Author Topic: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?  (Read 9287 times)

Daddy-Stache

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So I致e been inspired by MMM for awhile now. Been trying to use the guiding principles to make better decisions. And now I知 wrestling with a HUGE decision for me and my family and I壇 love to hear some input from you veterans on whether I知 making a rocking M worthy move or being a total ass-clown.

Here is the crux of my decision. I知 thinking of downsizing and buying a new house farther away.

FIRST SOME BASICS
* I知 45 making a very solid salary.
* Widowed Dad with two girls age 4 and 7. I知 currently employing a live-in Nanny to help but I see that paring down in 3-5 years as they transition to full-time school.
* Other than mortgage I知 debt free. I知 not ready for MMM retirement but I知 comfortably living within my means.
* Two years worth of living expenses saved up in liquid non retirement investments.
* Two income producing rental properties.

MY CURRENT HOUSE IS..
* Still on a mortgage but its got at least $150k in equity.
* Only ONE mile from work. (I bike almost daily)
* Not close to much else. Walkscore is a poor 20.
* BIG. 2600 sqft plus a 1200 sqft finished basement. (Nanny lives there)
* Surrounded by plenty of yard and parkland.
* Not in a the best school district. The elementary school is ranked a 4 out of 10. Middle (4) and HS (5)
* Decent private schools nearby would  cost me around $15 - $30k per year.

PROSPECTIVE NEW HOME IS.
* With equity from current home mortgage cost for new place would be about the same.
* Similar in tax costs.
* 18 miles away from work. I知 an avid biker and could still bike commute. Also a commuter train  lets off right in front of my office is 4 miles away.
* In a new planned walkable community. Walkscore mid 50痴 and climbing rapidly.
* Has Lots of amenities close enough to walk/bike to. Community pool, parks, trails, stores, etc etc.
* Walking distance to GREAT public schools. Ranking is elementary (7) middle (10) high (10)
* Smaller at 1600 sq ft. My girls would have to share a bedroom. Nanny would still have a room but its smaller.
* No Yard. None. zippo.
* Brand new construction.

FACTORS Driving my decision
* I致e been wanting to downsize since before my wife passed. I知 paring down stuff even more all the time.
* I moved here 14 years ago with the hope that the schools would get better. It hasn稚 happened.
* I need to either stay or go within a few years. I don稚 want to move the kids once they get older.
* I can move less than 20 miles pay the same taxes and give me kids a great education.

YOU ARE MUSTACHIAN AND WORTHY OF A SLAP ON THE BACK
* Downsizing to smaller place. Less stuff. More LIFE!
* Reducing heating/cooling expenses.
* Living close to schools, grocery, pool. Teaching kids to walk/bike everywhere.
* Saving costs of private school.

CLEARLY YOU'RE AN ASS CLOWN AND SHOULD BE PUNCHED IN THE FACE
* Adding an 18 mile commute when you essentially have none!?! Driving or taking the train is costly in time and money.
* Current house is in good shape. Plenty of room. You could rent out space you don稚 need.
* True Mustashian would home school the minions.
* Why trade your house debt for half the house with no yard? Those kids are going to grow you know!
* Why buy new? A true MMM would buy a fixer upper and DIY.


Thanks in advance for the advice.

daverobev

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2013, 03:09:30 PM »
I'd be most worried about the time necessary for that commute.

How close is the new/prospective to parks? No garden can be a huge drag or a huge bonus. Or a bit of both.

*Personally* I wouldn't want to buy an actual new house. But that's your call.

Are there better options - 6-7 mile ride, better schools, small garden, more amenities than your current place?

It seems like a very big stack - like, you're changing one thing for something VERY different.

kh

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2013, 03:49:19 PM »
A train commute is nothing like a car commute. I use it as time for personal betterment and relaxation... In the middle of Moby Dick right now. Not an option when driving, obviously. Also way cheaper than a car commute, even in the expensive Northeast.

Downside: Lack of flexibility. If one of your kids gets sick at school in the middle of the day, you might find that a train home only runs once an hour or less. Biking might get you around part of that, but it's a haul. Do you have anyone around in the new neighborhood you could call in a pinch?

Just my $0.02 on the commute part of this question.

Lans Holman

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2013, 04:09:58 PM »
I wouldn't get so hung up on what's "mustachian" and what's not, or what a "true mustachian" would do.  You're in a pretty unusual and tough situation here, and there are enough pros and cons to each that the more important question has to be which one feels right to you.  This does not sound like a primarily financial decision, but a personal and emotional one.  For me personally, I hate doing yard work, love walkable neighborhoods, and would welcome a manageable train commute as a way to get a little quiet time for myself each day.  I think if there's enough cool stuff within easy walking distance, the kids aren't going to mind the lack of a yard.  When the kids are older and you don't need the nanny as much, could one of them have that room?

destron

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2013, 06:33:00 PM »
I would hesitate and think deeply before making this move.

* The house you will buy (I presume it will be much smaller, is that what you mean by downsize?) will cost you the same amount of money so there is not a huge amount of utility in downsizing other than reducing the amount of space to clean. Your feelings of living in a space that you used to share with your loved one may be at play here... so I can't say you absolutely shouldn't do it, but that particular aspect does not make a lot of sense.

* The 18 mile bike commute by bike sounds great, except it will take time (I'm guessing around an hour each way), and that is time away from your girls.

* Are you so far away from FI that you couldn't wait to pull the cord completely and then move into a wonderful, walkable neighborhood? If, for instance, you could FI in 5 years (seems like you are not too far off but it is hard to tell) then you can move your daughters to a great house with a yard and great schools and not have to worry about an 36 mile commute.


Another Reader

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2013, 06:51:35 PM »
In your shoes, I would look at keeping the current house and schools until you no longer need the nanny.  Your kids are settled, there is enough room for everyone, and they likely feel connected to their mother in this house.  You can be home from work in a few minutes if a problem arises. 

With a 7 year old, you have probably had a chance to get a close look at the local school.  Is it really that bad?  If so, can you transfer the child to another school in the same district?

Once you no longer need the nanny, you will have more income to work with.  The kids can go to private school or you can move at that point.  They will be older and transition more easily. 

You did not say how long ago your wife died, but I would not even consider moving if she died recently.  The kids have already been through a lot.

Eric

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2013, 07:48:23 PM »
MY CURRENT HOUSE IS..
* Still on a mortgage but its got at least $150k in equity.
PROSPECTIVE NEW HOME IS.
* With equity from current home mortgage cost for new place would be about the same.

I'm not sure how to read this.  You have $150K in equity in your current home.  So the new place costs $150K so you'd own it outright with no mortgage?  Or the new place is the same price as your current home, so moving would still give you approximately $150K in equity?

(great post by the way, it's easy to tell you spent some time thinking about it and writing it)

mm1970

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2013, 09:45:39 PM »
Quote
* The 18 mile bike commute by bike sounds great, except it will take time (I'm guessing around an hour each way), and that is time away from your girls.

This would be the big thing for me.

I understand wanting a better school district.  Ours is a 3 or a 4.  We could move to a 10.  It's not worth it to me.

Daddy-Stache

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2013, 07:45:56 AM »
A train commute is nothing like a car commute.
Excellent point about the train ride. I've had a 5min commute for years now and one thing that I do miss is the "transition" time from work to home. Sometimes that 15-20 minutes of privacy is just what you need to get ready for the second shift. Of course spending two hours a day commuting by car is a deal breaker for me. But a mix of biking and train commuting would be fine.

I do have someone I could lean on for help if I needed to get home in a hurry.

Daddy-Stache

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2013, 07:52:28 AM »
I'm not sure how to read this.  You have $150K in equity in your current home.  So the new place costs $150K so you'd own it outright with no mortgage?  Or the new place is the same price as your current home, so moving would still give you approximately $150K in equity?

(great post by the way, it's easy to tell you spent some time thinking about it and writing it)

Thanks. I have put quite a bit of thought into this. And the input here is great. It always helps to hear other viewpoints to clear the mind.

To answer the question. If I took the $150k in equity from hte current home and used it for the downpayment on the new place my NEW mortgage payment (including taxes,HOE,etc) would be about the same as I'm currently paying. I would still have around $150 in equity on the new place.

My current larger home is worth significantly more than the new smaller home. (about a $150k more)

Daddy-Stache

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2013, 07:59:33 AM »
In your shoes, I would look at keeping the current house and schools until you no longer need the nanny.  Your kids are settled, there is enough room for everyone, and they likely feel connected to their mother in this house.  You can be home from work in a few minutes if a problem arises. 

With a 7 year old, you have probably had a chance to get a close look at the local school.  Is it really that bad?  If so, can you transfer the child to another school in the same district?

Once you no longer need the nanny, you will have more income to work with.  The kids can go to private school or you can move at that point.  They will be older and transition more easily. 

You did not say how long ago your wife died, but I would not even consider moving if she died recently.  The kids have already been through a lot.
Its been three years. We have been through the ringer but Myself and my daughters have emerged closer. Part of my thoughts is that maybe the time is right for a change. As another poster said very astutely, it isn't a purely financial decision.
My local school is one of the better ones in the district so its a regional issue with the schools around here.
Good point about the income from not needing a full-time nanny. That will be the case no matter what I do.

Daddy-Stache

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2013, 08:07:44 AM »
I wouldn't get so hung up on what's "mustachian" and what's not, or what a "true mustachian" would do.  You're in a pretty unusual and tough situation here, and there are enough pros and cons to each that the more important question has to be which one feels right to you.  This does not sound like a primarily financial decision, but a personal and emotional one.  For me personally, I hate doing yard work, love walkable neighborhoods, and would welcome a manageable train commute as a way to get a little quiet time for myself each day.  I think if there's enough cool stuff within easy walking distance, the kids aren't going to mind the lack of a yard.  When the kids are older and you don't need the nanny as much, could one of them have that room?
Lans,
You hit several nails squarely in the head.

* Personal and emotional decision. check
* hate yard work. check
* love walkable neighborhoods. check
* train/bike commute as "daddy time" check
* cool stuff in walking distance check
* Nanny room available for rug-rat use in future. check

Sweet Betsy

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2013, 08:17:34 AM »
It sounds like you've thought this through quite a bit.  One thing that jumped out at me is whether or not your nanny will be amenable to moving into much smaller quarters when you move.  It sounds like she has the run of the basement in your current house.  Will she be okay with moving into a small room?  Or will you be on the search for a new nanny if you move? 


Mr.Macinstache

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2013, 08:22:07 AM »
I think a commute is really secondary to better life for your girls and the satisfaction of downsizing. There are plenty ways of living mustachian while driving to work, so I don't think a commute is a deal breaker. I say go for the piece of mind with the better schools. Your pro's far outweigh your cons. Best of luck with your choice!

Another Reader

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2013, 09:10:51 AM »
Your kids are an important factor in this decision.  In your shoes, I would involve them in the decision, especially the 7 year old.  I would take them to the new area and show them the model homes if this is new construction.  I would talk to them about sharing a room and show them where everyone would sleep.  Show them the yard and talk to them about what they could do in the small yard.  Walk them around the area and show them where things are and the new school the older one would attend.  If there is a community park, walk around and play on the play equipment.  Drive them to the commercial area and show them the places they will go to shop and the train station.  Explain that you will take longer to get to and from work so they know what to expect.

Let them process all of this and listen to everything they have to say.  If they have serious issues, address them before you make the decision to move.  You may find they are either more or less attached to their home than you thought.  That will help you decide whether now is the time to move.

jflo

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #15 on: August 30, 2013, 12:08:49 PM »
I do a roughly 20 mi one-way commute using rail + bike.  Around 9 bike and 11 train.  This is about the max that can really fit into a daily life (takes about an hour 10 one way, an hour 20 the other due to hills).

Cycling 18 mi one-way is not something you can count on unless its entirely flat and you're really fast.  I find the 10-11 mi mark one way about the max for a daily commute that you can recover from without just being wiped at night and needing lots of extra sleep - there are hard core folks who do more, but this is probably they are probably fitter and younger than me.

That said, I agree about train time.  I don't even have kids and I find I appreciate the 20-25 minutes I have to mess with my phone, read whatever, etc., before arriving home.  I'm a lot nicer to my husband when I get that time :)

You'll just need to make sure that you actually use the train.  I'm constantly surprised how few people here in LA use our Metro - it's only $1.50, you can get half way across the county in some cases, and bikes are allowed.   People just believe the story that LA has no public transport without actually looking into it.

Otherwise, I do understand living farther for a more livable place if you have a non-car commuting option.

galliver

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #16 on: August 30, 2013, 12:35:31 PM »
I don't see the problem. You're moving to a more walkable (bikeable?) neighborhood, and you can still bike to work (either the 18 mi or with transit), so overall you'd probably be able to do less driving around (and since you're a mustachian, you would :) ). Smaller house = smaller bills (heating, cooling, lighting). No yard would be a dealbreaker for some but it's a plus for you... You'd be paying a premium (same price/smaller house), but that's payment for the huge jump in school quality. At least, the measured kind--maybe go visit and check them out, first.

My parents, two younger sisters and I lived in 2BR, 1000 sf or less apartments until I was 15 and were quite happy (then we moved to a 3BR condo that was badly laid out and a pain for 2 years, and they downsized to a 2BR again when I went to college). They could probably have gotten a bigger place on their budget, but the schools were a major factor. 1600sf should be a TON of space for your family of 3-4.

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #17 on: August 30, 2013, 12:45:06 PM »
No/small yard is a bonus! Time/money saved on taking care of it. There are always parks to play in. I'm all about a house with a minimal yard.

I hate yardwork.

Catbert

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #18 on: August 30, 2013, 12:56:03 PM »
In your situation I would probably more.  Decent (although not ideal) commute, smaller house, better walkability and much better schools.
 
You might still look for other options in the new, better school district.  Maybe other condos/houses in that area that are a bit less of a commute. 

I would not involve your children in the basic decision to move/not move.

Dee18

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #19 on: August 30, 2013, 06:09:45 PM »
As a single parent, the move sounds good to me.  Sounds like a good situation for the kids, and since you plan to only have the nanny a couple more years, they will get their own rooms when they are a bit older.  Might want to check the after school care situation.  I do think you should make this decision without consulting the 7 year old, contrary to what one poster suggested. (this advice is based on some of my own mistakes as a single parent) A single parent has to be wary of letting a child take on a spouse's role in any way.  if you wife were still here, you and your wife would decide if this move is right. Let the 7 year old just be a 7 year old.... Also, you and the kids will be able to take care of the house easily when they are just a bit older.

You have my best wishes.  At times like this I am sure you miss your spouse so much.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2013, 08:44:55 PM by Dee18 »

StarryC

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #20 on: August 30, 2013, 08:37:08 PM »
I think a commute is really secondary to better life for your girls and the satisfaction of downsizing.

I agree with the goal, but disagree with the outcome.  You sound like a good parent, and presumably you hired a good nanny.  Quality of schools matters very little when the parent is good , especially in grade school.  (Good= verbal, attentive, stable, loving) Lets say by doing this your commute goes from 5 minutes to 45 minutes each way.  That is now over an hour each day and almost 7 hours you are no longer with your children each week.  If you need to be at the school for a teacher conference or a play or whatever, it will be that much harder, and that much more time off of work.  What would that do to the time you see your kids before school and around dinner time?   

Pay for private school in high school if you must, and pay for Kumon/ Sylvan Learning Center in the summer if you are worried before high school.   Take the "you time" you need, when you need it and make it valuable time, not the half-way, mandatory "you time" you get on the train.   

kdms

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #21 on: August 31, 2013, 06:44:45 AM »
FACTORS Driving my decision
* I致e been wanting to downsize since before my wife passed. I知 paring down stuff even more all the time.
* I moved here 14 years ago with the hope that the schools would get better. It hasn稚 happened.
* I need to either stay or go within a few years. I don稚 want to move the kids once they get older.
* I can move less than 20 miles pay the same taxes and give me kids a great education.


Three of your four factors have to do with concern for your kids, and two of them have to do with education.  Have you looked at the ratings system for both your current and prospective areas and really analyzed why the schools have a 4/10 or a 9/10 rating?  Is it due to the administration, or are the teachers themselves just not that great?  Our local school has got a really bad rating as well but the teachers (and quality of education in the individual classrooms) is not the problem - it's the way the surveys and calculations are done.

If you're comfortable with your financial situation right now and your driving concern is for your kids future education prospects, maybe do a little more in-depth research into both districts (if you haven't already, your post doesn't really say :) ) and keep the financial concerns as a secondary consideration.

Good luck!

skidlystache

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #22 on: September 01, 2013, 09:24:09 AM »
Daddy,
You're definitely NOT an ass-clown. Sounds like you've done your homework. So many Americans think a big yard is required for kids to be happy.  Total BS!  As your kids get older they won't need the yard.  They'd probably rather play in a big park (you said the new house has parks nearby, right?).  They could meet other kids and you might meet others there too.  That's the great thing about community spaces. 

As for the commute I loved commuting by train (or bus -- especially the ones with bike racks in front) for the personal time to read or just stare out the window.  To me that's another plus in favor of moving. 

Peony

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #23 on: September 01, 2013, 09:56:14 AM »
I don't see anything particularly mustachian about homeschooling. It generally requires the full-time attention of a parent who could otherwise be working. (A homeschooling dad friend of mine once told me he thinks it is the most expensive form of education, for that reason.) I like homeschooling if it works for and is important to the family doing it, but it's not necessarily a frugal choice. I can't comment on your decision, except to say that 5 of us live in a 1,600-sf house with one bathroom, and other than the occasional need for one of the guys to pee discreetly in the backyard, it's perfectly adequate.

mm1970

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #24 on: September 01, 2013, 10:00:25 AM »
Quote
Lets say by doing this your commute goes from 5 minutes to 45 minutes each way.  That is now over an hour each day and almost 7 hours you are no longer with your children each week.

I hate to keep harping on this, but I will.

Please don't underestimate the affect this may have.  I recently went from working 32 hrs/ week to 40 hrs/week.  I lose 8 hours a week with my children.  This has been a HUGE adjustment.  The end-result adjustment is that I spend less time with my kids (because I go in earlier now, the baby is still in daycare the same amount of time - just more time with just daddy in the morning and less time with both of us), and the 7 year old is in after-school care an extra 1/2 hour a day.

I really regret that I made this change.  Sadly, business dictates that I can't go back to 32 hrs.

If you already spend a lot of time with your kids, I wouldn't worry.  But if you are going from being away from them 45-50 hours a week to 55-60, then I would be concerned.

Daddy-Stache

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #25 on: September 03, 2013, 10:03:39 AM »
UPDATE:
I wanted to say thank you for all the really great input. I'm liking this forum. Lots of like minded people here.

This past weekend I dragged my minions and went to check the place out a little more thoroughly. My oldest (7) was already asking if we could live there as soon as they saw the community pool. 
I really nice lady we was walking her dog gave us an impromptu tour of her house. (There is no model home) I guess I don't look too much like an ax-murderer. Seeing the size of the space in person just drove home to me that YES its smaller but it really would be plenty for my family. It really is amazing when you think about how little we actually use the space we currently have. She could not stop talking about how much she liked living there.

For me the density of the development with many amenities coming online and the walkable nature of the whole place make it very attractive. And the high quality schools for LESS than I'm paying now in taxes are a powerful draw.

Now it is just a matter of playing the long game and aligning my finances and preparing to sell my place. I've got time since the new place wouldn't be ready until next fall sometime.

As far as the commute goes, there are two potential job locations that would fit perfectly with my line of work that are within 5 miles. So I will be working towards changing my job location. So eventually I won't need to bike/train 18 miles. I'm only planning on working the next 10-15 years anyway so we shall see. Maybe this move (and everything I'm learning from this site) could accelerate that plan.

I think with everything my girls and I have gone through the past few years a fresh start and a chance to downsize our possessions and start anew will be good for all of us.

Thanks again. I look forward to staying reading more on the forums in the future.

Daddy-Stache

SunshineGirl

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #26 on: September 03, 2013, 10:20:35 AM »
Nice - you seem more clear-headed about your decision, and it sounds like there are a lot of positives about the new place.

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #27 on: September 03, 2013, 11:11:16 AM »
Best of luck to you...sounds like you're headed down a great path.

Another Reader

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #28 on: September 03, 2013, 11:23:51 AM »
Taking the kids out to look at the place sounds like it was very helpful.  The positive feedback from them is great.  It's your decision, but they will be a lot more comfortable knowing what lies ahead. 

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #29 on: September 03, 2013, 12:22:08 PM »
Taking the kids out to look at the place sounds like it was very helpful.  The positive feedback from them is great.  It's your decision, but they will be a lot more comfortable knowing what lies ahead.

Agreed... involving children in their life changes is important and ultimately it sounds like they all made the right choice together.

mm1970

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Re: Considering downsizing farther away. Am I a mustachian or a clown?
« Reply #30 on: September 04, 2013, 11:23:22 AM »
Taking the kids out to look at the place sounds like it was very helpful.  The positive feedback from them is great.  It's your decision, but they will be a lot more comfortable knowing what lies ahead.

Agreed... involving children in their life changes is important and ultimately it sounds like they all made the right choice together.
And in my experience, it's hard to go wrong with a community pool!