Author Topic: to move or not to move.... this is my question  (Read 4391 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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to move or not to move.... this is my question
« on: February 10, 2014, 03:57:50 AM »
Hello Mustachains.

first time poster in a tricky situation. first a little about me. Im a 24 year old hairstylist in the dc area. I am married to a 22 year old home maker and we have 3 young boys. My monthly income varies based on commission but is typically around 5000 per month after taxes. We have not debt (other than the mortgage), two cars, and put away 500 per month towards my Roth IRA.

I know that i am not saving enough but i feel like we are stretched so thin. this is because we have a mortgage that cost about 1400 per month and our two cars though paid off are so expensive to maintain. my car is constantly being fixed and on top of that I commute about an hour into work each way every day!!! that's a lot of gas and a lot of life being wasted but its the only way we can afford to live in our area and still own our home.

so here is the dilemma. in about 3 years thanks to my wife inheritance, home equity and some money if have stashed away we will have at least 200k plus an emergency fund. now this would still make us 100k short of our mortgage being paid off but there is the possibility of moving to a cheaper area, ditching one of our cars, biking to work and having no mortgage! this would greatly improve our quality of life and could improve our finances but there are some problems with this seemingly mustachian scenario.

Firstly this would mean using money that would otherwise go to the kids college. this wouldn't be too bad because they are young and with no mortgage we would have plenty of time to save up. more pressingly is that i work for a great company and make a pretty decent income but stylists are on an all commission income so when you move you have to rebuild again. there is no guarantee that I will make this kind of money again and that is scary. I dont know what kind of pay cut it would be so its hard to calculate. and lastly we are putting extra money down on our mortgage and would like to have it paid off in 10 years. if we use my wife's inheritance we lose the pride of climbing out of debt one our own.

The alternative would be to continue with out current arrangement and in ten years have a 300k house paid off plus a sizable Roth account plus at least 150k from our assets. that would put us in a much better spot but them my oldest son will be 16 so we cant leave this place mid high school plus with all of the commuting and working weekends i see him about 10 hours a week. is this extra money worth 10 years of a hindered family relationship?

sorry for the long post but there are a lot of factors involved here. tell me what you would do in my shoes. any insight is appreciated



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Re: to move or not to move.... this is my question
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2014, 06:27:02 AM »
Alot of these decisions are only ones you can make , however 2 hours commute everyday is crazy can you move closer to work? The other thing to think about is the cost of those 2 hours and lack of seeing your family is it worth it. You would make less getting a new job hypothetically but if your transportation costs are that much lower you might come out ahead as well as seeing your family more. I see your wife is young so stay at home with 3 kids. Could she take one or 2 in for some extra income or so something to make some extra money? The 2 cars if your wife stays home and the costs to fix i think you already answered that one.  I can only say since you have left out alot of information there is no way i would give up that much time and see it cost efficient to be away from my family.


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Re: to move or not to move.... this is my question
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2014, 04:01:55 PM »
Another (possible) alternative - rent out your house, and rent a place close to work.  You would still be building home equity, but could get rid of that horrible commute.

Or, if you move to the theoretical lower cost of living area you mentioned, how much cheaper will housing be?  And will income be similar once you build up clientele?


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Re: to move or not to move.... this is my question
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2014, 06:43:14 PM »
How many miles is the commute? An hour in the DC area might not be so far as the crow flies, or as the bike rides. I've been through there so many times wishing I had my bike...

That's an impressive income for cutting hair. Wow. If you like the area and your job, why not try and move closer to it, or put yourself on a route that would give you public transport/less congestion getting there?

Track your expenses. Post a full case study and maybe we can help you increase your savings rate by cutting spending.

As someone who had kids very early as well, congrats on being pretty well off, all things considered :)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: to move or not to move.... this is my question
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2014, 12:02:35 PM »
Thank for the great responses everyone. There are some really creative solutions. let me start with the budget.

My income

4000 per month in commission
1200 per month tips
(both of these are highly variable but we have been able to maintain these as an average)

our monthly expenses
gas 500
health insurance 85
combined life insurance 94
cable/internet 75
phone 70
electricity 400
car insurance 136
mortgage 1443
dipers 80
hulu/netflix 20
groceries 600

remaining income
Roth ira 500
3% in my 401k at work
car/house/kids/vacation fund 400
Christmas savings fund 100
our combined spending money up to 400 (depending on the circumstance)
remainder goes towards our surplus fund.

We have a 30k emergency fund. I have a 40k mutual fund and 10k in bonds my wife has a 90k trust fund that is yet to be dispersed. my Roth only has about 1k in it now since I just opened it. I should also mention that my wife does do direct sales and that usually brings in about 1k per month but we try not to count on that money and so we use half of it to pay off the mortgage and half goes to home improvement projects.

my commute is about 30 miles each way, too much for a bike. Unfortunately I live in the cheapest are of northern virginia so moving closer in is not an option my 300k house easily cost double once you get into fairfax county. my wife could definitely get a full time job and if we move she probably will at first but we really like her being at home with the kids. It makes her happy and since I work such long hours it wouldn't make sense to pay for daycare, plus she is very involved in my sons school.

I wouldnt say I love this area, we would really love to move south where we can get some warmer weather (dont laugh wisconsin) and a slower pace but I do love the work I get to do and the people I get to interact with. I dont want to come off as miserable im actually really happy with life right now and dont mind the commute at all, i do a lot of books on tape but I hate having a mortgage and I hate pay for a depreciating asset that I dont care for (like a car) so if i have the opportunity to be free of those that would be nice

also FYI were looking at greenville sc home prices are about 30% cheaper

And thanks for the kind words about my age and income 50k isn't all that much though to a hairstylist (its our little secret:) ) Ive made more in the past and i know many people in my company who make over 100,000 some even make over 200,000. not bad for a job with no student loans

« Last Edit: February 11, 2014, 01:41:04 PM by nick1989 »


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Re: to move or not to move.... this is my question
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2014, 01:47:35 PM »
If I were in your shoes, I would move to low COL area.  You can work anywhere, practically, so I can't find a single good reason to stay in an area that costs a fortune, forces you to commute in the WORST traffic in the country (I'm sure of it!), and keeps you away from your family.  Especially if you don't really like it here! 

I love it here and even I am counting down the days till I can move away!


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Re: to move or not to move.... this is my question
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2014, 04:06:37 PM »
Hello there!
I grew up in NoVA so I hope you can find more there to love - while the traffic is horrific there is a ton to do, much of it free.
Someone already mentioned the possibility of renting out your house and finding a smaller place closer to work - i think that warrents some serious consideration.   If you are commuting 2 hrs/day and working ~250 days a year then over the next year you're going to spend 2,500 hours (104 days!) stuck in your car, not to mention the $500/month in fuel and probably a few $k/year in car expenses/depreciation.  Your environmental impact from commuting is another black mark right now.

Something to consider - look into the ride-shares to the nearest VRA commuter rail stations or Metro stations.  If you have to spend time in traffic at least you can do it reading a book and cut some of your transit expenses.

A few other thoughts; $94 seems very high for life insurance for two people in their 20s.  My term plan is for $21/month. 

$500/month in fuel = $6k/year.  Thats a ton. Ride share, commute, VRE, **anything** to cut this back.
$400/month electric is high.  insulate, embrace the summer heat and wear sweaters in winter.
$600/month groceries could be cut buck significantly.  There's an ongoing discussion here about how to cut back food costs... many families of 4 seem to manager $250/300 while still eating well.  The WashingtonPost did a fantastic series in the food& living section where local chefs came up with easy meals for a family of 4 for under $10 in total costs. 

Your savings are actually not bad.  You should get a least a shoulder-pat for having monthly IRA &401k contributions, and for budgeting for things like xmas and vacations... the goal with the cost-cutting suggestings above of course is to double or triple your current savings rate so you can reach financial independence sooner, and spend mroe time with your kids!

 finally - while other places are cheaper to live, I'd encourage you to experience the great things about living & working in/around DC>  free museums & parks, national and international events... if you aren't taking advantage of these things then you ARE spending too much.  But life is more than just a single number.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: to move or not to move.... this is my question
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2014, 09:19:36 AM »
great suggestions. First let me clarify to you northern Virginians I live in manassas va, close to wood bridge and right down the road from Clifton. I work in Tyson corner. unfortunately there is no real pt that connect the two. Im fairly close to the vre but that goes straight to Alexandria and dc. I have almost been tempted to work in the city just to take advantage of that but circumstances keep me from doing it. also the vre takes about 15 bucks per person both ways if memory serves me well so my family of 5 would pay $75 to take advantage of all of the free services. I do go to bull run park with my kids and in the summer the kids and I go canoeing at the occoquan river. we are really warm weather people so during the winter we are a bit more cooped up (mainly why we want to move south) . I do see great value in the dc suburbs but here in the exurbs i dont quite get the benefits. My primary benefit is getting to work with so many brilliant people involved in fascinating things that seems almost exclusive to this area.

My grocery budget is a bit high. my wife is very price conscious but also is all about organic clean eating which does push the budget up. I grow my own fruit trees that will start producing soon I wonder if that will help some.

How much are you insured for if you dont mind my asking? I know mine is a bit pricey for a very healthy 24 year old but my wife staying at home has made me a bit paranoid about keeping her and the kids living well if I were to die. the bulk of my insurance cost though are for my wife who's insurance is whole life (long story).

any other suggestions on cutting my savings or if moving would make sense? is our spending money too much? has anyone else made a similar move and what did they experince?

thanks again guys your perspectives have been very helpful


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Re: to move or not to move.... this is my question
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2014, 02:56:19 PM »
Hello Again.

Yes, I know that area well (used to play soccer at the bull run fields), and transportation is a challenge there.  But don't give up on it - try rideshare.  certainly there has to be other people that commute from Manasass to Tysons

As for life insurance, I have a 10yr term for $250k. I know thinking about your kids is an emotional issue (and trust me life-insurance providers exploit the crap out of that... most of the ads show some pretty girl crying over a tombstone or being dragged into an orphanage). BUT - (and this is where you need the analytical side of your brain to really pay attention) - you do NOT need to leave your children millions. You need to leave enough money so that they can have the things that they otherwise would have had with you, given to them by someone you trust and who will love and care for your children.

Think about it this way: you only need to have enough life insurance to make up the difference between what you want to give your children and what you currently have in savings (including your ROTH, 30k emergency fund, 10k in bonds, your 401k, any home equity, and probably your wife's trust fund as well). 
Because you are a mustachian, you should know that end-number is probably not as high as the insurers want you to think it is.  The MOST important thing is having someone you love and trust ready to take care of your kids if the unspeakable happens. 
Since you are an avid saver, your total worth is going up every year, and the amount you need to 'make up' in life insurance will go down a corresponding amount.
That's why term life insurance makes a lot of sense; in 10 years you will have most (or all) of your house paid off, you will have a nice (and growing) retirement account and your children will be older (and therefore be closer to standing on their own).

based on what you've told me, I'd say that a $250k term life insurance policy will allow you to leave your children (or the people who will become your childrens' caregivers) north of $400k


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