Author Topic: Buy a house or stay in my condo?  (Read 3549 times)

sunnyca

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 411
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Orange County, CA
Buy a house or stay in my condo?
« on: January 29, 2017, 09:00:19 AM »
I probably know the answer, but I'll ask anyway...

I currently live in a condo in a HCOL area (Irvine), with an approximate 45 minute commute to work.  I like the area, but it's being heavily developed, and the traffic is getting steadily worse.  I'd really like to buy a house where I work, but SoCal real estate prices are insane.  I'd need to spend roughly $700k to get a home here.

Currently, my mortgage is $1,100, with HOA of $290, and property taxes of $4,000.  With the house, my mortgage would go up to $2,500, and property taxes would run about $9,000. 

I've been working for the same local government agency for the past six years, and will probably stay there until retirement.  There's a bit more security in working for local government, which is why I mention it.  I currently make $119,000, single, no debt, no kids, three pets (two cats and one dog).

I know this sounds crazy, but I'm so tired of commuting and I do really feel like my quality of life will improve significantly.  Is making this leap insane?

Snow White

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 171
  • Location: Texas
Re: Buy a house or stay in my condo?
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2017, 09:15:18 AM »
You are 35 and planning to work at this job for how long? If you really plan to work there for 10+ years more then, I'd try to find a way to move closer to work.  Could you find a less expensive housing option than $700,000? Another condo perhaps? 

Quality of life is the most important factor IMHO and that commute would reduce me to tears daily. I'd move but then I don't always prioritize saving money over my comfort! 😉

sunnyca

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 411
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Orange County, CA
Re: Buy a house or stay in my condo?
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2017, 09:24:59 AM »
Condos in the area I'm looking at are $550k+, with hefty HOAs since they're older ($400-600 is the norm).  It's pretty painful.

Fire2025

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 234
  • Location: LA LA Land
Re: Buy a house or stay in my condo?
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2017, 09:46:16 AM »
We chose to buy as close to your works as we could and we are very happy about that.

I'm sure you will look at your equity, your work time frame, lifestyle and make the best chose for yourself. 

No real advice here.  I just wanted to stop by and say from one SoCalie to another, I hear you.  The prices are truly crazy.

Jakejake

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 720
  • FIRE: June 17, 2016
Re: Buy a house or stay in my condo?
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2017, 10:04:17 AM »
What about getting a house and renting out a room?

sunnyca

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 411
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Orange County, CA
Re: Buy a house or stay in my condo?
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2017, 10:24:12 AM »
What about getting a house and renting out a room?

I may do that.

ShortInSeattle

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 576
Re: Buy a house or stay in my condo?
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2017, 01:16:44 PM »
I think this is a tough decision. At one point I cut my commute from 1 hour each way to working from home and it was life changing. 10 extra hours a week!

Have you done the math on how many months/years buying a closer home will add to your working time? That may be one way of evaluating it.

"I get back an hour every day, but I work 3 years longer. Does that feel right?"

SIS

Mikila

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 233
Re: Buy a house or stay in my condo?
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2017, 01:25:14 PM »
Could you rent out your current condo and rent  a house or townhome closer to work?  I'm wondering what the financials look like with one of those scenarios.  With prices so high, I suspect it makes more sense to rent near work than to buy.  But you would have the numbers to test that theory...

Metric Mouse

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5299
  • FU @ 22. F.I.R.E before 23
Re: Buy a house or stay in my condo?
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2017, 08:07:36 PM »
Could you rent out your current condo and rent  a house or townhome closer to work?  I'm wondering what the financials look like with one of those scenarios.  With prices so high, I suspect it makes more sense to rent near work than to buy.  But you would have the numbers to test that theory...

Good point. Renting near work might be better than buying.

Hard to say, but renting out the condo is probably not a win. Worth looking at though.

sunnyca

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 411
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Orange County, CA
Re: Buy a house or stay in my condo?
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2017, 10:40:26 PM »
So with all the huge extra costs you'd incur (and your condo is very inexpensive by Irvine standards) and extra work I think you'd be better off staying put and doing the commute. Maybe go earlier and stay later and hit the gym or do something you enjoy. That's what I did and it helped with the commute a lot.

I've thought about that, and if I was dogless, I'd probably go earlier/stay later.  But part of the problem is that I have a condo with a deck, and a dog with a stubborn bladder.  She will ONLY go on grass, and won't use potty pads.  Plus, I feel pretty bad staying longer than I need to at work since she's by herself (well, with the cats), for so long.  Luckily, my manager is pretty understanding, so any extra work I need to do, I can do at home instead of at work.

Getting the dog while living in a condo was probably a bit of a mistake, but I love her to pieces.

Sigh.  I'll keep thinking about what I should do.  Thanks, everyone, for the advice- it's really helpful!

Cassie

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5790
Re: Buy a house or stay in my condo?
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2017, 03:35:45 PM »
I agree that buying a townhouse with a small yard might be the better option to reduce your commute. Also if your dog is not huge you can buy a fake piece of grass that is over a slide out tray. It is made for dogs to go potty on.  You could put that on your deck and make her a doggie door. Obviously if your dog is huge this won't work.

Iplawyer

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 308
Re: Buy a house or stay in my condo?
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2017, 04:02:07 PM »
Do whatever you need to do to reduce your commute time.  Nobody every lay on their deathbed and wished they had a longer commute. 

missundecided

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 273
Re: Buy a house or stay in my condo?
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2017, 04:04:42 PM »
So with all the huge extra costs you'd incur (and your condo is very inexpensive by Irvine standards) and extra work I think you'd be better off staying put and doing the commute. Maybe go earlier and stay later and hit the gym or do something you enjoy. That's what I did and it helped with the commute a lot.

I've thought about that, and if I was dogless, I'd probably go earlier/stay later.  But part of the problem is that I have a condo with a deck, and a dog with a stubborn bladder.  She will ONLY go on grass, and won't use potty pads.  Plus, I feel pretty bad staying longer than I need to at work since she's by herself (well, with the cats), for so long.  Luckily, my manager is pretty understanding, so any extra work I need to do, I can do at home instead of at work.

Getting the dog while living in a condo was probably a bit of a mistake, but I love her to pieces.

Sigh.  I'll keep thinking about what I should do.  Thanks, everyone, for the advice- it's really helpful!

How about a dog walker? Are you near UCI? Maybe a student can walk her for a lower fee than the pros.

sunnyca

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 411
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Orange County, CA
Re: Buy a house or stay in my condo?
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2017, 05:26:05 PM »
Another idea to help with the commute while you are deciding  would be doggie day care near your work. I know of at least 3 places off the top of my head but no idea about cost or set up. You could go early, drop off dog and then puck her up for walks right after work and drive home after rush hour.

BTW you might want to get the mods to move this to the "Ask a Mustachian" forum as it really isn't a case study and you'll probably get more replies there.

I used to use a doggy daycare, and take her to the dog park, until... she got attacked by another dog.  Since then, she's gotten very mistrustful of other dogs and doesn't get along with them.  :(  So the doggy daycare isn't an option, unfortunately.

I've looked at condos/townhouses around here, and the HOA's are pricey!  I pay $290 now, and in the city I'm looking at, the fees are much higher (double in some cases).  It's understandable- the units are older, and require more maintenance.  But still, ugh.

Unfortunately, I'm not near UCI.  Dog walkers in my area run about $40 per half hour.

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 11096
  • Age: 61
  • Location: NorCal
Re: Buy a house or stay in my condo?
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2017, 10:52:58 PM »
I agree with all of spartana's advice. I lived in SoCal (Cypress, then West LA) and I was a traveling sales rep, covering from Santa Barbara to San Diego, so I really do understand your commute pain AND what a screaming deal you have. If you have the income and down payment to qualify for a new place (condo/townhouse) without selling the old, I'd start looking, planning and...waiting. There's a decent possibility that the market will settle down, if not tank, again. That's when you want to pounce on something super close to work. Worry about how well funded the reserves are more than the monthly dues (within reason, lol), because you're going to be saving on gas and commuting expenses as well as your time. Then you can sell or rent out the existing unit. Heck, if you keep it, the rent you get might surprise you and ease the pain of the higher HOA fees. You can always sell it off when you FIRE and your commuting days are no more. Knowing the commute is temporary really will help make it bearable while it lasts.

Palm Stash

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Buy a house or stay in my condo?
« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2017, 05:14:03 AM »
+1 on the suggestion of renting out a room. That could help you defray a lot of costs.

If you move close to work, what's to keep you from getting rid of your car? If you're within 5 miles of work, you should be able to commute by bike everyday, then use public transportation/Lyft/carsharing to fill in the gaps. We save a lot of money doing this where I live. If you're in local government, it's a stable commute I imagine. Perfect setup for going car-light.


brian313313

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 199
Re: Buy a house or stay in my condo?
« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2017, 11:25:27 AM »
My wife and I moved from a condo to a house. In less than a year the house was up for sale because we didn't like all the extra work and $ for maintenance. Everyone is different so you may not mind, but there are more differences to condo/house living than just the budget.

Good luck on your decision.

sunnyca

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 411
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Orange County, CA
Re: Buy a house or stay in my condo?
« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2017, 06:45:23 PM »
Well, I made the leap and decided to put in an offer on the house, which was accepted. 

I did get a screaming deal on my current condo, but the appeal of moving closer to work (I'd have a 1.5 mile commute!) is pretty irresistible.  The house is in a pretty decent central location (10 min bike ride to the beach, work, Costco, and parks), so if I do decide to get a roommate to help defray costs, I'll probably be able to find people who would be interested.  I think.

I did the math, and while I'm taking a big hit to my savings rate which will slow down my FIRE date, I think it'll be ok.  I'll still be able to save roughly 20% of gross.  Too low?


Fire2025

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 234
  • Location: LA LA Land
Re: Buy a house or stay in my condo?
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2017, 09:23:37 AM »
Congratulations!!!  It sounds like you are going to be very happy there. 

Also if you get a tenant you should be able to up that savings rate.  I think sometimes in all the talk about FI and savings rates we forget that the real goal is happiness.  With the understanding that you are doing it thoughtfully and not just because that's what's done. 

BTH7117

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 71
  • Location: Washington, DC
Re: Buy a house or stay in my condo?
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2017, 10:53:57 AM »
Well, I made the leap and decided to put in an offer on the house, which was accepted. 

I did get a screaming deal on my current condo, but the appeal of moving closer to work (I'd have a 1.5 mile commute!) is pretty irresistible.  The house is in a pretty decent central location (10 min bike ride to the beach, work, Costco, and parks), so if I do decide to get a roommate to help defray costs, I'll probably be able to find people who would be interested.  I think.

I did the math, and while I'm taking a big hit to my savings rate which will slow down my FIRE date, I think it'll be ok.  I'll still be able to save roughly 20% of gross.  Too low?

Glad to hear it!  I was just going to chime in that I made a similar decision 2 years ago (2 mile commute in DC) and I found the extra time to be worth the cost.  Enjoy your newfound free time!