Author Topic: Help with optimal split between renting cost and travel time  (Read 2075 times)

demonsquid

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Hi,

So here's the deal:  Wife and I will be moving to Seattle from Midwest in a few months.  We wanted to rent at first and took a rental tour last week to get to know the different neighborhoods, prices, etc. Move, rental agency, etc. is covered 100% by my company.  We have a large dog, one of our most anti-mustachian decisions, so this limits the type of properties we will consider.

Finances: I'm salaried at 125k, wife is at 35k at her current job with the option to work remotely after our move, but she plans to find something better once we get settled.   Some student loans are our only debt (~50k).  We have one car, a 2000, that is paid off.  Short-term goal is to pay off the student loans, max 401k and save for a house down payment.

Here's the problem: Rental market in Seattle is crazy right now.  We will move out and live in free temp housing for the first 30 days while we find a place to live.  The rental agency we are working with thinks the demand might die down a bit when we move out there but no one really knows.  But basically there is more demand than supply and people are jacking up rates.   Here are the options I have come up with:

1. Rent close to work, SFH rent is $2000/month average.  More than we want to spend.  But the commute is 15-20 minutes max by (free) public transport and bikeable. 
2. Rent further away, SFH rent is $1400-1600/month.  Commute is about 50 minutes by public transport.  Probably not bikeable, looks like it would be a long bike ride 1.5 hour or so one-way.
3. We could buy(?) I'm not really sure I have not researched this enough to know.   We didn't want to rush into buying since we are new to the Seattle area and I wanted to work for a bit so we could save a bigger down payment while we looked.  When we move out there we would have about $25k that we would could put down and I don't think that is enough.

So I am looking for some opinions, or perhaps some other options that I have not thought of. 
 
Regarding the single family home:   We ruled out apartment buildings due to our dog.  Probably would be able to get cheaper rent if we consider them.  He is energetic to say the least, so people below us probably would not appreciate it, unless it is well soundproofed.  Also being able to run in a yard and do his business if really helpful.  Walking him once a day is fine, but taking him out to do business every few hours without a yard sounds like a pain depending where the closest park/ grassy patch is.  It might be doable though, so if there are any apartment dwelling large dog owners out there, I'm all ears.

If we rent it will be temporary of course, probably a year til we have enough for a house downpayment, so the 50 minute public transport commute might be doable.  It's way more than ideal of course, but at least I could use the time to read/work/etc. And it's free (I'll have a free public transport pass).   I bike to work now, and enjoy it but I only have a 15 minute ride in a very bike friendly city.  I'm not sure how bike friendly Seattle is but if I'm living far enough way that the rent is down in the $1400 range it looks like I would have a pretty long ride, and/or have to ride over a bridge that did not seem too bike friendly.  At that point I would take the public transport I believe just because it is free and at least I could do something with my time.   I might be wrong of course, I've only spent a few days in the city so far so any Seattle bikers feel free to chime in.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2013, 11:38:54 AM by demonsquid »

TLV

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Re: Help with optimal split between renting cost and travel time
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2013, 04:39:34 PM »
Just a few observations from living in the area:
-Most rentals charge extra (both in deposit and monthly rent) for pets, so make sure you're including that
-As high as the rent seems, compared to the national average buying tends to be even more expensive (ie it takes longer to break even, sometimes never). Run the numbers on specific places before buying.
-If you're referring to the I90 or SR520 bridges into Seattle - I90 has a dedicated bike path all the way across. 520 has no bike path, but there are (possibly free) buses that take cyclists just across the bridge.

Where in Seattle (roughly) will you be working?

demonsquid

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Re: Help with optimal split between renting cost and travel time
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2013, 10:41:28 AM »
Thanks for the info, that is actually very helpful...things like bike routes, public transport etc. are hard to get a grasp on until you actually live there and start doing it. 

I'll be working in South Lake Union.  Our rental agency gave us a tour of Ballard, West Seattle and Fremont, I told them that rent cost and commute were my main concerns but it really was not very helpful.  I believe she simply just did a search on craiglist./hotpads/etc and then took us to the places she found.  It was informative in the sense that we got a general idea of the rental market and what to expect, but not very helpful beyond that. 

If you have any decent tips about areas we should consider with a decent commute to SLU and not outrageous rent (e.g. queen anne, etc), I'd really appreciate it.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2013, 11:15:38 AM by demonsquid »

CanuckExpat

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Re: Help with optimal split between renting cost and travel time
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2013, 02:31:29 PM »
Just looked at your numbers quickly: it seems like you either be spend an extra $500 / month to be able to bike or take free public transport to work (quickly), or you save the $500 / month, and have a two hour roundtrip commute, which is not also free (or an extra 90 minutes of commuting a day).

You have a good salary, I don't know the rest of your budget, but assuming you aren't in a debt emergency, I say take the place close to work.