Author Topic: NYC or Suburbs?  (Read 3301 times)

Sweetpotatofries

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NYC or Suburbs?
« on: October 05, 2016, 09:19:56 AM »
Not sure if this has been posted here before but I didn't pull up much searching...

My husband and I are in our mid-20s. We met in law school, have been married for a little while and currently live in Manhattan although neither of us love it here because it's where we went to school, our family/friends are in the area, and it's where we got jobs. We had been plotting our escape to what MMM might call "a better place" for awhile when we found out that he got offered an opportunity at his firm too good to pass up, and almost simultaneously that we're expecting our first child.

We've been considering a move to a suburb of NYC that has lots of apartments in walking distance to the commuter train station and shops, lots of green space, and is close to outdoorsy activities like hiking that we both enjoy. We're not fans of city living but if we moved we'd keep car use very reasonable (my uncle offered to gift us an old car he was going to just get rid of - not very Mustachian but works for us!) We would use it for Costco/Target runs, visiting family/friends, and driving to some nearby hiking spots on weekends.

The question is, is it worth trading husband's 35-minute subway commute for a 75-minute train and subway commute? He's done it before as he commuted to college to save $$ and we'd both really rather live out of the city, plus we'd spend $1000+ less per month (700 less on rent for a larger apartment or up to 1300 less for the same as we have now), and then cheaper groceries, etc, but adding in the cost of a monthly train pass and gas for the car trips). And if in a few years we find that his job and being close to family/friends outweighs the negatives of living in such a crowded, high COL area, the school factor is huge.

Any thoughts are appreciated!
« Last Edit: October 05, 2016, 09:22:42 AM by Sweetpotatofries »

redbird

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Re: NYC or Suburbs?
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2016, 09:53:22 AM »
It honestly depends on what's worth it to you. Some people forget that time itself actually is money.

In a previous job, some of my co-workers commuted 2 1/2 hours roundtrip from out of state because they wanted cheaper housing and more land. But that giving up that much time every day to commute never seemed worth it to me, especially because those housing savings weren't significant enough.

My DH went back to work temporarily even though we FIREd (sort of a too much money to refuse situation). The place we live is about $200 more per month than the cheapest place we could live. The pros of living here is that the place is brand spanking new (literally - we are the first to live in this apartment), there's a ton of amenities free to use for the residents like a fully loaded gym and a pool, it's in a MUCH better neighborhood/area, and his commute is less than a mile. He can walk or bike to work. The closest cheap place is roach infested, moldy, very old, in a bad neighborhood, and his commute would go up to 45 minutes per way. If you break his salary down to hourly pay, he's getting paid enough that $200 more per month is easily worth all of those benefits.

You don't say how much you and your DH make, but $1000+ per month savings is huge. Plus it sounds like there's other great benefits. If I were in your shoes, I would move, even if I HATED commuting.

norabird

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Re: NYC or Suburbs?
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2016, 10:15:01 AM »
I love living in the city, but since you don't, I'd move. I currently reverse commute from Brooklyn to Long Island which is about an hour and ten minutes door to door, and while the length sounds onerous to others, it's not stressful at all (I take the Q train to the LIRR at Atlantic). Crowds are worse coming in/leaving from Manhattan obviously, and losing the time at home with baby will be hard, but commuting isn't as bad as it sounds.  You'll be staying home or working outside the city? That would make it easier to coordinate things for baby.

historienne

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Re: NYC or Suburbs?
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2016, 12:27:30 PM »
With a new baby, I would not make this move unless I absolutely had to.  I had a much shorter (50 minute) commute for several years after my first child was born.  It was soul-sucking.  I often didn't see her at all on the days that I had to commute in to work.  There's a serious risk that your husband will not be at home while your child is awake at all during the week.  I'd put up with a pretty shitty apartment, and pay a lot of money, to be able to see my kid more than 2 days a week.

ETA: Don't think about the schools right now, you aren't going to be using them for another 5 years.  It's a whole different scenario when your kid is 5 and staying up until 8:30 at night.  Many infants need to be asleep by 6 pm.  At minimum, I'd wait until your kid is 1 or so and you have a good enough sense of their normal sleep pattern to know what kind of tradeoff you are actually looking at.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2016, 12:33:38 PM by historienne »

Sweetpotatofries

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Re: NYC or Suburbs?
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2016, 12:46:43 PM »
OP here. Our plan is for me to stay home since on his "big law" salary (he'll be at 190k/year in January 2017, 210k/year in January 2018 - it's a pretty rigid scale) it makes sense. His hours actually aren't terrible for big law due to working in a niche area. Usually 8:30/9am to 7:30/8pm. Maybe able to leave a little earlier if he's commuting since many of the partners he works for do that. I also currently work in law at a slightly lower but still very good salary (145k for now which would go up slightly) but we really want for one of us to stay home and also I was trying to transition to a different industry pre-baby already due to not liking it as much. Even staying home, I'm hoping I can freelance writing or doing some editing for legal or other publications for some income.

On his take-home salary of about $9k/month (after fully funding 401k, HSA, and also my IRA) we think we'll be able to save $3k/month living in Manhattan vs. $4k/month or more living outside the city. Nowhere near the savings rate of many on here, but when we project the post-baby budget we're trying to be super conservative.

« Last Edit: October 05, 2016, 12:51:18 PM by Sweetpotatofries »

historienne

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Re: NYC or Suburbs?
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2016, 02:00:00 PM »
OP here. Our plan is for me to stay home since on his "big law" salary (he'll be at 190k/year in January 2017, 210k/year in January 2018 - it's a pretty rigid scale) it makes sense. His hours actually aren't terrible for big law due to working in a niche area. Usually 8:30/9am to 7:30/8pm. Maybe able to leave a little earlier if he's commuting since many of the partners he works for do that. I also currently work in law at a slightly lower but still very good salary (145k for now which would go up slightly) but we really want for one of us to stay home and also I was trying to transition to a different industry pre-baby already due to not liking it as much. Even staying home, I'm hoping I can freelance writing or doing some editing for legal or other publications for some income.

On his take-home salary of about $9k/month (after fully funding 401k, HSA, and also my IRA) we think we'll be able to save $3k/month living in Manhattan vs. $4k/month or more living outside the city. Nowhere near the savings rate of many on here, but when we project the post-baby budget we're trying to be super conservative.

If he is in biglaw, then frankly I think this is a terrible idea.  By your estimate, your husband will be out of the house at least 7:40-8:50 most days.  With my kid, that would have meant seeing her for maybe 20 minutes in the morning, while I was rushing around getting ready to leave the house.  That will suck for him, but also for you, since you will be doing basically 100% of the childcare Monday through Friday, and probably a disproportionate amount on weekends as well (even in a niche practice, I imagine that he has to work on weekends occasionally).  I have friends in this position - SAHM with biglaw spouse who is basically not home during the week - and it seems very stressful.   You are saving 3k/month after maxing your retirement funds.  An extra 1k is not worth missing your kid's infancy.  Seriously, imagine explaining to your child some day that you'd rather have $12k/year than have them get to see their father during the week.

Again, things will be different in a few years.  Your kid will be awake a lot more, and you will know more about their natural circadian rhythm and temperament.  Some kids do naturally stay up late, and if yours does, then you'll have more flexibility.  But right now, you don't know what your kid will be like, and moving to the suburbs is a gamble where losing means that your husband doesn't see his kid 5 out of 7 days of the week.

TheWee

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Re: NYC or Suburbs?
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2016, 07:25:10 PM »
Just to add to this. I used to live in Central NJ, 2.5 hours each way by train/walking (could have been 1.5 hours by car). I would leave at 5am and get home at 8pm (worked 9-5), to me no way to raise a family (couldn't even have a dog). Did this for 2 years. Moved closer to the city (45 minute door to door bus/walk), but now work 8-6. Usually leave at 7am get home around 7:30pm, on nights I don't go to they gym. Still would like more free time, but the rent increase wouldn't be worth it ($800 for a studio vs $2k studio/1-1.2k w/ roommates).

Growing up in Central NJ, my dad would drive to the city. Usually, we would not see him in the morning. One of the memories that stuck with me, is a day that my mom prepared a nice meal, we were all seated at the table, and my dad comes home to go eat in front of the tv. I understand now, how tired it can be after a long day. But at the time, it left an impression. We had a lot of family support, which was very helpful. Personally, if I were in your position, I would try to stay in the city until the child is out of ~first grade. At that point I would consider moving to the suburbs. It is tough moving schools once friends are developed, but it is a little easier now with technology.

Another thing with the subway/train commute is delays. If they ran on schedule, it would be fine, but they were usually 10-15 minutes late for me. And then you have to consider where in the city. I used to take the train into Penn, but worked near Grand Central. It was the crosstown commute that got to me. The train ride was just over an hour. Perfect amount of time to study certifications/catch up on tv shows, while having my morning coffee...but I tried walking/subway/citibike and it was too much of a time suck.

shengjiang

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Re: NYC or Suburbs?
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2016, 06:15:51 PM »
Where is your husband's office and what is the likelihood that he will continue to work in that general area? 

We live in Westchester and much prefer our Metro North commute to the subway, but we both work  close to Grand Central so YMMV. 

Here are some more variables to build into your model:

-- not having to pay the 4% NYC income tax (which we could never deduct from our federal taxes because we make too much)
-- recent increase in pre-tax commuter benefits
-- crazy property taxes in the suburbs if you do choose to buy

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: NYC or Suburbs?
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2016, 06:24:58 PM »
Just to add to this. I used to live in Central NJ, 2.5 hours each way by train/walking (could have been 1.5 hours by car). I would leave at 5am and get home at 8pm (worked 9-5), to me no way to raise a family (couldn't even have a dog). Did this for 2 years. Moved closer to the city (45 minute door to door bus/walk), but now work 8-6. Usually leave at 7am get home around 7:30pm, on nights I don't go to they gym. Still would like more free time, but the rent increase wouldn't be worth it ($800 for a studio vs $2k studio/1-1.2k w/ roommates).

Growing up in Central NJ, my dad would drive to the city. Usually, we would not see him in the morning. One of the memories that stuck with me, is a day that my mom prepared a nice meal, we were all seated at the table, and my dad comes home to go eat in front of the tv. I understand now, how tired it can be after a long day. But at the time, it left an impression. We had a lot of family support, which was very helpful. Personally, if I were in your position, I would try to stay in the city until the child is out of ~first grade. At that point I would consider moving to the suburbs. It is tough moving schools once friends are developed, but it is a little easier now with technology.

Another thing with the subway/train commute is delays. If they ran on schedule, it would be fine, but they were usually 10-15 minutes late for me. And then you have to consider where in the city. I used to take the train into Penn, but worked near Grand Central. It was the crosstown commute that got to me. The train ride was just over an hour. Perfect amount of time to study certifications/catch up on tv shows, while having my morning coffee...but I tried walking/subway/citibike and it was too much of a time suck.

+1

I live in Central NJ (Princeton) and commute to Jersey City. Two full hours a day are gone in travel (driving is worse, would be around 3 hours). With the hours he works, you would not see him at all during the week. His weekend would end up doing the chores which most of us do in the week.

My suggestion is to live in NYC and travel on the weekend to go and hike etc. Even if it is 2 hours travelling each day of the weekend (total 4 hours) that would be better than travelling 2 hours each weekday (10 hours).


lhamo

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Re: NYC or Suburbs?
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2016, 07:02:26 PM »
+1 on the suggestions to stay in the city until you have at least had a chance to get adjusted to life with a baby. 

hoyahoyasaxa

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Re: NYC or Suburbs?
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2016, 12:17:04 PM »
We lived in Queens and then made the move to Rockland County, NY to be near our family.  My wife commuted to the Lower East Side for about six months when we had a 3-month old, and then made the decision to quit her job as the 3-hour round trip commute was not worth it.  If you're going to make the move to the suburbs, I would strongly suggest trying to find a job in the area in a similar title/field.  You may give up a little bit of money compared to the city, but the benefits in terms of work/life balance (I personally am working about 20 hours less per week, in a full-time job, than I did in the city) is more than worth it.

NY_steve

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Re: NYC or Suburbs?
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2016, 08:24:47 PM »
I commuted from Dutchess to all of the boroughs except Staten Island for 20 years, the first 15 years I didn't mind but the last five were the worst and made me hate my job more than I should have. Be careful where you move to because the commute WILL eventually win and you will lose.

obstinate

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Re: NYC or Suburbs?
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2016, 12:08:45 AM »
Almost certainly not worth the increase in commute. That is an extra hour and a half of commuting a day. That's a significant fraction of all your weekday free time. Also, considering when most kids go to bed, a full time worker with a 75 minute commute will see their kid maybe an hour a night tops until they are three or four when they begin to sleep less. This is to say nothing of seeing any of your friends. How can you make any if all your time is spent at work or on the train?

Also, there's all kinds of evidence that long commutes are awful for happiness. http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2011/05/your_commute_is_killing_you.html
« Last Edit: October 21, 2016, 12:12:30 AM by obstinate »

obstinate

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Re: NYC or Suburbs?
« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2016, 12:17:11 AM »
-- not having to pay the 4% NYC income tax (which we could never deduct from our federal taxes because we make too much)
Pretty sure there's no limit on how much local income tax you can deduct. If there is, I can't find any info about it. This is what I'm reading: https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc503.html and https://www.irs.gov/publications/p17/ch22.html#en_US_2015_publink1000173147. I only bring this up because I'm not sure it should be a factor when considering what to do in this situation.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2016, 12:20:31 AM by obstinate »

screwit

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Re: NYC or Suburbs?
« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2016, 01:17:03 AM »
Don't do it. $50/working day savings for that length of commute when you are on that level of income? Not worth it.

Some posters have mentioned what it would be like for him not to see the baby but no one has yet talked about what it will be like for you. Being at home with a baby is exhausting,  stressful and very,  very lonely. Your relationship will suffer just because of the new screaming human - I mean it,  it will. If you have post natal depression it is so very very bad and a lot of women have that,  whether diagnosed or not.  You are thinking about moving away from everything and every one you know and seeing your husband even less?

Don't.  Really,  don't. The suburbs will still be there in a few years and your kid can't use the garden/playground etc for the first year any way. Make sure you guys can handle the new construct of being a family before you throw any more complications on top of it.

shengjiang

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Re: NYC or Suburbs?
« Reply #15 on: October 21, 2016, 05:49:14 PM »
The issue with the NYC tax is the AMT...

obstinate

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Re: NYC or Suburbs?
« Reply #16 on: October 21, 2016, 05:51:27 PM »
The issue with the NYC tax is the AMT...
Ahh. With AMT, it's not that you make too much. It's that you make in the middle. Once you pass a certain threshold, you won't get hit by AMT any more, even if you deduct the city and state income taxes.