Author Topic: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?  (Read 5418 times)

imustachemystash

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Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« on: March 15, 2013, 10:04:39 PM »
Our family of 4 lives in a 1,350 square foot condo.  It has 2 bedrooms and a nice backyard.  We are happy here even though space to store stuff is limited.  We live in the Seattle area where housing is expensive so we bought this condo because it was what we could afford at the time.  Since then our incomes have doubled and we have thought about buying a better house.   Then I found this website and was like "hey if we live here for 10 more years we can retire"!  My kids will be 12 and 14 then and I hope that is not too long for them to have to wait to get their own room.  Has anyone else raised 2 growing boys in a 2 bedroom condo?  If so, did you wish you could have more space if you had the chance?  The reason I am wondering is because after my student loan is paid off in August, we could either start investing in the stock market, or saving for a down payment on a house.  We save about 4,000 per month living in this condo.   

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2013, 11:44:55 PM »
That sounds doable, since the square footage isn't bad for a two bedroom.  1350 sounds like quite a bit of room to me.  The wife and I live in a 400 sq. ft. condo, and are planning on living here at least a few years after the first kid, maybe even a year into the second, at which point we'd like to switch to around 1000-1200 sq. ft.

Maybe less, as we plan to travel and rent around the world, and I imagine some places will be quite small.

You may want to upgrade to a 3 bedroom at some point (and rent or sell the current place), but it may well be good for the boys to share a room.

It's all about mindset - if you guys can be happy there, who's to tell you you need more, or less, space?
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gooki

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2013, 01:21:16 AM »
My brother and I shared a room until 13 and 11, without adverse effects :)

lizzigee

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2013, 01:41:56 AM »
My parents had 4 kids and a 3 bedroom house. Fortunately 2 girls born first, then two boys.  That sorta made the sharing thing not negotiable.  And they're still living in the same house 47 years later (the parents that is), so we never did get  rooms of our own.  I thought it was the world's meanest scheme having to share a room when I was a teenager, but hey, I lived through it.  I doubt it will scar your children for life having to share a room, and they may even enjoy it sometimes. (Also, your condo is much bigger than our house was.)

Dee18

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2013, 05:55:47 AM »
In the category of "don't do what I did" advice, I say don't buy the house for the boys.  Realize they will be off to college in 6 years.  Buy the house only if you and your spouse want to live in it after the boys have moved out.  If they want to, perhaps you can help them build some sort of loft or even a partition for more privacy.  Or if you and your spouse love the condo and want to live there after the boys go to college, you could rent it out and rent a house for a few years. 

lhamo

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2013, 06:02:53 PM »
With the exception of times spent in single family homes while on vacation, plus a brief house-sitting gig in a "villa" when we first moved to Beijing, our two kids haven't known anything other than apartment/condo living.  Our current space is larger than yours -- 3br, plus office plus playroom, about 2150 sq ft of livable space -- and is actually too big in some ways.  But we love it.  We bought where we did because the kids current school is within walking distance, which dramatically simplifies our lives. 

As long as we stay in Beijing we don't have much choice other than apartment/condo living.  We can't afford a villa (though the kids have asked if we can move to one!).  When they were smaller it was important that there were good play spaces in our development and that they could run around relatively safely.  Now that they are getting older we use the gym a lot as a family (especially the pool). 

I don't think there are any absolutes, other than don't buy more house than you can afford.  Deciding what you can afford is the challenge.  When we looked for apartments in NYC, it was important to us for security reasons not to buy a place we couldn't afford on one salary.  Our current place would be a struggle on one salary, but we could probably do it if we stopped contributing to retirement and college.

Schools in Seattle are a big issue.  If you are planning to homeschool, that gives you a lot of flexibility.  Otherwise you might want to start looking into what the school options for your neighborhood are.  If you are happy with them, that would be a reason to stay.  If you are not, that would be a reason to leave.

The Seattle market has started to pick up, but hasn't gone red hot yet.  This might be a good time to start looking at houses if the schooling situation indicates it is wise.

lhamo

eyem

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2013, 09:29:33 PM »
is it possible to remodel it a little? Since the space seems fairly big, could you make them 2 smaller rooms (with bed/small closet only)? Then make a shared study/play area for them with the extra space you gain by making the rooms smaller? Or if you can't do actual remodeling, using the those cubical walls, wall of a part of the living room to create another room?

I don't think they are too old to need room for themselves, and at that age, they'd be just sleeping in there, if you make them do homework in a shared room making it a family event (living room?) parents can do their work/read for a while at table with the kids doing homework (even if they don't need help with homework but being at the table together is enough to make it a good study habit with parents "present"). At least most kids I know don't hole up in their rooms on the computer/gaming system until they are closer to highschool :D. Just get them into playing outside and they won't notice the shared bedroom
« Last Edit: March 16, 2013, 09:32:19 PM by eyem »

imustachemystash

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2013, 11:01:38 PM »
Good ideas everyone.  The bedrooms are huge with a bathroom in each room and it's located in a great school district. I like the room divider idea.  One thing that I struggle with and need to come to terms with sometimes feeling that I am not as successful as others because I live in a condo.  I know it sounds superficial!  It bothers me when I tell people that I live in a condo and they look at me with pity or they ask me when we plan on moving to a bigger house.  My husband is successful in his career and makes a decent amount of money so our circle of friends/coworkers whom all have gorgeous houses expect us to be getting one too.  However, I would rather come to terms with these feelings of mine and be financially independent in ten years with my husband and enjoy our freedom.

N

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2013, 12:19:05 AM »
we have a two bedroom condo, but its smaller-probably about 1100 sq ft. My husband and I have our bed in the smaller bedroom and the larger bedroom is for the kids (a boy and girl). Itd sure be nice to have another bedroom, although I wouldnt necessarily split the kids up. The way it is now is working pretty well. We dont really have a yard, either. And we arent within walking distance of a park (that the kids could go to on their own). we bought this prekids and assumed we would have moved by now.

that said, when we move, we will probably move into a two bedroom apartment, hopefully with backyard access. Im guessing around the same amount of space, but we will pay a lot less for it than our condo.

I know many families who have multiple kids per room, even not the same gender. Most of my friends practice cosleeping, too, which extends the time a kid can share the parents bed (room) as well.
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lhamo

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2013, 04:37:05 AM »
You're in Seattle so just tell people you're trying to keep your ecological footprint low and revel in the eco-friendly bonus points you get!  If you can store a compost bucket in your bathroom, raise bees on the roof, and have a chicken or two on the balcony, you'll soon be not just the envy of all your friends but their eco-guru :)

I'm only half kidding.  Seriously, you can turn this into some serious bonus points, you just need to know how to spin it.  Or get new friends.  I know plenty of people in the Seattle area who would think what you are doing is cool.

mary w

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2013, 04:31:45 PM »
Well I grew up in a 950 sq ft, 3 bedroon 1 1/2 bath house with a total population of 6.   

So, yes, its possible for two pre-teen brothers to share a room.  (And, yes, I would have a loved a room of my own.)

KimAB

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2013, 04:44:12 PM »
When did it become necessary for everyone to have his or her own room?  Honestly!  I raised 4 kids in places that ranged from 900 sf (no basement...  winter was a little hellish)- to 1,000 sf (full finished basement)  The youngest is 19 and the place we've been in for the last 8 years is about 550 main floor and a little less upstairs.  We have a basement, but isn't finished. 

The 19 year old has been in the airless, windowless, unfinished basement with the washer and dryer for a couple years.  When they are ready to have their own room they figure it out.  I told him that it was probably illegal and I could be arrested for child abuse.  He said he didn't care and moved anyway.  At this point he's old enough to leave, but it would be the same thing somewhere else only for a lot more money.

Mama Minou

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2013, 04:49:51 PM »
I liked the "eco-spin" comment...you don't have to reveal your real plan, which is to have unlimited time with your kids! If you can be FI in 10 years if you stay in your condo, I would say by all means, stay! Especially if you have a yard, and there great schools nearby.

There are all kinds of arrangements you can try to make the space work for you. Sounds like your kids are little now, and sharing the space may work well. We know families who have the space but make kids share a room so they are "forced" to figure out how to get along.

That didn't work for my very different teenagers, but they shared when they were little. When the older one reached 12, we separated them and spent a couple of years sleeping in an office nook (us parents) until an attic remodel could happen. It wasn't ideal, but we weren't willing to take on much more debt to move.

RebeccaE

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2013, 04:57:17 PM »
We are (almost) in the same position as you. We live in Denver, have 1 baby and a 2 bedroom, 1100 square foot condo. When I got pregnant we were talking about moving to a home within the next 4 years before we have our second. We also did our retirement calculations and realized we could retire in ten years if we just stay here and pay off our condo. If we want to sell the condo and buy a home in a decent neighborhood, it will cost twice as much as our condo and will push our retirement back significantly.

As far as your concern about what others will think, I feel you. It's hard not to feel like you want to upgrade when others around you are upgrading or already living in huge homes. Just the other day our friend asked when we were planning on moving and I just nonchalantly said, "Oh I think we'll just pay this off in a few years and live here mortgage free." The look on his face was priceless. He's never mentioned it since. You may find that you start to set a precedent with your friends. They may think twice before they feel need to upgrade their homes, cars, etc. It only takes one person to break the mold.

clementine

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2013, 08:28:41 AM »
We also live in Denver and right now live in a studio apartment but whenever we buy and have kids we are planning on buying a townhome/ condo. Rather be able to pay cash or pay off the mortgage quickly. And, pick a better location with no car commuting necessary.

I think it is all about the mindset. Just because I live in an area with 'cheaper' larger homes doesn't mean I need it. People all over the world make due with small living quarters because that is all they can afford. And it is normal to live in a small place. I.e. New York City. It is funny just because you are in a different location (like Texas!) that you are abnormal to live in a smaller place.

Done by Forty

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #15 on: March 18, 2013, 08:45:32 AM »
You're in Seattle so just tell people you're trying to keep your ecological footprint low and revel in the eco-friendly bonus points you get!  If you can store a compost bucket in your bathroom, raise bees on the roof, and have a chicken or two on the balcony, you'll soon be not just the envy of all your friends but their eco-guru :)

I'm only half kidding.  Seriously, you can turn this into some serious bonus points, you just need to know how to spin it.  Or get new friends.  I know plenty of people in the Seattle area who would think what you are doing is cool.

This may be a good tactic for all Mustachians getting pressure from friends and family to buy a bigger home. 

ruthiegirl

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #16 on: March 18, 2013, 08:52:33 AM »
I have high hopes that family living in a small place is awesome!   

I am about to move my family of 6 into a 3 bedroom, 1 bath duplex (1100 sq ft).  We are moving to outdoor-fun/paradise, so I expect much of our summer will be spent in the mountains.  The kids will be in school during the rainy, cold winters and we plan on a membership to the local gym/indoor pool to burn off the kid energy on weekends and evenings.

Organization will be a challenge.  With 4 kids, thee are just a lot of coats and boots and backpacks.   Even with our minimalist approach, they is always a pile of shoes at the front door. 

Financially, we wil be able to live on 50% of our take-home pay and max out my husband's 401K.  And we will be dumping as much cash as we can into our savings/investments. 

Fingers crossed that this is a rocking good lifestyle, because we are committed for at least 2 years!  Even if it stinks, we will have to make it work. 


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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #17 on: March 18, 2013, 11:06:24 AM »
We're a family of 4 living in a 1100 sqf, 3 bedroom 2 bathroom apartment. Kids, ages 5 & 3, share a room, but as they are different genders, I assume that will need to change in a few years. I think it's a good amount of space, without being too much to handle in terms of cleaning, etc. My frustration is that, long after the mortgage is paid off, we'll still have those HOA fees!
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RebeccaE

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #18 on: March 18, 2013, 11:16:31 AM »
We also live in Denver and right now live in a studio apartment but whenever we buy and have kids we are planning on buying a townhome/ condo. Rather be able to pay cash or pay off the mortgage quickly. And, pick a better location with no car commuting necessary.

Be careful about the HOA fees! The only thing we hate about living in our condo is the ridiculous HOA. It includes everything except electricity, but in the winter it gets up to $450 with heating costs. We have a pool and gym that I do use pretty often. However, I get really jealous of people on here who can cut there costs down to $1,000-$2,000 a month. We can get close to that once we pay off our mortgage, but our HOA is really driving up our monthly expenses. I think I would gladly give up our pool and gym (since I run outside in the summer anyway) to get a lower HOA.

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #19 on: March 18, 2013, 11:37:11 AM »
Be careful about the HOA fees! The only thing we hate about living in our condo is the ridiculous HOA. It includes everything except electricity, but in the winter it gets up to $450 with heating costs. We have a pool and gym that I do use pretty often. However, I get really jealous of people on here who can cut there costs down to $1,000-$2,000 a month. We can get close to that once we pay off our mortgage, but our HOA is really driving up our monthly expenses. I think I would gladly give up our pool and gym (since I run outside in the summer anyway) to get a lower HOA.

+1

Our HOA fees are $1101 per month

We don't have any luxuries like a gym or pool or doorman or... pretty much anything. That's all deferred maintenance on a building from the 1920's that's needed several rounds of very expensive envelope work and a new boiler since we bought in 2003.
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WageSlave

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #20 on: March 18, 2013, 02:28:48 PM »
Random related question: for those of you with families in apartments, condos or other non-large living spaces, do you shop at Costco (or other bulk/wholesale clubs)?  Buying things in bulk requires a fair amount of storage space.  If you're already tight on space, where do you find the room to store (for example) a year's worth of toilet paper?

imustachemystash

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #21 on: March 18, 2013, 03:19:58 PM »
Wow! So many great replies! 
Random related question: for those of you with families in apartments, condos or other non-large living spaces, do you shop at Costco (or other bulk/wholesale clubs)?  Buying things in bulk requires a fair amount of storage space.  If you're already tight on space, where do you find the room to store (for example) a year's worth of toilet paper?

No.  I don't shop at Costco or buy in bulk because I don't have room to store it. 

When did it become necessary for everyone to have his or her own room?  Honestly! 
I agree!  I think sharing a room builds character and I'm hoping it will help my sons become closer and become better problem solvers.  Everyone I talk to acts as though I am crazy for living in this 2 bedroom condo!



Our HOA fees are $1101 per month

We don't have any luxuries like a gym or pool or doorman or... pretty much anything. That's all deferred maintenance on a building from the 1920's that's needed several rounds of very expensive envelope work and a new boiler since we bought in 2003.

Holy smokes!  Those HOA dues are really high!  I agree with you about the easy cleaning though.

I think it is all about the mindset. Just because I live in an area with 'cheaper' larger homes doesn't mean I need it. People all over the world make due with small living quarters because that is all they can afford. And it is normal to live in a small place. I.e. New York City. It is funny just because you are in a different location (like Texas!) that you are abnormal to live in a smaller place.

That is sooooo true.  I'm living in the Seattle suburbs and the size and fanciness of your house is a huge measure of your success in people's mindsets over here.  I've traveled to Japan and families were squeezed into tiny apartments and that was considered just fine.

ehgee

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #22 on: March 18, 2013, 04:54:22 PM »
Good ideas everyone.  The bedrooms are huge with a bathroom in each room and it's located in a great school district. I like the room divider idea.  One thing that I struggle with and need to come to terms with sometimes feeling that I am not as successful as others because I live in a condo.  I know it sounds superficial!  It bothers me when I tell people that I live in a condo and they look at me with pity or they ask me when we plan on moving to a bigger house.  My husband is successful in his career and makes a decent amount of money so our circle of friends/coworkers whom all have gorgeous houses expect us to be getting one too.  However, I would rather come to terms with these feelings of mine and be financially independent in ten years with my husband and enjoy our freedom.
Many of the richest people in the United States live in apartments or condos in New York City and San Francisco.  If anyone insults your choice of living arrangement, call them "provincial". And, of course, since you share walls with your neighbors, you share heating and cooling-- definite eco points!

1300sqft. is an absolutely enormous apartment, and bigger than many single family homes. Since the bedrooms in your condo are so large, definitely see if you can divide the bedroom if your sons want that. As someone not so far out of the teenage years myself, I definitely appreciated having a private bedroom.

clementine

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #23 on: March 18, 2013, 06:48:27 PM »
For the townhomes I am considering for the future the HOA is $250. I have thought about the fact that the fee will still be there long after my mortgage is gone. However, if I chose to buy a house instead (even if I was to find the same sized house which is harder to find homes 1000 sqft or less) wouldn't I end up with more maintenance costs anyway? Maybe not $250 but somewhat close? The townhomes just have fenced in yards/ decks in the back and for many of them the front is right on a park so there is almost zero maintenance outside. And, lower utilities for sharing walls etc. And, the fee covers a pool and small gym.  And just the fact that for the same location a townhome is almost half the price of the single family homes right next door...

What are your opinions on if townhomes/ condos are a good investment? I am always told by my real estate savvy parents and friends that you need to buy a 3 bedroom 2 bath single family home, or else you will just lose money in the long run.

N

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #24 on: March 18, 2013, 10:22:24 PM »
HOA fees can and will go up, just fyi. if you are looking into buying, definitely examine the associations budget and see what their reserves are, and their replacement plans for roof, boiler, tuckpointing, etc. Our are almost 400$ a month and we have low reserves and multiple foreclosures in the building, and those people end up not paying their assessments!

as to earlier question re: buying in bulk, we do shop at costco, but I dont buy a years worth of anything. we have a few closets that we use, plus a pantry, and I have seen people get creative with underbed storage, shelves over doors, etc.
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lhamo

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #25 on: March 19, 2013, 01:09:53 AM »
Random related question: for those of you with families in apartments, condos or other non-large living spaces, do you shop at Costco (or other bulk/wholesale clubs)?  Buying things in bulk requires a fair amount of storage space.  If you're already tight on space, where do you find the room to store (for example) a year's worth of toilet paper?

There is plenty of room to store things in an apartment/condo, even a small one, if you think creatively about what constitutes storage space.  Amy D had a great piece about this in her newsletter way back when.  The space under beds can be great for storing staples or household supplies, for example.  You can improvise end tables with cases of food covered by a decorative cloth.  Keeping other types of clutter out of the house can also maximize your storage space for more useful items and bulk buying that saves you money. 

In our case, we actually have tons of storage in our apartment and yes, we do buy stuff at costco and mule it across the pacific.  I saved close to $100 on a three month supply of cheese by buying it in bulk and carrying it over.  We also save tons on nuts, dried fruits, and spices (all expensive to purchase here).  And maple syrup (but that is 1-2 bottles a year).  And vitamins/supplements and basic health care products.  I probably spend close to $1000/year on Costco stockups twice a year, but that easily saves us $2000-3000 versus what we would spend for the same items here. 

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #26 on: March 19, 2013, 07:21:20 AM »
HOA fees can and will go up, just fyi. if you are looking into buying, definitely examine the associations budget and see what their reserves are, and their replacement plans for roof, boiler, tuckpointing, etc. Our are almost 400$ a month and we have low reserves and multiple foreclosures in the building, and those people end up not paying their assessments!

Exactly. Our HOA fees were under $500 p/m when we moved in in 2003 and, as I said before, are $1101 p/m now.
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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #27 on: March 19, 2013, 07:23:45 AM »
However, if I chose to buy a house instead (even if I was to find the same sized house which is harder to find homes 1000 sqft or less) wouldn't I end up with more maintenance costs anyway? Maybe not $250 but somewhat close?

This.

I've been puzzling about this question for awhile now. It seems like it should be cheaper to have the shared building - I mean, sure, the roof costs more than a single family house, but does it cost 12x more (the # of units in my building)? However, I find it hard to calculate what we're likely to spend on maintaining a house so I can do a fair comparison. Anyone out there done the math?
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arebelspy

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #28 on: March 19, 2013, 08:47:29 AM »
However, if I chose to buy a house instead (even if I was to find the same sized house which is harder to find homes 1000 sqft or less) wouldn't I end up with more maintenance costs anyway? Maybe not $250 but somewhat close?

This.

I've been puzzling about this question for awhile now. It seems like it should be cheaper to have the shared building - I mean, sure, the roof costs more than a single family house, but does it cost 12x more (the # of units in my building)? However, I find it hard to calculate what we're likely to spend on maintaining a house so I can do a fair comparison. Anyone out there done the math?

You're assuming efficiency of funds.

When you're the homeowner, you'll make sure you are cost efficient in repairs (getting multiple bids on a roof, for example).  The HOA needs to not only pay repairs (and they don't care about your money as much as you do), but also has much more overhead, expenses, and inefficiencies that you won't have.

Tough to calculate those unknown variables.
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RebeccaE

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #29 on: March 19, 2013, 02:06:23 PM »
However, if I chose to buy a house instead (even if I was to find the same sized house which is harder to find homes 1000 sqft or less) wouldn't I end up with more maintenance costs anyway? Maybe not $250 but somewhat close?

This.

I've been puzzling about this question for awhile now. It seems like it should be cheaper to have the shared building - I mean, sure, the roof costs more than a single family house, but does it cost 12x more (the # of units in my building)? However, I find it hard to calculate what we're likely to spend on maintaining a house so I can do a fair comparison. Anyone out there done the math?

You're assuming efficiency of funds.

When you're the homeowner, you'll make sure you are cost efficient in repairs (getting multiple bids on a roof, for example).  The HOA needs to not only pay repairs (and they don't care about your money as much as you do), but also has much more overhead, expenses, and inefficiencies that you won't have.

Tough to calculate those unknown variables.

So very true. We have so many differing opinions on our board that it takes forever to get anything done and when they do get things done sometimes they spend money frivolously. I have a hard time believing I would spend $450 maintaining a small home each month, but with a smaller hoa of $250 who knows?

tongzhi

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #30 on: March 19, 2013, 09:08:51 PM »
My husband is successful in his career and makes a decent amount of money so our circle of friends/coworkers whom all have gorgeous houses expect us to be getting one too.  However, I would rather come to terms with these feelings of mine and be financially independent in ten years with my husband and enjoy our freedom.

Sounds like some part of you is feeling like you're sacrificing something in order to achieve financial independence. If the concerns of your friends bothers you, then maybe it's because their concerns resonate with you. Do you feel unsuccessful because you're not living in a big house? Do you want a big house? Maybe the issue is dealing with your desire for a house, a desire that you're papering over and not addressing?

N

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #31 on: March 23, 2013, 04:14:06 PM »
However, if I chose to buy a house instead (even if I was to find the same sized house which is harder to find homes 1000 sqft or less) wouldn't I end up with more maintenance costs anyway? Maybe not $250 but somewhat close?

This.

I've been puzzling about this question for awhile now. It seems like it should be cheaper to have the shared building - I mean, sure, the roof costs more than a single family house, but does it cost 12x more (the # of units in my building)? However, I find it hard to calculate what we're likely to spend on maintaining a house so I can do a fair comparison. Anyone out there done the math?

You're assuming efficiency of funds.

When you're the homeowner, you'll make sure you are cost efficient in repairs (getting multiple bids on a roof, for example).  The HOA needs to not only pay repairs (and they don't care about your money as much as you do), but also has much more overhead, expenses, and inefficiencies that you won't have.

Tough to calculate those unknown variables.

So very true. We have so many differing opinions on our board that it takes forever to get anything done and when they do get things done sometimes they spend money frivolously. I have a hard time believing I would spend $450 maintaining a small home each month, but with a smaller hoa of $250 who knows?


Im on the board of my association. I helped do the budget. There are things in the budget that you would probably have to pay as a homeowner: water, heat,  garbage removal, building insurance, and maintenence and reserves for repairs (roof, boiler, tuckpointing, tree care), but also things that as a homeonwer you would do yourself and not pay for: yard care, snow removal, cleaning service for hallways and foyers, for instance, and then things that are for the building and associaton: management company, accountant, for example. THere is really no fat in our budget, but costs do go up, repairs continue to be needed, walls have to be repainted etc.

If you have other amenities: doorman, janitor or serviceman on call or onsite, pool or other extras like that, then of course those are extra.
We have a 20 unit condo association. there are 4 owners that participate on the board. In the last 13 years, NOT ONE other owner has stepped up to be on the board, hold an office, or contribute in ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM. I was the president for about 9 years. Most of those years I also was the treasurer and de facto manager.

If you live in a condo, you are dependent on your co owners in ways you might not anticipate. In the last 4 years, 4 owners have gone into foreclosure, making all the rest of our condos totally unsalable for the prices we paid for them (we all bought in around the same time, when it was rehabbed 13 years ago. We are now seeing those foreclosed units being bought by investors who are installing low rent tenants. These tenants do not have the same vested interest in keeping the building clean and cared for. We now have more than 50% renters, and now our building doesnt qualify for FHA loans, further reducing our potential buyers and restricting sellers.

I wish I had known or thought of a lot of these things before we bought into a new, small association.

aka, "startingfromthestart"

icefr

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #32 on: March 23, 2013, 08:44:02 PM »
We have a 20 unit condo association. there are 4 owners that participate on the board.

We are now seeing those foreclosed units being bought by investors who are installing low rent tenants. These tenants do not have the same vested interest in keeping the building clean and cared for. We now have more than 50% renters, and now our building doesnt qualify for FHA loans, further reducing our potential buyers and restricting sellers.

My condo is also in a small building. It is a self-run board, like yours. Mine, however, has a strongly enforced rental cap. Only two units may be rented at any given time, with a waiting list, unless you have financial hardship and are unable to sell (in an effort to prevent foreclosures and short sales). This keeps it at 75% owner occupied, at a minimum. Renters and their lease terms must be approved by the board before a lease begins and all leases must be for a year long term, to reduce turnover.

There are certainly a lot of politics involved in a self-run HOA and I think it would have been good to have spoken to people on the HOA before I bought, but that probably wouldn't have changed my decision on this specific place. This is sufficient for my needs now and I may end up running for a position on the board at some point in another few years, if I'm still here.

Bigote

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #33 on: March 24, 2013, 04:46:05 AM »
We have a 20 unit condo association. there are 4 owners that participate on the board. In the last 13 years, NOT ONE other owner has stepped up to be on the board, hold an office, or contribute in ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM. I was the president for about 9 years. Most of those years I also was the treasurer and de facto manager.

Sounds familiar.  I live in a condo in NYC, its 9 unit self-managed.  I was the president for 6 years meaning I was the building manager and played GC any time we needed to get work done.  It was a pain, but I learned a lot that will help me in my new house (I'm moving to the 'burbs in a couple months).

Like you, we got no takers for board positions.  We used to have to actively recruit them.  Even though other than Pres/Treas no one had any real duties.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2013, 04:48:15 AM by Bigote »

Bigote

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Re: Does anyone else with a family live in a condo?
« Reply #34 on: March 24, 2013, 04:47:29 AM »
To the OP's Costco question, it is the main reason I've not become a member - and I live in a large condo (2100 sq ft).

One of the things I look forward to in moving to the burbs is a Costco membership.  In fact, every aspect of life will be cheaper except for property taxes and transportation.