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Old 04-03-2013, 04:07 PM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
4,489 posts, read 9,553,761 times
Reputation: 3656

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Quote:
Originally Posted by IndiaLimaDelta View Post
If you needed "double layers of wool socks" for 30 F weather, you probably best live somewhere hot all year.
Yup--that's what I'm currently working on (know of any educational software development jobs in Florida or California? I think I've applied to all the positions there are out there...) I am hopeful that within a year or two we will be in a more Caliterp friendly climate! After 5+ years of marriage I have finally convinced my change-averse husband that I really need to move, and he is on board.

I agree this winter was milder than the previous ones (I've been in the area since 2004 now), but man has it been LONG compared to some years! My fingers still turned bright white when I drove to work this morning due to the cold. I need to transfer my car gloves into my new car.
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Old 04-03-2013, 07:57 PM
 
Location: Polish Hill, Pittsburgh, PA
30,101 posts, read 67,188,022 times
Reputation: 15748
Quote:
Originally Posted by FC Merrifield View Post
I think you're overgeneralizing about jobs. There's a difference between living to work and liking your job. Just because you spend a lot of time working doesn't mean that you're doing something wrong. Lots of people truly enjoy their jobs and don't see it as a waste of time. Personally, I don't love my job, but I obviously like it better than alternatives. For example, I could work retail or wait tables in a cheaper area, but I would rather work at my current job than do those things.

Also, you're neglecting the fact that housing is just one aspect of a person's expenses. Again, I could find housing in a cheaper area even while making less money in retail. But I wouldn't be able to do other things that I enjoy, such as traveling abroad or playing golf or saving money for my kid's college expenses. So my quality of life would go down.

I think overall, you're in the minority that thinks quality of life is better in Pitt than here (and there's nothing wrong with that, just preferences).
Pittsburgh and Northern Virginia are obviously very different areas. One was mostly just farmland in the 1950s when the other one was hitting its industrial peak. As such I can agree different people will obviously prefer one over the other based upon different criteria.

I chose to focus on housing because purchasing a home (or condo for that matter) is still part of the "American Dream" for MOST (not all) people. I earn less money in Pittsburgh, yet I'm able to buy a home here. Why earn more money in NoVA if I would still be unable to buy a home there? There's a lot to be said for painting walls, gardening in your own yard, decorating your exterior for the holidays, taking a sledgehammer to a wall to create a more open floorplan, etc. There's also something to be said for someday making a "final mortgage payment" and owning a dwelling free-and-clear. You'll never have a "final rent payment" until you're dead. The home we keep circling like Jaws in a kiddie pool is listed currently for $40,000, and we could potentially snag it for less. If we buy it, then our mortgage payment (including PMI, taxes, and insurance) will be HALF our current rent payment. We'll probably just make double mortgage payments, pay the house off quickly, and then use the money we would have been spending on rent or a mortgage to invest like crazy in our early-30s. How many people in NoVA can say they own a home free and clear? Housing is just "one facet" of the area. You're correct. It's a very darn important facet, though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JEB77 View Post
I think there's a certain irony in your post, in that you complain about the short-sighted planning of a "prior generation of Northern Virginians" decades ago, but suggest that people should "work to live" today and happily accept under-employment. But wouldn't it also be short-sighted if individuals don't work hard enough (or strategically enough) to meet their potential retirement needs in the future?

I mention this because, without being cynical, one of the benefits that I do think this area offers is the ability - whether through jobs, RE appreciation or other factors - to give people options to explore other parts of the world that they might not have if they spent their primary working years in lower-paying areas. I think you know that I'm a big fan of Pittsburgh, but it seems to me that people who've spent most of their lives there could find it much harder to move, if necessary, to a more expensive area than people who've spent time here could find it to move to other parts of the country (or the world). Of course, if you like where you and you only want to spend your life in one place, that shouldn't matter, but I do feel like living and working in NoVa/DC can, in a very tangible way, give you options down the road that you might not otherwise have.

I raise this cautiously because I know it sounds like "the best thing about NoVa/DC is that you'll be able to leave eventually," which is rather faint praise, but I think there's something to it.
In my own personal case my plan includes buying and paying off a cheap home, and then instead of paying $10,000/year in rent or mortgage payments instead either invest all of it for retirement OR buy more cheap homes and rent them out. Think about it. If I pay a house off in my early-30s, then that's three decades of $10,000/year in savings ($300,000 altogether) that I could invest. That's not factoring in my partner's income, and that's also assuming my own income remains static, which it's not likely to do.
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Old 04-03-2013, 10:35 PM
 
46 posts, read 53,210 times
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How can there be so much housing, and by your terms so much 'urban sprawl', if no one can afford a house? Who's living in all those houses?

We love what we do, and make enough money to afford a nice home. That's been true since were in our twenties. We started out in townhouse and then traded up, moved and traded up again. We worked hard, played hard, and had a blast. DC offers plenty of great choices in jobs and housing. We love our jobs and make enough money to buy a house, take vacations, travel the world, and save enough for kids' college and our retirement. All of our friends have done the same. We have no interest in paying off our mortgage because the interest rates are so low and we get a tax deduction.

Housing is not always the best investment, particularly if your income so low. Talk with a sound financial planner before you commit to an old house. You have no idea how costly a 'fixer upper' can be and how difficult it can be to live in a low income area where houses are very close together. You may be stuck with a bigger problem that you can even imagine, both in the house, and the neighbors. Being a landlord is the hardest investment you'll ever make. That too can be a real nightmare. We would never do it again. Not enough return and too many headaches. If you don't have children, there's no rush in buying a house. I would suggest caution until you have a secure job that you love, with a good salary and benefits, in an area where you want to remain. In the meantime, save, save, save!
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Old 04-04-2013, 05:54 AM
 
509 posts, read 853,376 times
Reputation: 279
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelCityRising View Post
How many people in NoVA can say they own a home free and clear?
I owned my townhome in NoVA free and clear before I sold it 2 years ago. I bought it and at the 5 year point refinanced to a 15 year mortgage and then that mortgage got paid off. When I sold it (after 2 1/2 years of renting it out while waiting for the price to appreciate a bit from the low in late 2008) I rolled that into the new house I bought in 2008 so the mortgage is now fairly small (SFH instead of TH) and will get paid off soon. I am sure I am not alone in this.

What does Pittsburgh have anything at all to do with this thread about NoVA?
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Old 04-04-2013, 06:37 AM
 
Location: Arlington, VA and Washington, DC
23,565 posts, read 33,282,476 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ngadude View Post
I owned my townhome in NoVA free and clear before I sold it 2 years ago. I bought it and at the 5 year point refinanced to a 15 year mortgage and then that mortgage got paid off. When I sold it (after 2 1/2 years of renting it out while waiting for the price to appreciate a bit from the low in late 2008) I rolled that into the new house I bought in 2008 so the mortgage is now fairly small (SFH instead of TH) and will get paid off soon. I am sure I am not alone in this.

What does Pittsburgh have anything at all to do with this thread about NoVA?
I think SCR raised a revelant point. Is the benefit of living in NoVA worth potentially not being able to own a home or pay extreme prices for that privilege? For him, the answer was no.

Now I could care less about owning a home. However, my desire is to travel. I'm a new grad making an entry-level salary so that has been impossible since I moved back here. For the interim, I can live with that due to access to good nightlife in DC among other things.

However, say a couple of years down the road I get presented with a promising opportunity in Nashville or Houston, which will allow me to open income up to travel. Not gonna be an easy decision. In Louisville, I often took day trips to Cincinnati, Lexington, and Indianapolis for only the cost of half a tank of gas and some lunch money. I cannot even spare that right now comfortably. The benefit for me here is access to good jobs, however if I can get that benefit somewhere else with decent nightlife, I have a tough decision to make.
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Old 04-04-2013, 07:21 AM
 
509 posts, read 853,376 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Dissenter View Post
I think SCR raised a revelant point. Is the benefit of living in NoVA worth potentially not being able to own a home or pay extreme prices for that privilege? For him, the answer was no.

Now I could care less about owning a home. However, my desire is to travel. I'm a new grad making an entry-level salary so that has been impossible since I moved back here. For the interim, I can live with that due to access to good nightlife in DC among other things.

However, say a couple of years down the road I get presented with a promising opportunity in Nashville or Houston, which will allow me to open income up to travel. Not gonna be an easy decision. In Louisville, I often took day trips to Cincinnati, Lexington, and Indianapolis for only the cost of half a tank of gas and some lunch money. I cannot even spare that right now comfortably. The benefit for me here is access to good jobs, however if I can get that benefit somewhere else with decent nightlife, I have a tough decision to make.
That's fine, but there was beginning to be an awful lot of detail about Pittsburgh that was completely irrelevant to this thread. There are other places on city-data forum to compare two geographical areas.
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Old 04-04-2013, 08:52 AM
 
5,071 posts, read 8,615,610 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ngadude View Post
That's fine, but there was beginning to be an awful lot of detail about Pittsburgh that was completely irrelevant to this thread. There are other places on city-data forum to compare two geographical areas.
To be fair to SCR, after he compared this area to Pittsburgh, I engaged with him further, because one of the things that I see as a benefit of living in this area is that, with some hard work and good fortune, you have the "Plan B" option in the back of your pocket to cash out and live quite well in lower-cost areas like Pittsburgh. But hopefully the thread won't devolve into a city-vs.-city thread, for which there is obviously a separate forum.
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Old 04-04-2013, 09:11 AM
 
49 posts, read 286,344 times
Reputation: 48
Diversity, tons of stuff to do all the time, the metro, the smithsonian and other free dc historical attractions, tons of festivals, being able to walk to school or drive 2 minutes to any basic or commonly needed things (hospital, grocery store, convenience stores, ect.), exposure to politics (both good and bad), and great school academically. In Arlington, most of the neighborhoods are pretty safe and I always felt a real sense of community in my neighborhood...there were neighborhood block parties, Christmas parties, parents would all block off the roads when it snowed so the kids could all go sledding down the big hill, and people kept an eye out for the neighborhood kids, older individuals and those living with disabilities to help each other out. This isn't anything really unique but it is nice! I always felt safe walking to my bus stop as a young child, walking to my middle school and my high school. There are lots of relatively safe places for adolescents to hang out and experiment with different levels of independence. There are great family hang out places including a nice beer garden where there is live music and lots of young families come to hang out and drink a beer, while there is a fence that keeps their kids from running into the street and a great ice cream store in the same area. There are also great parks, great bike paths and it is safe for families to go take a nice, long bike ride together (except perhaps during rush hour).

Arlington was a great place to grow up and affords a lot of privilege. The bad of course is that it is rapidly becoming gentrified and middle class families cannot afford easily to move there anymore. Most of my peers from high school either are 1) wealthy and living in Arlington 2) living elsewhere 3) living with their parents and working in Arlington.....not cool, Arlington, not cool. Oh and the Arlington rap is a major benefit, especially the part where he say, 'brown flips, brown flip flops'..yes.
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Old 04-05-2013, 10:37 PM
 
23 posts, read 28,546 times
Reputation: 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Dissenter View Post
However, my desire is to travel. I'm a new grad making an entry-level salary so that has been impossible since I moved back here. For the interim, I can live with that due to access to good nightlife in DC among other things.
If you want to travel, make sure you live near an airline hub. Here, that's IAD (United) or DCA (US Airways).

I will agree with you that it's tough to travel on an entry-level NoVa salary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Dissenter View Post
However, say a couple of years down the road I get presented with a promising opportunity in Nashville or Houston, which will allow me to open income up to travel. Not gonna be an easy decision. In Louisville, I often took day trips to Cincinnati, Lexington, and Indianapolis for only the cost of half a tank of gas and some lunch money. I cannot even spare that right now comfortably. The benefit for me here is access to good jobs, however if I can get that benefit somewhere else with decent nightlife, I have a tough decision to make.
What field are you in? IT?

You can get reasonable IT pay in places like Austin, SF, Seattle, and Denver. I have plenty of friends who started out here and then ran to more affordable cities (Austin, Denver) and others who landed sweet gigs in pricier cities (NYC, SF).
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Old 04-06-2013, 07:56 AM
 
Location: among the clustered spires
2,380 posts, read 3,860,194 times
Reputation: 869
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelCityRising View Post
The home we keep circling like Jaws in a kiddie pool is listed currently for $40,000, and we could potentially snag it for less. If we buy it, then our mortgage payment (including PMI, taxes, and insurance) will be HALF our current rent payment.
From the price, I assume the place is in Pittsburgh's equivalent of Columbia Heights, where it's pretty safe for two guys but maybe not great for families.

A mortgage of about 2x your income and under your combined incomes (IIRC) is not a bad idea really. And, let's face it, you're not getting that in DC anytime soon. So in your case, given how you weren't enjoying yourself in Reston and Winchester/Frederick weren't realistic options for you (commute-wise) and North Arlington/DC weren't realistic (cost-wise) ... PGH has been a great idea for you.

Just be prepared to have that extra rent payment go towards home maintenance and the such, though. Plus if the TH has 2/3BRs you can always take a roommate.

I'm guessing the schools aren't that great but I do notice Pittsburgh Public Schools are mostly Black/White, but I'm guessing a place in Sewickley is like McLean here in Northern VA -- and $250k gets you in the door quite well in Sewickley.

Good luck in your new place. I guess Cumberland MD is not on the cards for you guys?
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