Author Topic: Overheard at Work 2  (Read 745737 times)

six-car-habit

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1950 on: December 09, 2019, 06:02:34 PM »
In regards to both of the Bremerton properties listed by SwordGuy.  I'm familiar with both neighborhoods.  The house on Broadway is at least close to the local college, and might make for a good rental. I would not say it is "downtown" like the ad claims, but you could get downtown in 15 minutes if you walk fast. It might be reasonable for a Seattle commuter by Ferry.

***"As for the street view, lots of areas start that way and then gentrify over time as more and more folks with resources move into the area and fix up their homes.   The early adopters often make a killing on appreciation. "***
 
The house on 2nd Street is in a crap neighborhood, nowhere near 'downtown' or even a grocery store. If you fancy a neighborhood where houses are 10 feet apart, where the homes are mostly older mobiles, manufactured homes, and cheaply built - and/or old + neglected "stick built" homes, where there are many brokedown cars in driveways, junk filled yards, and Lots of Grown men riding BMX bicycles wearing backpacks [ meth user or dealer ] - you might like it.
  That 2nd Street neighborhood will never Gentrify, its been sketchy for decades and will remain that way.

 All that said, there are some very nice neighborhoods in that town, houses with architectural appeal, etc - just not the ones/areas that were picked as examples.

Let's assume that the substantial savings ($10-12k) on property taxes and insurance between a $200k house and a $800k house are poured into the $200k house over a ten year period of time, as is the difference between the required down payments.   So, we're looking at $130-150k worth of improvements to the smaller house.   Let's assume that the smaller house doesn't appreciate in value, it just keeps pace with inflation.   

At the end of 10 years, the person buying the $200k house will have half a million dollars in their stash of index funds, given historical average rates of return (less inflation) just from investing the P&I savings from the smaller house.  Even more if they didn't fix the place up so much.    Plus, if the economy tanked and they lost their job, they would be more likely not to lose their house.    They would be much more able to just up and leave for a different area if they wanted to without the weight of a big mortgage payment on their budget. 

If they were maxing out their 401K in addition to the P&I savings on the mortgage, they could be FIRED in 10 years.
If they couldn't afford to invest at all with the bigger mortgage, the now could do so very successfully in the cheaper house.

For the right person in the right circumstances, this could be a really good financial move.   

PS:   To hear tell from middle class white folks in my area, the black part of town is nothing but a crime-ridden cesspool of drugs and violence.   And yet I drive thru those neighborhoods and many of them are very well kept up, well maintained, and appear to be fine places to live.   Working class neighborhoods tend to have better neighbors, they are more likely to go out of their way to help a neighbor out.   I check the crime reports for different neighborhoods, affluent, working class and poor, and there's really not that big a difference between them.

PPS:   There are plenty of drug dealers in more affluent areas too.  They can just afford to be more discrete, so they don't stand out as much in the crowd.

I get SwordGuy's point of the savings and stash building possible.  But i'm saying that if a person buys that 2nd Ave house, they are going to be grimacing each time they drive through their neighborhood.  Looking to see which pile of junk in their neighbors yard has grown, hoping the rats stay on the other side of the dilapidated fence. They'll often be worried about having their house broken into. They'll get tired of the yelling late at night by the drunks down the block. --It's just not a nice place versus the well kept, well maintained, friendly neighbor, but verbally downtrodden, area SG is giving as an example.

   What is the sense in living in relative squalor [ for america ] with the idea of 'someday' moving out >10 years in the future , or FIREing in a neighborhood they have grown to resent ?

 Yes there are drug dealers/users supplying affluent areas also, but they are generally not crusing around at 30 yrs old on a BMX bike, casing out the properties, they ride past for future theft. I imagine there is also a prevalence of people living in "the hood" to underreport thefts, and fistfights, and drug deals.

Dicey

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1951 on: December 09, 2019, 07:22:39 PM »
What I object to is folks telling others that a path doesn't exist when what's really true is that they themselves don't want to take that path.
[Snip]
What I object to is someone who thinks a path exists when what's really true is that they themselves live in a situation that doesn't exist everywhere else. Not everyone has DIY skills, the cash reserves available to live in two places while they rehab a piece of shit house, the ready cash to do so, or the ability to homeschool. Nor should they.

You do you, because you're great at it, but please don't be so unequivocal that everyone who doesn't have your opportunities and skill set is doing something wrong.


AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1952 on: December 10, 2019, 12:17:40 AM »
What I object to is folks telling others that a path doesn't exist when what's really true is that they themselves don't want to take that path.
[Snip]
What I object to is someone who thinks a path exists when what's really true is that they themselves live in a situation that doesn't exist everywhere else. Not everyone has DIY skills, the cash reserves available to live in two places while they rehab a piece of shit house, the ready cash to do so, or the ability to homeschool. Nor should they.

You do you, because you're great at it, but please don't be so unequivocal that everyone who doesn't have your opportunities and skill set is doing something wrong.

All of this comes down to one simple truth - no one is an expert on life. They may be an expert on their OWN life, but that differs from every other life on the planet because of ability, circumstance, opportunity and plain old luck. All you can do is offer what worked for you, and all you can do is take advice that worked for someone else and try to shape it to your life.

Imma

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1953 on: December 10, 2019, 01:42:20 AM »
In regards to both of the Bremerton properties listed by SwordGuy.  I'm familiar with both neighborhoods.  The house on Broadway is at least close to the local college, and might make for a good rental. I would not say it is "downtown" like the ad claims, but you could get downtown in 15 minutes if you walk fast. It might be reasonable for a Seattle commuter by Ferry.

***"As for the street view, lots of areas start that way and then gentrify over time as more and more folks with resources move into the area and fix up their homes.   The early adopters often make a killing on appreciation. "***
 
The house on 2nd Street is in a crap neighborhood, nowhere near 'downtown' or even a grocery store. If you fancy a neighborhood where houses are 10 feet apart, where the homes are mostly older mobiles, manufactured homes, and cheaply built - and/or old + neglected "stick built" homes, where there are many brokedown cars in driveways, junk filled yards, and Lots of Grown men riding BMX bicycles wearing backpacks [ meth user or dealer ] - you might like it.
  That 2nd Street neighborhood will never Gentrify, its been sketchy for decades and will remain that way.

 All that said, there are some very nice neighborhoods in that town, houses with architectural appeal, etc - just not the ones/areas that were picked as examples.

Let's assume that the substantial savings ($10-12k) on property taxes and insurance between a $200k house and a $800k house are poured into the $200k house over a ten year period of time, as is the difference between the required down payments.   So, we're looking at $130-150k worth of improvements to the smaller house.   Let's assume that the smaller house doesn't appreciate in value, it just keeps pace with inflation.   

At the end of 10 years, the person buying the $200k house will have half a million dollars in their stash of index funds, given historical average rates of return (less inflation) just from investing the P&I savings from the smaller house.  Even more if they didn't fix the place up so much.    Plus, if the economy tanked and they lost their job, they would be more likely not to lose their house.    They would be much more able to just up and leave for a different area if they wanted to without the weight of a big mortgage payment on their budget. 

If they were maxing out their 401K in addition to the P&I savings on the mortgage, they could be FIRED in 10 years.
If they couldn't afford to invest at all with the bigger mortgage, the now could do so very successfully in the cheaper house.

For the right person in the right circumstances, this could be a really good financial move.   

PS:   To hear tell from middle class white folks in my area, the black part of town is nothing but a crime-ridden cesspool of drugs and violence.   And yet I drive thru those neighborhoods and many of them are very well kept up, well maintained, and appear to be fine places to live.   Working class neighborhoods tend to have better neighbors, they are more likely to go out of their way to help a neighbor out.   I check the crime reports for different neighborhoods, affluent, working class and poor, and there's really not that big a difference between them.

PPS:   There are plenty of drug dealers in more affluent areas too.  They can just afford to be more discrete, so they don't stand out as much in the crowd.

I get SwordGuy's point of the savings and stash building possible.  But i'm saying that if a person buys that 2nd Ave house, they are going to be grimacing each time they drive through their neighborhood.  Looking to see which pile of junk in their neighbors yard has grown, hoping the rats stay on the other side of the dilapidated fence. They'll often be worried about having their house broken into. They'll get tired of the yelling late at night by the drunks down the block. --It's just not a nice place versus the well kept, well maintained, friendly neighbor, but verbally downtrodden, area SG is giving as an example.

   What is the sense in living in relative squalor [ for america ] with the idea of 'someday' moving out >10 years in the future , or FIREing in a neighborhood they have grown to resent ?

 Yes there are drug dealers/users supplying affluent areas also, but they are generally not crusing around at 30 yrs old on a BMX bike, casing out the properties, they ride past for future theft. I imagine there is also a prevalence of people living in "the hood" to underreport thefts, and fistfights, and drug deals.

Ah well I'm in a neighbourhood that was never going to gentrify and would always remain a dump. Until it did. I think all neighbourhoods in my city have more or less gentrified now.

Doesn't mean there's no crime at all anymore (on the contrary, organised drug crime is a real issue) but the crime isn't on the streets anymore. As an ordinary person I can walk around in this city without ever being confronted with violence or drug dealing. Some of my neighbours still have dilapidated homes and they think loud latenight parties are normal, but now the area is safe those aren't big issues. And it turns out that most people, including the ones who have been here for decades, are decent people.

Sibley

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1954 on: December 10, 2019, 08:10:10 AM »
Consider a car loan: I work with dozens of people who buy new cars every couple years, presumably rolling over their loans.  This seemed silly to me because I didn't understand why someone would pay five figures for heated seats or new rims, when their existing car does 95% of the new one.  But if you only look at payments, you might think it's worth it. (Of course, it isn't)

So really it comes down to the fact that people don't save the capital to buy an asset like a car, so they're always playing this psychological financing game with themselves.

I can't tell you how many people I know think that paying off a car loan means that it's time to start shopping for a new car.  I guess that's better than rolling negative equity into a new loan, but come on man.

Apparently, the universe has decided that whenever I pay off a car loan, it's time to total the car. Never mind that I had every intention of keeping the car!

TVRodriguez

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1955 on: December 10, 2019, 08:33:04 AM »
What I object to is folks telling others that a path doesn't exist when what's really true is that they themselves don't want to take that path.
[Snip]
What I object to is someone who thinks a path exists when what's really true is that they themselves live in a situation that doesn't exist everywhere else. Not everyone has DIY skills, the cash reserves available to live in two places while they rehab a piece of shit house, the ready cash to do so, or the ability to homeschool. Nor should they.

You do you, because you're great at it, but please don't be so unequivocal that everyone who doesn't have your opportunities and skill set is doing something wrong.

I skimmed over the back-and-forth on this point, and I didn't read @SwordGuy 's posts that way.  I read them saying that there is another option, be it unpalatable to you or not.  I didn't read them as if they said that other options are wrong, just that they exist, and to deny that they exist is the thing he believes to be wrong.

/unsolicited opinion

SwordGuy

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1956 on: December 10, 2019, 08:55:21 AM »
What I object to is folks telling others that a path doesn't exist when what's really true is that they themselves don't want to take that path.
[Snip]
What I object to is someone who thinks a path exists when what's really true is that they themselves live in a situation that doesn't exist everywhere else. Not everyone has DIY skills, the cash reserves available to live in two places while they rehab a piece of shit house, the ready cash to do so, or the ability to homeschool. Nor should they.

You do you, because you're great at it, but please don't be so unequivocal that everyone who doesn't have your opportunities and skill set is doing something wrong.

I skimmed over the back-and-forth on this point, and I didn't read @SwordGuy 's posts that way.  I read them saying that there is another option, be it unpalatable to you or not.  I didn't read them as if they said that other options are wrong, just that they exist, and to deny that they exist is the thing he believes to be wrong.

/unsolicited opinion

Thank you, @TVRodriguez , that is EXACTLY the point I was trying to make.    My apologies to others for not being clear enough.

honeybbq

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1957 on: December 10, 2019, 09:15:54 AM »



Or, perhaps, it was just a typo by a careless realtor's assistant or homeowner who posted it for sale?    Who typed 2288000 instead of 288000 and didn't proofread their work carefully? 


You think a mansion on the water in Madison park is $200K? Really? It's clear you don't know this area and are just being argumentative.

insufFIcientfunds

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1958 on: December 10, 2019, 09:43:09 AM »
soooooooo, did anyone over hear anything at work today?

It's really quite in my office today.

DadJokes

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1959 on: December 10, 2019, 10:15:28 AM »
soooooooo, did anyone over hear anything at work today?

It's really quite in my office today.

CW: Come eat lunch with us! It's good for team-building...
Me: No thanks, I try to keep my lunch to 15 minutes so that I can catch the early train and get more family time. I only get about 1.5 hours with my kid on workdays.
CW: Wanting to spend time with your family will fade.

Wanting to eat out and more interested in spending time at work than with family? I'll pass.

jinga nation

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1960 on: December 10, 2019, 10:18:38 AM »
because @insufFIcientfunds asked:

Govt employee in next row stated she is using funds from her TSP (retirement plan) to pay off her truck. Also she's looking at the website for the upcoming Tesla Model Y because she needs an SUV. (Lady is older, single, with no kids.)

She asked how to spell Tesla. She thought it was "Tesslar/Tessler", despite her stating she's been seeing them on the roads daily for a few years.

insufFIcientfunds

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1961 on: December 10, 2019, 10:26:24 AM »
WOW! Thanks guys. I got a good chuckle out of those!

bluebelle

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1962 on: December 10, 2019, 10:40:43 AM »
because @insufFIcientfunds asked:

Govt employee in next row stated she is using funds from her TSP (retirement plan) to pay off her truck. Also she's looking at the website for the upcoming Tesla Model Y because she needs an SUV. (Lady is older, single, with no kids.)

She asked how to spell Tesla. She thought it was "Tesslar/Tessler", despite her stating she's been seeing them on the roads daily for a few years.
this is so sad.....she's interested in buying a car that she can't spell.....and it's not like Tesla isn't in the news often enough, and there are enough of them on the road......while I get some amusement out of this and get to be judgy, it's sad that someone 'older' doesn't have the sense/intelligence/wherewithal to avoid this trap.

TVRodriguez

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1963 on: December 10, 2019, 11:41:55 AM »
Consider a car loan: I work with dozens of people who buy new cars every couple years, presumably rolling over their loans.  This seemed silly to me because I didn't understand why someone would pay five figures for heated seats or new rims, when their existing car does 95% of the new one.  But if you only look at payments, you might think it's worth it. (Of course, it isn't)

So really it comes down to the fact that people don't save the capital to buy an asset like a car, so they're always playing this psychological financing game with themselves.

I can't tell you how many people I know think that paying off a car loan means that it's time to start shopping for a new car.  I guess that's better than rolling negative equity into a new loan, but come on man.

Apparently, the universe has decided that whenever I pay off a car loan, it's time to total the car. Never mind that I had every intention of keeping the car!

That sucks--lots of bad drivers around you or maybe it's your subconscious pushing you to get a new car and pushing you into accidents.  Just kidding.  Glad you have been able to walk away from the totaled cars!

Sibley

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1964 on: December 10, 2019, 12:53:44 PM »
Consider a car loan: I work with dozens of people who buy new cars every couple years, presumably rolling over their loans.  This seemed silly to me because I didn't understand why someone would pay five figures for heated seats or new rims, when their existing car does 95% of the new one.  But if you only look at payments, you might think it's worth it. (Of course, it isn't)

So really it comes down to the fact that people don't save the capital to buy an asset like a car, so they're always playing this psychological financing game with themselves.

I can't tell you how many people I know think that paying off a car loan means that it's time to start shopping for a new car.  I guess that's better than rolling negative equity into a new loan, but come on man.

Apparently, the universe has decided that whenever I pay off a car loan, it's time to total the car. Never mind that I had every intention of keeping the car!

That sucks--lots of bad drivers around you or maybe it's your subconscious pushing you to get a new car and pushing you into accidents.  Just kidding.  Glad you have been able to walk away from the totaled cars!

The first one was barely an accident - I got stuck in a snowbank due to black ice, then another car hit the same ice and then hit me. Damaged the frame. I'm sure they stripped the car and made a bunch selling the parts, it was just the back end that was damaged. Engine and most non-frame parts were fine.

2nd time was just a few months ago. Car was parked in the street, got 7+ inches of rain in less than 6 hours, and the street turned into a river. The water rose so quickly that it was too late to do anything - trying to move it would have flooded it worse than it already was. I checked the car the next day and just called the insurance company then pulled everything out. You can't really fix that amount of water on the electronics. At least the house didn't flood - I helped a neighbor do some clean up in his garage, he lost a ton of stuff.

Gerard

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1965 on: December 10, 2019, 01:39:18 PM »
She asked how to spell Tesla. She thought it was "Tesslar/Tessler"

Maybe she plans to do a lot of Tessling.

Sugaree

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1966 on: December 10, 2019, 02:20:01 PM »
Consider a car loan: I work with dozens of people who buy new cars every couple years, presumably rolling over their loans.  This seemed silly to me because I didn't understand why someone would pay five figures for heated seats or new rims, when their existing car does 95% of the new one.  But if you only look at payments, you might think it's worth it. (Of course, it isn't)

So really it comes down to the fact that people don't save the capital to buy an asset like a car, so they're always playing this psychological financing game with themselves.

I can't tell you how many people I know think that paying off a car loan means that it's time to start shopping for a new car.  I guess that's better than rolling negative equity into a new loan, but come on man.

Apparently, the universe has decided that whenever I pay off a car loan, it's time to total the car. Never mind that I had every intention of keeping the car!

That sucks--lots of bad drivers around you or maybe it's your subconscious pushing you to get a new car and pushing you into accidents.  Just kidding.  Glad you have been able to walk away from the totaled cars!

The first one was barely an accident - I got stuck in a snowbank due to black ice, then another car hit the same ice and then hit me. Damaged the frame. I'm sure they stripped the car and made a bunch selling the parts, it was just the back end that was damaged. Engine and most non-frame parts were fine.

2nd time was just a few months ago. Car was parked in the street, got 7+ inches of rain in less than 6 hours, and the street turned into a river. The water rose so quickly that it was too late to do anything - trying to move it would have flooded it worse than it already was. I checked the car the next day and just called the insurance company then pulled everything out. You can't really fix that amount of water on the electronics. At least the house didn't flood - I helped a neighbor do some clean up in his garage, he lost a ton of stuff.

That sucks.  I paid off a car last February.  Two weeks after it was paid off, literally the day that I got the title in the mail from the state, a tornado hit my neighborhood.  The car wasn't totaled then thankfully, but my husband hit a slick spot on the road a few months later and ran it into a concrete culvert.  That bent the frame and set off the airbags.  At least with all the tornado recovery, I hadn't gotten around to dropping full coverage insurance on it yet....

Just Joe

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1967 on: December 10, 2019, 03:32:24 PM »
I got an SPCA dog.   The shelters here have pitbull mixes, husky mixes, cane corso, and other agressive breeds.  The few that arent' were actually flown in from another country (I am not supporting killing local animals and flying in out of country ones), and a few with special "quirks" which is why they are given up. 
The spay and neuter program has been very successful around here, that is evident.

What the cost with my dog is -- ok, maybe $1000 all in for adoption fee, vaccinations, crate, toys and food (and a private trainer sessions because of those "quirks").

What the higher cost is?   
It is very difficult to have a dog without a car.


I can leave her at home to run errands, or take her with me in a car.   We can't bike to all the best walking spots. I need a car to take her to the vet.

I also can't rent a place around here if I have a dog, so locked into higher cost place away from apartment buildings and more into suburbia where a bike or car is needed.

Look for a bicycle kid trailer. Put your dog inside and zip/velcro closed. They get a breeze and can look out the window just like in a car.

Goldielocks

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1968 on: December 10, 2019, 04:08:12 PM »
I just picked Seattle because I've seen many comments in the press and from people in the area about how high the property costs are.   

I didn't pick NYC or San Francisco because those are way more expensive than most areas in the country.

As for "most people" can't do it, most people don't try.    It takes work, knowledge and time.   Luck just makes that happen faster.
As I pointed out, over 1800 people in the last year bought living quarters for less than $200k in the Seattle area.  Some had to spend money to fix them up right away, others could have waited awhile.

You only need one house.   :)    Seems to me that the potential to save $200k to $500k on one's living quarters would be worth a fair bit of effort.
Citation, please?
The Zillow link I posted above shows the count of houses sold in the $50k to $200k price range.
Respectfully, that data is absolute garbage. I don't know Bremerton, but I've lived in the greater Seattle area my whole life and have been actively monitoring the sub $450k market for several years hoping to find something that feels like a decent deal. I've toured dozens of homes and condos in that time and can definitely say that nearly all those listings are not actual open market sales (sold for $130k a month ago but "zestimate" is $900k, riiight). All you have to do is flip the "sold" filter to "for sale" and see what's left within 90 minutes of Seattle below $200k: tiny parcels of marginal land that will be challenging to build on, mobile homes (often in senior only communities) or houseboats on leased land/water, and a few teardowns on the very edges of that area.

There are plenty of smart, industrious, well off people with high risk tolerances in the Seattle market desperate for any whiff of a good deal. This is not an inefficient market. Anything truly under priced still goes quickly.

Ok, I flipped it from "sold" to "for sale".   76 properties for sale.       Some may be too small for you but might be just right for others.   Some might be expandable over time, like my parent's and prior generations used to do.  Some are condos.
Some are in horrible condition, others appear to be in excellent condition.

You only need one.

FYI -- if you look at the pricing info tab on a property it will often list how often it has been offered for sale and at what price.  It will show how many days the property has been on the market.  There are ones on the market as I write this that have been available for months.   One of the ones I mentioned previously had been on the market gobs of times over the last decade and didn't sell.

So, again, the properties are there, for sale, and some of them might be more than suitable for a mustachian family.

Of that 76, quite a few listings are "We will build this home on the land you provide and develop".  That home price is $170k+... plus land, plus city connections / development, plus landscaping, plus appliances, etc.

I would have thought Zillow would filter out the "homes" that are just ads by contractors.

SwordGuy,  you make an excellent argument to people to look around to buy less home, and save a lot of money by doing so.  Example, you second Bremerton "house" is actually a 25 year old mobile home.   What's wrong with saving money by living in an older mobile home that is fixed up nicely?

I think pulling from Zillow and insisting that these homes are available is a bit delusional, and your valid points are getting knocked down because of that.

mm1970

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1969 on: December 10, 2019, 04:25:47 PM »
I havenít looked at the specific properties, but stuff thatís been on the market many times and for long times without selling is not likely a good deal.  It probably has major issues that are preventing serious buyers at that price point.
I've seen this in my neighborhood too, not Seattle.

If homes have gone on sale over and over for years or decades, they have already been priced about $200k high. They are rentals where the owner is trying to cash in. And they paid next to nothing but instead of selling a $1M house for that, they want 1.25 million.

The other things that I see, mentioned above, is sales to family. Some in cases of divorce. Look this house was only $324k? No that's Peters house, he and his wife split, he bought her out.

The final thing I've seen, once, literal teardown.

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1970 on: December 10, 2019, 05:42:10 PM »
Of that 76, quite a few listings are "We will build this home on the land you provide and develop".  That home price is $170k+... plus land, plus city connections / development, plus landscaping, plus appliances, etc.

I would have thought Zillow would filter out the "homes" that are just ads by contractors.

SwordGuy,  you make an excellent argument to people to look around to buy less home, and save a lot of money by doing so.  Example, you second Bremerton "house" is actually a 25 year old mobile home.   What's wrong with saving money by living in an older mobile home that is fixed up nicely?

I think pulling from Zillow and insisting that these homes are available is a bit delusional, and your valid points are getting knocked down because of that.

There absolutely are incorrectly coded items on Zillow.  No contest.    Gobs of them.   

I'm not insisting that **ALL** the listings on Zillow are worthwhile.   No one should walk away from this discussion believing that Zillow is 100% accurate.

It is **more** accurate for sold data than it is on "for sale" data.   So, let's make some assumptions on the data quality and what that means.

Please note that I'm discussing actual transfers of property, not offers for sale in the next section.  It's an important distinction.

I posted a link for a search for 1+ bedroom, 1+ bathroom living quarters that were sold in the last year, from $50k to $200k in price.

Over 1800 showed up as having been sold.

Let's suppose that Zillow's data quality on those sales and that property is inaccurate on the order of 50%. 
That's right, we're assuming that 50% of the items in that search criteria don't really qualify.

So, instead of over 1800 qualified properties sold in the last year, that would get us down to 900.

You only need one home to live in.    Those looking for a home in the Seattle area could have been one of those 900 buyers.

Let's assume the data is 75% inaccurate.   Now we're down to only 450 qualifying properties that were sold in the last year.

Again, you only need one home to live in.   You'll have to work harder or be a mite luckier than for 900, but 450 buyers did it.   Why not  one of us?

Now let's talk about the "for sale" portion.  There are inaccuracies there, too.   

I've slogged thru hundreds of properties online in my area and realized that a goodly number of them are miscoded and aren't of interest.   Some of them look good (or at least plausible) online so I go look at them in person.   I've walked away from scores of properties that either didn't measure up to the online description or the online description was too useless to be sure one way or the other.

And yet I've still bought 9 distressed homes for below market value.   It was work to find them.  Two of them I was particularly interested in took several years each.   I found more than 9 that would be suitable, but sometimes I got outbid, sometimes I didn't have the money to buy all I found.

There are documented real estate searching techniques that real estate investors use to find properties to at below market.    Will they work for every single person in every single market at every single point in time?   HELL NO!

The one thing I can absolutely guarantee is that if you don't try using them they won't work for you.

The Real Estate and Landlording sub-forum has a  sticky-thread with books and websites to read.   Your local library will probably have some of them.   

With time and persistence, and possibly a touch of luck, folks might find much more affordable living quarters.   There will be trade-offs that will be fine for some and not for others.  Okey-dokey.

I'll close with an observation on the nature of this discussion.   The objections to even trying this bear a whole lot of resemblance to those folks who refuse to try FIRE principles.   Think about it.

Maybe someone is right about their specific real estate market.  Maybe it won't work in (fill in the blank real estate market name here) at (fill in the time period here).   Could be.   Then again, it might.   

For someone motivated enough by the chance to save tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands, I say it's worth a try.  You might look at hundreds of properties online and scores in person before you find a property that's right for you -- and you still might be outbid.    Then again, you might not be outbid and save a bundle.

If nothing else, it might save you a bit on one of those expensive properties.  After you look at a four dozen houses that need work you start to learn what to look for and what it would cost to fix it.   That's useful knowledge!
That knowledge might also help a friend or family member in a more suitable market save a bundle.  That's good too.

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1971 on: December 10, 2019, 05:44:46 PM »
I havenít looked at the specific properties, but stuff thatís been on the market many times and for long times without selling is not likely a good deal.  It probably has major issues that are preventing serious buyers at that price point.
I've seen this in my neighborhood too, not Seattle.

If homes have gone on sale over and over for years or decades, they have already been priced about $200k high. They are rentals where the owner is trying to cash in. And they paid next to nothing but instead of selling a $1M house for that, they want 1.25 million.

After being chastised so strongly for suggesting that it might be possible to find living quarters at much lower prices, the irony of someone observing that the prices I've found might be too high makes me chuckle.  :)

OtherJen

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1972 on: December 10, 2019, 08:32:59 PM »
soooooooo, did anyone over hear anything at work today?

It's really quite in my office today.

CW: Come eat lunch with us! It's good for team-building...
Me: No thanks, I try to keep my lunch to 15 minutes so that I can catch the early train and get more family time. I only get about 1.5 hours with my kid on workdays.
CW: Wanting to spend time with your family will fade.

Wanting to eat out and more interested in spending time at work than with family? I'll pass.

I wish people didnít buy mindlessly into the ďbuy a big house/get married/have a bunch of kids/spend way too much time at workĒ trope. I encounter many adults who seem to want nothing more than to escape the life theyíve created for themselves and act like their lives just happened to them. Seriously, people, wake up and make up your own minds about major life decisions.

DadJokes, I think itís lovely that you prioritize time with your kid. I wish my dad had done that.

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1973 on: December 10, 2019, 08:46:08 PM »
I havenít looked at the specific properties, but stuff thatís been on the market many times and for long times without selling is not likely a good deal.  It probably has major issues that are preventing serious buyers at that price point.
I've seen this in my neighborhood too, not Seattle.

If homes have gone on sale over and over for years or decades, they have already been priced about $200k high. They are rentals where the owner is trying to cash in. And they paid next to nothing but instead of selling a $1M house for that, they want 1.25 million.

After being chastised so strongly for suggesting that it might be possible to find living quarters at much lower prices, the irony of someone observing that the prices I've found might be too high makes me chuckle.  :)

Just because something is cheap doesnít make it a good deal.  I thought your point was that there were good deals on cheap and habitable homes.  But forgive me, itís been a drawn out multilateral discussion.  What was your main point?  I have a feeling we all fundamentally agree more than out nitpicking of specifics would suggest

Wrenchturner

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1974 on: December 10, 2019, 09:21:57 PM »
I encounter many adults who seem to want nothing more than to escape the life theyíve created for themselves and act like their lives just happened to them. Seriously, people, wake up and make up your own minds about major life decisions.

Well said.

Imma

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1975 on: December 11, 2019, 12:33:05 AM »
I'm from the same area as Imma, and vacation homes in general cannot be registered as official address.

Our bank offered us 6.5x my income as mortgage; I refused and didn't want to take out more than 4.5x my income. I knew my income was going to go up and husband would be starting to work soon. He did, and then our mortgage was just 2.5x our income. We bought a home in a small village, that needed a lot of renovation we couldn't do ourselves, so we paid out around Ä50,000 for renovations, and received around Ä10,000 in subsidies for those renovations :)

Our kitchen extension (there when we bought the house) has now started to leak, so we will have more renovations coming up, this time with a proper architect to maximize any changes we (need to) make, and make this house liveable for the next 40 years. I don't want to leave the village, having settled in, and properties that are coming on to the market right now are all fixer-uppers for at least Ä300,000. My commute (by electric bike) is only 30 minutes, and as commutes are a waste of time, I don't want to move further out.

Yeah the market is insane these days :( Just the other day I saw a tiny one bedroom apartment in my neighbourhood for sale for Ä200k. Most people haven't paid that for a house in this area, we certainly didn't! The building is awful, the kind of place where all the balconies look like a dump and you'd pay about Ä800 in mortgage and service costs for the privilege of living there + bills, taxes etc. The average net income is 2100/month in our country and this isn't a HCOL city. Renting from a private landlord would be even more expensive.

I wish more cities would be a little more laid back about vacation homes. A friend of mine lived in one for a couple of years and it was lovely. I think they registered at their parents house (which can affect people negatively financially sometimes, it can be risky) and they lived in a really nice 2 bedroom place in a corner of a park, surrounded by trees. It was almost like living in the middle of the woods.

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1976 on: December 11, 2019, 06:02:45 AM »
@Imma, I don't understand about "vacation homes" and not allowing people to live in them year round.  Why not allow it?  Is there something different about them?

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1977 on: December 11, 2019, 06:35:33 AM »
I don't understand about "vacation homes" and not allowing people to live in them year round.  Why not allow it?  Is there something different about them?
These houses don't have a residential destination, just a recreational destination. Nothing really different about them and most of them are perfectly suited to live in. It is just not allowed. The idea is that people who recreate spend more money than people who live, because they are on a holiday. Also often these houses are in more vulnerable environments like woods and the building demands for recreational houses are less strict. There may be more reasons, most of them tax related I would guess. I think this is a thing in the Netherland only, not in other countries in Europe. And municipalities can decide to allow it after all, but most donít.

It is also not very easy to get permission to live in a tiny house or a trailer in the Netherlands, probably for more or less the same reasons.

Wrenchturner

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1978 on: December 11, 2019, 06:59:00 AM »
I know someone who lives on a houseboat in Yellowknife.  Think a regular house on a floating platform.  He doesn't have to pay property taxes, but he has to shit in a bag.  Other than that it sounds like an awesome deal, he's pretty self sufficient out there with solar and propane.

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1979 on: December 11, 2019, 08:21:18 AM »
Today we ate cake at work for my second last day (because tomorrow is a chaos day at work with achristmas food all day). I have told my coworkers I am taking a whole year off (but it is FIRE). My boss told me again that taking a year off is pure luxury. She said she couldn't do it, because she is too much in debt, which I think means mortgage debt. And she presumed everybody else was in the same debt situation. Most of my coworkers are 40+ and my boss must be approaching 50.

Wrenchturner

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1980 on: December 11, 2019, 10:14:05 AM »
Today we ate cake at work for my second last day (because tomorrow is a chaos day at work with achristmas food all day). I have told my coworkers I am taking a whole year off (but it is FIRE). My boss told me again that taking a year off is pure luxury. She said she couldn't do it, because she is too much in debt, which I think means mortgage debt. And she presumed everybody else was in the same debt situation. Most of my coworkers are 40+ and my boss must be approaching 50.

Congratulations!  Maybe your boss will learn something from this.

techwiz

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1981 on: December 11, 2019, 10:16:03 AM »
Today we ate cake at work for my second last day (because tomorrow is a chaos day at work with achristmas food all day). I have told my coworkers I am taking a whole year off (but it is FIRE). My boss told me again that taking a year off is pure luxury. She said she couldn't do it, because she is too much in debt, which I think means mortgage debt. And she presumed everybody else was in the same debt situation. Most of my coworkers are 40+ and my boss must be approaching 50.

Does cake taste better when you know tomorrow is your last day at work?  Congratulations!

Linea_Norway

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1982 on: December 11, 2019, 11:19:15 AM »
Today we ate cake at work for my second last day (because tomorrow is a chaos day at work with achristmas food all day). I have told my coworkers I am taking a whole year off (but it is FIRE). My boss told me again that taking a year off is pure luxury. She said she couldn't do it, because she is too much in debt, which I think means mortgage debt. And she presumed everybody else was in the same debt situation. Most of my coworkers are 40+ and my boss must be approaching 50.

Does cake taste better when you know tomorrow is your last day at work?  Congratulations!

It tasted very good. The text on the cake was "have a nice trip", as I told them I will have lots of outdoor trips.

DadJokes

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1983 on: December 11, 2019, 11:45:38 AM »
Today we ate cake at work for my second last day (because tomorrow is a chaos day at work with achristmas food all day). I have told my coworkers I am taking a whole year off (but it is FIRE). My boss told me again that taking a year off is pure luxury. She said she couldn't do it, because she is too much in debt, which I think means mortgage debt. And she presumed everybody else was in the same debt situation. Most of my coworkers are 40+ and my boss must be approaching 50.

Does cake taste better when you know tomorrow is your last day at work?  Congratulations!

It tasted very good. The text on the cake was "have a nice trip", as I told them I will have lots of outdoor trips.

If my cake doesn't look like the one below at my eventual retirement, I'll be extremely disappointed.

Imma

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1984 on: December 11, 2019, 12:27:31 PM »
I don't understand about "vacation homes" and not allowing people to live in them year round.  Why not allow it?  Is there something different about them?
These houses don't have a residential destination, just a recreational destination. Nothing really different about them and most of them are perfectly suited to live in. It is just not allowed. The idea is that people who recreate spend more money than people who live, because they are on a holiday. Also often these houses are in more vulnerable environments like woods and the building demands for recreational houses are less strict. There may be more reasons, most of them tax related I would guess. I think this is a thing in the Netherland only, not in other countries in Europe. And municipalities can decide to allow it after all, but most donít.

It is also not very easy to get permission to live in a tiny house or a trailer in the Netherlands, probably for more or less the same reasons.

These laws originate from the days that slum housing was an issue (early 20th century) so the intent was good. Basically anything that Americans would call a trailer is not considered fit for permanent living. During the second half of the 29th century urban planning also really took off and there's a string desire to plan neat and tidy neighbourhoods instead of people building what they like, where they like.

There are good sides to this as well: there's a pretty clear distinction between rural and urban areas and we try to protect vulnerable landscapes. But in our tiny country the housing shortage is very extreme and it does cause an 'underclass' of people who live in illegal housing situations, who are therefore more vulnerable because they live in fear of being kicked out. These people are either formally homeless or they are registed at an address they don't formally live at, which can create it's own set of problems for all parties involved.

For this reason home ownership is extremely important to me. It's the only way to guarantee a good place to live and because it's a bit bigger than we need we have been able to offer friends short term, legal roofs over their head. It took us a while to get to where we are now and we love to help out others in the same situation as we were.

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1985 on: December 13, 2019, 08:40:35 AM »
I don't understand about "vacation homes" and not allowing people to live in them year round.  Why not allow it?  Is there something different about them?
These houses don't have a residential destination, just a recreational destination. Nothing really different about them and most of them are perfectly suited to live in. It is just not allowed. The idea is that people who recreate spend more money than people who live, because they are on a holiday. Also often these houses are in more vulnerable environments like woods and the building demands for recreational houses are less strict. There may be more reasons, most of them tax related I would guess. I think this is a thing in the Netherland only, not in other countries in Europe. And municipalities can decide to allow it after all, but most donít.

It is also not very easy to get permission to live in a tiny house or a trailer in the Netherlands, probably for more or less the same reasons.

These laws originate from the days that slum housing was an issue (early 20th century) so the intent was good. Basically anything that Americans would call a trailer is not considered fit for permanent living. During the second half of the 29th century urban planning also really took off and there's a string desire to plan neat and tidy neighbourhoods instead of people building what they like, where they like.

There are good sides to this as well: there's a pretty clear distinction between rural and urban areas and we try to protect vulnerable landscapes. But in our tiny country the housing shortage is very extreme and it does cause an 'underclass' of people who live in illegal housing situations, who are therefore more vulnerable because they live in fear of being kicked out. These people are either formally homeless or they are registed at an address they don't formally live at, which can create it's own set of problems for all parties involved.

For this reason home ownership is extremely important to me. It's the only way to guarantee a good place to live and because it's a bit bigger than we need we have been able to offer friends short term, legal roofs over their head. It took us a while to get to where we are now and we love to help out others in the same situation as we were.
That's what's a little surprising to me about this. In many places in the US, the municipalities specifically try to restrict short-term vacation rentals, which otherwise tend to take over and replace the affordable long-term rentals. So this Netherlands regulation seems exactly backwards from my perspective.

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1986 on: December 13, 2019, 08:48:40 AM »
I don't understand about "vacation homes" and not allowing people to live in them year round.  Why not allow it?  Is there something different about them?
These houses don't have a residential destination, just a recreational destination. Nothing really different about them and most of them are perfectly suited to live in. It is just not allowed. The idea is that people who recreate spend more money than people who live, because they are on a holiday. Also often these houses are in more vulnerable environments like woods and the building demands for recreational houses are less strict. There may be more reasons, most of them tax related I would guess. I think this is a thing in the Netherland only, not in other countries in Europe. And municipalities can decide to allow it after all, but most donít.

It is also not very easy to get permission to live in a tiny house or a trailer in the Netherlands, probably for more or less the same reasons.

These laws originate from the days that slum housing was an issue (early 20th century) so the intent was good. Basically anything that Americans would call a trailer is not considered fit for permanent living. During the second half of the 29th century urban planning also really took off and there's a string desire to plan neat and tidy neighbourhoods instead of people building what they like, where they like.

There are good sides to this as well: there's a pretty clear distinction between rural and urban areas and we try to protect vulnerable landscapes. But in our tiny country the housing shortage is very extreme and it does cause an 'underclass' of people who live in illegal housing situations, who are therefore more vulnerable because they live in fear of being kicked out. These people are either formally homeless or they are registed at an address they don't formally live at, which can create it's own set of problems for all parties involved.

For this reason home ownership is extremely important to me. It's the only way to guarantee a good place to live and because it's a bit bigger than we need we have been able to offer friends short term, legal roofs over their head. It took us a while to get to where we are now and we love to help out others in the same situation as we were.
That's what's a little surprising to me about this. In many places in the US, the municipalities specifically try to restrict short-term vacation rentals, which otherwise tend to take over and replace the affordable long-term rentals. So this Netherlands regulation seems exactly backwards from my perspective.

The US has plenty of places that are prohibited from full time occupation, as well. This is especially true in rural vacation areas (my family has such a cabin), but another common prohibition is living on your boat in protected waters.

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1987 on: December 15, 2019, 06:11:55 AM »
That's what's a little surprising to me about this. In many places in the US, the municipalities specifically try to restrict short-term vacation rentals, which otherwise tend to take over and replace the affordable long-term rentals. So this Netherlands regulation seems exactly backwards from my perspective.

Here too. Many tourist-y cities have restrictions. Like Berlin, which also has quite strict rent constrol laws.

It is no surprise landlords prefer a vacation home that they can rent for 1000Ä three weeks a month to a normal renter who pays just one time 1000Ä for the whole month. Especially if you are obstructed to increase normal rents.

They may have an eye opening moment when their cleaning lady quits because she cannot live inside 20km anymore, but by then it is too late.

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1988 on: December 15, 2019, 10:00:25 AM »
The US has plenty of places that are prohibited from full time occupation, as well. This is especially true in rural vacation areas (my family has such a cabin), but another common prohibition is living on your boat in protected waters.

I have never heard of such a thing in the US. The rural cabins I'm familiar with would be inhospitable during the winter, but I'm not sure who would prevent you from staying on your own property? How is such a thing enforced?

OtherJen

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1989 on: December 15, 2019, 10:25:12 AM »
The US has plenty of places that are prohibited from full time occupation, as well. This is especially true in rural vacation areas (my family has such a cabin), but another common prohibition is living on your boat in protected waters.

I have never heard of such a thing in the US. The rural cabins I'm familiar with would be inhospitable during the winter, but I'm not sure who would prevent you from staying on your own property? How is such a thing enforced?

Maybe it's more of a "you're on your own, stay at your own risk" sort of policy. Like, if you have a remote cabin in unincorporated territory in the northern US, you can't reasonably expect timely emergency services during winter.

Imma

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1990 on: December 15, 2019, 11:24:25 AM »
The US has plenty of places that are prohibited from full time occupation, as well. This is especially true in rural vacation areas (my family has such a cabin), but another common prohibition is living on your boat in protected waters.

I have never heard of such a thing in the US. The rural cabins I'm familiar with would be inhospitable during the winter, but I'm not sure who would prevent you from staying on your own property? How is such a thing enforced?

Maybe it's more of a "you're on your own, stay at your own risk" sort of policy. Like, if you have a remote cabin in unincorporated territory in the northern US, you can't reasonably expect timely emergency services during winter.

The consequences are far more severe. In many countries in Europe, everyone needs to be registered to an address (Napoleon's idea).

If a property doesn't have planning permission for permanent residency then you can't register yourself on that address. If you are not registered, the government doesn't consider you a resident of the country, so you cannot access any government service (no benefits, no social security, no renewing a drivers license or ID etc). The other option is to register at an address you don't actually live at. But that means you're formally a member of that household. Which means they pay local taxes (based on household size) for you and it also may mean your income is considered part of their household income which is important for income based government benefits. Which is everything from health care subsidies to income-based daycare prices to rent subsidies to social security.

I'm in the rare position that it wouldn't matter to us if someone moved in, except for local taxes. We don't have kids, don't receive subsidies or benefits or social security or pension.

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1991 on: December 15, 2019, 11:37:12 AM »
The consequences are far more severe. In many countries in Europe, everyone needs to be registered to an address (Napoleon's idea).

OT but I didn't realize that this was a Europe-wide phenomenon or that it was Napoleon's idea.  I just thought it was a weird Italian thing.  Here in Italy, when you move house you have to inform the local government and they send a police officer to literally check that you live where you say you do.  In my case, I found it very invasive as he came by when I was eating breakfast in my pajamas and proceeded to barge in and check my kitchen cupboards and clothes closet.  He also spoke to one of my neighbors to ask if I really lived there.  Do they do this also in the Netherlands? 

It really bothers me having to tell the government my business (ie. where I live) but I guess it makes things more efficient for them if you don't have privacy concerns.

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1992 on: December 15, 2019, 11:45:01 AM »
Hula, I find that bizarre. What happens if you are homeless?

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1993 on: December 15, 2019, 11:56:11 AM »
Hula, I find that bizarre. What happens if you are homeless?

I have absolutely no idea!

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1994 on: December 15, 2019, 12:01:30 PM »
Hula, I find that bizarre. What happens if you are homeless?

Norway here, but kind of the same system as the Netherlands and Italy (no police visit, though). The upside of the welfare system is that it takes a lot for people to be homeless. The municipality you are registered with are responsible for finding you housing and other types of help. The downside is that there are cracks to fall through, and when that happens we all get very confused. There have been a few cases in the media lately about people who have tried to survive outside the system, and have been registered as "emigrated or dead". After three years of no address, your rights to welfare help and medical assistance (outside emergency care) expire.

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1995 on: December 15, 2019, 01:23:08 PM »
The consequences are far more severe. In many countries in Europe, everyone needs to be registered to an address (Napoleon's idea).

OT but I didn't realize that this was a Europe-wide phenomenon or that it was Napoleon's idea.  I just thought it was a weird Italian thing.  Here in Italy, when you move house you have to inform the local government and they send a police officer to literally check that you live where you say you do.  In my case, I found it very invasive as he came by when I was eating breakfast in my pajamas and proceeded to barge in and check my kitchen cupboards and clothes closet.  He also spoke to one of my neighbors to ask if I really lived there.  Do they do this also in the Netherlands? 

It really bothers me having to tell the government my business (ie. where I live) but I guess it makes things more efficient for them if you don't have privacy concerns.

That sounds really strange. Too many police? lol

In Germany you have to register at your address but nobody comes to check.

Cadman

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1996 on: December 15, 2019, 01:45:56 PM »
Hula, I find that bizarre. What happens if you are homeless?

Or a full-time RV'er? I guess perhaps that's not too common in Europe, or they register with a family member's address? Here in the states there's a movement of selling one's home and traveling the US full-time. There are even mail-forwarding services catering specifically to this crowd because they have no permanent address.

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1997 on: December 15, 2019, 02:11:20 PM »
Hula, I find that bizarre. What happens if you are homeless?

Or a full-time RV'er? I guess perhaps that's not too common in Europe, or they register with a family member's address? Here in the states there's a movement of selling one's home and traveling the US full-time. There are even mail-forwarding services catering specifically to this crowd because they have no permanent address.

In Norway: You get registered as UFB ("no permanent adress"), either in the municipality where you are living, or just generally. That makes everything difficult; from getting help from the welfare state, to getting a phone subscription. And if you keep that status for too long, the system might have a hickup and declare you dead.

Imma

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1998 on: December 15, 2019, 03:08:28 PM »
These days you can just notify your local government online in NL, checks are rare and only happen in case of suspected fraud - and even then it's a civil servant not a cop who comes to visit. We barely have the police capacity to even keep up with organized crime.

If you're homeless, that's a really tough situation. If you're lucky you can register with someone else but many people who are homeless only know other people who are poor/struggling and likely on income support so they can't register there. Shelters sometimes allow you to register there. In my country there's a separate register for homeless people and those people do get checks - they have to report where they are sleeping and civil servants visit them there. They can get some cash to buy food or pay for a place in the shelter (usually around Ä5/night) with that money.

If you are a fulltime traveller it's really difficult. I don't know the details as it isn't super common to actually live in a vehicle here, but there are books and websites about how to make that happen, so there are some ways around it. I know more than a few retirees who spend winters in warmer climates, but they generally keep their homes in NL so they are registed there. One of my neighbours is away all winter in their RV.

Siebrie

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Re: Overheard at Work 2
« Reply #1999 on: December 16, 2019, 05:50:35 AM »
In Belgium the police come and check. They came very early in the morning, as I was breastfeeding my dd in bed, and dh was hoovering our studio in his bathrobe :) This somehow also convinced the officer that we were in a proper relationship, which was the second reason she came to check on us:)
There is a lot of fraud, especially in Brussels, with people claiming being properly married for residence and work permit reasons.

In The Netherlands the police won't come, but the Social Benefits people may come round to count toothbrushes and underwear to see if everyone claiming to (not) live in a house is actually (not) living there. Benefits for two single people not living together are higher than that of two people living together (based on the idea that some costs like rent and heating only need to be paid once), so they might come and check if the single person is really living alone.