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Old 02-24-2012, 12:13 PM
 
9 posts, read 14,106 times
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Hello. I have read several pages of the forum looking for a situation like mine, but I guess I might as well get suggestions tailored for exactly my situation.

I am from Illinois originally and lived in central Illinois for several years after college. I relocated to Miami area in 2003 and have lived here since. The strain of being away from family is finally taking its toll and I'm considering a transfer opportunity with my job in downtown Chicago. I don't have the exact address of the office but it looks like it is right next to Grant Park. I know the Chicago area some, but have alway been turned off by the congestion and the cost of living.

I am looking for a reasonable living situation. I don't think I'm in a good position to buy a house right now. If I did go that route, I could probably swing for around $200K-$250K range. My job would pay around $115K per year. My wife would be looking for work, but her prospects in the journalism field look bleak right now. My guess is the most we would feel comfortable paying per month would be around $2K per month either in rent or mortgage plus taxes, insurance, etc. We would be happy in a 3 br 2 ba home.

We have 2 kids. One is almost 4 years old. The other is almost 1 year. We obviously want a very safe, well-kept neighborhood with decent schools.

I would like to keep my commute to around 1 hour each way at the most.

Does anybody have an realistic suggestions for specific neighborhoods that would meet my criteria? I thank you very much in advance for the forum's input.
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Old 02-24-2012, 12:18 PM
 
14,407 posts, read 15,939,577 times
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Isn't Miami more expensive than Chicago?
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Old 02-24-2012, 12:26 PM
 
9 posts, read 14,106 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vlajos View Post
Isn't Miami more expensive than Chicago?
Not after the housing crash. A decent middle-class home in Broward County is between $200-250K right now. I'm currently paying $2K a month to rent a 4 bedroom in a nice middle-class neighborhood.
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Old 02-24-2012, 12:36 PM
 
28,461 posts, read 80,117,827 times
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I can understand that if you've had your equity flushed away in the really awful loss of value that effected much of Florida harder than the rest of the country you are "oncce burned,twice shy" about estimating how much you should budget for a home, but given the remarkably low rates for mortgages I suspect you are being far too conversative.

If you have an income of $115k, nothing at all coming in from spouse, annual debt payments of around $6k for any credit cards or student loans and otherwise "normal" debt to income profiles you likely are underestimating your housing budget by about 50%. Similarly a rent payment of $2/mo is far less than your ONE WEEK gross and most financial research shows that so long as your rent does not not exceed 50% of your gross monthly earning you should be able to put aside funds for retirement and other needs...

If you have a particularly large debt burden due to circumstance that are unusual perhaps your situation is far away from the norm to need to re-write the rules but I think you'll be much happier in a home that is more inline with your income than living far below the standards that are common in the region
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Old 02-24-2012, 12:37 PM
 
14,407 posts, read 15,939,577 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miami Rams Fan View Post
Not after the housing crash. A decent middle-class home in Broward County is between $200-250K right now. I'm currently paying $2K a month to rent a 4 bedroom in a nice middle-class neighborhood.
I'm pretty sure you can find 3 bd homes in Schaumburg, Hoffman Estates, and similar NW suburbs in that range. The homes won't be anything special, but they'll be fine.
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Old 02-24-2012, 12:55 PM
 
9 posts, read 14,106 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chet everett View Post
I can understand that if you've had your equity flushed away in the really awful loss of value that effected much of Florida harder than the rest of the country you are "oncce burned,twice shy" about estimating how much you should budget for a home, but given the remarkably low rates for mortgages I suspect you are being far too conversative.

If you have an income of $115k, nothing at all coming in from spouse, annual debt payments of around $6k for any credit cards or student loans and otherwise "normal" debt to income profiles you likely are underestimating your housing budget by about 50%. Similarly a rent payment of $2/mo is far less than your ONE WEEK gross and most financial research shows that so long as your rent does not not exceed 50% of your gross monthly earning you should be able to put aside funds for retirement and other needs...

If you have a particularly large debt burden due to circumstance that are unusual perhaps your situation is far away from the norm to need to re-write the rules but I think you'll be much happier in a home that is more inline with your income than living far below the standards that are common in the region
Thanks for the response. You hit it on the head. I overbought before and don't want to make that mistake again. Are you saying there are no decent neighborhoods that fit my criteria? What can I expect it to cost?

Right now I have two kids in day care (very expensive), $2K a month in rent, an additional income of $40K, no car payments, a lot of student loans, a lot of saving for retirement, and we don't even have a state income tax, and I still feel crunched.
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Old 02-24-2012, 01:21 PM
 
28,461 posts, read 80,117,827 times
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I am not going to say that you can't find any decent homes / neighborhoods where the homes are all under $250K but I will say that the areas in the towns mentioned previously in this thread have suffered much greater price volatility than areas which are closer to what normal statistics suggest you should be budgeting toward your housing, the commute you'd have a office on the extreme east end of the Loop would signficantly shorter from a closer-in / more desirable suburb, the schools would be signficantly more desirable, the range of activities you and your family could enjoy from a more central location would be signficantly broader, and I do think you will have a much more pleasant relocation experience...

Look, I know plenty of people that drive clapped out beaters when they could afford a shiny new car, but purchasing (or even renting) a home is a lot different than merely having someplace to lock up at night. In Illinois, and an awful lot of other places, the disparity in outcomes of schools that are well run and attended by like minded parents that want their children to get the best education is wide and hard to overcome compared to schools that are poorly performing and attended by students who are not clued in to the importance of taking their education seriously. While there are certainly individual cases of kids overcoming their surroundings and doing well I have seen a lot more people that tend to get dragged down by the difficulty of living in areas that are not uplifting. Fact is I've seen far more people do VERY well and their kids learn some valuable lessons by buying the most affordable home in a desirable area and fixing it up over time than I seen an awful number of people squander any "savings" they get by living in down market area on things that have no long term worth...
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Old 02-24-2012, 01:49 PM
 
Location: Jefferson Park Chicago, IL
537 posts, read 968,321 times
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Many towns along the Metra union pacific northwest line meet your budget and school needs. Mount Prospect, Arlington Heights, and even a few in Park Ridge. You're not going to get a mansion but there are many perfect starter homes in these communities without spending $500,000.

A few examples...

http://www.redfin.com/IL/Park-Ridge/.../home/13564365

http://www.redfin.com/IL/Arlington-H.../home/13846171

http://www.redfin.com/IL/Mount-Prosp.../home/13833501

Last edited by tomcho; 02-24-2012 at 01:59 PM..
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Old 02-24-2012, 03:58 PM
 
28,461 posts, read 80,117,827 times
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Those are some really attractively priced homes that tomcho has linked to.
Should you need to decide between one of those and a home much further out I can say with a high degree of confidence that the price stability of those homes, even un-improved, will be better. If you put some wisely choosen inexpensive updates into those places that could REALLY increase your equity very quickly in those desirable area, much more so than such expenditures in less convenient area with schools that are not performing as well.
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Old 02-24-2012, 06:34 PM
 
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You said you'd be willing to commute up to an hour each way? I would recommend you come out farther west (North Aurora/Batavia/Geneva) You could rent a nice 3-4 bedroom home in any of these areas and all have excellent elementary schools. The communities are very close and you could send you kids to preschool in Aurora, Batavia, North Aurora, Geneva. There are kids from all the school districts in preschools/daycares all along the fox river area so they would make friends that go to all the schools (not like they'd make friends and then have to leave them all)
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