Author Topic: Comparison is the thief of joy  (Read 3940 times)

rubybeth

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Comparison is the thief of joy
« on: October 08, 2017, 12:32:35 PM »
DH and I have been house hunting since January. We hit quite a few bumps along the way (a job loss being a major one, and health issues being another), and honestly, I'm dealing with some depression now, too, which doesn't help (gonna see a therapist soon).

We have a few friends who have purchased homes in the last 10 months and it's hard for me to look at their beautiful houses and not compare ourselves to them--why can't we afford a nice house, too? At this point, it feels like every house in our budget is awful and ugly and needs thousands in updates to be remotely acceptable, and every house outside of our budget is gorgeous and perfect and only needs cosmetic updates (paint, rip out wallpaper, carpet). We have made three offers where we were immediately outbid due to the seller's market we've been in, and one offer was countered at a still-ridiculous asking price, so we walked away--didn't even bother countering since our initial offer was what we could afford. We really don't want to "settle," because up until now, we've been perfectly happy to continue renting (our location allows me to walk to work and is within 2 miles of my DH's new job). But it's been hard.

I try to remind myself, we're doing well, we save way more than others, we have no debt, all our needs are beyond met, we are very lucky, etc. Heck, other than folks here, I don't think I know anyone with the net worth we have right now (mostly in retirement accounts that we don't want to touch to buy a house). We don't want to sacrifice our future happiness for a small hit of dopamine we might get when an offer is finally accepted (until reality sets in that we've just made the largest purchase of our lives thus far).

So, any advice about how to think about this? Or commiseration about being mustachian in a world of buy-now-pay-later?
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lukebuz

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2017, 01:26:34 PM »
Don't forget to enjoy life now too.  The future you dream of may not come.  That doesn't mean buy a 80" TV.  It means, perhaps save a bit less and have a home you enjoy. 
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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2017, 02:22:43 PM »
In your situation, I'd likely stop looking to buy a house and reframe renting as perfect for you and has great advantages over buying right now. It sounds like the house envy is what is driving you if you're seeing friends buying. You aren't stating why you feel the need to buy now/soon, other than you've been looking since January - why do you want a house? What's wrong with renting?

You already stated that the place you rent now has a great location... which that right there is worth quite a bit more in terms of happiness. Being able to walk to work is AMAZING, and the fact that you're also really close to your husband's new job is just a cherry on top.

Other positives to renting instead of buying:

How about, no remodeling or ripping out of things and spending time looking for a contractor to do this stuff (or getting nasty, sweaty and likely injured if you DIY?).

The need to do maintenance and upkeep on said property each week/month if you own is crazy. You'll need to get lots of yard equipment and repair stuff if you don't already have it, or you'll be paying for someone to come in and do this for you. Yard work, mowing/edging/trimming/landscaping, more to clean up and keep an eye on and saving for replacements on appliances, roof, etc... you are 100% responsible, and if you don't fix those leaky gutters you could end up with foundation issues or water damage in a year or two, and then there's that damned door that has the broken latch, the window screens that don't fit right, the garbage disposal just jammed AGAIN, the washer line is clogged... it truly is never-ending the amount of crap you have to deal with (or ignore until it becomes an Issue with a capital "I").

Anything breaks or needs replacing when you rent - you call the landlord and it's done for you. No hunting for competent contractors or worrying over the cost. Done.

No property tax/high insurance bills (yes, it's technically baked into the rent but you're not having to come up with the $$ every year or protest the property tax hikes that occur).

More time to build up a house fund if you have a decent rental right now.

You can wait out the market and keep an eye out for a real bargain house in the meantime if you stop feeling desperate to find a house.


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rubybeth

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2017, 02:44:57 PM »
In your situation, I'd likely stop looking to buy a house and reframe renting as perfect for you and has great advantages over buying right now. It sounds like the house envy is what is driving you if you're seeing friends buying. You aren't stating why you feel the need to buy now/soon, other than you've been looking since January - why do you want a house? What's wrong with renting?

You already stated that the place you rent now has a great location... which that right there is worth quite a bit more in terms of happiness. Being able to walk to work is AMAZING, and the fact that you're also really close to your husband's new job is just a cherry on top.

Well, we have lots of reasons for wanting to buy. We've been in the same space since we got married in 2008 and are running out of room. We want more space, a better kitchen for cooking at home more effectively, entertaining (we love playing games and having people over), and one of my main hobbies is singing opera, so I'm limited in how much I can practice without feeling like I'm disturbing neighbors (also no room for a keyboard, let alone a piano). We'd also like a bit of yard for gardening, etc. The living situation has been kind of a balancing act--we are okay with it for the reasons listed previously (low rent, proximity to work), but there are many drawbacks (neighbor noise and nonsense, not controlling the heat, being in a basement unit with limited daylight, our single stall garage is a half block from our unit, limited on street parking in winter, tiny kitchen, and now a COCKROACH INFESTATION--ugh ugh ugh, etc.). We've made it work for a long time, and we sacrificed buying a house for longer than originally planned so we could pay for DH's grad school without loans, which we did.

One of the houses I really loved would also have been within biking or walking distance of work for me and about 3 miles from DH's job, so that really would have been awesome, but it just felt like too much money.

We will likely do what you suggested and keep saving and renting, and maybe the right thing will come along, but thinking about the pluses of renting isn't really helping me at this point. :/
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Case

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2017, 05:04:56 PM »
DH and I have been house hunting since January. We hit quite a few bumps along the way (a job loss being a major one, and health issues being another), and honestly, I'm dealing with some depression now, too, which doesn't help (gonna see a therapist soon).

We have a few friends who have purchased homes in the last 10 months and it's hard for me to look at their beautiful houses and not compare ourselves to them--why can't we afford a nice house, too? At this point, it feels like every house in our budget is awful and ugly and needs thousands in updates to be remotely acceptable, and every house outside of our budget is gorgeous and perfect and only needs cosmetic updates (paint, rip out wallpaper, carpet). We have made three offers where we were immediately outbid due to the seller's market we've been in, and one offer was countered at a still-ridiculous asking price, so we walked away--didn't even bother countering since our initial offer was what we could afford. We really don't want to "settle," because up until now, we've been perfectly happy to continue renting (our location allows me to walk to work and is within 2 miles of my DH's new job). But it's been hard.

I try to remind myself, we're doing well, we save way more than others, we have no debt, all our needs are beyond met, we are very lucky, etc. Heck, other than folks here, I don't think I know anyone with the net worth we have right now (mostly in retirement accounts that we don't want to touch to buy a house). We don't want to sacrifice our future happiness for a small hit of dopamine we might get when an offer is finally accepted (until reality sets in that we've just made the largest purchase of our lives thus far).

So, any advice about how to think about this? Or commiseration about being mustachian in a world of buy-now-pay-later?

You do not sound to be in a mentally sound enough place to orchestrate a large purchase such as a a house.  My advice is to start and finish therapy, and then think about a house.

rubybeth

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2017, 09:45:19 PM »
Case, yes, I agree. We are taking a break from it and going to focus on other things for at least a few months. Thanks! 😊
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mozar

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2017, 09:30:06 AM »
What about renting a nicer place? A cockroach infestation would be my limit.
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Laura33

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2017, 10:01:43 AM »
FWIW, I do not think you are mentally unsound, nor is it at all unreasonable to be fed up after years in a basement (with cockroaches!).  I think you are experiencing the very natural frustration of having worked very hard towards a goal for many years -- including sucking up some less-than-ideal circumstances -- and are now faced with the fear that even all of that may still not have been enough and you may never get what you really really want.  And it's not fair and it's depressing and it's generally horrible.*  Totally, totally natural. 

I also think you've made the right call to step back for a bit.  When you are that wound up, that frustrated, you begin to make bad decisions.

So, first:  your friends are NOT doing better than you.  They are just living in their net worth, while yours is living in happy little investment accounts, procreating like rabbits.  They have bling, sure, and bling is very, very tempting -- especially to those that don't have it.  That's why bling exists, after all: to convince others that you are better than them.  But you have substance and character and the ability to delay gratification in favor of a long-term goal.  This is what will make you happy in the long-run, not a house. 

Second:  it is eminently reasonable for you guys to decide you are no longer willing to live in a roach-infested hovel for another X years.  So take a look at your plan with fresh eyes.  What alternatives do you have right now, in the real world, that would remove some of the annoyances and frustrations?  A larger apartment, maybe above-ground, with lots of windows and light, and better closets?  What do those run?  Maybe someone nearby has a townhouse or house that you can rent for a year or so, so you can get a little more space and have the feel of living in a home with a yard and such?  See what you can do short-term to decrease your frustration level and buy you a little bit of contentment, at a reasonable price. 

And/or:  play the "the grass is NOT greener" game.  Honestly, this is what I do when I get fed up with stuff.  Imagine yourself in the big house.  Now imagine yourself writing the mortgage payment.  Imagine maintaining it every weekend -- what fun weekend activity do you give up, now that you have to commit more time to mowing the yard and cleaning the house?  And, whoops, the HVAC system just went out -- gotta get a service guy out, there's another $250.**  Now, go look at your budget:  what fun stuff and/or savings do you cut back to cover the cost of all that extra mortgage, utilities, maintenance, etc.?  Mentally imagine yourself on a Saturday night, choosing not to go out on date night, because you are now living in that money; or imagine yourself at work at the age of [current RE target + X years], because you need so much bigger of a 'stache to support those higher expenses long-term.  Etc. etc. etc.  I call this the "even George Clooney probably throws his socks on the floor" version of mental imagery -- the point is to take a realistic look at your fantasy and see how reality compares to what you have now.  Generally, this reminds me that I'm in a pretty good spot.  But if you find you're still dissatisfied with your current choices, then go back up a paragraph and figure what version of extra money out and extra amenities gets you to a new happy medium.

And good luck.

* FWIW, we had multiple miscarriages and infertility treatments, which led to a very similar degree of frustration and depression and worry that we'd never get there.

**I cannot tell you how many times this has happened to us -- always on the first REALLY cold day of the year.
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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2017, 10:06:47 AM »
I'm sorry that you're in a difficult situation, and I hope that my experience might help you realize that it's doable. I moved back to my hometown 1 1/2 years ago when my mental health was very poor, and while in retrospect I probably shouldn't have bought when I was so off-balance, I did. I bought a house that was far from perfect, not especially lovely, but at a good price. It was the plainest place I've lived and I felt envy every time I looked at other people's houses. I've had to do all of the things that Frankie's Girl mentioned - plus an expensive foundation repair.

But - by doing all of the things, I've grown to quite like my little house. I've done so much to the place that I feel like it's really mine - something that I didn't feel in my last house where I lived longer, but didn't have to do any work to. I love my kitchen because I designed and (helped to) install it. I love the exterior colour because I chose and painted it. Ditto with 1000 other details. While everyone's depression is different, having tangible things on my to-do list that I could accomplish in the course of a day to make my house prettier and fall apart less was really quite helpful for me.

I chose my house because I had looked at everything on the market and had a panic attack when pressured by my agent. Not a terrific method, but I ended up with the ugliest house on a block of modest but well-maintained little places. Now, I think that I made a great choice. If my house were bigger or fancier, I'd be more reluctant to attempt DIY, but when things can only go so badly, I figure that it's worth a shot (I don't do anything myself where there is a risk of my setting the house on fire, and I consult with a structural engineer to ensure that I don't do anything that will make it fall down - and so long as it's standing and not on fire, I figure that all is well enough).

All that to say that buying houses that aren't already perfect can be a great experience. 

Slee_stack

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2017, 12:13:51 PM »
Perhaps easier said than done...but try to flip your perspective.

Once upon a time, I used to be impressed with other people's stuff.

Now I'm quite the opposite.  I tend to think of all the downsides of owning extravagant stuff and I end up pitying the person.  More money sunk.  More time/labor sunk.  More stress.  Yuck!

Everything is an opportunity cost.  If you are generally maximizing yours, you should be pretty happy.

human

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2017, 12:17:59 PM »
You really need to quit it with this moping. I live in an apartment of 1000 square feet and think it's too big. You can fit a keyboard, just get rid of something useless like a book shelf full of books you don't read. People in big houses are slaves to their mortgage, if that's what you want in life then pity on you. As for the kitchen put all your useless appliances away when not using them and you'll find more space.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2017, 01:45:49 PM »
Perhaps easier said than done...but try to flip your perspective.

Once upon a time, I used to be impressed with other people's stuff.

Now I'm quite the opposite.  I tend to think of all the downsides of owning extravagant stuff and I end up pitying the person.  More money sunk.  More time/labor sunk.  More stress.  Yuck!

Everything is an opportunity cost.  If you are generally maximizing yours, you should be pretty happy.

+1

Better that you're in a small place, looking for more space, than having bought the wrong place and or having too much of a financial commitment.  Count your blessings:)

BTW, boric acid does wonders for killing roaches...it's super cheap and non-toxic.

dreams_and_discoveries

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2017, 01:51:20 PM »
I've managed to train myself out of the comparison thing, I've never really been one for material possessions, but I've always been jealous of people with seemingly perfect other halves.... I eventually realised envy and jealously are not helpful, and everyone is different.

I also found it helps to mix with a wider range of people, if your friends are all sickly sweet newly weds, single me is going to feel a bit of the odd one out, but once they include longer married, divorcees and people in non traditional relationships it increases your perspectives.

In my ideal world I'd have tons of frugal friends, who similarly don't value consumerism, but in the real world they are a mix, from high earners living in dream flats, to people living a frugal life as they have to.  Some people do have much money than others, and lots of people love to spend money - I'm now used to accepting some people have a more charmed life than I do.

ender

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2017, 05:22:19 PM »
One of the things that I have thought about with house envy is that... a lot of the people with nicer houses have a lot less of <fill in the blank> than we do.

So sure, they might have a much nicer house. But we have a lot more in retirement savings. Or eat better. Or that we never have financial stresses... etc.

The problem with a lot of envy is you only see the plus and never the minus. Houses/cars are particularly bad, because while they scream "I'm well off!" manytimes that's not the case at all.

elaine amj

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2017, 08:17:23 PM »
About 8/9 years ago, I finally started working full time and DH and I started considering upgrading from our simple 3 bedroom home. I crunched a bunch of numbers and decided we could handle a slightly larger mortgage payment and we started looking at a budget of about $200k which I thought was a reasonable step up from our $160k house.

We could not find any house that tempted us enough to move. I didn't even need a bigger house, just a better layout. The houses I did like were in the $250k range and I refused to pay that much more.

We ended up staying put and will stay until we have an empty nest and can downsize. We paid off our mortgage last year. Every once in a while DH and I still congratulate ourselves on staying here and not tying ourselves to a larger mortgage.

I still get pangs of house envy sometimes though. And I admit it's rough that all the kids' friends seem to stay in these beautiful suburban homes while we stay in a simple house with aging furniture. But then I remind my son that we are almost millionaires now (he gets so impressed by that haha) and we have the security of not worrying if our next paycheck doesn't arrive.

Also, it's a fact. Some people just have more money than others. That's OK too and I remind myself to be happy for their good fortune and luxuriate in my own (even if it is at a smaller scale).

Perhaps a slightly more expensive rental with a nicer setup will scratch the itch for a little while?

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Astatine

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #15 on: October 10, 2017, 09:33:32 PM »
I don't really have any suggestions except for the comparison thing. I too find it easy to slip into comparing my house to much bigger, newer, nicer places in nicer neighbourhoods, and that just makes me feel dissatisfied with what I have.

How I deal with it is flip it around and compare my house and lifestyle *globally*, not just the richer people in my city. Compared to so many many people around the world, I live a life of unbelievable wealth. I have clean running water. Yay! I have electricity and a magical box in my kitchen that stops perishable food from spoiling. Another yay! I have a roof over my head and my house is pretty safe and secure. I have sufficient food every day. More yays! etc etc Much better for me than comparing a new kitchen to my 70's kitchen and falling-apart bathroom.


Schaefer Light

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #17 on: October 11, 2017, 06:21:52 AM »
I also found it helps to mix with a wider range of people, if your friends are all sickly sweet newly weds, single me is going to feel a bit of the odd one out, but once they include longer married, divorcees and people in non traditional relationships it increases your perspectives.

If you think that's tough, try being divorced and avoiding comparison to your ex.

rockstache

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #18 on: October 11, 2017, 09:52:19 AM »
Great post Laura33! I'm going to apply some of that to other areas of my life (I do NOT want a house at all).

You really need to quit it with this moping. I live in an apartment of 1000 square feet and think it's too big. You can fit a keyboard, just get rid of something useless like a book shelf full of books you don't read. People in big houses are slaves to their mortgage, if that's what you want in life then pity on you. As for the kitchen put all your useless appliances away when not using them and you'll find more space.

This seems...a bit harsh. Are you the OP's spouse?

rubybeth

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #19 on: October 11, 2017, 11:04:30 AM »
Thank you to everyone for your very helpful replies. I definitely know I need a perspective shift, which I am hoping therapy will help. Intellectually, I know we are doing very well financially and not borrowing against our futures. We could sell everything tomorrow and move to New Zealand! We could drop our $40k down payment into investments and retire a few years earlier! We have running water and electricity, and money in savings, so we are wealthier than most of the people on the planet! But it's still been hard for me, so I appreciate the comments.

Laura, your post especially resonated with me. Thank you for that. Infertility is so much more serious than a house hunt, but I think you are right--trying for something for a long time and not getting where you want to go is very frustrating and comes with a variety of emotions.

human, your post is a bit harsh, but I am choosing to believe it comes from a well-intentioned place. If you live in 1,000 sq. feet by yourself, you're way ahead of us--it's about 700 sq. feet for two people, with a lifetime of stuff from both of us. I truly am trying so hard not to "mope," I am a very capable, strong-willed person, probably over-responsible in a lot of ways, but stupid stuff keeps happening, like this Monday morning when my husband went out to head to work and our car had been smashed up and the tire punctured in a hit-and-run. Womp womp. It does feel like it's one thing after another for us this year, which normally, I'd be fine at handling, but I'm really not doing well lately (I usually exercise to help with stress but I now have a chronic pain issue right now that's preventing me from my usual coping skill, hence the upcoming therapy). For what it's worth, we keep only two things on the counter (coffee maker and toaster, both used multiple times daily), and it's still a really small space--there's no way I could ever host Thanksgiving dinner at my place. :D

frugaliknowit, how do you use the boric acid? Just put it out in little trays or something for the critters to eat? We did see a couple earlier last week right after the treatment, but they were moving slowly and haven't seen any since then. Fingers crossed.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2017, 11:25:02 AM by rubybeth »
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Spiffsome

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #20 on: October 12, 2017, 02:40:01 AM »
When I see people with much bigger or nicer things than me, I imagine how much time they must spend cleaning them. I hate cleaning, so it's a pretty good way to kill envy. Nice boat? Gotta be washed every time you take it out. Giant living room? Imagine all that vacuuming!

human

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #21 on: October 12, 2017, 04:51:48 AM »
Here we go again! Oh your place is a whopping 300 square feet bigger than minewahhhhh!!!

Why do you have a lifetime of stuff? Get rid of it!

My grandma had a tiny place and tiny kitchen and she managed to have christmas turkey every year. You really want to run out and get a crazy mortgage for one meal a year?

Yeah this is meant to be tough love face punching. Frome your tone it's obvious you can't really afford bigger so make some lemonade.

rubybeth

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #22 on: October 12, 2017, 06:59:49 AM »
When I see people with much bigger or nicer things than me, I imagine how much time they must spend cleaning them. I hate cleaning, so it's a pretty good way to kill envy. Nice boat? Gotta be washed every time you take it out. Giant living room? Imagine all that vacuuming!

Yes, this is what I've been telling myself when we look at houses in our price range that are over 2,000 sq. feet. Why would I want to heat/cool that much space? Why do we need 5 bedrooms for two people? We've really been trying to find something that isn't too big, but a lot of the older homes in our area are just massive. It's kind of been a double-edged sword. Sure, we can easily afford $150,000 2,600 sq. foot rambler on the face of it, but do I want to clean 3 bathrooms and mow a half acre lawn? Newer homes in our area that are smaller with somewhat better layouts/efficiency features are higher priced, of course.

human, it sounds like you might not be married--I don't exactly control what my husband does with his belongings, as much as I might want to. I don't really feel the need to justify WHY we wan't a house to you, the kitchen thing was just one small example, but thanks for the reframe.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 07:01:27 AM by rubybeth »
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human

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #23 on: October 12, 2017, 04:36:28 PM »
I never asked for a justification just pointing out that your excuses are exactly that "excuses". I do have a partner and we purge when needed. If you go bigger with a hoarder, you'll just wind up with more stuff. I'm starting the think you'll get roaches at the new place too.

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« Last Edit: October 24, 2017, 07:23:13 PM by arebelspy »

bacchi

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #24 on: October 13, 2017, 02:01:04 AM »
frugaliknowit, how do you use the boric acid? Just put it out in little trays or something for the critters to eat? We did see a couple earlier last week right after the treatment, but they were moving slowly and haven't seen any since then. Fingers crossed.

You sprinkle it where they travel. We put it on the ground near the cabinet toe kick to stop ants from eating the cat food.

We're moving into a 600 square foot place (2 adults + 2 cats) and we've previously lived in a 650 apartment with 2 adults, a cat, and a large dog. The location was awesome. We could walk to grocery stores, movies, bars, pizza, work, and the metro.

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #25 on: October 13, 2017, 05:25:47 AM »
I've been there, I know the pain.   When we moved to our current city, I rented a house in a block/area that I loved, but every single house we walked into was just "ok", expensive, and arrogant sellers/selling agents because of how good of a market it was.  We were almost ready to give up and going through everything you're feeling, so I'll share my story of hope:

We knew the area we wanted to be in since we were already renting.  I started jogging the neighborhood most mornings, going on long walks with the dog, and we'd occasionally take a long, and taking the meandering way home.

One Sunday morning it happened, a "Coming Soon" sign on the right size house and we could tell it had a lot of what we wanted.   We peppered our agent and the selling agent on if we could see it before the listing.  They finally agreed and we saw it two days before listing.  We walked in and knew in 3 minutes it was what we wanted.   It had a nice couple selling it, they just wanting out of a 3br since they just had child #2 and the in-laws were staying for extended periods of time.  The price they wanted was fair and we said "that's a fair price".

We closed 30 days later and moved in a month later.   I feel like we have one of the rare, renovated 3br houses in an area where most of these houses are torn down for McMansions.  It can happen, just know what you want, where you want it, and "farm" that neighborhood.  There are reasonable people that just want a fair price for their home.

Good luck
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rubybeth

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #26 on: October 13, 2017, 06:54:26 AM »
We closed 30 days later and moved in a month later.   I feel like we have one of the rare, renovated 3br houses in an area where most of these houses are torn down for McMansions.  It can happen, just know what you want, where you want it, and "farm" that neighborhood.  There are reasonable people that just want a fair price for their home.

Good luck

chasefish, that's a great story! And a good reminder to stick with what we want, and not necessarily settle for the next thing in our price range (there's LOTS in our price range... just not quite what we're hoping for).

Whenever I've told people in real life about our house hunt, they share similar stories to yours. There are so many people who gave up on looking and then, like magic, the right place got listed--for a co-worker, her husband went through what I'm going through, and refused to even look at houses any more. And then one went for sale just a block or so away from their rental, and my co-worker said she just convinced him to drive by. The realtor happened to be there, saw them, invited them in, and they fell in love (for my co-worker's husband, I guess the kicker was the basement bathroom which would serve as a perfect dark room for his photography hobby... which is now his business!).

I'm hoping that's what happens for us--we have a few specific neighborhoods in our city that we like, and what we call "the triangle" between my job, my husband's job (and our gym is a few blocks from his job, as is his mom), and my parents' and the ALDI we shop regularly. Those places comprise most of our driving/walking each week, so we don't want to be more than a couple miles from that triangle.

This summer, things sold relatively quickly and we aren't fast decision-makers. I think we've honed our ability to decide if we like a place enough to make a bid, now it's just finding a location, house, and price that are acceptable.
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BTDretire

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #27 on: October 13, 2017, 10:28:11 AM »
"Comparison is the thief of joy"
Depends on what your comparable item is.
Just keep comparing your networth growth rate,
to the general population.
 That will keep a :-) on your face.

chasesfish

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #28 on: October 13, 2017, 03:18:31 PM »
I'll add that I found our house in the "Dead Zone" of early November with a December close
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rubybeth

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #29 on: October 14, 2017, 11:34:28 AM »
I'll add that I found our house in the "Dead Zone" of early November with a December close

That's good to know. One reason we've let our lease go to month-to-month is so that we could jump at the right time. It's costing us a bit more than a one year lease, but it's given us a lot of flexibility. We've discussed the fact that we could just move to a different apartment--maybe even within the same complex, just a different building--with very short notice, especially if the critter problem isn't resolved.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2017, 03:31:32 PM by rubybeth »
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aceyou

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #30 on: October 17, 2017, 07:02:15 PM »
Hang in there Ruby.  You've been given a lot of good council in this thread already, and I think you definitely have a good head on your shoulders.  A few thoughts:

I'll start with this analogy.  In the past, I've often regretted certain clothing purchases.  Almost EVERY time, it's because I bought it because I loved the price, and not because I loved the article of clothing.  Now, I have a rule that a deal is only a deal if the thing you are buying is something you really love too.  I get a pit in my stomach when I throw 20 bucks away on a dress shirt I don't like...for goodness sakes, don't buy a 200k house that will come with MANY additional costs unless you love every damn thing about that house.  You are trying to talk yourself into buying a 200k "shirt" when you really want a 250k "shirt"...that's just begging for an epic case of buyer's remorse IMO:)

I'll second the people who've advocated for renting.  I'm a homeowner myself, and it absolutely is NOT an investment.  Between property taxes, , mortgage interest, homeowners insurance, replacing appliances, keeping it updated, paying for maintenance of the yard/landscaping, etc, fixing the roof, replacing the windows, the costs of owning it probably exceeds what I earn from it's appreciation. 

You don't have to rent a small apartment, you can rent someone else's house if you want.  You will come out richer in the short and long term, and in the meantime, you can distance yourself from cockroaches, sing to your hearts content, and hopefully stay very close to work.  Then, in a few years, if you still desire that 250k house, you can easily do it with a portion of all the money you've been stashing away. 

Good luck, I hope you find an arrangement that makes you happy in the short and long term!

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #31 on: October 17, 2017, 08:25:54 PM »
My wife and I decided we wanted to change to a house that would be better suited for the activities we want to do after we retire, plus have fewer stairs so it will be easier for us to age in place.

Rather than go out and pay 100% retail for a house, we started looking for houses that would meet our needs if the price was right.  Some were for sale, others were not.  We did this over a period of several years. 

We bought one that had been off and on the market for at least a year and a half.   We ended up with about $96,000 in equity based on the appraised value minus our purchase price.   

It took patience, perseverance, and holding to our price and layout standards.

Get some books on how to buy real estate to invest in and see which of the ideas will work for you.  It certainly helped us get our new home at a 32% discount from appraised value.

(It's also helped us buy other properties at even better discounts.)

rubybeth

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #32 on: October 18, 2017, 07:40:57 AM »
. . .Now, I have a rule that a deal is only a deal if the thing you are buying is something you really love too. . .

. . .I'll second the people who've advocated for renting. I'm a homeowner myself, and it absolutely is NOT an investment.

I totally agree that a deal is only a deal if it's exactly what you want! I use that phrase in relationship to one of my more expensive hobbies. I love finding exactly what I want on the secondary market (antiques, vintage stuff on eBay). I'm okay paying retail for some things, but I also have that feeling of only being extremely pleased with a large purchase when I know I've gotten a good price.

Also, we absolutely do not look at a house as an investment. It's only a place to live. We fully anticipate this is NOT a good financial decision (all rent vs. buy calcs tell us to keep renting). We have seen friends in bankruptcy, foreclosure, underwater, house poor, etc. and it's not worth it to us. We could probably easily get approved for a $500,000 mortgage, but that's NOT what we want. We really want to stick to a budget between $150-180k, and it's do-able in our area (relatively LCOL), and we've made four offers on houses that fit the bill, but we were outbid on all but one (the last one was just a high counter-offer, so we walked).

We've had a phrase "right house at the right time" that we've used for many years. When DH decided to do graduate school, we just decided it wasn't the right time to buy. Then, when we've found houses we liked that we could afford but got outbid, we told ourselves it wasn't the right house. It sucks that there are more options if we'd stretch to $190 or $200k, but that also means higher taxes and stuff, and while we can on paper "afford" that, we really want to keep saving aggressively and not sacrifice the early retirement dream.

The thing with renting a different apartment or a house is that, in our area, renting a house actually costs more than buying. We're talking rent being $1,000-$1,500 a month for a house we could buy and pay $700-800 in PITI, maybe a couple hundred for utilities. Our rent right now is low since we're willing to stay in the small one bedroom with good closet space due to location. But any cheaper and we'd be with tons more college students or in an area of town much farther from work. I did some apartment hunting online recently, and there are a couple nicer options that aren't too far away, but they're closer to $1,000/mo. :/

Right house, right time...
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elaine amj

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #33 on: October 18, 2017, 07:58:32 AM »
Rather than go out and pay 100% retail for a house, we started looking for houses that would meet our needs if the price was right.  Some were for sale, others were not.  We did this over a period of several years. 

We bought one that had been off and on the market for at least a year and a half.   We ended up with about $96,000 in equity based on the appraised value minus our purchase price.   

It took patience, perseverance, and holding to our price and layout standards.

I like this. It sure takes patience!

I'm glad that in my last round of househunting some years back, I never did find my dream home in the price range I insisted we stick to. Every once in a while I think of the house that most closely met my wants. But still so happy I didn't saddle myself with an extra $50k to pay off. In the years since, we realized we were content in our current home, even if not perfect.
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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #34 on: October 19, 2017, 07:04:46 AM »
The thing with renting a different apartment or a house is that, in our area, renting a house actually costs more than buying. We're talking rent being $1,000-$1,500 a month for a house we could buy and pay $700-800 in PITI, maybe a couple hundred for utilities.

FYI, your math is off, and the two are probably close to equivalent.  A house is going to involve more maintenance and long-term replacements/upgrades -- appliances generally last only 7-12 yrs, roofs 10-30, HVAC, siding, hot water heaters, you name it.  Not to mention when the sewer line backs up, you are the one responsible for it; you need to mow the lawn and shovel the walks; and your utility bills are likely higher.  Depending on the state of the house, you should be looking at probably another $200-300/mo for maintenance and long-term replacement.

This means you are smart to keep your target home price low, because it's going to cost more than you expect.  But it also means that the cost of renting isn't as much higher than owning as you are thinking.
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elaine amj

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #35 on: October 19, 2017, 08:31:05 AM »
The thing with renting a different apartment or a house is that, in our area, renting a house actually costs more than buying. We're talking rent being $1,000-$1,500 a month for a house we could buy and pay $700-800 in PITI, maybe a couple hundred for utilities.

FYI, your math is off, and the two are probably close to equivalent.  A house is going to involve more maintenance and long-term replacements/upgrades -- appliances generally last only 7-12 yrs, roofs 10-30, HVAC, siding, hot water heaters, you name it.  Not to mention when the sewer line backs up, you are the one responsible for it; you need to mow the lawn and shovel the walks; and your utility bills are likely higher.  Depending on the state of the house, you should be looking at probably another $200-300/mo for maintenance and long-term replacement.

This means you are smart to keep your target home price low, because it's going to cost more than you expect.  But it also means that the cost of renting isn't as much higher than owning as you are thinking.

+1

I started another thread a little while ago. The consensus seemed to be that it is normal to spend about $3-5k a year in upgrades/maintenance for a house (less if you are very handy and can do most of the work yourself). I've been fighting to cut that to $1-2k/year (not handy so have to pay for this) but that is only enough for essential repairs/maintenance. My house looks like crap now after a few years of this. There are sooooo many things that need improvements/updating that I have been ignoring. Those are easily about $3k/year. I just upped my budget to allow for $5k/year for all this. Especially since like Laura pointed out, there is always roofing, furnace, central air unit, fencing, appliances and other expensive repairs/replacement. Home ownership is more expensive than it looks.
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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #36 on: October 19, 2017, 08:54:18 AM »
Quote
We have a few friends who have purchased homes in the last 10 months and it's hard for me to look at their beautiful houses and not compare ourselves to them--why can't we afford a nice house, too?
This is, in essence, the concept of Mustachianism.  Minimalism, stoicism, and true satisfaction.

If you view your friends' homes as a benchmark of success, then you are viewing the world through a distorted lens.  Cliche as it is: houses, possessions, and money do not make people happy.  The grass is NOT always greener.

Keep at it, don't give up hope, and continue saving. It took me 9 months to find a house, so your situation isn't all that uncommon.

rubybeth

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #37 on: October 19, 2017, 01:32:06 PM »
The thing with renting a different apartment or a house is that, in our area, renting a house actually costs more than buying. We're talking rent being $1,000-$1,500 a month for a house we could buy and pay $700-800 in PITI, maybe a couple hundred for utilities.

FYI, your math is off, and the two are probably close to equivalent.  A house is going to involve more maintenance and long-term replacements/upgrades -- appliances generally last only 7-12 yrs, roofs 10-30, HVAC, siding, hot water heaters, you name it.  Not to mention when the sewer line backs up, you are the one responsible for it; you need to mow the lawn and shovel the walks; and your utility bills are likely higher.  Depending on the state of the house, you should be looking at probably another $200-300/mo for maintenance and long-term replacement.

This means you are smart to keep your target home price low, because it's going to cost more than you expect.  But it also means that the cost of renting isn't as much higher than owning as you are thinking.

Okay, but in our area, it might be $1,500 for just the rent, plus utilities and we'd still be doing the lawn/snow removal since most house rentals in our area don't include that (apartments do, but that doesn't get us the "no shared walls" thing or a yard like we want). We wouldn't be on the hook for repairs or larger maintenance issues, as you noted, but we also wouldn't want to spend any money on improvements or decorating the space in any permanent way, and in a lot of cases, landlords don't want you paint, either. But that's a good point to consider.
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rubybeth

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #38 on: October 19, 2017, 01:41:34 PM »
Quote
We have a few friends who have purchased homes in the last 10 months and it's hard for me to look at their beautiful houses and not compare ourselves to them--why can't we afford a nice house, too?
This is, in essence, the concept of Mustachianism.  Minimalism, stoicism, and true satisfaction.

If you view your friends' homes as a benchmark of success, then you are viewing the world through a distorted lens.  Cliche as it is: houses, possessions, and money do not make people happy.  The grass is NOT always greener.

Keep at it, don't give up hope, and continue saving. It took me 9 months to find a house, so your situation isn't all that uncommon.

I also think that I see a house as a place where we'll be able to pursue the things we love--a bit more space and privacy for our hobbies, entertaining our families, being able to have guests. It's not so much about the lovely houses as it is the sense of "home" and having our own space, and freedom to do what we want with the space (customizing to our liking, simple things like painting our bedroom a color we both like, or doing built-in bookshelves in an office space for my husband, or buy a refrigerator with the freezer on the bottom vs. bending over to look in the fridge).
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human

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #39 on: October 21, 2017, 01:43:38 AM »
Honestly, office space and fancy fridge? Get over yourself already whats wrong with a table in the bedroom or living room? You want more admit it already!

[MOD NOTE:  Okay, you've been asked once already to quit it.  You've made your point and delivered your face punch.  Enough.]
« Last Edit: October 26, 2017, 11:02:12 AM by FrugalToque »

rubybeth

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #40 on: October 26, 2017, 10:57:45 AM »
Honestly, office space and fancy fridge? Get over yourself already whats wrong with a table in the bedroom or living room? You want more admit it already!

human, I don't know what your deal is, but I literally said we want to buy a house for various reasons, and you keep harping... on the fact that... we want to buy a house. Surprise, shock, horror of all horrors, some people want houses! I'm one of them. Your comments have not only been unhelpful, but quite rude, insulting, etc. I tried ignoring your comments, but you keep persisting in coming back to comment more nonsense. Get over yourself.
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kaypinkHH

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #41 on: October 26, 2017, 11:58:43 AM »
Hi Rubybeth, house hunting for almost  year is exhausting!! I'm going to offer a slightly different perspective.

Mr.HH and I tried to find a house in a sellers market a few years back with a tight budget in a super HCOL area. We looked for 3 months and probably at 100 houses. We kept getting into bidding wars, and losing. But I didn't mind losing because it just meant we couldn't afford that house, and we would scoff at the price it did sell for. BUT it was exhausting. We almost gave up right before we found our house. (Which was in our budget!)

We also really really wanted a house where the math said renting is better. We had been renting a fantastic downtown condo, amazing location (I was able to walk to work), but hated having to rely on a landlord to fix anything that was broken (where we could either do it ourselves or call a repair place and have it fixed faster). We also hated not having basement/storage, and not having a yard/green space to BBQ was huge for us. Also not being able to host friends and family was a big one for us too.

What we ended up buying was a house about the same size as our condo (but with a basement/backyard) with a kitchen SMALLER than our condo, and we also got the crappy appliances that came with the house (vs the fancy ones at the apartment). We did not get a 2 story house like I wanted, the layout wasn't great, and their weren't enough windows, and it was a PITA for me to get to work....but we mostly loved it. We loved the independence, and being able to do stuff ourselves. AND WE HAD A YARD!!

So long story short...if you want a house get a house!! But for us we did learn a lesson about what we thought we "needed" in a house, vs what we actually ended up living with....we still made sacrifices but we found a way to make them work.

IE: We had a basement we were going to convert to a rental unit. We started by just renting out a  room to a friend for a few months, then another friend..we shared the kitchen with them so this was an inconvenience but tolerable for a short time period. We used the money we made from that inconvenience and put it back into a basement reno, but instead of rental we did an Airbnb, so we gained a guest space for visiting family, and we didn't lose our 2nd bedroom/office on the main floor. And we made some money :D.

Our house didn't have a dining room, so for dinner parities we busted open the ikea folding table and set it up in our living room. No problem! We also did most of our hosting in the summer with a big backyard.

No matter where you are living there will be things you don't like. (Unless you design the perfect home from the ground up, but even then I would probably have issues with something), but I love adapting to what I have and "Making it work!" I love the challenge of it (ie the guest room/airbnb combo worked really well for us).

We are currently selling that house (as we are moving to a Lower COL city) at a SIGNIFICANT profit due to the market in our area. We never counted housing as an investment, but it was the best investment we have ever made.

In owning the 50 year old house for the past 3 years we spent very little on maintenance. (If we stayed a few more years we would have some bigger bills coming, which we budgeted for). Our house didn't have HVAC, so no HVAC repairs. Cleaning gutters took us 1 hr of our own time. We never had to out source any work...and in terms of extra purchases...we bought all our yard stuff on kijiji and then resold it for about the same price 3 years later.

This probably the least mustachian advice....but to change your budget from 180-200 is really NOT that much to get the house that you want. If you were looking at changing from 180 to 250, sure, but going up 10% in the grand scheme of things shouldn't impact your bottom line (crunch your numbers). To me living in an apartment that just DOESN'T WORK, or dealing with a stress of house hunting for almost a year over 10-20k (on a house), is impacting your health. If you are finding options in that 190-200k range, math it out (including taxes etc) and see how many years it adds to FIRE? If you are only finding houses in the 150-180 range that need a ton of work, then you are going to be spending 20k anyway for renovations. Also, no harm in looking at the 190-200 houses and putting in offers at 180, knowing you most likely won't get it, but maybe one day you will!!

I feel like this was really rambly, I apologize....hopefully you gain something useful from it. TL;DR try to be happy with you have now as it will prepare you for things you don't like in your future house, and really look closely at that extra 10-20k if it will make a significant difference in your purchasing power.


kaypinkHH

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #42 on: October 26, 2017, 12:27:57 PM »
(As if I need to write more)...

But one more thing to add, having a "perfect" home will not fix some of the other things you are dealing with (ie depression), and there will always be people who have a nicer home things and there will always be inconveniences to deal with.  Bring this up with your therapist on ways to manage these feelings :).

Comparison is the thief of joy, but only if you let it!   

rubybeth

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #43 on: October 26, 2017, 12:36:46 PM »
kaypinkHH, your comments are VERY helpful. We have decided to take a break from house hunting for at least a few months--my first meeting with the therapist was good, and I'm focusing on my health stuff right now (I have a physical issue as well as a mental issue; hoping resolving the physical stuff will also help the mental stuff--chronic pain is no good!).

It's a good reminder that we would need to put money into a house one way or another, so it might be worth it to spend a bit more up front vs. wanting or needing to change more things over time. I am also hopeful that, as we move into winter in our area, the housing scramble will slow down. It already seems to have slowed with the beginning of the school year. We're also just continuing to save, which means we have more flexibility--either to buy a house that does need a couple thousand in work (like replaced flooring) before we'd move in, or just to make an offer without asking for help on closing costs (that was our issue on at least one of the offers we made).
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kaypinkHH

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #44 on: October 26, 2017, 12:44:49 PM »
Glad you took value in all that rambling :D. Taking a break sounds great and focusing on health is 100% important!!

And like you said, a break just means MORE SAVINGS!! All the best on the future house hunt!

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #45 on: October 27, 2017, 06:56:15 AM »
rubybeth, I just wanted to let you know that I think that you're doing the perfect thing in taking the time to care for yourself while also realizing that the off-season should allow you more time in bidding. It sounds like you're in a position of power now, which is really nice to see. Keep us posted on how it all goes, I'm rooting for you!

Also, I'd suggest looking into mindfulness meditation, as it helps both with chronic pain and depression.

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #46 on: October 27, 2017, 08:38:35 AM »
From what I've read, the best advice I can give is to hang in there until the market turns tide. It always does. You don't want to be the person who got into a bidding war in early '06 and then had your house worth half the amount in '08. You want to be the person who snapped up that half price house in '08.

In the meantime, consider renting someplace bigger and better.

Also, have you identified the roaches? Different roaches mean different things. For example, if you've got the big, flying American/smoky brown roaches, you're dealing with outdoor roaches that are trying to come in for some reason. You need to work on getting mulch away from the foundation of the building and caulking holes. If they are smaller German/Oriental roaches, those are more of an interior, multi-unit type of issue and the landlord should be dealing with them in all of the units. If you have any suspicion of Oriental or German roach, trap a specimen in a plastic baggie (dead is fine) because that will help you make a case that the landlord needs to bring in a pest control company (and will help the pc tech with identification). A good poison to use if you are dealing with larger roaches is "Bifen IT". You can use that to spray around the exterior of your building (I'm not sure if you're in an apartment or house but it is worth talking with the landlord to see what is your responsibility). Anyway, this is what my parents (owners of a pest control company) give us to treat when we get American roach invasions.

rubybeth

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #47 on: October 27, 2017, 10:52:17 AM »
Sun hat--thanks! Yeah, we are in a much better position now, and it will be an even better situation the longer we wait. :) I've worked a bit with mindfulness, am definitely willing totry more. I'm gonna see a specialist next week re: the pain stuff, so may have some options there. I'm feeling more hopeful.

NeonPegasus--it's German cockroaches and I did trap one back in August for pest control company to confirm identity, and also (because I generally am a curious person, took super closeup photos for my insect Facebook group, and they confirmed ID). Our management is doing what they can, part of our unit was treated in late August, then all units in the whole building were treated in earlier October, ours a second time. We have a suspicion the problem originated with our next door neighbor (multi-unit apartment situation, 8 per floor, 24 per building). They said our unit was one of the best in terms of what they found in the inspection, so we're hopeful that they found the source and it was definitely not our unit--but we have elderly folks and lots of college students in our building, so the level of cleanliness varies widely. I'll look into that poison option!
« Last Edit: October 27, 2017, 10:55:49 AM by rubybeth »
"Done is the engine of more." - the Done Manifesto

human

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #48 on: October 29, 2017, 04:06:51 AM »
Honestly, office space and fancy fridge? Get over yourself already whats wrong with a table in the bedroom or living room? You want more admit it already!

[MOD NOTE:  Okay, you've been asked once already to quit it.  You've made your point and delivered your face punch.  Enough.]

By the way i made these posts on the 21st. You edited them on the 24th and 26th. So i didn't get your precious first warning before the second post unless you have some sort of time machine.

FrugalToque

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Re: Comparison is the thief of joy
« Reply #49 on: October 29, 2017, 02:35:53 PM »
Honestly, office space and fancy fridge? Get over yourself already whats wrong with a table in the bedroom or living room? You want more admit it already!

[MOD NOTE:  Okay, you've been asked once already to quit it.  You've made your point and delivered your face punch.  Enough.]

By the way i made these posts on the 21st. You edited them on the 24th and 26th. So i didn't get your precious first warning before the second post unless you have some sort of time machine.

I meant that your point of view had been acknowledged by the OP and others in the thread, not that you'd been warned by any mods.

Toque.