Author Topic: What are the upsides/downsides (besides cost) to buying a very expensive house?  (Read 5924 times)

forummm

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7389
  • Senior Mustachian
I am wary of buying anything, especially in the Bay Area now given that we are in the "extra innings" of a ridiculous everything bubble, and that area in particular has the most extremely overvalued real estate in the country. We would probably wait until next year to buy since I expect the recession to have started by then (we're already in one for housing, and possibly the entire economy). And we would only buy with cash, and keeping enough cash/assets in reserve to stay FIRE. So if the home valuation went down it would only mean that we possibly could have paid less by waiting longer.
Iím wary of being wary. My husband was totally convinced in 2010 that housing prices in our area were overinflated and wanted to wait to buy until things came down. Any look at a Zillow graph shows you that this was the start of a pretty spectacular housing boom and prices have increased dramatically since then.

There are different areas in the Bay Area in terms of real estate markets. If you are talking about true core areas lIke more desirable areas of SF, Palo Alto, Atherton, etc. these areas almost didnít have a housing crisis. Prices there flatlined for a few years while outlying areas saw 20-50% drops.

I wish I had saved the link because I havenít been able to dig it up again: a few years ago I read an article that was an analysis of SF housing appreciation going back to the late 1800s. The study author pieces together prices from old newspaper housing ads and whatnot and found that SF real estate has pretty much appreciated around 6%\yr on average for over 100 years.

Naturally that is no prediction of future behavior, but it appears that real estate here, especially in the core desirable areas and especially at the upper end of the market follows a different set of rules. Recessions donít matter as much if you arenít dependent on your 9-5 job to bring in a paycheck to make the mortgage payment.


Normally I am wary of being wary too. But in my case I made all this money by being a dirty stock-picking market timer. I spend all my time following investing and economic data and I think the odds of a recession are very high in the short term (we may be in one now). Housing has already been in a recession for the past year. Certain parts of the Bay Area are down double digits. Other expensive markets (like Seattle and NYC) have been heading down too. I think that continues. Yes, there is a significant variation by geography. The Bay Area is a special case because of all the stock option tech millionaires. I am less confident that prices decline a lot there because of all the Uber, Lyft, Pinterest, etc people cashing out their stock when the lockup expires. But if we end up in San Diego or Seattle suburbs or wherever, I expect those areas to be more sensitive to broader economic contraction. Housing is very overpriced (like all assets) generally now because of the central banks forcing money everywhere and keeping interest rates low for so long. However I don't know how much it snaps back. It is slower to decline in value (absent a foreclosure crisis) than say stocks (which I think could easily lose 2/3 of value or more). So we won't really try to time it too much. But it makes it easier for us to be patient while we figure out what we want to do and I finish cashing out of positions.

forummm

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7389
  • Senior Mustachian
I think this post was about the transition to being rich, and what that means for someone being very cautious. It's a slow process becoming comfortable with intergenerational riches.

Yeah, an expensive house is a big change. Although I wouldn't say "intergenerational riches". But enough to buy an expensive house and stay FIRE with frugal living. I think the "I am rich" allowed a lot of high numbers to pop in people's minds. And it's true in a sense, but we're not close to being US top 1%ers.

One thing I've noticed about expensive houses is that when you get contractors to come in and give you an estimate they tend to jack up the cost based on the estimate.

Yeah, this will be irritating.

Realistically, there is no property you can buy, vacant or otherwise, in a HCOL area with Class A views that won't be a dead giveaway of your wealth. It simply doesn't exist, because of how limited it is and how many people can afford to pay big money.

True. Even saying "Bay Area" makes people think you are loaded. It's part of the problem I am thinking about.

forummm

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7389
  • Senior Mustachian
Also services like Redfin and Zillow mean anybody who knows your address can easily see how much you paid.  And it is pretty easy to look up your property tax info in many jurisdictions, too.

Yeah. I thought about buying through a generic sounding LLC and just not telling family where we actually live and give them some other address if they needed to send us cards or something. Not especially practical though.

ysette9

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7108
  • Location: Bay Area, CA
    • The Best Is Yet To Come
Also services like Redfin and Zillow mean anybody who knows your address can easily see how much you paid.  And it is pretty easy to look up your property tax info in many jurisdictions, too.

Yeah. I thought about buying through a generic sounding LLC and just not telling family where we actually live and give them some other address if they needed to send us cards or something. Not especially practical though.
P.O. Box!

BlueHouse

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3460
  • Location: WDC
Also services like Redfin and Zillow mean anybody who knows your address can easily see how much you paid.  And it is pretty easy to look up your property tax info in many jurisdictions, too.

Yeah. I thought about buying through a generic sounding LLC and just not telling family where we actually live and give them some other address if they needed to send us cards or something. Not especially practical though.

Wow, that's really sad, but I can understand the reasons.  I would just do what you want to do and then play house-poor.  It's expensive to live here, it's hard to keep it up, etc. 
I've actually considered moving back into a one-bedroom condo to get my siblings to stop shipping their children to my house for months on end so that I can teach them how to launch.  It's been satisfying after the summers (or full years) but I chose to live alone and I want to get back to it.   This is the last summer houseguest for me!  I'm telling them all now!

Aunt Petunia

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1258
Oh, I forgot about the bonus relatives. We have had several different ones stay with us rent-free for variable amounts of time since we got our big expensive house. Last year we had four of them for five months. We almost acquired a fifth one (niece gave birth on the day they were supposed to move out, but we moved all their stuff to the new apartment before she got out of the hospital). I suppose if your house is small that won't be a problem.

affordablehousing

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 499
one last perspective. nothing is more obnoxious than someone trying SO hard to not sound upper middle class. I think it's important to remember that the one nice thing in expensive areas, is that you don't have to go around presenting as penniless all the time. In my milieu everyone apologizes all the time for living in an expensive home and being young. I say, just get over it. The more energy you waste trying to hide your situation is more energy diverted from having honest connection with people.

AMandM

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1152
Things I worry about include: [...] the neighbors maybe not being the kind of people that it would be good for my kids to grow up around (or in school with)

Haven't read all the responses, but I have thoughts on this aspect. In some ways, these neighbours might be good for your kids--generally, high-income people influence their kids to do well in school, pursue worthwhile extra-curricular activities, avoid teen pregnancy, etc.  But high-income people also tend to be high spenders, and *that* may be very tough on your kids. Either they join in on this consumerist treadmill, building sucka habits, or they are constantly left out of social events and the shared knowledge and experience of their peers.

SimpleLifer

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 64
I am rich. I used to post on here a lot before while living the frugal life and getting to FIRE through frugality and savings. Fast forward and I made a ridiculous amount of money recently and likely a lot more is coming soon. We can easily afford to pay cash for very fancy houses in fancy areas and still have more than enough money left over to do what we want to for the rest of our lives. We are currently in a small apartment and are thinking about where to live permanently. We value waterfront views. We have an affinity for the Bay Area (but are also looking at other coastal locations). So we are thinking about substantial and unnecessary luxury. I generally like to hang around at home so it would be a useful luxury. And it would probably be the only real luxury. We don't even have cable or eat out. We get free clothes for the kids and wouldn't buy fancy cars.

We are trying to decide if we want to spend that kind of money. It's much more than we would need. We probably would enjoy it more than something cheaper (but how much more is unclear of course). But there are consequences besides cost. Things I worry about include: our families finding out we are rich and wanting/expecting more from us, the neighbors maybe not being the kind of people that it would be good for my kids to grow up around (or in school with), giving the kids unrealistic expectations/views of life, having non-rich friends feel weird coming to our house or act differently, etc. There are probably upsides too that I'm not thinking about.

So what are the upsides/downsides (besides cost) to buying a very expensive house?

This might be the wrong place to ask this kind of question. But when I was active here years ago there were a lot of thoughtful people who would provide good insights. So I figured I'd give it a shot.

Expensive implies big...and there's a whole different set of issues with big homes.

You mentioned the sf bay area, so it will definitely be very expensive, and could be a modest size home.

In general, the down-side to an expensive house, regardless of size, is the on-going property tax cost.  Many "new luxurious" homes in "luxurious" neighborhoods in the bay area tack on mello-roos tax, which will significantly increase the amount of tax you pay for a long time (tax is usually assessed on the property for 30 years).

It's wise to consider how your friends and family will react (if that matters to you).  In my experience, friends/family/strangers do act differently.  Even contractors I hire to work on my home act differently, compared to my experience in my last home.

If by expensive, you mean big...I would say the biggest downside outside of cost, is the challenge with making a big home feel homely and cozy.  The scale of everything must be very large to look normal.  Not only does that get very expensive, but it also limits options for color, style, etc.  I prefer diversity, and feel my family benefits from living around people who have moved to the US from all around the world.  In my "upscale" neighborhood, the neighbors are amazing...it's the main reason I still live in a too-big house.

If I had it to do all over again, I would've stayed in a home that was much smaller.

In the SF Bay Area, you can spend a ton of money and live in a small cozy home, but pretty awesome neighborhood (e.g., Palo Alto, Willow Glen)

Radagast

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1726
  • One Does Not Simply Work Into Mordor
We were looking at something like this. There is a very specific house which happens to check nearly all the boxes even by MMM standards, except it is big and expensive (and a stretch to bike or run to work, but doable). 5,000 SF, but 45% of those on the bottom floor (of three) partitioned off behind an existing steel door for renting out, and yet would also blend in as part of the house. High quality durable surfaces that require minimum maintenance. Nice but low maintenance yard. The floor plan makes efficient use of its volume (ceilings are high but not superfluously so). It is basically a rectangle with a roof, so minimum surface area to loose heat. Could easily be passively cooled, and well sealed and insulated so no worse than a regular house in terms of heating. Kickass kitchen. Incredible view. Lets in huge amounts of light, yet is private. But very expensive. If it hasn't sold by September we might put in a lowball offer in spite of that.

albireo13

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 508
  • Location: New England
Downsides ....

 * big, expensive houses spawn life-clutter ... you need that nice riding lawn mower, lawn irrigation, 3 car garage?,  what about a pool? .... etc.
   these all become like dependents ... requiring maintenance and care.  Pretty soon all your spare time is spent on maintenance of the house and property to keep it looking nice
(or you hire it all out)

 * Along the same lines ... your life becomes full of crap ... stuff.  I am at the point where I want to simplify my life.  I want to de-clutter my life.  I want the freedom to not worry about taking care of stuff, acquiring stuff, or storing stuff. I envy the simple life.  I would love a modest size, clean, low maintenance house. 
You may be different but, that's my perspective.

Maenad

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 639
  • Location: Minneapolis 'burbs
One thing I've noticed about expensive houses is that when you get contractors to come in and give you an estimate they tend to jack up the cost based on the estimate.  I think this can be overcome via multiple estimates/negotiating, but it is exhausting, especially over an extended period of time.  But this concern can also be overcome by either doing the work yourself or resigning yourself to paying the higher rate.

Ugh, yes. I inherited a house in an area that has become rather chi-chi. I actually swore at a contractor for lying to me about how our plaster ceilings needed to be completely replaced when all I wanted was texture applied. (That was 14 years ago and the ceilings are still fine.)

historienne

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 376
You mention school and kids and neighbors.  I grew up in a mustachios household, but when I started junior high, we moved into a wealthy neighborhood.  I still recall the sting of humiliation as we, as a family, weeded the front yard when everyone else in the neighborhood had a gardener.  Our driveway had used Toyotas and Nissans and everyone else's had Mercedes or other luxury cars.  Everyone wore Guess jeans to school and I wore perfectly fine off-brand jeans.  And was teased mercilessly for that.  It was really difficult.  And no, I don't think that in the end it was worth it for the life lessons and blah blah. I could have learned frugality and that the brand of your jeans don't matter while not being crushed socially. Actually, I think I would have learned those things more/better/faster if it hadn't been so clear to me that in fact the do matter as fas as not having food thrown at you at lunch.  For a tween/teen struggling to find friends in a new area, it was awful, to the point that self-harm and even suicide were considerations. 

I had a very similar experience when my middle-class parents scrimped and saved to send me to the fanciest private school in our city, because they valued education highly.  It was awful, truly awful. 

Linea_Norway

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7051
  • Location: Norway
You mention school and kids and neighbors.  I grew up in a mustachios household, but when I started junior high, we moved into a wealthy neighborhood.  I still recall the sting of humiliation as we, as a family, weeded the front yard when everyone else in the neighborhood had a gardener.  Our driveway had used Toyotas and Nissans and everyone else's had Mercedes or other luxury cars.  Everyone wore Guess jeans to school and I wore perfectly fine off-brand jeans.  And was teased mercilessly for that.  It was really difficult.  And no, I don't think that in the end it was worth it for the life lessons and blah blah. I could have learned frugality and that the brand of your jeans don't matter while not being crushed socially. Actually, I think I would have learned those things more/better/faster if it hadn't been so clear to me that in fact the do matter as fas as not having food thrown at you at lunch.  For a tween/teen struggling to find friends in a new area, it was awful, to the point that self-harm and even suicide were considerations. 

I had a very similar experience when my middle-class parents scrimped and saved to send me to the fanciest private school in our city, because they valued education highly.  It was awful, truly awful.

My parents also moved to the most fancy neighbourhood in town, then couldn't sell their old home for some years. We were the family with the 12 year old VW Golf, while the neighbours drove Mercedes. We never went on vacation. But I wasn't humiliated by the other kids at all. So it didn't make a negative impact on me.

Gin1984

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4855
You mention school and kids and neighbors.  I grew up in a mustachios household, but when I started junior high, we moved into a wealthy neighborhood.  I still recall the sting of humiliation as we, as a family, weeded the front yard when everyone else in the neighborhood had a gardener.  Our driveway had used Toyotas and Nissans and everyone else's had Mercedes or other luxury cars.  Everyone wore Guess jeans to school and I wore perfectly fine off-brand jeans.  And was teased mercilessly for that.  It was really difficult.  And no, I don't think that in the end it was worth it for the life lessons and blah blah. I could have learned frugality and that the brand of your jeans don't matter while not being crushed socially. Actually, I think I would have learned those things more/better/faster if it hadn't been so clear to me that in fact the do matter as fas as not having food thrown at you at lunch.  For a tween/teen struggling to find friends in a new area, it was awful, to the point that self-harm and even suicide were considerations. 

I had a very similar experience when my middle-class parents scrimped and saved to send me to the fanciest private school in our city, because they valued education highly.  It was awful, truly awful.
Me as well.  My mom was a single mom and for the Bay Area made ok money. But she had to afford daycare/summer care plus school on that single income.  Others had two incomes or had a second person so did not need summer camp and daycare.  I always felt poor when really we were middle class; it was just everyone I was around was upper middle class.

Fuzz

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 402
I think the Bay Area is a slice of heaven on earth, and no comparison to Mukilteo or Edmonds. The weather and climate is that much better. I'd go for a small town in Marin somewhere. Two reasons. One, a nice small town, is really, really nice. You know your neighbors, you run into friends when you're out, and it's walkable and pleasant. The sense of community that a nice small town provides is more of a luxury to me than anything available in a city. Two, nature minimizes some of the behavior that you're concerned about. Nature is straight up good for you. If you're in a place where the norm is to go for a 3 mile hike on a Tuesday morning (because no one has to work, or whatever), then those hikes tend to make people less materialistic and give them good endorphins. Yes, you still get a lot of showy-status seeking behavior, but hopefully some of that is channeled into the outdoors. I say this as someone familiar with a resort town. I bet 2M and an hour from SF, gets you something really cool.

forummm

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7389
  • Senior Mustachian
I am rich. I used to post on here a lot before while living the frugal life and getting to FIRE through frugality and savings. Fast forward and I made a ridiculous amount of money recently and likely a lot more is coming soon. We can easily afford to pay cash for very fancy houses in fancy areas and still have more than enough money left over to do what we want to for the rest of our lives. We are currently in a small apartment and are thinking about where to live permanently. We value waterfront views. We have an affinity for the Bay Area (but are also looking at other coastal locations). So we are thinking about substantial and unnecessary luxury. I generally like to hang around at home so it would be a useful luxury. And it would probably be the only real luxury. We don't even have cable or eat out. We get free clothes for the kids and wouldn't buy fancy cars.

We are trying to decide if we want to spend that kind of money. It's much more than we would need. We probably would enjoy it more than something cheaper (but how much more is unclear of course). But there are consequences besides cost. Things I worry about include: our families finding out we are rich and wanting/expecting more from us, the neighbors maybe not being the kind of people that it would be good for my kids to grow up around (or in school with), giving the kids unrealistic expectations/views of life, having non-rich friends feel weird coming to our house or act differently, etc. There are probably upsides too that I'm not thinking about.

So what are the upsides/downsides (besides cost) to buying a very expensive house?

This might be the wrong place to ask this kind of question. But when I was active here years ago there were a lot of thoughtful people who would provide good insights. So I figured I'd give it a shot.

Expensive implies big...and there's a whole different set of issues with big homes.

You mentioned the sf bay area, so it will definitely be very expensive, and could be a modest size home.

In general, the down-side to an expensive house, regardless of size, is the on-going property tax cost.  Many "new luxurious" homes in "luxurious" neighborhoods in the bay area tack on mello-roos tax, which will significantly increase the amount of tax you pay for a long time (tax is usually assessed on the property for 30 years).

We're not thinking huge. More like the location will be expensive (like Bay Area and maybe water view). A tiny place like that could be a million bucks. We looked at some places in NE Washington (where we are now) and there are giant houses that feel too big. We have almost no furniture now and I'm not excited about buying stuff. But I would like space to keep the kids separated (from each other, and from us) at times. A yard helps with that too. But that could be <2500 sqft easily.

We also would of course set aside enough cash to fund the property tax payments in perpetuity before buying any place.

Our biggest decision point right now is whether to go Bay Area or somewhere much cheaper. We can get a LOT more for our money (or spend a LOT less money) elsewhere. But there is some sentimental attachment to the area. So we need to sort that out. Not sure how to appropriately value that right now.

We are also waiting to see how much money we end up with. I am mostly cashing out investments as opportunities arise. But I have some high potential positions that could make more options possible (or fewer if they don't turn out as expected) and it might take months or a year before it plays out.

forummm

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7389
  • Senior Mustachian
We were looking at something like this. There is a very specific house which happens to check nearly all the boxes even by MMM standards, except it is big and expensive (and a stretch to bike or run to work, but doable). 5,000 SF, but 45% of those on the bottom floor (of three) partitioned off behind an existing steel door for renting out, and yet would also blend in as part of the house. High quality durable surfaces that require minimum maintenance. Nice but low maintenance yard. The floor plan makes efficient use of its volume (ceilings are high but not superfluously so). It is basically a rectangle with a roof, so minimum surface area to loose heat. Could easily be passively cooled, and well sealed and insulated so no worse than a regular house in terms of heating. Kickass kitchen. Incredible view. Lets in huge amounts of light, yet is private. But very expensive. If it hasn't sold by September we might put in a lowball offer in spite of that.

5k is too big for us. But for rental it could work. But I know for us that we would prefer to not deal with a tenant. We have 2 places in mind that could have tenants sharing if something happened and we needed income. But the plan is to be conservative enough financially that this won't be an issue. We are also thinking about seeing what's still around when we are ready to buy and lowballing. A lot of the more expensive inventory on the market around the west coast is moving very slowly since housing is in a recession now and valuations are ABSURD. The economy may be going into recession imminently as well. So that could help with prices soon. We will see.

forummm

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7389
  • Senior Mustachian
I would love a modest size, clean, low maintenance house. 

Agree. Space to keep the kids away. And not much more than that really. I don't want to own a bunch of stuff. But looking out at the water from my huge windows or on my balcony or deck and watching the ships and islands and hearing the birds, that I could pay for.

forummm

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7389
  • Senior Mustachian
I think the Bay Area is a slice of heaven on earth, and no comparison to Mukilteo or Edmonds. The weather and climate is that much better. I'd go for a small town in Marin somewhere. Two reasons. One, a nice small town, is really, really nice. You know your neighbors, you run into friends when you're out, and it's walkable and pleasant. The sense of community that a nice small town provides is more of a luxury to me than anything available in a city. Two, nature minimizes some of the behavior that you're concerned about. Nature is straight up good for you. If you're in a place where the norm is to go for a 3 mile hike on a Tuesday morning (because no one has to work, or whatever), then those hikes tend to make people less materialistic and give them good endorphins. Yes, you still get a lot of showy-status seeking behavior, but hopefully some of that is channeled into the outdoors. I say this as someone familiar with a resort town. I bet 2M and an hour from SF, gets you something really cool.

One of the negatives of NW Washington is the sun schedule. The kids just wake up too early here in the summer, even with blackout curtains. I haven't slept enough in months. But I do also get up to work then anyway (although got up later in the winter and it was just fine). I don't mind gray and rainy days (or SF fog).

We also are prioritizing something nature related. We haven't looked at Marin much. We have looked at San Mateo County a lot.

BlueHouse

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3460
  • Location: WDC
You mention school and kids and neighbors.  I grew up in a mustachios household, but when I started junior high, we moved into a wealthy neighborhood.  I still recall the sting of humiliation as we, as a family, weeded the front yard when everyone else in the neighborhood had a gardener.  Our driveway had used Toyotas and Nissans and everyone else's had Mercedes or other luxury cars.  Everyone wore Guess jeans to school and I wore perfectly fine off-brand jeans.  And was teased mercilessly for that.  It was really difficult.  And no, I don't think that in the end it was worth it for the life lessons and blah blah. I could have learned frugality and that the brand of your jeans don't matter while not being crushed socially. Actually, I think I would have learned those things more/better/faster if it hadn't been so clear to me that in fact the do matter as fas as not having food thrown at you at lunch.  For a tween/teen struggling to find friends in a new area, it was awful, to the point that self-harm and even suicide were considerations. 


I had a very similar experience when my middle-class parents scrimped and saved to send me to the fanciest private school in our city, because they valued education highly.  It was awful, truly awful.


We moved into an upper middle class neighborhood after my dad died to be  near family, but in the best school district.  No one ever made fun of us for being poorer than most, but we were always always always aware that we didn't have and couldn't have things that our classmates had. 

I went to college at a semi-public school.  Most of the students commuted.  Most of the students were first generation college students.  It was the first time in my life that I remembered feeling like money wasn't an issue.  I had never felt so comfortable AND EQUAL among classmates. 

Villanelle

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3695
I think the Bay Area is a slice of heaven on earth, and no comparison to Mukilteo or Edmonds. The weather and climate is that much better. I'd go for a small town in Marin somewhere. Two reasons. One, a nice small town, is really, really nice. You know your neighbors, you run into friends when you're out, and it's walkable and pleasant. The sense of community that a nice small town provides is more of a luxury to me than anything available in a city. Two, nature minimizes some of the behavior that you're concerned about. Nature is straight up good for you. If you're in a place where the norm is to go for a 3 mile hike on a Tuesday morning (because no one has to work, or whatever), then those hikes tend to make people less materialistic and give them good endorphins. Yes, you still get a lot of showy-status seeking behavior, but hopefully some of that is channeled into the outdoors. I say this as someone familiar with a resort town. I bet 2M and an hour from SF, gets you something really cool.

One of the negatives of NW Washington is the sun schedule. The kids just wake up too early here in the summer, even with blackout curtains. I haven't slept enough in months. But I do also get up to work then anyway (although got up later in the winter and it was just fine). I don't mind gray and rainy days (or SF fog).

We also are prioritizing something nature related. We haven't looked at Marin much. We have looked at San Mateo County a lot.

Our home in Germany had rolladens on all the windows.  It could be nearly pitch black in our bedroom at 1pm.  Also helped tremendously with keeping the house cool in summer.  Probably cheaper than a house in the bay area!

ysette9

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7108
  • Location: Bay Area, CA
    • The Best Is Yet To Come
I live in San Mateo county now and grew up in the north bay, though nothing as fancy as Marin, if that might make me a resource for whatever.

I share dream of living overlooking the water also. My husbandís uncle has a weekend cabin near Mendocino on a cliff overlooking the ocean. It is one of the most peaceful, beautiful, relaxing places ever. They added this sunroom onto the little house so you can sit in a comfortable leather arm chair with your coffee in the morning and watch the waves crash on the rocks through the floor-to-ceiling windows. That is my bliss state.

ysette9

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7108
  • Location: Bay Area, CA
    • The Best Is Yet To Come
I think the Bay Area is a slice of heaven on earth, and no comparison to Mukilteo or Edmonds. The weather and climate is that much better. I'd go for a small town in Marin somewhere. Two reasons. One, a nice small town, is really, really nice. You know your neighbors, you run into friends when you're out, and it's walkable and pleasant. The sense of community that a nice small town provides is more of a luxury to me than anything available in a city. Two, nature minimizes some of the behavior that you're concerned about. Nature is straight up good for you. If you're in a place where the norm is to go for a 3 mile hike on a Tuesday morning (because no one has to work, or whatever), then those hikes tend to make people less materialistic and give them good endorphins. Yes, you still get a lot of showy-status seeking behavior, but hopefully some of that is channeled into the outdoors. I say this as someone familiar with a resort town. I bet 2M and an hour from SF, gets you something really cool.

One of the negatives of NW Washington is the sun schedule. The kids just wake up too early here in the summer, even with blackout curtains. I haven't slept enough in months. But I do also get up to work then anyway (although got up later in the winter and it was just fine). I don't mind gray and rainy days (or SF fog).

We also are prioritizing something nature related. We haven't looked at Marin much. We have looked at San Mateo County a lot.

Our home in Germany had rolladens on all the windows.  It could be nearly pitch black in our bedroom at 1pm.  Also helped tremendously with keeping the house cool in summer.  Probably cheaper than a house in the bay area!
Yep, every house Iíve stayed at in france have the same thing. I donít know why they donít do that here in the US. Instead we sometimes get ridiculous fake shutters glued onto fake McMansion.