Author Topic: Aesthetics and Mustachianism  (Read 4909 times)

Frannyfancypants

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Aesthetics and Mustachianism
« on: December 12, 2013, 01:07:02 PM »
The Hubs and I (ages 31 and 32) are a 1 income family with 2 kids, around 90k take-home (after taxes and health insurance).  We currently save about 30% and give away about 10% of our take-home. No debt other than mortgage.

We are trying to decide if we should change houses.  We live in Texas, where property taxes are high, but there is no state income tax.  Current house is a remodeled late-70's with a pool and septic, on 0.8 acres in a nice established neighborhood.  The pool and septic are money pits - we hate them; we don't love the amount of maintenance required by the yard, either.  The house is terribly inefficient to heat and cool, despite an ass-load of blown-in insulation added this past spring.  Otherwise we really enjoy our house and it lives well for us.  We remodeled it with a modern aesthetic, which is near impossible to find in our area.  As a Designer and a design-lover, aesthetics are important to our quality of life.  Living in an ugly dump would quickly make us depressed.

We don't want to do it, but we are thinking we should get a different house.  We could get a slightly smaller house on a significantly smaller lot, newer, with no money-pit septic or pool for roughly $100-130k less of a mortgage. We estimate that the switch would save us around $500-600 per month in mortgage, energy, and ongoing-repair costs (mainly re pool and septic, but other issues that pop up as well). But we'd have to go live in one of the awful (to us) "Texas-Tuscan" style houses with stupid ass archways and carpet everywhere. Plus there's the awfulness of moving again (it would make our 11th move in 11 years).

Do Mustachians ever care about aesthetics?  Is style something you all threw to the wind long ago? Do you have advice for someone struggling with the anti-mustachianism of aesthetics?  I'm new to this shiz, so you who are farther along in the game - I'm asking you.

Russ

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Re: Aesthetics and Mustachianism
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2013, 01:19:30 PM »
doesn't matter if I care about aesthetics or not. the question is whether that's worth $100k to you, and really you're the only person who can answer that.

I will throw out there that you can do quite a bit of remodeling for $100-130k

gimp

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Re: Aesthetics and Mustachianism
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2013, 01:25:59 PM »
Quote
stupid ass archways and carpet everywhere

Is that a function of the price of the house - that is, are all the houses at that price the same in this regard - or is it just one house you're looking at?

Also, for $130k, you could rip out the carpet, tear down the archways, and probably still have well over $100k left over.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Aesthetics and Mustachianism
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2013, 01:46:48 PM »
I'm in Texas, and there's quite a bit of variety of house styles out here, so I would just start checking the MLS for your general area and see what the sales pool has to offer. If you've narrowed your house search to a neighborhood or two, then sure, you're going to be stuck with whatever style that group of builders decided on, but you're not forced to be that narrow I would think.

And I don't think what you're comfortable with style-wise should compete with being frugal/mustachianism at all. You just need to work on finding the kind of house you like (or has good bones that you can work with) within a decent price range.


acroy

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Re: Aesthetics and Mustachianism
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2013, 01:51:53 PM »
^ what Frankies said. Wife and I were in somewhat similar boat - held out for quite a while before something interesting & unique came UP. snatched it up. Could not be happier, it was a good 'move'.
Speaking of which - would you quit moving? A move a year gets hella-expensive in all the transaction fees. Ouch!!

amha

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Re: Aesthetics and Mustachianism
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2013, 01:56:35 PM »
From the title, I thought this was going to be about spending $$$$$ on art!

I lived in Phoenix for several years, and am 100% sympathetic to your dislike of that style of ugly house. Honestly, so much of that kind of architecture strikes me as specifically ANTI-mustachian in that you have houses often built with the cheapest materials but so as to maximize how expensive they look (e.g., maximizing floor area and adding stupid arches).

But I would imagine that even in Texas you can find some gems! AND, the best part is, since all the other buyers want stupid arches and stucco and carpet everywhere, you'll have less competition, and get a better deal! Better yet: why not look for a house in need of some love, so that you can save even more money on the purchase price, and use the difference to fix it up to exactly your aesthetics?

marty998

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Re: Aesthetics and Mustachianism
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2013, 02:07:15 PM »
Buy land and build your own home. 11 moves in 11 years adds up to a lot of moving costs. You couldn't do that down here, stamp duty would kill you first.

Frannyfancypants

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Re: Aesthetics and Mustachianism
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2013, 02:27:02 PM »
Basically, we did what amha said: we found a gem in need of some love, spent 60k remodeling it (not ourselves, we had a contractor), and came out with a house we mostly like in a style we like.  But after living in it for about 16 months, the thing is turning out to be more of a money pit than we anticipated.  The majority of what's available in neighborhoods we would consider (proximity to extended family being a big factor) is "Texas Tuscan".  So, we're trying to weigh whether it's worth it to us to save an extra 7% of our take-home every month by sacrificing aesthetic appeal.

We aren't looking at any particular house, just this is the general availability, esp for anything newer than 1978 (read: less likely to need frequent costly repairs).

Most of the moving was job/school related. We bought this house hoping that we could be here 5-10 years.  We're considering the build option, although it doesn't look cheap.

Michread

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Re: Aesthetics and Mustachianism
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2013, 02:28:19 PM »

Do Mustachians ever care about aesthetics?  Is style something you all threw to the wind long ago? Do you have advice for someone struggling with the anti-mustachianism of aesthetics?  I'm new to this shiz, so you who are farther along in the game - I'm asking you.

It's NOT about aesthetics it is about being HAPPY (and healthy)!  If that is what makes you happy then it's IMPORTANT.  I firmly believe in a happy home which is a NICE home.  I have high quality furnishing in our home (which have lasted a long time).  Being happy and living in balance in all areas of life is what's important.  You sound like you're living a balanced life! 

If you can find a nice home for less money and get rid of the problems of your current home GREAT  - if not fix what you have to make it work.

ZiziPB

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Re: Aesthetics and Mustachianism
« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2013, 02:32:28 PM »
I think what I've learned here over the last few months of participating in various discussions, is that the basic premise is to recognize what is important to you and whether spending money on it is worth it for you.  Sounds like your living space is important to you and your well being.  If that's the case, it is worth spending money on it (within reason). For reference here is a thread I started on a similar topic a while ago.

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/welcome-to-the-forum/do-mustachians-decorate-their-houses/msg154440/#msg154440

backyardfeast

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Re: Aesthetics and Mustachianism
« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2013, 03:24:57 PM »
I agree that this is a decision about how much is this worth *to you*.  But I hear ya about the decisions that are a mix of financial and emotional.  We're in more house than we need, and spending more on it than would be necessary for a home that we're comfortable in.  When I got bitten again by the MMM bug this past summer, I recognized that we could be FI WAY sooner if we moved.  We could move into the nearest town and live in a 700-900 sq ft character house in a nice area for about $150k less than our house cost.

But then I started adding all the other little costs: the realtor and moving costs, the renos we would need to do to any house we moved to, landscaping, etc to recreate to some degree what we have here...Yeah, we would still save $, but maybe $50k?  Still a lot, but not enough to shave that many years off retirement.  And we know that when we retire, we'd basically want to buy back where we are.  So that started to seem silly.

The point was, there is always *theoretical* money that you could save.  If I could live in a box for 3 years, I could probably be FI!  But then I'd have to keep living in the box.  So for now, at least, we're staying put.  We're not in a hair-on-fire situation, and our home isn't a money pit.  So for now, we're ok.

There's no perfect.  My new mantra! :)

Daleth

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Re: Aesthetics and Mustachianism
« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2013, 07:17:44 PM »
How much would it cost to get rid of the pool and re-landscape to something lower maintenance (that is, native plants, drystone paths, whatever)? And how much would it save?

turboseize

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Re: Aesthetics and Mustachianism
« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2013, 05:14:39 AM »
That sounds like the smartest way.

To the energy-infefficient house: try to get an infrared picture of your house, so you'll be able to see the energy leaks. What about your windows?
A newer stove/furnace can also be a great improvement. And, as you are in texas I would think you have a lot of sun. So you should be able to save a lot by heating your water with solar collectors.

fodder69

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Re: Aesthetics and Mustachianism
« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2013, 05:44:31 AM »
The only thing I would chime in on is that after 1978 is pretty arbitrary. There can be a lot of great houses with good structures that a renovation budget would go a long way towards. And houses don't generally need lots of maintenance really and what needs to be done can be viewed in the context of the purchase price. Replacement systems will last many years so should not be a deal breaker.

Peony

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Re: Aesthetics and Mustachianism
« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2013, 06:38:03 AM »
It's been my experience that older (pre-WWII) homes are cheaper to maintain because the construction quality and materials are generally better. Obviously, systems and roofs will need updating periodically. Our 1904 foursquare is super-solid and would be very expensive to build today. Though if you like modern spaces, that would probably not appeal to you. Maybe an arts-and-crafts bungalow kind of thing?