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Old 01-17-2016, 10:57 PM
 
7 posts, read 4,502 times
Reputation: 10

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My wife and I are mid-40ís, living near Croton with a small child and have been renting here for a few years. We are a single income family and, while my salary meets our basic needs with room for some fun, we are by no means getting way ahead by living here. And by Westchester standards, we are living cheaply.

If you have knowledge of the place, the pros and cons will be very familiar. On the up side, itís safe, not NYC, (somewhat) commutable and, in general, has very good schools. For us, these are the big ones. The down side: time and money. The cost of living is enormous, taxes are absurd and that commute, while doable, is very draining. (I *have* to drive.) I

My wife, who does not deal with the commute, loves the place. For me, itís fine but I view it more as a means to an end. What I do love, though, is my gig. Itís good work, acceptable income (read: great for most anywhere else) and will bring in a small pension when we retire. That retirement, ready or not, comes in about 14 years and, although things could change, theyíre at a point right now where the thought of leaving for something else really isnít on the table. Transfer to another location is possible but difficult, and itís tough to predict if and when this would happen. One thing is fairly certain: if we are here until I retire, we wonít be for long after. Itís simply not worth it.

This leads to my question: assuming we could afford it (big if), is it worth buying here?

We certainly *want* to own something and are pretty desperate for the space. (My son sleeps a few feet from my head.) More importantly, we are both well aware of the danger of being exposed to rent inflation for the next whatever number of years with nothing to show for it after.

On the other hand, I have no intention of ever living in a home that owns *me* and buying here definitely comes with that risk.

Our landlord, who is very handy (we are not), offered up some advice that he got when moving here: basically, donít buy a single family home in this area, because it will kill you. Another friend, who made a part-time thing out of buying and selling real estate, had similar advice. This person started in Florida and, because of his employer, ended up migrating north - flipping houses in several states along the way. He describes buying and selling in other places as relatively painless by NY/NJ standards. Up here, he stopped completely - mainly because of taxes and endless numbers of hands in his pockets. This scares me, to the point where it seems it wouldnít be hard to argue the only way to win the race here is to not be in it.

Iíve read and been told many times that buying is generally not worth it if you donít expect to stick around for at least 3-5 years to recover closing costs. That rule probably goes double in this place. So, given that and the unknowns with our length of stay, I figure the choices boil down to this:

1. Buy a probably overpriced home or condo with monster closing costs, taxes, and the whole money pit - and hope for the best on the back end, whenever this is. OrÖ

2. Continue to rent as cheaply (and as cramped) as possible, save and invest what money we can and hope for the best this way.


So which is likely to be the smaller sh*t sandwich? It seems the longer we stay, the more worth it buying becomes, but we have never owned a home and the pitfalls are obviously huge in this market. if anyone has the time, weíd like to hear some opinions more experienced than ours.

Thanks for reading!
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Old 01-18-2016, 05:58 AM
 
6,993 posts, read 9,499,348 times
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I would have thought that home prices in northern westchester like croton are priced competitively enough to make buying an option. Look into Cortlandt manor also. Southern westchester is a different story.
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Old 01-18-2016, 08:37 AM
 
91 posts, read 142,244 times
Reputation: 46
I don't think that you are better off renting indefinitely. You have a stable income from a job that makes you happy and are looking for a place to settle down for your child's education. The conventional wisdom, as you note, is that if you plan on staying in an area, buying is better. Your "cons" are based on anecdotes from a national house-flipper and a person with a vested interest in keeping you where you are (you are probably an excellent tenant!).

You are a small family so conceivably you could get by in a small house or condo (still larger than your current apartment); that gives you more options than a family of four.

Living in Westchester is costly, whether you buy or rent. As a tenant, you're still paying the high property taxes: only that they are being passed along to you in the form of rent. You might find better value in Rockland or NJ. Doesn't cost anything to look around, and it sounds like it's a good time for you to do that. Good luck.
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Old 01-18-2016, 11:48 AM
 
115 posts, read 138,699 times
Reputation: 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by annonie View Post
My wife and I are mid-40ís, living near Croton with a small child and have been renting here for a few years. We are a single income family and, while my salary meets our basic needs with room for some fun, we are by no means getting way ahead by living here. And by Westchester standards, we are living cheaply.

If you have knowledge of the place, the pros and cons will be very familiar. On the up side, itís safe, not NYC, (somewhat) commutable and, in general, has very good schools. For us, these are the big ones. The down side: time and money. The cost of living is enormous, taxes are absurd and that commute, while doable, is very draining. (I *have* to drive.) I

My wife, who does not deal with the commute, loves the place. For me, itís fine but I view it more as a means to an end. What I do love, though, is my gig. Itís good work, acceptable income (read: great for most anywhere else) and will bring in a small pension when we retire. That retirement, ready or not, comes in about 14 years and, although things could change, theyíre at a point right now where the thought of leaving for something else really isnít on the table. Transfer to another location is possible but difficult, and itís tough to predict if and when this would happen. One thing is fairly certain: if we are here until I retire, we wonít be for long after. Itís simply not worth it.

This leads to my question: assuming we could afford it (big if), is it worth buying here?

We certainly *want* to own something and are pretty desperate for the space. (My son sleeps a few feet from my head.) More importantly, we are both well aware of the danger of being exposed to rent inflation for the next whatever number of years with nothing to show for it after.

On the other hand, I have no intention of ever living in a home that owns *me* and buying here definitely comes with that risk.

Our landlord, who is very handy (we are not), offered up some advice that he got when moving here: basically, donít buy a single family home in this area, because it will kill you. Another friend, who made a part-time thing out of buying and selling real estate, had similar advice. This person started in Florida and, because of his employer, ended up migrating north - flipping houses in several states along the way. He describes buying and selling in other places as relatively painless by NY/NJ standards. Up here, he stopped completely - mainly because of taxes and endless numbers of hands in his pockets. This scares me, to the point where it seems it wouldnít be hard to argue the only way to win the race here is to not be in it.

Iíve read and been told many times that buying is generally not worth it if you donít expect to stick around for at least 3-5 years to recover closing costs. That rule probably goes double in this place. So, given that and the unknowns with our length of stay, I figure the choices boil down to this:

1. Buy a probably overpriced home or condo with monster closing costs, taxes, and the whole money pit - and hope for the best on the back end, whenever this is. OrÖ

2. Continue to rent as cheaply (and as cramped) as possible, save and invest what money we can and hope for the best this way.


So which is likely to be the smaller sh*t sandwich? It seems the longer we stay, the more worth it buying becomes, but we have never owned a home and the pitfalls are obviously huge in this market. if anyone has the time, weíd like to hear some opinions more experienced than ours.

Thanks for reading!
Being on a single income is hard these days, no matter where you live. The three things I would suggest:

1. Is it possible for your wife to work? I'm sure you've considered this, but if you're looking for somewhere bigger to live (I presume a house?), a second income might be necessary.
2. Croton is on the cheaper side, but not the cheapest in Westchester. You might want to check out Peekskill, which is a bit rundown but safe for the most part. If you're willing to live somewhere a bit sketchier, you could check out Mount Vernon or Yonkers, which presumably would reduce your commute as well.
3. You can find really awesome deals if you're willing to live next to a highway or railroad. Houses can go for a lot less and the noise isn't bad once you get used to it. Anecdotally, I can tell you that there are two equally priced rentals in my town, one next to the highway and one not. The one next to the highway is 70% larger and looks to be in better shape.

The nice part of a house is that a lot of the money you put in, you also get out. However, renting allows you to keep more money invested, so this decision should really hinge on how both markets are doing.
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Old 01-18-2016, 02:21 PM
 
7 posts, read 4,502 times
Reputation: 10
Forest_Hills_Daddy: Southern Westchester definitely is a different animal. As you go north, the prices do come down, but aren't really commensurate with the distance. Basically, you have to go a lot further out than it sounds like you might think in order to really make a big difference. Cortlandt Manor is definitely a thought, though. Thanks!


car_hill89: All great points and I agree about renting indefinitely. And yeah, your observations about the "cons" weren't lost on me. If I were a landlord, I'd want someone clean and quiet that pays on time, which is us.

Definitely open to the condo/town home idea, although I need to educate myself a bit more on that. If you have suggestions, I am certainly all ears.

And we would consider Rockland or something further North, though that doesn't seem to change things all that much. Thanks for your help.

j8p123: Working on all three, and thank you. I don't think we'd consider Yonkers (city tax and too close to the Bronx) and definitely not Mt. Vernon, but the highway/railroad thing is definitely something we'd consider. If you have any suggestions on spots with that in mind, I'd certainly consider em. Thanks again.
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Old 01-18-2016, 04:37 PM
 
115 posts, read 138,699 times
Reputation: 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by annonie View Post
Forest_Hills_Daddy: Southern Westchester definitely is a different animal. As you go north, the prices do come down, but aren't really commensurate with the distance. Basically, you have to go a lot further out than it sounds like you might think in order to really make a big difference. Cortlandt Manor is definitely a thought, though. Thanks!


car_hill89: All great points and I agree about renting indefinitely. And yeah, your observations about the "cons" weren't lost on me. If I were a landlord, I'd want someone clean and quiet that pays on time, which is us.

Definitely open to the condo/town home idea, although I need to educate myself a bit more on that. If you have suggestions, I am certainly all ears.

And we would consider Rockland or something further North, though that doesn't seem to change things all that much. Thanks for your help.

j8p123: Working on all three, and thank you. I don't think we'd consider Yonkers (city tax and too close to the Bronx) and definitely not Mt. Vernon, but the highway/railroad thing is definitely something we'd consider. If you have any suggestions on spots with that in mind, I'd certainly consider em. Thanks again.
There is a small enough volume of houses next to railroads/highways that you may not be able to choose a single town. There is a train line that runs along the southeast coast of WC (New Ro, Mamaroneck, Larchmont, PC etc.), another along the hudson that runs the county north to south, and a final one that cuts through the middle of the county (MV, WP, Mt. Kisco). All of these lines run through towns with a variety of vibes and prices. It would be helpful if you could specify a price range/income.

Here are some examples of homes in New Rochelle, which has decent schools and is for the most part fairly safe. Some decent stock if your comfortable in the 300-425k range:

33 Park Pl, New Rochelle, NY 10801 | Zillow

63 Crescent Ave, New Rochelle, NY 10801 | Zillow

23 Brookdale Cir, New Rochelle, NY 10801 | Zillow

30 Albermarle Ave, New Rochelle, NY 10801 | Zillow

And in Mamaroneck w/ fantastic schools and 0 crime:

308 Bishop Pl, Mamaroneck, NY 10543 | Zillow

316 Bishop Pl, Mamaroneck, NY 10543 | Zillow

527 Jefferson Ave, Mamaroneck, NY 10543 | Zillow

222 Highview St, Mamaroneck, NY 10543 | Zillow

700 Baldwin Pl, Mamaroneck, NY 10543 | Zillow

602 Rockland Ave, Mamaroneck, NY 10543 | Zillow

116 Pelham St, Mamaroneck, NY 10543 | Zillow
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Old 01-18-2016, 05:15 PM
 
3,229 posts, read 1,847,643 times
Reputation: 2408
Quote:
Originally Posted by annonie View Post
Forest_Hills_Daddy: Southern Westchester definitely is a different animal. As you go north, the prices do come down, but aren't really commensurate with the distance. Basically, you have to go a lot further out than it sounds like you might think in order to really make a big difference. Cortlandt Manor is definitely a thought, though. Thanks!


car_hill89: All great points and I agree about renting indefinitely. And yeah, your observations about the "cons" weren't lost on me. If I were a landlord, I'd want someone clean and quiet that pays on time, which is us.

Definitely open to the condo/town home idea, although I need to educate myself a bit more on that. If you have suggestions, I am certainly all ears.

And we would consider Rockland or something further North, though that doesn't seem to change things all that much. Thanks for your help.

j8p123: Working on all three, and thank you. I don't think we'd consider Yonkers (city tax and too close to the Bronx) and definitely not Mt. Vernon, but the highway/railroad thing is definitely something we'd consider. If you have any suggestions on spots with that in mind, I'd certainly consider em. Thanks again.
It may not seem like a big deal now, but living close to a highway/railroad will get on your nerves after awhile especially during the nice weather when you'll want to have your windows down at night and barbecue outside. Or just plain sitting outside on your deck/porch. We were about 1000 ft. from a busy highway, the noise was constant 24/7. Then there's the sirens responding to accidents. Emergency vehicles constantly use the major highways along with commercial traffic. Semi's using their "jake brakes". It will also be more difficult to sell when the time comes. It was a contributing factor as to why it took us longer than usual to sell our home.

Living close to a highway was a non-starter when we bought out here. It's so nice to have peace and quiet.
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Old 01-19-2016, 03:35 AM
 
1,562 posts, read 2,733,288 times
Reputation: 1537
My concern with renting for that long is that you are at the land lord's mercy. I would never buy a co op or condo (unless it was Manhattan) and a single family house does need $.

As far as that, buy the cheapest house in the best location. RE is all about location. Everything else can be tinkered with.
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Old 01-19-2016, 09:47 AM
 
Location: Northern Westchester/Putnam
103 posts, read 401,919 times
Reputation: 41
Definitely check out Cortlandt Manor and Yorktown (Lakeland school district) they are are more affordable than Croton on Hudson. You'll add to your commute but atleast will get space and quality of life!
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Old 01-19-2016, 01:39 PM
 
50 posts, read 42,401 times
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Although houses are not as expensive in most of Westchester perhaps Real Estate Taxes would be too much stress for you at this time. However I do not see why you would not buy a coop, they are not only less expensive but also their propery taxes are significantly lower in 80% of cases. It certainly beats renting.
1) Living in a coop will cost you less then renting today, not in 5 years. And you will beable to save money for house in Westchester or anywhere else. I bought a coop and I pay for maintenance (taxes included) mortgage and insurance 1/3 less then I would pay for renting the same apartment. Plus all my utilities happen to be included in maintence, I only pay for internet, I do not watch TV.
2) 50% of maintenance is tax deductible, plus you may quality for STAR deduction.
3) You do not have to waith for 5 years to sell and relocate. The prices are going up in all stable neighborhoods in Westchester, if you decide to sell in two years you will probably sell it for little more then you paid, take you downpaiment and whatever portion of mortgage you have paid and invest it elswhere. Beats shoveling money for rent out of window.
4) Since property taxes ar lower you may be able to move to southern Westchester and cut on your commute
It is imprtant to find financially stable coop, ask the real estate broker for financial audit of the building in past 2 years. If coop board does not allow renting stability accross perimeters is generally high.
If you have any questions feel free to PM me. Good Luck!
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