Author Topic: Help enumerating and estimating suburbs vs. city  (Read 2772 times)

wrong demographic

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Help enumerating and estimating suburbs vs. city
« on: October 19, 2012, 08:30:21 AM »
Hi folks,

my husband and I currently rent a modest apartment near good public transit routes at the edges of a major city. Any closer in, rents would be astronomical or we'd be dodging bullets and drug deals to pay similar rates.

However, this city has had an economical boom and rents have increased by almost 30% over the last year, but given the housing climate, sale prices haven't been rising as quickly. our lease is up and we have the option to a) pony up the 30% rent price increase or b) buy a house (excellent credit,  no current debt, 10-15% down, mortgage + PMI payment close to our current rent).

We don't make a ton of money-- I work for a non-profit and my husband has a public sector job and neither of us are tech mavens. We have the ability to purchase either: a small (<1000 sq ft "condo alternative"), 50-110 year old, house in a similar gentrifying neighborhood near the city; or a larger 20-60 year old house (~1500sq ft) with a big lawn (typically 1/4 - 1/3 acre) in a rural outer burb about 25 miles from either of our jobs. There are no small houses with small lawns in the 'burbs.

Currently,  I commute by bicycle for my sub 5 mile commute and he can take a motorcycle for his 11 mile commute (driving when the weather is bad), but in horrible traffic --- it takes 35-45 minutes. His job requires a typical 9-5 schedule and the flexibility to drive between meetings in business clothes (at least he gets milage reimbursed).

He likes the idea of moving to the country and driving on the highway, rather than the traffic-y city roads -- his commute would probably only be another 10-15 minutes more than it currently is, and more pleasant for those first 45 minutes. I have much more to lose as I really like biking to work and we'll be way too far for that.

I want to be able to do the calculations to show the cost of living change from living close in in a small house to living far out in a larger house with more property. We're pretty mustachian in our spending habits, so we won't be buying different things for  tiny vs. large house --

We'd also have to incorporate that result into our house search -- I don't believe (based on just a gut feeling) that we can buy as much house for our money out in the burbs, but I haven't done the calculations.

I can estimate property tax differences, the cost of me either a) biking to commuter rail and then to work, or b) old car driving (we'd have to buy a "new-to-us" used vehicle as we're a 1 vehicle + old motorcycle + bicycles household); the difference in utilities for a larger house, and property taxes. What else am I forgetting? 

Soft things like: value of time, convenience to city for fun times, are not of interest to the husband -- he likes to talk about how much he loves mowing lawns, and avoiding the city (although I think he'd quickly reconsider both). In terms of time -- I'm the only one with significant time losses, so the value of that is moot in trying to make my argument. His driving expenses won't be that different -- old car/moto, similar gas consumption, etc..

What other "hard money" numbers are involved here? Anyone else make the move to the country and kept the commute? what were unanticipated expenses or trade-offs?

Also, I suspect that the tiny house in the gentrifying urban neighborhood will increase in value faster than a house that is beyond where people currently actually want to live (there is a steep house-price increase a couple miles closer to the city where commuter rail is in the middle of town, etc). Given the volatile housing market, I can't really make that argument from past house prices. Any idea of what I need to do to make a better prediction?

Thanks!

$_gone_amok

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Re: Help enumerating and estimating suburbs vs. city
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2012, 11:43:29 AM »
Here are some things that I would consider:

Appreciation rate of the property in both neighborhoods.
Walkability of the new neighborhood.
School district if you plan to have children.

I'm not sure why you consider value of time in the "soft money" category. Time is priceless and I would value it the most.  Trading a 5 mile bike commute for a 25 mile car commute is a bad idea.

wrong demographic

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Re: Help enumerating and estimating suburbs vs. city
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2012, 06:12:37 PM »
I agree that my commute is currently pretty amazing... but my husband doesn't have the luxury of riding a bicycle to work (Given that he has to drive on the job), so my desire to keep all of my time doesn't factor into a relationship decision where he will be trading a stressful city drive for a less stressful drive of similar time commitment -- which makes it soft money that can't be calculated/factored for a team decision-- my commute in the 'burbs would become identical to his, where right now, mine is way easier, and I have the option to telecommute 2x a week if I really wanted to...


Some guidance on how to estimate appreciation rates (now that the last 10 years of housing prices make no sense at all) would be really helpful! I'm not sure where to start...

Thanks!

TomTX

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Re: Help enumerating and estimating suburbs vs. city
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2012, 05:51:04 AM »
Has he actually tried the highway driving during rush hour? In many cities, that drive vastly sucks as well.

I'd suggest the small house, with the shortest reasonable commutes.

Oh, and mowing grass was fun for maybe the first year. It really gets old.

caligulala

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Re: Help enumerating and estimating suburbs vs. city
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2012, 10:34:29 AM »
I don't understand why the length of your commute wouldn't matter to him. You can get stuff done in the extra time it would take for you to drive that benefits you both as a couple, like getting a head start on dinner prep. Not to mention the additional cost of a second car and its maintenance, gas, etc.

Is there a rule that he has to drive his own car? Would it be possible to use Zipcar or similar near his office to drive on the days he needs to use a car for work? Then he could bike or transit to the office and use a car as needed.

To me it sounds like you lose out on all fronts with a move to the exurbs. Longer commute, higher expenses, and it doesn't sound like you are keen on country life anyway.