Author Topic: Higher rent a good trade for being able to walk and bike every day?  (Read 6435 times)

Freckles

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I'm trying to lower our monthly expenses, not increase them.  So of course I don't want higher rent.  But maybe it's worth it?

A house just came up for rent in the part of town I'd like to live in because it's a couple blocks from my kids' school, a couple blocks to the library, a few blocks to three different playgrounds, a few blocks from the pool, walking distance to a trail that can be biked on as well, walking and biking distance to the elevator that takes you to the downtown area for anything you might want there.  I think if we lived there, we'd only need the cars to get ourselves to work, daughter's piano lessons, and the grocery store.  Although of course I'm working on being badass enough to bike to the grocery store.  At least in this part of town, there are bike lanes, unlike our current location. 

Putting aside the fact that this walking/biking life sounds nice and in line with our lifestyle goals, does it make financial sense to spend $150 more in rent each month to use the cars less?  I don't really know how to calculate it.  We'd definitely use the cars less but I can't say we'd be ale to give them up completely, so maybe there's no savings after the increase in rent is factored in.

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« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2014, 12:58:46 AM »
can you sell one of your two cars if you move to the new location?

Dman214

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Re: Higher rent a good trade for being able to walk and bike every day?
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2014, 05:03:22 AM »
Can you estimate how much less you'd use the cars? For example, if you're spending $200 a month on gas now, and you think this may drop you down to $75/mo on gas - that covers $125 of the $150 right there.  You'd also factor in less miles on the car, potentially decreased insurance costs...If the direct savings of gas, etc... even come close to off-setting the $150 then I would pull the trigger.  You'd probably end up loving the place you lived a lot more anyway if you could incorporate walking/biking to many more places you go everyday.

pachnik

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Re: Higher rent a good trade for being able to walk and bike every day?
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2014, 07:43:12 AM »
Can you estimate how much less you'd use the cars? For example, if you're spending $200 a month on gas now, and you think this may drop you down to $75/mo on gas - that covers $125 of the $150 right there.  You'd also factor in less miles on the car, potentially decreased insurance costs...If the direct savings of gas, etc... even come close to off-setting the $150 then I would pull the trigger.  You'd probably end up loving the place you lived a lot more anyway if you could incorporate walking/biking to many more places you go everyday.

+1 It sounds like a good move lifestyle-wise and probably money-wise too.  For sure you would be using the cars a lot less from the beginning in your new neighbourhood.  Plus, there is what I call the MMM effect which to me means moving in a positive direction.  For example, once you start using your bikes more and walking more, you will get used to it and gain the courage to try something more challenging such as biking to the grocery store.

SunshineGirl

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Re: Higher rent a good trade for being able to walk and bike every day?
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2014, 08:48:07 AM »
I'd do it in a heartbeat. I live in a neighborhood much like you've described, and it's a good way to raise a family.

Anatidae V

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Re: Higher rent a good trade for being able to walk and bike every day?
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2014, 09:10:06 AM »
This was something I observed recently while doing my 6 monthly review of my household's expenses. We moved to a place $500/month more expensive. Our food spending dropped by exactly the same amount! Other factors were involved, but basically we paid more in rent for a larger place, while now having the time and energy to cook almost all our meals ourselves, and reap the benefits of better nutrition.
/edit: this all occurred before I found this blog/forum

I know you're asking about a car instead, but I'd say you should go for it!

fodder69

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Re: Higher rent a good trade for being able to walk and bike every day?
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2014, 09:11:55 AM »
Yeah, it sounds like a no brainer. $150 is pretty easy to make up, although you don't mention current commutes. But the idea of being so close to school and the other amenities sounds really good for the children, not to mention yourself.

Freckles

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Re: Higher rent a good trade for being able to walk and bike every day?
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2014, 09:52:56 AM »
Thanks for your thoughts, everyone! 

It would be awesome if we could go back to one car only.  I just don't know for sure because my husband's job is in a transitional state right now and we're not sure what's going to happen with it.  He might be working far away for long stretches of a time, and wouldn't need a car for commuting.  Or he might not.  It's not actually a perfect time for us to move, but houses in this part of town don't come up for rent that often.  I've been keeping my eye on it for a while. 

My commute to work is pretty short (10ish minutes) and wouldn't really change.  It would, in the sense that I'd take different roads, but the distance and time are about the same.  The biggest commuting by car factor that would change is the multiple trips to the school each day.  And then just being able to walk and bike to things in general.

I'd forgotten about car sharing programs.  That might make getting rid one car an option.

I think I'll call about the house and see if I can go see it today.  Thanks guys!

Freckles

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Re: Higher rent a good trade for being able to walk and bike every day?
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2014, 08:32:30 PM »
We were able to see it today.  It has some quirks, being a house from 1885, but we liked it a lot.  I'm concerned about the cost of heating it-- it's an electric system which in my experience is more expensive than gas.  And then there's the issue of insulation.  I don't know how well and 1885 house is insulated.  They've done a lot of refurbishing and almost all the windows are new, so there's that.  But I don't know what's inside (or not inside!) the walls.  So excited about the area, though.  We're leaning toward applying for it.

olivia

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Re: Higher rent a good trade for being able to walk and bike every day?
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2014, 09:08:58 PM »
We were able to see it today.  It has some quirks, being a house from 1885, but we liked it a lot.  I'm concerned about the cost of heating it-- it's an electric system which in my experience is more expensive than gas.  And then there's the issue of insulation.  I don't know how well and 1885 house is insulated.  They've done a lot of refurbishing and almost all the windows are new, so there's that.  But I don't know what's inside (or not inside!) the walls.  So excited about the area, though.  We're leaning toward applying for it.

Can you ask for copies of the most recent bills so you know what you're getting into? 

I will say that newer windows make a huge difference in my experience.  I've always lived in old places (1920s and older) and newer windows (and doors, but there are less of them!) really make all the difference.  I'm currently in a house built in 1800 and it has newish windows plus storm windows, which helps keep it warm and keeps our bills relatively low.  (However, it's a row house so isn't exposed on all sides, which I think makes a big difference.)

lhamo

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Re: Higher rent a good trade for being able to walk and bike every day?
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2014, 10:43:02 PM »
I'd move. Living within walking distance of school is worth its weight in gold, in my book.  Our kids used to be able to walk to school, and life was so much simpler.  Now they have a 45-60 minute bus ride and making that haul for school events, to pick them up when they are sick or injured, etc. has made life incredibly complex (especially considering my office is nearly 2 hours from their school by public transit, or a $20-30 cab ride (that still takes over an hour).

Rural

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Re: Higher rent a good trade for being able to walk and bike every day?
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2014, 03:57:39 AM »
If you were going to be able to walk or bike to work, I'd say go for it, but it sounds like you're not, right? So how would the move affect your primary commutes? The neighborhood sounds like fun, but it seems like it's really a lifestyle upgrade, not a cost-saving measure.

If your work commutes get shorter or if you're currently driving children to school because there is no other option, then it may save some money, but you need to run the numbers to see if it saves anything like the increase in rent. You also need to see power bills and factor in the increased costs there (they will be higher, new windows or no; people don't spend the money to insulate historic buildings and then rent them out as a general rule).

Also consider how you'll handle being cold in the winter -- it may not be possible or practical to keep the place as warm as you'd like.

If you're willing and able to pay for a lifestyle upgrade and that's how you choose to spend your money, then go for it. But if you really want to find the best financial option, first get hard numbers (now that you know electrictiy will be a major factor) and then run them.

Mlkmn

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Re: Higher rent a good trade for being able to walk and bike every day?
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2014, 04:12:41 AM »
Are there any 3 BR town homes or apartments for rent in the area? That would fix the heating/cool issue most likely. You could try for a short term 3 month lease while you wait for your husband's job to settle down.

What about buses? Does the school system not have a bus system to pick up the kids? You could live closer to work and they could ride the bus.

Also, a 10 minute drive in a city is like 2-4 miles. You can ride a bike that distance to work. So you really don't need two cars.

Freckles

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Re: Higher rent a good trade for being able to walk and bike every day?
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2014, 12:27:57 PM »
If you were going to be able to walk or bike to work, I'd say go for it, but it sounds like you're not, right? So how would the move affect your primary commutes? The neighborhood sounds like fun, but it seems like it's really a lifestyle upgrade, not a cost-saving measure.

Well, that's a good point, Rural.  I (or rather, the babysitter) would be able to walk the kids to school but I'd still have to drive to work.  So maybe it's not a savings.  Previously, I drove myself to work and my husband drove the kids' to school, opposite directions and at different times.  Right now, he has to leave the house at 6 in the morning, so I take them to the babysitter's house (opposite direction from work) and turn around to go to work, passing my house again in the process.  If my husband is to be out of town for long stretches for work, which seems likely at this point, then I'm hoping to be able to hire someone to come to our house in the mornings and be with the kids after I have to leave for work (my start time is 7:30 and is not at all flexible) and then get them to their school for their start time at 8:30.  That would eliminate my double driving in the morning, but you're right in that the new location wouldn't really make any difference in my commute.
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Freckles

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Re: Higher rent a good trade for being able to walk and bike every day?
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2014, 12:50:29 PM »
Are there any 3 BR town homes or apartments for rent in the area? That would fix the heating/cool issue most likely. You could try for a short term 3 month lease while you wait for your husband's job to settle down.

Possibly, but kind of doubtful.  It's in the historic section of the city, mostly smaller, old houses.  I could look, but we also don't want to give up having a yard for our kids and dog.  I don't know if anyone would do a short-term lease, but I think that you bring it up is important.  We probably shouldn't be making any move while we don't exactly know what his work situation is going to be.

What about buses? Does the school system not have a bus system to pick up the kids? You could live closer to work and they could ride the bus.

No bus; it's a private grade school with a preschool (my kids are little).  Living closer to my work would cost us money because it's out in the country and we'd have to commute to everything BUT my work.  I live in the city and work in the country which is probably the opposite of the usual scenario.

Also, a 10 minute drive in a city is like 2-4 miles. You can ride a bike that distance to work. So you really don't need two cars.

Ha, well, yes, sort of.  I wrote about my cycle to work attempts in my journal.  I'm still a little crushed by my failure but am trying to recover.  It's not city driving, and I'm a sad wimp.  It's an incredibly hilly 5.1 miles from my current house.  It is still my goal to be able to ride to work someday, but I'm not there yet.   It would be 6.2 incredibly hilly miles from the rental house I looked at yesterday.  Even if I could physically do it, it would mean leaving my house even earlier than I do now which would mean paying for someone to come earlier to my house for childcare.  I don't think it works out at this point.  Maybe if my husband's job changes to a more child-friendly schedule or if I get placed at a different location.  I'm considering asking for that, honestly.  I used to love where I worked but we have a new boss and she's UGH, plus, the location really is inconvenient out in the country.  Beautiful, but inconvenient.  And apparently, expensive since it requires having a car (for me).  I mean, it mostly does for anyone but a serious cyclist who doesn't have childcare to contend with.  There's not even a city bus that goes out there.  There's carpooling, possibly.  That's about the best I can think of for that location. 

Thanks everyone for trying to help me figure it all out! 

Freckles

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Re: Higher rent a good trade for being able to walk and bike every day?
« Reply #15 on: January 20, 2014, 01:03:14 PM »
Don't forget the huge quality of life benefits that come from spending less time in a car. It's hard to quantify, but life just feels so much better when you commute by foot to run errands instead of being stuck with a car.

I went from 10 hours a week driving to a walkable area and it's like getting an extra vacation day every week. Plus I am in better health.

Yes, double check utility costs, but I'd leap on it.

Yes, I haven't figured out a way around driving myself to work, but the location would offer not having to drive to most anything else.  It probably is more of a lifestyle goal than a financial one at this point in time.  But it has the potential to be financially better as well, if I can make some adjustments in our life.

I think discussing it with everyone and considering all the questions and great points brought up has lead me to the answer.  The answer is, wait.  We need to know better what my husband's work situation is going to be and I need to find out if I can change my work location.  (Now I'm pretty sure I'm going to ask for a transfer rather than just thinking about it, thanks to this thread causing me to realize the extra cost involved in working at my current location!)  That house, although nice in a lot of ways and perfect location-wise, has as many questions about what it will actually cost to live in as we do about our jobs this coming year.  So I think now is not the right time but that we are definitely going to move to that part of town when it is the right time.  I'll just keep an eye on the housing market in that neighborhood while waiting for job situations to be more stable, and another house will come along.  Maybe we'll work toward the goal of buying something in that neighborhood instead of another rental.

SunshineGirl

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Re: Higher rent a good trade for being able to walk and bike every day?
« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2014, 06:58:41 PM »
I ride an electric bike and think that could be the solution to your commuting problems. You just zoom up the hills and can coast, coast, coast the other times.

Also, at least ask on the utility costs. If they're not bad, wouldn't you want to know?

Freckles

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Re: Higher rent a good trade for being able to walk and bike every day?
« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2014, 09:40:19 PM »
I was all set to sell my electric bike because it did not help me zoom up the hills to work.  The hills were too steep and I ended up doing a lot of walking and pushing the heavy bike up them, and then the battery gave out on me.  But from the other neighborhood, I'd be taking a different route and although I'd still be going up in elevation, the hills are not as steep, I believe.  It's worth looking into.  I still don't know about the extra time factor and having to pay for childcare to cover it, though.