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Old 02-11-2021, 09:07 PM
 
2 posts, read 2,923 times
Reputation: 20

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Hi, long time listener, first time caller. I have a tl;Dr at the end, because I'm gonna give a lot of information here.

My spouse and I are currently living in Springfield with his family, two parents and his 95 year old grandmother, as well as our toddler. Our house is technically a three bedroom, but we've used the basement as extra bedroom. Honestly, we're a little cramped.

We're saving aggressively, but income is limited, and we believe our budget for a house, where we would feel comfortable even if there were a job loss in the family, would be around $550,000. I know. I know. But we just can't see ourselves being comfortable at more than that. My partner's earning potential is highest, and he is looking for better paying jobs, but he hasn't gotten any offers, and we're working with what we have right now. It's not necessarily a great time to be job shopping, anyway.

We don't want to rely on his parents' financially, because we want them to retire without worrying about us, and if the arrangement stops working, we want to ensure we are able to separate households. There have been arguments in the last, and while we've been able to find compromise, we are trying to be smart about the arrangement.

That said, we moved into this situation to save and buy a house nearer to his job in Boston (well, Cambridge), since the pandemic seemed like a perfect time to work remotely and save, while the companionship and support of the family were major bonuses. Ideally, when we buy a house, it would have space for all of us, as well as another kid or two in the future.

His work has told him when COVID is under control, they would like everyone to start coming in 2-3 days per week.

We have been looking at houses, and it's been a disaster. Everything is either out of budget, super small, or in need of major renovation. We've looked further out (Worcester, Framingham, central mass small towns), but the commute becomes daunting. He's fine driving, though a public transit option is always nice. But from Worcester, even the eastern side, it would be close to an hour each way.

Some options seem affordable, but somewhat unsafe, usually with terrible schools. (We actually plan to homeschool through elementary at least, but school district seems hopelessly tied to safety and real estate investment value.)

So basically, what should we do? Give up on the significant benefits of a multigenerational household to search for a more modest 2-3 bedroom? Give up 6 hours a week of time being productive or being with family to a commute so we can afford a large, move-in ready home?

Tl;Dr: I guess the question I feel like you all are best at answering: where would best suit our need for a 3-4+ bedroom house with 1700-2000 sq feet, a short commute from Cambridge, on a budget of $550,000? Is there a compromise we're missing? Where do the big, moderate-income families of the greater Boston area go??? Why is this so hard?

Sorry if this was TMI. We're just pulling our hair out, so frustrated that he's making more money than ever before, but we can't afford the house we need.

Thanks in advance for any replies.
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Old 02-11-2021, 09:44 PM
 
Location: Essex County, MA
5,085 posts, read 3,565,396 times
Reputation: 3668
Quote:
Originally Posted by born_south_living_north View Post
We're just pulling our hair out, so frustrated that he's making more money than ever before, but we can't afford the house we need.
Relatable.
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Old 02-11-2021, 10:49 PM
 
Location: Denver
149 posts, read 102,504 times
Reputation: 334
Have you thought about the North Shore of Boston? Like Salem for instance? You can get a pretty decent home for that price in Salem. It certainly won’t be your dream home and may need to do some fixing up but that’s to be expected. It also is on the commuter train line so if your husband needs to go into the office a few times a week that would be a benefit. This way you could move into the home and your husband could continue advancing his career hopefully making more money down the road and your house in the meantime will gain equity. Then several years down the road you can buy a nicer home. Most people don’t move into Boston buying their dream home right away. Most people begin with a starter home and have to move their way up. You guys sound young so this shouldn’t be a problem for you.
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Old 02-11-2021, 10:58 PM
 
Location: Desert southwest US
1,791 posts, read 161,200 times
Reputation: 1176
If I were young again and in the fortunate place you guys are, I’d make my decisions based on the best financial decision for 30-40+ years from now, rather than considering the current, temporary “look.” To fit in. Do you have kids? Are you secure in paying for their educations? How old are your parents? If one or both BP need home care, what are you prepared fot, if anything?

I wish you well and I wish you good luck.
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Old 02-12-2021, 12:56 AM
 
13 posts, read 12,691 times
Reputation: 55
I couldn't imagine trying to buy house in this environment. It looks like everything between Worcester and Boston is pushing over your budget. Maybe you can find a deal somewhere, but you won't have much time to make a decision.

A one hour commute is unpleasant, but not unheard of. You can get a much nicer house further out - one that you would enjoy living in (when not commuting). You might want to have a driveway, garage, and backyard.

A quality house an hour from Boston should appreciate in value now that work from home is a thing. You can use your savings to invest in a hybrid or electric car to save on gas.

I'd keep looking around Worcester County as your search filter. It'd be good to choose a half way point between Boston and your spouse's family.
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Old 02-12-2021, 02:17 AM
 
43 posts, read 42,934 times
Reputation: 169
I believe that the homes around the Boston area are just made smaller. I grew up in Malden in a 3 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath for a family of 6. I checked the Malden/Melrose area just for the heck of it and I don't think you're going to find the sized house that you're looking for at the price you're willing to pay. I think you're going to have to compromise on a few things and get what you can and then get a bigger house when you're ready.
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Old 02-12-2021, 02:32 AM
 
Location: East Boston, MA
10,225 posts, read 18,338,601 times
Reputation: 11887
Under an hour is tough. We have some friends who work in Cambridge and recently moved to Leominster (no kids) as they were able to get a nice, big single family for $400k in a nice neighborhood. The commute is closer to 2 hours via commuter rail. Maybe somewhere like Ayer or Shirley? You’re still looking at an hour or more, but taking the Fitchburg line to Porter and transferring to the Red (easy access to Alewife, Harvard, Kendall, etc.) isn’t so terrible. Unfortunately, it’s going to be a compromise no matter what.
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Old 02-12-2021, 05:37 AM
 
199 posts, read 97,806 times
Reputation: 309
Yeah, not gonna happen. For that kind of money, you are looking at a small starter house. You could find something in Dedham maybe, but it will small than that for your price point. To give a concrete example, I sold my 1200 sq ft house in Hyde Park (on the Mattapan side) for $530k and it sold in a weekend.

This is why I moved to CT. My house here would be close to a million there.
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Old 02-12-2021, 05:56 AM
 
309 posts, read 120,491 times
Reputation: 479
Buy much less house than you think you need. Post-WW2 Americans were groomed to want more than they need. It's learned and can be unlearned.
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Old 02-12-2021, 05:59 AM
 
4,244 posts, read 1,446,724 times
Reputation: 2877
My co worker is in a similar situation to you as far as living arrangements go. She lives in a two family home with her parents in Dorchester. They live on the second floor, her family (they have one child) on the first . I assume they help out with costs. Finding something for 550k could be an issue. Another thought is could your husband consider asking his job if he could go in maybe once a week once they are called back ? That could help as far as dealing with a bad commute goes.

Last edited by msRB311; 02-12-2021 at 06:30 AM..
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