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Old 08-06-2008, 09:16 AM
 
669 posts, read 5,535,690 times
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My husband and I are in our early 30's, been married four years, no kids (yet). We live in DC, a city we love. We moved here two years ago for a change of scenery from the midwest. It was a great decision, and we have had a lot of fun here. The only problem: the high cost of real estate. We have always been renters, and we are ready to settle down and buy a single family house. Unfortunately, we've been to many open houses and have a realtor here, and we feel that we don't want to spend nearly one million dollars for a house that isn't that great, with a tiny yard. My husband works very long hours, and doesn't want the hassle of a long commute on top of that, so we've mainly been looking in suburbs within a 30 minute commute radius of his job. We haven't found a single house that we think is worth the sky-high prices, and we don't want a fixer-upper. We also don't want a condo or townhouse. So we feel we need to move.

The problem is that my husband loves his job, and doubts that he can find another job that will be as good. He can find a job anywhere, which actually makes our choice harder, since we can move anywhere in the US. We don't mind leaving DC, as we have no one here to leave (no friends or family in the area, no roots). Unlike most people, we really don't have roots anywhere, and there's no one place that we plan to settle down in.

Our dilemma is whether or not we should leave DC given my husband's great job. If we stay here, we'll either keep renting (which we really don't want to do), or we buy a crap shack that's within a 30-minute commute, which will be highly overpriced, have a tiny yard, and a dump most likely (since that's what we keep seeing in open houses).

If we move, we will likely find a dream house for a very reasonable price, but we're taking a gamble on the job. There's nothing wrong with his job now--his new job could have issues. So we're nervous to make a move.

We don't have any friends or family here in DC, and we're not willing to move where our family is.

The cities we're thinking of moving to are:

Philly, Baltimore, Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland (Maine), Cleveland, Charlottesville, Va, Hartford, CT, Portland (Oregon), Richmond, Va, and Seattle.

We're city people, but also love the East Coast. We'd love to stay on the East Coast, if possible, but we're looking into some midwestern cities and West Coast cities that we think we'd like too, just to broaden our options.

What would you do if you had a job you loved, that was great in every way, but either had to rent indefinitely when you're ready to buy, or ended up settling for a true crap shack and regretting the obscene amount of money you paid for said crap shack? Or, do you pack up and move somewhere else, move into your dream house, but take a gamble that the job might not work out? Since we are first-time home buyers, we are worried that we'll move to a new city, buy a house, and then his job won't work out. We really don't want to rent first in one of these new cities, because we've already moved three times in the past three years. We're tired of moving. We want to buy a house and stay there.
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Old 08-06-2008, 11:25 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
27,079 posts, read 45,168,934 times
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For the time being, and till you get some clear direction on "where's next" I would keep the job, and open your horizon to other housing options.

I would try to pick up a repo condo that you could later rent; or better yet, buy a commercial building (that you could lease out) with an apartment above. I have found commercial buildings to be more of a value than houses; they get paid off quicker, and in 15 yrs could be providing you with monthly income so you could QUIT your job. Maint. is low, and tenants pay for all improvements and repairs EXCEPT roof / exterior. They also pay 'triple-net' (Taxes, Insurance, Utilities). I would look to commercial centers near Metro / train stations that are livable and potentially 'walkable'. (communities where folks can get what they need within walking distance).

I have left a good job and location for 'greener pastures' and got burnt (+/-). Sometimes that is necessary and a good idea, but be cautious during lean times (now and next 5-7 yrs). If you can keep your expenses low and travel around to target some future areas it would be good to have your 'exit' plan in place. Cash will be nice to have when you find that bargain place (I don't think real estate is at bottom yet). When / if the economy gets attractive, AND you are exasperated with DC job and locale, then you can pull the plug and have a plan.

A house is not really all it is cracked up to be (lots of time, work, and $$). Eventually the right one will come along, or you will find a suitable alternative, just keep active eyes open, but don't buy a 'crap-shack'. Real Estate is an important part of your portfolio, but you need to be very wise about how you tie up your equity, and never buy something you couldn't sell tomorrow for a profit, (buy something with 'appeal') realizing that it takes at least 10% extra just to break even. I would be very cautious about buying in today's market, and NOT buy something that is too far out. Transportation and heating costs are gonna 're-calibrate' the market (again).

Do some serious soul searching for acceptable housing options and examine your short and mid-term goals. You may be in the right spot for the moment, or need to tweak it, but be careful about disrupting it without just cause. There are lots of benefits to your current location and income. My wise old friend would say... "Take the money of a good job, and use it to augment your fun, and realize things could be A lot worse". Deal with where you are at in life, when you find contentment, you will be prepared to move on... (I'm a terrible example... I have a restless spirit)
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Old 08-06-2008, 12:12 PM
 
669 posts, read 5,535,690 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by janb View Post
For the time being, and till you get some clear direction on "where's next" I would keep the job, and open your horizon to other housing options.
The thing is, I'm not sure that clear direction is ever going to come. We have no idea where we want to settle down long-term, and because we have no roots anywhere, it makes things harder, because we can move anywhere. DH loves his job, but another top priority for us is to own our own home. We are 100% ready to be home owners. We are ready for all the intangible benefits of being home-owners. We're tired of beige walls and beige carpet that we've had in various rental units for the last 10 years. We're ready for a yard, patio, and the ability to paint and customize a house.

The problem is that DC is incredibly expensive, and we just don't think the houses we've seen in open houses are worth the money, since we're not interested in a fixer upper. It's sad to plunk down $900,000 for a house that's really nothing special, but instead is old, in need of major updates, and small.

I don't think we're open to other housing options. We're tired of renting, that's for sure. We hate community living, so a condo or townhouse is out. We're tired of hearing our neighbors and dealing with their noise, smells and annoying habits. We're ready for a single family house. But we'd need to leave DC to get one.
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Old 08-06-2008, 12:23 PM
 
Location: West Virginia
13,093 posts, read 34,540,233 times
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With jobs being what they are now a days I would say stay put.
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Old 08-06-2008, 01:18 PM
 
Location: Up in a cedar tree.
1,618 posts, read 6,150,315 times
Reputation: 563
Quote:
Originally Posted by doglover29 View Post
The thing is, I'm not sure that clear direction is ever going to come. We have no idea where we want to settle down long-term, and because we have no roots anywhere, it makes things harder, because we can move anywhere. DH loves his job, but another top priority for us is to own our own home. We are 100% ready to be home owners. We are ready for all the intangible benefits of being home-owners. We're tired of beige walls and beige carpet that we've had in various rental units for the last 10 years. We're ready for a yard, patio, and the ability to paint and customize a house.

The problem is that DC is incredibly expensive, and we just don't think the houses we've seen in open houses are worth the money, since we're not interested in a fixer upper. It's sad to plunk down $900,000 for a house that's really nothing special, but instead is old, in need of major updates, and small.

I don't think we're open to other housing options. We're tired of renting, that's for sure. We hate community living, so a condo or townhouse is out. We're tired of hearing our neighbors and dealing with their noise, smells and annoying habits. We're ready for a single family house. But we'd need to leave DC to get one.


Man.... you make me not want to move out of my house
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Old 08-06-2008, 01:20 PM
 
Location: Stanwood, Washington
658 posts, read 703,404 times
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If you can survive and not go into debt with your current situation, it might be better to leave well enough alone, at least until after the recession.
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Old 08-06-2008, 01:26 PM
 
669 posts, read 5,535,690 times
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My husband's field is very in-demand, and he can get a job anywhere, so it's not so much that he won't be able to find another job. It's just that there's not a single thing he doesn't like about his job, and we're worried if we move that there could be issues.

On the other hand, we're so tired of beige walls and carpet. We're emotionally and financially ready to buy a house. It's just a matter of where. We've done several moves before where we knew nothing about the city and knew no one there, and they all turned out well (as would be the case with this next move).

DH wants to move. His desire for a house is greater than his desire to stay in his current job.
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Old 08-06-2008, 01:45 PM
 
Location: West Michigan
12,083 posts, read 35,819,409 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doglover29 View Post
DH wants to move. His desire for a house is greater than his desire to stay in his current job.
^ I think you just answered your own question. ^

I fully believe it has to be something that will make you happy as a couple as well as individuals. It sounds like you can fit in anyplace and don't have a lot of "baggage" you take with you and then blame an area for personal problems. I would think you could go anyplace there is a job for your DH and be happy. If the desire to be homeowners is something you both feel you need to do, and the cost of home ownership is way too high where you are, then it is probably time to look to greener pastures and move on. Good Luck in your search!
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Old 08-06-2008, 02:13 PM
 
669 posts, read 5,535,690 times
Reputation: 711
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bydand View Post
^ I think you just answered your own question. ^

I fully believe it has to be something that will make you happy as a couple as well as individuals. It sounds like you can fit in anyplace and don't have a lot of "baggage" you take with you and then blame an area for personal problems. I would think you could go anyplace there is a job for your DH and be happy. If the desire to be homeowners is something you both feel you need to do, and the cost of home ownership is way too high where you are, then it is probably time to look to greener pastures and move on. Good Luck in your search!
Yes, this is all true.

However, DH is very nervous. He keeps waffling back and forth about this move. He fears any new job won't be as good as his current one, and he also wonders if financially moving to a new city that we don't know anything about AND buying a house right away is too risky. I mean, moving to a new city you know nothing about and renting isn't very risky--we've done that twice now--but buying a house right away is a whole different ballgame, especially when you're starting a new job at the same time. All that together makes him nervous. Also, he's not sure how much house he feels comfortable buying, given that we don't know how long we will be there. At least two years, but beyond that, we have no idea. There are a lot of unknowns here.
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Old 08-06-2008, 02:16 PM
 
3,883 posts, read 10,185,879 times
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There are affordable houses almost anywhere. So expand your requirements to more than a "house". What do you want with the house and in the area? What city amenities would be deal breakers? What weather do you want? What scenery? For example, lake, mountain, etc.

Are schools going to be ever a part of the equation, then plan ahead and add good schools to the mix.

So start your discussions and list making and research. I like cities and we wanted walkability so we have our next house location already scouted out. Meets all our needs.

Previously it was commuting distance, new, city water and sewer and natural gas, etc.

Skip places like NYC, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, etc. They will be comparable to WDC. SF homes in Seattle and such may also be too much, hard to say.

Decide on commuting distance and go to work. I would say, pick climate first, then city size, job location, then schools, then whatever else you add to it. Narrow your search and take some trips.

It is not easy and people like different things.
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