Auburn area? is that area safe to live? Could we realistically find a home for less than $120k or rent an apartment/house for $900 or less?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Newdaawn View Post
I can't address all of your problems with cost of living but maybe a couple of them. To consider a job because they will cover college costs, when your kids aren't even in school yet wouldn't be a reason to stay with it. I can assure you - you would be able to find daycare in most parts of Maine that is much less expensive than $1700. You probably aren't planning to move as far north as Bangor but just for arguement's sake, there were several open houses this past weekend here. One of them was in an area where we rented years ago and it is a fairly nice area not too far from town. One offering was a four bedroom 2 bath, all on one floor with garage for $124K. That was the asking price and most are willing to accept less if they are anxious to sell. Check out the Bangor area, such as smaller towns like Levant, Glenburn, Hermon etc. I'm not sure what the police dept is paying but I do know they are always saying it is hard for them to find "qualified" help.
As far as winter is concerned it is no more severe here than NH, unless you are way up north. I'm sure with a bit of research and concentrating on your most urgent priorities you will come up with a solution.

Oh yes, we do have a Walmart and Target.
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Old 11-02-2013, 11:39 AM
 
482 posts, read 624,460 times
Reputation: 1009
Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetmama0067 View Post
Is the Auburn area of Maine affordable? How about Biddeford Maine? Would we be able to buy a home for $120k or less near Biddeford?
Well, it's really easy to search online for properties these days. The newenglandmoves site is really good for MA, ME, & NH. For other parts of the US, realtor.com is very good. Just start doing online searches.

As far as: "So here is my situation. My husband and I live in NH with our daughter and another baby on the way. The cost of living in New England is just atrocious."

That's a total of 2 kids? Any more planned? That's gotta be tough with a salary of $56,000 per year. There may be some parts of New England you can do that, but I'm not sure.

"If Maine doesn’t seem like a good fit, then we are also considering Virginia or North Carolina"

I love Maine myself. I've also considered North Carolina.

And you said: ......."We are so sick of seeing our friends with kids live paycheck to paycheck and racking up credit card debt and dumping money into their crappy homes, all for what? Just to live in MA or NH? It seems so silly to me when we could move somewhere else and have a better quality of life."

It seems silly to me too. And I'd assume there are tons of people who live in NC, or VA, who really like it....I'd say move somewhere where you can buy a house for $100k- $120k, while you're young enough to make the move....

Good luck!
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Old 11-02-2013, 09:36 PM
 
360 posts, read 580,532 times
Reputation: 286
I am originally from ME and live in NC... NC is significantly cheaper than ME in cost of living. We have plenty of housing here in all price ranges and more are being built all the time. There is no expensive heating oil bills here either . As far as ME goes, Auburn is an ok area, but across the river from it (Lewiston) is a whole other ball game, which is a depressed, old industrial town with a crime problem in parts. I haven't heard anything bad about Biddeford.
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