Author Topic: Should we move out of Seattle?  (Read 27076 times)

zippyc

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Should we move out of Seattle?
« on: July 21, 2014, 10:40:50 PM »
Hi there!

I've been reading the blog from the beginning and it's definitely adding to some of my ideas of what to do for our financial standing. My husband works for a large US retail establishment as a store manager. He's been with the company since he was 16 years old. He currently grosses about $95 per year (including bonus, so this can fluctuate), but only takes home about $5000 per month (taxes, medical, 401K, stock options).

I used to be an insurance agent, but was laid off about 3 years ago, which was a blessing for me at the time. We have 2 kids (6, 8) and I've been staying home with them and doing little side gigs from time to time. Currently I am just starting an online job for a friend and hope to be netting $1000 per month by January (I also receive about $300 in insurance renewals per month).

Other than both of our sizeable 401K's, we have no savings. The good news is that, other than our mortgage, we also have no debt. I feel super lucky to be able to stay home at this point (especially in expensive Seattle), and we have seen noticeable improvements in our kids since I started doing so, however we are still finding it tight and like we are living paycheck to paycheck around here.

I began suffering from wanderlust and SADS about 4-5 years ago. I was born and raised in Seattle and I'm ready to move on. My husband, however, moved here about 14 years ago from Chicago and loves it here. Until recently, living month to month felt ok to him, as he prefers not to make big changes.

A few months ago, my husband had his first job scare and experienced the reality that, just because he wants to keep status quo for life, his company may not feel the same way. If he was to lose his job, we would have to put our house on the market right away. You see, we have a lot of equity, but no cash to pay bills/mortgage. I suggested at that time that we consider selling our house now, so that we are prepared for anything that happens in the future. Our house has a pretty amazingly landscaped backyard that would show 100 times better if we sell in the summer, so I prefer to be in control of when we sell.

We happened to buy our house in the right neighborhood in 2003 and we put a heck of a lot of sweat equity into it over the years. After we put about $20K more (all windows, upgrade 2 bathrooms) into it, we should be able to sell for about $800K. We currently owe $360K. At this time, we are planning on selling next summer. Now we have to decide, do we stay in spendy Seattle, where my husband currently makes more money (they are paid by the market they are in), or do we consider taking a cut in pay (or consider the possibility that he could lose his job altogether in a year or two) and move to a warmer area (thinking Richmond VA or Raleigh NC) where we could possibly buy a house with cash?

We could walk away from the sale with about $350K. What do we do with the money at that point?

We currently live in a neighborhood where my husband can (and does) bike to work. To stay in this area, we could pay $475-$500K for a much smaller house that would need at least $100K of work (Yes, the market is absolutely INSANE around here - those junkers are selling in one day with multiple offers). This would be mustachian, in that hubs could still bike to work. I currently spend about $50 per month on gas, so we don't drive much or sit in any traffic by being in this location. We could move to a cheaper neighborhood (safety and good schools are non-negotiable for my girls), where we could get a house for the same price that doesn't need as much money in work and would have more land. However, that would take away the biking option and my gas consumption would go up.

If we buy another house, I need to have a smaller mortgage (currently paying $2400 - at 3.8%, incl tax and insurance -about $600/mo) in case anything does change in our job situations. That means that we have to put down enough money to get us a mortgage of $250K or less. So if we buy a $500K house, we would have to put $250K down and that house would need about $100K in work, so there goes all of our money and we still have no savings (but we have a lower mortgage). I will also mention that this market here feels an awful lot like a bubble to me, even though people keep saying there's plenty of good things here to support it.

I would love to move somewhere warmer, slower, smaller. I would love to be able to send my kids out biking in the street and have them run next door to play with the neighbors (do kids still do this? it depresses me that we don't have that in the city). There are so many people with money moving into the area and I don't love that pressure (what camps are your kids doing this summer???). I would love to have a little land (we have a 4500sq ft lot), like a quarter acre. We would still pick some place that needs a little sweat equity to hedge against any possible future moves. It's a huge risk/cost to move somewhere new and on top of that, my husbands income could drop by $20-30K per year, so that could negate much of our housing savings. I also hate to admit that I would probably move to the burbs, which would increase our gas consumption, but I do think some of our other costs would go down to compensate.

If we move to the southeast, we could use all of our money to buy a house with cash or take out a $100K mortgage and put $100K in the bank.

Sorry for going on and on.... As I see it, here are our options:

1.  Stay in our house and keep our fingers crossed. I can also work on increasing my income (wherever we go). Hope that we aren't in a housing bubble and we won't lose the equity we currently have. Kids stay at same school.

2. Sell and stay local. Benefit is a smaller mortgage, but at a huge time/stress cost of remodeling. Kids stay at same school. (rent here is almost higher than my mortgage, so renting doesn't make much sense to me).

3. Follow my dream to move to the opposite coast. We then have lots more options for exploring areas we've never been to (at 45 years old, I feel like I've been there, done that out here). Housing would go down, think our monthly expenditures would stay about the same (about $2050/mo not incl mtg or escrow). But hubby's income would go down too. IF he does lose his retail management job, we would have lower monthly costs to worry about getting by and I feel like we could recover quicker. Also, and this is stretching it, I feel like we have much much cheaper options for in state college tuitions.

I'm not sure a breakdown in monthly costs matters at this point, so I'll stop rambling on and just wait to see what other info you need from me.

Thank you for your help!!

ModernIncantations

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2014, 11:42:34 PM »
Just briefly skimmed but I'll throw in my 2 cents. I just moved to the area a year ago from Georgia. 500k for a house is beyond insane.

I own a rental house (former home) back home that we bought for 90k. It would cost about 600k here. Think about what the difference
is (AFTER interest too). It's a beautiful, exciting place, but nothing is worth that cost if you really crave FI like we do.

I came for an adventure, a resume line, and great memories. I can always come back to visit, but freedom trumps just about everything.

Hope my perspective helped!

surfhb

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2014, 11:55:12 PM »
What's your total networth? 

$800 in Seattle is a pretty upperclass.  Hell....that will buy you a place near the beach in Huntington Beach near me!   With your equity you can pretty go wherever you like.   

I just guessing but I think your spending too much and you really want to move.    Personally, I'd wait it out and see if your husband really looses his gig.    Other then that and depending how large your 401k are,  you're pretty close to retirement.    But only if you can cut your spending :)

zippyc

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2014, 12:45:00 AM »
We didn't buy for $800K, that's just its current worth. I, too, think it's insane which kind of makes me want to cash in now. We bought for under $400K. We are in the Ballard neighborhood which is about a 15 minute drive (our soul sucking traffic drives up the cost of close in houses) from Amazon and downtown. We have great neighborhood schools and there are homes a few houses down from mine that have views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Our area has a lot of small old homes and ours is 2400sq ft above ground (no basement), which is big by Ballard standards. Also, the inventory is incredibly low right now, so most houses are selling in bidding wars. A view home that is just down the block from me is on the market for over $1 million right now.

Seattle has suddenly become a really hot place to move to (which is funny, because I want to leave). It's so crowded that they are building huge apartment buildings because there is a ridiculous shortage of rentals. I could actually rent my house out for about $600 more than my mortgage. You see, we are surrounded by mountains and water. You can't get anywhere without crossing a bridge. Like San Fran, we are limited by geography, so the supply can't always go up to meet the demand.

I'm not sure my other costs would go down if we move, but I've been told that our water/garbage/sewer costs are quite high ($105/mo - and we use the tiniest garbage can they offer, it's just the cost of business here). We don't need A/C, so summer is cheap around here (we don't water our lawn), but I spend over $1000 per year just for earthquake insurance (my house is on a block foundation and could scoot right off if the big one hits). We don't have income tax, but we pay a lot in property tax and sales tax. We are a long way from FI, as our only savings is in 401K's (can't tap until 59). We do each have about $250K in our 401Ks. I'm 46 and my husband is 38. We have about $350K in equity in our house, for the time being.

My concern is that we would move somewhere for a cheaper house, but our other costs wouldn't go down (I'm having a really hard time figuring out monthly costs for other cities). That would still be okay, except that my husband would lose $20-$30K in income if he transfers to a more affordable area. If we moved and our house savings offset the loss of income, I think that would be okay with me, but we also have the unknown of how well the family will adjust to the big change. I'm the one pushing for the big change, so I don't want to get my way and then find we are all broke and miserable.

PilotsWife

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2014, 01:13:06 AM »
I'm sorry, but there is just too much text & not enough numbers for real help to be offered.

You say you're living paycheck to paycheck & have no savings, but your math ($5k income, $2k spending, & $2.4k mortgage) doesn't add up. Also, your spending sounds crazy high for someone who has no savings/nest egg beyond equity & 401k. I think your best bet is to post a budget breakdown so we can help you move away from Seattle while decreasing your worry about a potential job loss.

P.S. Beyond housing, I don't think Seattle is all that spendy. I live in Ballard too & I don't find the cost of living to be too bad (with the exception of my mortgage). By living close to your husband's job & buying your house at the right time, you effectively negated the two biggest costs associated with living in Seattle.

Cressida

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2014, 01:27:23 AM »
Oh man, I feel you. The Seattle housing market is nuts. FWIW, I don't think it's a bubble. We're just coming out of a bubble! It's just a desirable place to live.

If you think you'll stay in Seattle, do not sell your house. Keep your equity. It will only go up and up.

If you want to move away, well, then move away, that's a totally legit desire, for all the reasons you bring up. But don't do it because you think the Seattle market will crash. Not going to happen.

zippyc

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2014, 02:10:46 AM »
Mortgage    $1792
Escrow        $550

Gas/electric  $145
Water/garbage  $105
Car Ins         $125
Internet       $40
Cell phones  $200 (includes phone for my mom)
Life insurance $60
Groceries   $500
529 savings   $50
Gas for car  $100
Dog             $75 (still a puppy, so higher cost now)
EQ insurance $100
Terminex (rats!)  $35
Eating out     $150
Dr Bills (high ded)  $75
Kids Activities,
clothes, gifts   $200

Total = $4302

So while we should be saving $700 per month, it looks like we are frittering it away on vacations, remodeling projects, car maintenance, business expenses (my contracting work can have a few substantial costs), home maintenance and other things that come up in a family of 4. We are definitely not to the true mustachian stage. I am new to the Mustachian way and am slowly working on making changes. We just recently dropped cable and I'm trying to get our food bill down to $400. If we ever went without a mortgage, we could get by very comfortably on $30K for a family of 4.

We do have some stocks and probably about $2000 in cash savings, so we could manage for a couple months without a paycheck, but that's nothing.

I do admit that mentally, I really want to leave here and wish our equity to could parlay us into a better living situation. It also makes me nervous having such a high mortgage (not high for Seattle, but for much of the US it is).

surfhb

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2014, 02:59:29 AM »
Personally I think you should sweat it out till the kids are ready to graduate high school and then retire completely at that time.  I'm sure you'll get a job when the kids are pre teens.   I just returned from Seattle and it was great but it was also 90 degrees and sunny :)   

You really need to build up that emergency fund though.     

You guys are in a pretty damn good spot in life....like really good!    Budget and enjoy watching your kids grow.   

TrulyStashin

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2014, 08:00:36 AM »
The first rule to remember is.... wherever you go, there you are.

The grass is not necessarily greener.  In the SE, finding a bikeable community is pretty hard.  Many of your costs will go up or you'll face the same trade-offs that you're facing now.  Plus, moving is really expensive and if you don't have an emergency fund then how can you pay for a cross-country move?

Your girls are 6 and 8.  The school year is starting soon.  Why not get a part-time job that works around their schedule? 

You also have room to cut your budget (cell phones at $200/ mo!).   When I read your first post, I see a pretty clear slant toward "I want to leave" and it seems you're stacking the deck to justify that decision.   

Why not spend the next year really, truly committing to mustachianism while also working part-time and then see the result?   At the end of the year, you'll either realize that you have the emergency fund you need and everything is just fine, or you really do want to move and then you'll have the $$ to pay for that cost.

TrulyStashin

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2014, 08:07:59 AM »

I do admit that mentally, I really want to leave here

I think this is clouding your judgment -- you've got "grass is greener" syndrome.   Experiment with changing your mindset by telling yourself, every day, how much you love your house and Seattle.  Make a list of all the good things (see your post, above, there are plenty) and pick something from that list every day to be grateful for. 

For almost 15 years, I listened to my grandmother go on about how much she loved her Ford Granada.  Every day, she extolled its virtues:  the cold A/C, the vinyl seats, the canary yellow color (in and out!).   Finally, it crapped out and she sold it and said to me "Thank God.  I hated that car."

I was amazed!  "What?!"   She said, "That was what I could afford and I needed to love that car while I had it.  So I made myself love it by telling myself that every day how wonderful it was and it was fine."

So much of our happiness has to do with our mindset and we're in control of that.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2014, 09:16:29 AM »
Before trying to extract your equity to relocate to a place with better trade offs, I would explore cutting your expenses and increasing your income.  Being a SAHM in a large home, in a desirable community is pretty challenging anywhere.  Consider the climate and culture as well.  How well would your family acclimate to a hot climate and probably more conservative social values?

whiskeyjack

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2014, 09:34:44 AM »
I haven't looked at housing prices lately, but for your husband's commute you could consider Shoreline/Kenmore.   Just pick someplace close to the Burke-Gilman and you have an excellent bike trail to downtown.

I grew up on the east coast, then moved to a desert and then to the Seattle area, so I find your desire to do almost the opposite amusing.

Goldielocks

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2014, 09:44:25 AM »
A friend moved to Florida from Seattle, then California.

They too are in grocery retail management.  The family loved Florida so much that even California felt like a mistake.  Family together activities were everywhere with the climate and beaches, and COL was much less so there was money to use.

I suggest serious looking at east coast to figure out exactly what you would do, then deciding.  Also, east USA has a lot of retail stores, so finding alternate work should not be too hard.

SondraRose

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2014, 10:01:45 AM »
I have lived in SC for 3 years and Seattle for 9 years, so I thought I'd chime in...

Sounds like a good time to take stock and do some research to make sure a move is in your best interest long-term.

First of all, I suggest you get your Vitamin D3 level tested & supplement with oil-based D3 until you get up to a blood level of 60-80 ng/ml.  Doing this totally eliminated my SAD symptoms.  Seasonal Affective Disorder can seriously cloud your judgement, so I would make this a priority.  In the meantime, find a tanning salon that specialized in UVB beds and plan some short camping trips out to Eastern WA or Oregon for sun (assuming you can find a place without forest fires!)

Second, set up a HELOC so you have an emergency fund immediately available if anything happens to your husband's job.  This should help relieve a bit of your anxiety. 

Definitely get your expenses down to Mustachian levels while you are still in Seattle.  Then, if you do decide to move, you will easily be able to deal with a 20% drop in income.

The culture in the SE US is very different from the Pac NW.  If you haven't spent a lot of time there, I would highly recommend a long visit.  The COL is less, but so is the "culture" and as your kids get older, they may appreciate more of what Seattle has to offer. 

Once you get more cash flowing with your expense cutting and the new job, you can plan some travel to check out possible places to live and satisfy your wanderlust!
« Last Edit: July 22, 2014, 10:04:54 AM by SondraRose »

Westoftown

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2014, 10:13:07 AM »
I would think of it this way too.  Can your husband get a job in either of those places?  Take some vacation time and visit and interview.  If you get a job offer, do it.  I wouldnt sell and move with no job prospects, family etc in those towns.  But, I agree if I could walk away with that equity it sure would be tempting.  Real estate in hot markets can go down as well as up.  good luck!

totoro

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #15 on: July 22, 2014, 10:25:53 AM »
If your husband wants to stay that is a pretty big factor right there.  As for the job, he still has it and I wouldn't necessarily give it up until you have to.  A buy-out might be something he is offered, or a severance package.

If you want to relocate, go places to have a look first.  Once your kids have a network of friends it will be much harder to leave so do it soon.

I don't believe Seattle is in a bubble either, despite the run up in prices.  I think this may be the new normal.  You may not experience much further appreciation in the next few years but even a tiny bit of appreciation on $800 000 is a lot.   A cheaper house in a less desirable area will never give you that retirement cash-out plan.

Your emergency fund could be a HELOC - easily.  Set it up now so if your husband loses his job you can wait for the spring/summer market if you choose to.  Save all of your new income for this possibility too.

SunshineGirl

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #16 on: July 22, 2014, 11:00:08 AM »
I sense that some of your thinking is the result of your husband's recent job scare and the lack of cash you have on hand, so address that by paying yourself first every month until you have 3-6 months worth of living expenses.

Also, might this be a good time to explore new careers for yourself in growing fields? If you want to be home still for the sake of family ease, you could begin preparing for a new career by going to school or learning coding or something.

Since your husband wants to stay in Seattle at least while he has this job, I'd try to make that work, but build savings and options in case a layoff happens.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #17 on: July 22, 2014, 12:20:50 PM »
I happen to like it in Seattle. I used to live in the Midwest. In my experience, the housing is much more expensive here, but everything else is only marginally so. I question whether you would be better off financially moving to a lower COL area if it meant giving up $20-30k of salary. You may be, but my guess is it would be a toss-up at best.

I do think you might have more house than you can easily afford at this time. $800k is pretty expensive even for Ballard. A quick Redfin search shows 29 Ballard homes on the market right now that have at least three bedrooms and cost less than $600k. If you bought one of those you could have somewhere around $200k of equity to take off the table. You could distribute this money as you see fit between savings (to give yourself some financial breathing room in case of job loss) and lowering your mortgage principal (to decrease your monthly cash outflows). At the same time, your cost for property tax, home insurance, and certain utilities (particularly heating) would likely go down.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2014, 12:23:05 PM by seattlecyclone »

magnuminator

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #18 on: July 22, 2014, 01:31:51 PM »
I was born and raised in and around Seattle, too, and have been struggling with mixed emotions about the city for some time.  It's a nice place to live, but it feels more like a city for the well-to-do fancypants set every year. 

Having said that, I think that a lot of that really comes down to the fact that it used to be a really affordable place to live, almost a middle-class paradise - provided that you didn't mind the weather.  That's definitely no longer the case.  More money and more people squeezed into the same place has made it more crowded and expensive than it used to be, but you can't really choose between living in Seattle circa 1988 and Seattle today. Your choice is between staying in Seattle and going somewhere else.  You say that your dream is living on the east coast.  How well do you actually know it? 

Of course, you may not miss the old Seattle one bit, so if that's me projecting my own feelings onto you, please excuse me.

For whatever it's worth, I'm often told that Seattle is still a relative bargain in many ways, at least compared to many coastal towns.  And at least some of the data that I've seen support that view.  But you already have a leg up on many of us in the area of housing costs, which are the scariest thing about this place for an aspiring Mustachian.  As you noted, you really do need to build an emergency fund, but (as others have pointed out) selling your house isn't the only way to do it. 

So...I guess I'm suggesting that I don't think that you need to leave, though I also believe that there are plenty of legitimate reasons why you might want to go.  If the changing spirit of the place doesn't suit you, you really want a leg up on FI, or you're just sick of the weather, then it would seem like a good idea to follow the advice of some of the commenters and investigate your other options more fully before committing to a place that you don't really know. 

Wolf_Stache

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #19 on: July 22, 2014, 02:26:26 PM »
Another Seattle Transplant speaking up - try taking Vitamin D pills for a few months. You can get them at the grocery store pretty cheap - Fred Meyer (there is one in Ballard) has them buy 1/get 1 all the time.

I've found these helped my S.A.D.D. immensly, more even than having a sunlamp.

Also, it sounds like you bought your house near the lower end of the market. I agree the prices here are insane - I'm renting a tiny studio for $927.

One thing you could do if you decide to stay, but want to get at your equity is to sell the house and buy a condo. They are generally much cheaper.

mariejm

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #20 on: July 22, 2014, 06:36:41 PM »
Mortgage    $1792
Escrow        $550

Gas/electric  $145
Water/garbage  $105
Car Ins         $125
Internet       $40
Cell phones  $200 (includes phone for my mom)
Life insurance $60
Groceries   $500
529 savings   $50
Gas for car  $100
Dog             $75 (still a puppy, so higher cost now)
EQ insurance $100
Terminex (rats!)  $35
Eating out     $150
Dr Bills (high ded)  $75
Kids Activities,
clothes, gifts   $200

Total = $4302

-------------------

1) Some of the expenses are pretty spendy
2) Your husband is feeling like his job might not last?
3) Your house has increased in value a lot

Advice

2) Plan for your husband to be obselate by age 40 or within a few years. The Seattle job market is hot for young up and comers. Envision a 2 year plan, where do you see yourself in 2 years - selling your house with a almost retired husband, planning a move to a smaller cheaper house or considering to rent in a different part of the country? With your house equity, some further Mustachian savings on your monthly bills, within two years you could have a decent sub 1M pile. That's called retirement, or at least picking up a second career and moving out of a expensive area. The Puget Sound is just as beautiful in Edmonds and Shoreline... even Kirkland :)

1) Spendy. My budgets for your categories:
Gas/Electric: $65 - unplug everything while its not in use, save the refrigerator. Go cheap during the summer, line dry clothing. Mr. Mustache writes about his awesome electric bill. The one thing you can safely consume is gas for cooking, frugal wins for eating in!

Water/Garbage - you say Garbage is expensive, go in with a neighbor? $60 for water for two people is reasonable.

Car Insurance - is this the lowest it can be? With PPO and no collision insurance? I feel you could save at least 25-45 a month here, which is up to $600 yearly savings. Every bit counts. You want to feel free!

Internet: I get the budget for $20 and I clock it to make sure I am getting what I pay for. 3 MPS is plenty fast for me and I use the internet to the extreme!

Cell phones! This is a great place to save! Airvoice does $10 plans for your mom, and with a nice smartphone she can make free calls over Wifi using an app like Magic Jack or Vonage.

Republic Wireless has the $25 all included plan, and the phones can be found cheap ($40) on Ebay. That would make your cell phone cost $45-65 per month, saving you up to $155 a month which is 1860 per year. In 10 years that is 18,600 saved, just from going frugal with the cell phone. The good news is Republic Wireless still has data with the $25 plan - great for people working full time who need to multitask in every spare moment. Nokia makes the E series and Asha series for smartphones with apps and the Superguide goes over that info if you need more help.

Life Insurance: $60 a month is a lot, do both of you work? Life insurance is ok if there is an infant, I would get a lower rate, insure for only $500K and keep it only while you are non FIRE. The closer you get to FIRE the less likely you need to pay for future loss of income

Groceries: $500 - this is crazy. Do you cook? People who cook can spend much less. Max is $125 per person, kids eat about $50 a person (they hardly eat) as long as you do homemade and avoid the prepackaged "pretty marketing" food. Cook at home, kid friendly things, keep in freezer. Pizza homemade is cheap, kids love it. Granola is cheap, kids enjoy it. Yogurt is expensive store-bought, easy to make at home and cheap. Easy to flavor with jam. I'm dairy free, but kids like those sorts of foods. Veggies are cheap if you grow them, cheap at the farmers market. Slash your groceries budget in half and save $25K over 10 years. Do you shop at Trader Joes? Can you eat buttered rice regularly? Add cheap staples to your menu and you will love the savings

Gas for car: half that. Too expensive. Can you bike to local places for groceries and errands?

Eating out: Yikes - is food prepared by others important? Seattle has great places to eat for cheap, like Pie in Fremont, $6 buys you an amazing filling lunch and for two people its $12. Honestly, I would chop this budget to 2 times per month, at lunch spots, that are known for good food. Google YELP and you can find the best places that you like. There is also a great ice cream place next to Pie and going for ice creaming is 1/3 the cost of eating a meal out, yet still feels like a splurge!

The doctors bills seem high - not sure what all those visits are doing for you. Maybe test out if you can go less, the common cold cannot be cured with antibiotics but light diets and bed rest will ride it out.

The $200 miscellaneous category costs $2400 per year which is 25K in 10 years. You can think about it over time.


The steps I outline don't have to happen all at once. I found the Mustache blog 1.5 years ago. The first step I took was going car free - awesome. I made some city changes, rent downtown now, and am now working on not buying anything other then necessities (food, tp) until my savings are enough that I can take a year off. I want to live in THailand 6 months to 1 year before I become attached again in a relationship, and I think I can do it for $3K.

Thank you for posting, it is so much fun for me to see how much you can save with a few changes! I'll let you do the honor of adding up your potential savings!

Good luck :)

totoro

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #21 on: July 22, 2014, 08:01:28 PM »
=Advice

2) Plan for your husband to be obselate by age 40 or within a few years. The Seattle job market is hot for young up and comers.

What?  Really?  Obsolete by 40? 

My experience is that you are only reaching your prime earning years at about 40 and I'm just across the way from Seattle.

ch12

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #22 on: July 22, 2014, 09:10:21 PM »
He currently grosses about $95 per year (including bonus, so this can fluctuate), but only takes home about $5000 per month (taxes, medical, 401K, stock options).

I used to be an insurance agent, but was laid off about 3 years ago, which was a blessing for me at the time. We have 2 kids (6, 8) and I've been staying home with them and doing little side gigs from time to time. Currently I am just starting an online job for a friend and hope to be netting $1000 per month by January (I also receive about $300 in insurance renewals per month).

Other than both of our sizeable 401K's, we have no savings.

We are a long way from FI, as our only savings is in 401K's (can't tap until 59). We do each have about $250K in our 401Ks. I'm 46 and my husband is 38. We have about $350K in equity in our house, for the time being.

1.  Stay in our house and keep our fingers crossed. I can also work on increasing my income (wherever we go). Hope that we aren't in a housing bubble and we won't lose the equity we currently have. Kids stay at same school.

2. Sell and stay local. Benefit is a smaller mortgage, but at a huge time/stress cost of remodeling. Kids stay at same school. (rent here is almost higher than my mortgage, so renting doesn't make much sense to me).

3. Follow my dream to move to the opposite coast. We then have lots more options for exploring areas we've never been to (at 45 years old, I feel like I've been there, done that out here). Housing would go down, think our monthly expenditures would stay about the same (about $2050/mo not incl mtg or escrow). But hubby's income would go down too. IF he does lose his retail management job, we would have lower monthly costs to worry about getting by and I feel like we could recover quicker.

1. Read MadFIentist's post on how to unlock your 401k much sooner than age 59.5: http://www.madfientist.com/retire-even-earlier/

2. Listen to the people who are analyzing your budget line by line. You don't have the make all the changes, but you can make some.

3. Most of Florida is much cheaper than Seattle. RootofGood lives in North Carolina. His retirement budget is $32,000 a year, with extra fat and a paid-off $150,000 house for his family of 5 in a walkable and safe area. http://rootofgood.com/developing-a-retirement-budget/

If we apply the 4% rule to your net worth (350+250+250) http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/05/29/how-much-do-i-need-for-retirement/, then you'd have $34,000 a year. If you could move somewhere where the cost of living is much lower, then you'd have the same quality of life...but never need to work again. You'd probably keep some of your side gigs, and your husband would be free to work on whatever he chose for safety margin. However, you don't have to stay in Seattle with the high prices and high salaries.

Until I read your post, I was gunning for moving to Seattle. I am rethinking that right now.

ShortInSeattle

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #23 on: July 22, 2014, 09:30:08 PM »
We just sold our 600k home in Seattle and moved into a home half that price. If you are willing to make tradeoffs in things like square footage, you have options other than moving.

There is nothing wrong with moving if that is what you want to do, but there is livable property in Seattle for under 500k.

SIS

rmendpara

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #24 on: July 22, 2014, 09:36:01 PM »
Without getting into too much detail, you seem to either not make enough money, or have too much house.

$360k mortgage on a ~$60k after tax income?

Not cool, bro. Not cool.

It's great your home has appreciated, but that's just icing on the cake and you got lucky.

I'm from the Southeast, and would love to return there some day (currently in the Midwest). The cost of living is absurdly cheap, or can be, in the right places. It can also be VERY reasonable in the suburbs around major cities like Charlotte/Atlanta as well. A 2,400 sqft home around 15 miles outside Atlanta could be found for under $400k easily. It will also likely be fairly new (built since 2000).

Seattle is fantastic, and I'd love to be there if I got a job which could pay for the lifestyle, but without it, it's an unnecessary luxury.

If your goal is to slow down your life, I'm assuming it is, and not have to work a ton and have the time to be with your kids, it would probably be a good idea to plan a move in the next 1-2 years (either in Seattle, or elsewhere). Of course, I don't suggest dropping everything and shipping off across the country, but it's better to make changes under your own plan than when forced (job situation changes and you have to sell your house, find new job(s), move, find new home/apartment, etc).

First, I'd decide what your goal(s) are (financial and work-wise), and go from there.

Seems that Seattle offers no career/salary upside for you two?

Goldielocks

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #25 on: July 22, 2014, 09:48:25 PM »
=Advice

2) Plan for your husband to be obselate by age 40 or within a few years. The Seattle job market is hot for young up and comers.

What?  Really?  Obsolete by 40? 

My experience is that you are only reaching your prime earning years at about 40 and I'm just across the way from Seattle.

Ah yes, but you are Totoro!

zippyc

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #26 on: July 23, 2014, 01:48:19 AM »
I am actually DYING to get out of Seattle. I Hate the weather. It is way too damp and cold for me. We are having an incredible weather year this year, so that helps, but the dark and dreary weather is right around the corner.... I take Vit D, multi, Vit B, fish oil, and use a Happy Light. I've also been running consistently lately and that helps too.  My husband wears earplugs to bed because our open windows bring in so much road noise at night. I am the weirdo that likes humidity (when temps are above 60) and I do not wilt in 100 degrees. Unfortunately, I am one person in a family of 4 and I am the only one that feels that way. So I'm trying to look at this from a more practical angle. Does it make sense to leave or not? If I had my way, we would have been gone years ago. Seattle is a mecca to so many people. To me it is the place I was born and trapped (I'm a third gen native). I have travelled to many countries in this world and I'm craving some change - even if it means dealing with conservatives :-). If I can do that and end up in a better financial situation - bring it! I've been to Vancouver BC, Portland, Everywhere in Eastern WA, the Olympic Peninsula. I want to see something new. And if you don't reserve a camp site 6 months in advance? Forget about it! I call it Competitive camping.   Anyhow, this is not the place to do all that venting....

I am the family spender and I've been working very hard to not be. And I will do just about anything to avoid the stress I was under working a full time job and being a mom to two youngsters again. In fact, my spending, since I've stopped working, has dropped dramatically.

I agree that there is a lot of room in my budget. I do, however, round up on our expenses when considering them. There are some months when we only spend $300 on groceries. I do, however, have one daughter that can't have any fructose - that includes many fruits and honey, nothing sweetened with fruit (I buy plain yogurt and add frozen fruit to it) and, of course, high-fructose corn syrup. We do have to spend extra money to accommodate her (Try to find wheat bread without corn syrup, raisin juice or honey in it!). I am learning to cook more with beans, but we do buy organic fruits, milk, and some veggies. I do shop at TJ's and Fred Meyer and clip coupons and watch for sales, but I won't substitute nearly free processed food for more expensive fresh veggies and fruits. Money doesn't matter worth a damn if you are too unhealthy to use it. I shop for meats out of the "managers special" bins most of the time and shop at Costco as well.

Most of my bills listed were averaged for the year, so even though I pay very little for gas in the summer, the amount listed includes what we pay in the winter. I do keep our thermostat at 66 degrees during the day (in the winter - we don't have A/C, which is a suffering temp for me.

Are we using a lot of water, or are our costs here just high? My last bill shows that we used 4 CCF per month. No idea if that is good or bad. That part cost us $63 for 2 months. The sewer portion is $87, can I control that? I have one of those tiny garbage cans, as we have mandatory recycling and composting here. That garbage can is $45 for 2 months. My yard waste/compost (mandatory) is $14.90 for 2 months. All that adds up to $211 (I've left off the change in my calculations) for 2 months. That doesn't seem to change much throughout the year. I've been told that those costs are just higher in Seattle than other locations (we don't have income tax, so we get gouged every else. Gas is at $4.09 per gallon today).

My husband and I each fill our gas tank once per month - that's $100.

It appears that we are using about 977 KWh of electricity over 2 months. I know we can improve that, but I'm not sure it's too high.

I just paid a $400 dentist bill and one or two dr bills. My husband has some chronic back problems and has started going to the chiropractor again. He does exercises for this every day, but he is 6'4", so that might just be his lot in life. I had 3 moles removed recently (one was suspicious and two where causing pain). I got a bill from the Dermatologist for $400 and then one from the lab for about the same amount - that's $800. My daughters each got strep (one of them had to go back because hers was back or never left) in the last year. That's dr bill and labs again. Thank you $5000 deductible. I have had some bad shoulder pain since January and can't figure out what is causing it, but I'm too afraid to go to the dr and pay the bills.

To the person who thinks my SADS needs counseling... Have you ever paid for counseling? It is very expensive. Seems ridiculous to pay for counseling when I could move to a cheaper area where they have this neat thing called "Sun" that could help.

God I sound horribly defensive!

Please, please help me with our cell phone bill!! I'm hating Verizon right now (they removed our employee discount because my name was listed first and it's his company and now we are having to jump through ridiculous hoops to get it back). We still have 1.5 years left on our contract (on one phone, we are on a family plan). Because of my job and my husband constantly talking to his Chicago family, we have 1400 minutes. The next level down is 900. I think I might do that, even though there are some months we risk going over. My hubbies phone is relatively new and I'm very happy with my old windows phone, but it appears that if we switch, we have to get new phones. My new contracting gig wants me to get an iphone. Ugg! I have poured through the posts about cell phones and all of the comments, but it all seems so confusing to me (if you jump on one foot while dialing, then speak in pig latin, it only uses 10 minutes instead of 60!) that I've just about given up on trying to change it. Think I may move my mom to a pay as you go phone and get another one for my kids to use at home (I am considering that it's time to leave my oldest at home while I run to the grocery store, but we don't have a home phone). My mom's phone adds $9.99 to the bill plus $10.91 in taxes ($5.55 of that is from my state, city, and county)!!! In fact it appears that we are paying about $34.67 in taxes per month on our phone bill.

Do my husband and I go to separate phone companies? Do we ditch our phones and buy new phones? I sell medicare policies and have to be reachable. I can't have a weird company that only gets reception sometimes and I have to be in my house to make phone calls. Is there a good phone company that can use Verizon phones? And what do I do, if I need to purchase an iphone? Verizon sells them for $100 now, but then it's another 2 years for me. Help!

We are looking at a house tomorrow that is listed for $399K. It will probably need 100K worth of work (sorry, I don't have the skills for rewiring, plumbing and roofing, but I can do most other things) and I'm sure it will get bid up. I have been looking at smaller houses (cheaper house and lower utilities, maybe), but I'm having a hard time making the math look good. We need to pay about $20K to replace windows and fix up bathrooms at our house to sell. Then we pay a real estate agent (an expensive house has an expensive bill!) and taxes to sell. After that we net $350K (if it really sells for that). We buy a crap house for $450 and put a bunch of money and time into it, then we have to pay those real estate fees and taxes again to sell. In the meantime, our mortgage hasn't dropped that much. Hmmm.

I think we've decided to just stay put until we really truly know what's going on. Love the suggestion of a HELOC and will get on that right away. My husband doesn't do change or future thinking very well, so just the idea that his job could become redundant is more stress than he can handle, let alone uprooting our lives. I, on the other hand, like to look ahead too much and need to dial it back to keep him from freaking out.

And thank you SO Much for all of your feedback!!

zippyc

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #27 on: July 23, 2014, 02:22:24 AM »
I want to mention that I am very open to moving neighborhoods (as long as it's safe and has good schools), but I am meeting with so much resistance from Hubby. He is very attached to biking to work. His job can be relatively physical, so the 7 miles each way seems to be all he can handle. And for those unfamiliar with the traffic around here, moving 10 miles north can mean spending an extra 30 minutes each way on the road, on a good day, and would remove biking as an commuting option.

Hubby is also very attached to our getaways, which is his "reward" for working so hard. While he doesn't spend money on stuff, going places is important to him. We are very cheap in the way we travel, but it adds up. I'm the one trying to go mustachian, not him, so it will take time for him to come around on this.

I am going to buckle down and get that spending even lower - right after I fill both lists of school supplies!! :-). No really, I am! I hope to be back here posting great news in a years time. I just discovered this blog about a month ago when googling about moving to a lower COL area. :-)

I hope I don't sound ungrateful (as some have detected, I'm running high on emotions about this), I really do appreciate the feedback.

surfhb

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #28 on: July 23, 2014, 02:52:24 AM »
A crap house for $400k in Seattle?!   I think your tastes are rather high :).   

I just did a quick search and found this: 

http://www.redfin.com/WA/Seattle/9722-Arrowsmith-Ave-S-98118/home/177596

I'd give my left nut to live there with no mortgage and $700k in the bank :).  Pretty close to your situation.    I don't know..... call me crazy but it seems your lifestyles don't fit your income after looking at your monthly bills.  Why not downsize and start looking at retirement for the both of you?   You're almost there

Just be happy you don't live in Orange County where I'm at.    There's nothing in your price range down here......it sunny daily though. :).      The grass is always greener ! ;)
« Last Edit: July 23, 2014, 03:03:46 AM by surfhb »

surfhb

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #29 on: July 23, 2014, 03:09:48 AM »
I want to mention that I am very open to moving neighborhoods (as long as it's safe and has good schools), but I am meeting with so much resistance from Hubby. He is very attached to biking to work. His job can be relatively physical, so the 7 miles each way seems to be all he can handle. And for those unfamiliar with the traffic around here, moving 10 miles north can mean spending an extra 30 minutes each way on the road, on a good day, and would remove biking as an commuting option.

Hubby is also very attached to our getaways, which is his "reward" for working so hard. While he doesn't spend money on stuff, going places is important to him. We are very cheap in the way we travel, but it adds up. I'm the one trying to go mustachian, not him, so it will take time for him to come around on this.

I am going to buckle down and get that spending even lower - right after I fill both lists of school supplies!! :-). No really, I am! I hope to be back here posting great news in a years time. I just discovered this blog about a month ago when googling about moving to a lower COL area. :-)

I hope I don't sound ungrateful (as some have detected, I'm running high on emotions about this), I really do appreciate the feedback.

School Supplies?   Like a pen and a notebook?   Or are you compelled to go spend $200 on new backpacks and binders and all that?

electriceagle

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #30 on: July 23, 2014, 03:45:48 AM »
It sounds like you have two different issues here:

1) Finances
2) You and your husband disagree about the idea of moving away from Seattle

Have you thought about what your husband likes about Seattle and if there is a (cheaper) alternative location that can fulfill those wants? Has he been seeking a change in lifestyle that would be well served elsewhere?

The first step here is to talk to your partner so that your priorities are aligned. Once you have that, you can start to work through the finances.

Side question: If rents are high in your area, perhaps you can rent your house out and use the revenue to fund a smaller place.

aj_yooper

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #31 on: July 23, 2014, 05:14:21 AM »
I would ratchet the budget so you can build up your emergency fund; you have gotten some good ideas already.  A home equity line  would be good, but don't use it, if that makes sense.  Keep a log or spreadsheet of your expenses.  Build a cash buffer to ease your employment worries.  I'm thinking you have maintained your 2 income budget from 3 years ago.  Stuff's gotta change.  I have confidence you and your husband can turn the budget ship.  Find a plan that works for you and you will be amazed at your progress.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #32 on: July 23, 2014, 06:43:37 AM »
We have a 5500 sq-ft house with a 6 car garage on 3/4 acre riverfront just outside of the Seattle area (about a 50 min drive to downtown).  Currently valued about $300,000.   I would say the bubble is mostly just in Seattle proper :-)

Goldielocks

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #33 on: July 23, 2014, 07:13:47 AM »
A crap house for $400k in Seattle?!   I think your tastes are rather high :).   

I just did a quick search and found this: 

http://www.redfin.com/WA/Seattle/9722-Arrowsmith-Ave-S-98118/home/177596

I'd give my left nut to live there with no mortgage and $700k in the bank :).  Pretty close to your situation.    I don't know..... call me crazy but it seems your lifestyles don't fit your income after looking at your monthly bills.  Why not downsize and start looking at retirement for the both of you?   You're almost there

Just be happy you don't live in Orange County where I'm at.    There's nothing in your price range down here......it sunny daily though. :).      The grass is always greener ! ;)

Back at you, Redlands CA appears to have many many homes around $150k.  You too could move and pay way less for a home.

Suggesting a home that is a 1 hr or more commute though, isn't really a MMM answer.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #34 on: July 23, 2014, 11:09:40 AM »
Are we using a lot of water, or are our costs here just high? My last bill shows that we used 4 CCF per month. No idea if that is good or bad. That part cost us $63 for 2 months. The sewer portion is $87, can I control that?
Your water usage is about the same as mine. They typically bill for the same amount of sewer usage as water usage. There is an exception where if your water usage goes up during the summer they assume you're using the extra to water your plants and it isn't going down the drain, so they don't make you pay sewer charges for the excess. Other than that, not much you can do about the sewer charges.

Quote
My yard waste/compost (mandatory) is $14.90 for 2 months.
You aren't required to subscribe to compost service if you have a compost bin in your yard. You just have to call them up and they'll take the can away and stop charging you for it. It's only about $90/year savings, but every little bit helps.

Quote
It appears that we are using about 977 KWh of electricity over 2 months. I know we can improve that, but I'm not sure it's too high.
My wife and I use about 600 kWh per two-month billing period. You have a bigger house and bigger family so you're not doing too bad, but could probably improve.

Quote
We are looking at a house tomorrow that is listed for $399K. It will probably need 100K worth of work (sorry, I don't have the skills for rewiring, plumbing and roofing, but I can do most other things) and I'm sure it will get bid up. I have been looking at smaller houses (cheaper house and lower utilities, maybe), but I'm having a hard time making the math look good. We need to pay about $20K to replace windows and fix up bathrooms at our house to sell. Then we pay a real estate agent (an expensive house has an expensive bill!) and taxes to sell. After that we net $350K (if it really sells for that). We buy a crap house for $450 and put a bunch of money and time into it, then we have to pay those real estate fees and taxes again to sell. In the meantime, our mortgage hasn't dropped that much. Hmmm.

The math seems to work out pretty well actually. You don't need to redo your windows or bathroom to sell your house in this market. Most repairs you could possibly do would cost you more than they will increase your house's value. Plus the buyers should appreciate the ability to choose which windows and bathroom fixtures they want (if they even want to replace them at all) rather than having you make the choice for them at their expense. So forget about the $20k. Use Redfin to sell your house. In this market the houses practically sell themselves, so you should take advantage of their 4.5% commission (rather than the 6% most brokers charge). That's an extra $12k in your pocket.

If you net $350k on your house, pay $450k for a new one, and keep $100k of cash for repairs and an emergency fund, you can trade your $360k mortgage for a $200k mortgage. That should cut your monthly mortgage payments by about $850/month (for a 30-year mortgage) or $400/month (for a 15-year mortgage). Your property tax and insurance payments should also go down considerably. If that's not a win, I don't know what is.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2014, 11:25:03 AM by seattlecyclone »

Glenstache

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #35 on: July 23, 2014, 11:20:57 AM »
Have you considered Wenatchee? You stay close to the mountains, etc, but there is a lot more light for the SADS issues (which can be a huge factor in quality of life). It is an increasingly bike friendly place (currently pretty good as-is, maybe better than Seattle). But, it also requires that jobs are available there. For 300k you could have a beautiful place on the edge of town with trails almost out your back door. 

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #36 on: July 23, 2014, 11:28:46 AM »
Have you considered Wenatchee? You stay close to the mountains, etc, but there is a lot more light for the SADS issues (which can be a huge factor in quality of life). It is an increasingly bike friendly place (currently pretty good as-is, maybe better than Seattle). But, it also requires that jobs are available there. For 300k you could have a beautiful place on the edge of town with trails almost out your back door.

Might be some cheap land soon in the Entiat area...

aj_yooper

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #37 on: July 23, 2014, 11:42:31 AM »
seattlecyclone has said a lot of good stuff.  In IL people also FSBO and use Zillow.  It is free.

surfhb

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #38 on: July 23, 2014, 12:39:35 PM »
A crap house for $400k in Seattle?!   I think your tastes are rather high :).   

I just did a quick search and found this: 

http://www.redfin.com/WA/Seattle/9722-Arrowsmith-Ave-S-98118/home/177596

I'd give my left nut to live there with no mortgage and $700k in the bank :).  Pretty close to your situation.    I don't know..... call me crazy but it seems your lifestyles don't fit your income after looking at your monthly bills.  Why not downsize and start looking at retirement for the both of you?   You're almost there

Just be happy you don't live in Orange County where I'm at.    There's nothing in your price range down here......it sunny daily though. :).      The grass is always greener ! ;)

Back at you, Redlands CA appears to have many many homes around $150k.  You too could move and pay way less for a home.

Suggesting a home that is a 1 hr or more commute though, isn't really a MMM answer.

Yes True.....I should have mentioned that Seattle has one of the best public transport systems in the country too. :)

MayDay

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #39 on: July 23, 2014, 12:56:51 PM »
This is probably a red herring, but no, you can't just buy a pencil and notebook and send your kids off to school.  At least, not if you are trying to pull your weight and not stick the teacher with a bill for supplies. 


Simple Abundant Living

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #40 on: July 23, 2014, 02:00:59 PM »
I'm just going to chime in and say that there is no way I could live in Seattle.  Well, I guess I could with some major light therapy.  I have mild SAD symptoms, and although I think Seattle is beautiful, I just couldn't do it.  We lived in Cincinnati and that was too rainy for me.  We're currently in UT, and I get enough sun to be happy through the winter here, although I still don't like the cold. 

If I had your equity, I would start researching possible relocation.  You could really make that go far somewhere else.  If you could buy a house for cash, why would it matter if your DH took a hit in pay?  If you could show your husband how it could work and how you could save more, you might get him on board.  I think life is too short to live somewhere you hate.

begood

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #41 on: July 23, 2014, 02:30:58 PM »
Some smart Mustachian posted a link to this cost-of-living index:

http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cost-of-living/

So, for example:

Comparing $95K income in Seattle, WA to Columbia, SC
(which I picked because it's got lots of sunshine, university town, state capital)

Current salary
$95K

Comparable salary in
Columbia, SC
$77,225

Price difference in Columbia, SC
Groceries 7%less
Housing 44%less
Utilities 24%more
Transportation 18%less
Health Care 13%less

So that's just an idea. You could go to the site and play around with different places in the Southeast, such as Richmond, VA, Raleigh, NC, Charlotte, NC, Chattanooga, TN, etc.

zippyc

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #42 on: July 23, 2014, 04:12:27 PM »
Awesome feedback everyone! I have to say, this is a great forum!

Magnuminator, I think you nailed it on my feelings about Seattle. We used to camp because it was a nice weekend and we felt like it, now it's no go. One time, after driving around to 4 different campgrounds for hours, we gave up and drove home. Talk about a waste of gas! When the money moves in, my days of slumming it are numbered. I actually heard a guy on the radio say he's thinking about moving, because the kids that go to school with his kids are so spoiled (iphones, german cars for 16th birthday), that it's getting really hard to raise frugal, hardworking kids with good values without making them feel totally ostracized. It used to be when I was a kid, when you went home, the gossip and stress stayed outside. Now with kids being so "connected", the stress of not fitting in follows them into their bedrooms.

Surfhb, we are quickly catching Orange County. Have you been to Seattle? The redfin post you sent to me is in an area where I would have to send my kids to private school, my husband would have to give up biking, and dodging bullets could be a new pastime. Seattle (not burbs) is interesting in that you can be in a totally beautiful neighborhood where people pay top dollar and 4 blocks over things turn bad and you wouldn't want to live there. There is a very good reason that house can be found at that price. Don't fool yourself. I'm not quite that big of an idiot. Even in my neighborhood, break-ins have gotten so bad that I started leaving the lights on when I took the kids to school, so it looks like I'm home. Many of the crooks operate at 9 am or even dinner time. One of my neighbors left their house pitch black and I had to call the police because I could see that a flashlight was going over all of their windows in the alley. Also, glad you think our transit situation is great. Again, on paper (and compared to SoCal) it looks good. Going to other better developed cities, we look dumb. Buses sit in traffic too and they keep cutting routes over and over.

For those concerned about my neighborhood, it is a recently discovered and built up area. When I was in my 20's it was only full of Norwegians, old people, and fishermen. It also is so far from the major freeway that I couldn't understand why anyone would want to live there. By the time I bought a house in 2003, the market was starting to go gangbusters and this was one of the more affordable places to buy. My house took 3 years to sell because it had the worst floor plan (we had to move the stairs, among other walls), and emerald green carpet soaked in dog urine. I almost thought we were going to have to pull up the subfloor. Prior to buying here, I lived across the water in Bremerton and had a 4 hour a day commute that required walking (even in the sideways rain), busing and ferrying. My mortgage was only $750, but I had no time left in my life. When I moved here, I was willing to buy any old crapbox as long as it was in an area with sidewalks that was within a short commute to work. My decision paid off, as I now have a crapload of equity and the question is now what? I didn't buy here to be fancy, but my house has become fancy (only took a bunch of money and ten years of hard work) and my neighborhood even fancier.

The Seattle school district has an awful school budget. Parents are given a very long list of school supplies (for each child). My particular school has an ESL program and quite a bit of free lunch, so if I don't buy my stuff, I'm hurting the teachers even worse. I'm not poor enough for that. School supplies range from 24 pencils (per kid), 12 glue sticks, 2 boxes of kleenex, a box of ziploc baggies, etc. I watch the sales like a hawk and do my best, but it has to be done. We reuse backpacks, pencil bags, lunchboxes (if they haven't worn out). My kids have never purchased a school lunch, as I make it for them each day. We also pay over $100 per year, per kid for field trips. And don't get me started on the PTA fundraising. But it's the PTA that keeps our school so special. It's a public school, but is considered arts based with a full time dance and music program. My kids Love going to school!

A friend of mine moved to Wenatchee. I now work for her online. It has been a great move for her family, but she has her own online business. They are currently out of town to escape the horrible smoke from the raging forest fires. She also said her utilities dropped in half or better when she moved out of Seattle. However, Wenatchee is a little too remote for my hubs (not to mention that it would also be a $30K drop in income and I wouldn't be where I want to be). Getting him to move to a town without a major sports franchise will be the toughest thing I do. He grew up in Chicago and lives in the city of Seattle. He's a city boy.

Interestingly, my husband is naturally more frugal than I am, but talk about stuck in your ways! It runs in his family. Even his dad is freaked out that we might sell our house. Doesn't matter that we could move closer to them (they are a very close family and talk on the phone probably 5 days per week) or that we could make a bunch of money on our house. The only thing that matters to him is that it would be change. Funny thing is, it wouldn't change his life, but it still freaks him out. My father in law has worked for the same company for 45 years, his wife worked there for 25, and my husband has worked there for 23, since the day after he turned 16. The only future thinking my husband wants to do is "where/when is my next vacation?". Change gives him the heebie jeebies. Right now I'm desperately wanting a long term goal that we can work towards in steps, but my husband can barely handle the fact that he may have to change employers in a year. You get long term thinking into the mix and now he can't sleep at night and is beginning to resent me for pushing him to think bigger, so I will pull back. As my friend and real estate agent says - a family will travel at the speed that the person of the most resistance can handle. For us, that will be true.

Saw the $399 house today. Turns out that it needs more than $200 worth of work. Can you say 1 bathroom, sloping floors, wood rot and a leaky basement? I knew you could! That house will sell for more than asking, but it won't work for us. Four houses down there is a newer big house that sold for over $900K in 2011. People around here will pay big dollars for turnkey and not many of the houses are (if they are, they aren't for sale). One of the things I consider when buying a home is the potential for increased value. I could buy a 2 bedroom house on a shitty street with a commute that varies from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours (depends on the day), but if I decide to move a few years down the line, no one will buy it or rent it. To me that is a waste of money. My old boss has a house out in Lake Stevens that is still underwater. It's a beautiful house in a beautiful neighborhood, but a 2 hour commute (only during traffic - it's much faster if you drive it at 4:30am or 9pm) is just too much for most people and with gas staying over $4/gal, anyone who has a buck is buying closer in so that they can see their kids before bedtime. Many employers are actually pulling in their telecommuters and that happened to him. He had to change jobs because of the house, but he still has a crap commute.

If I knew I wanted to stay, you bet your pants I would buy that a small crap house in a neighborhood I could tolerate to save money, but since I feel like I have one foot out the door, I feel like I need to plan this out very carefully. And anywhere I would move, I would buy a house that needs some sprucing up. You never know when you might need to move again.

Finally, our eating out budget is mostly made up by my fancy coffee habit, not restaurants. My neighborhood coffee shop is an anomaly. I've met most of my neighbors there, Most of the friends I have now are from there, I also got my last job from a gal that I met there and ran into her when she was in town (she moved to Wenatchee) and she offered me the job there. I have sold medicare policies to people in there and also taken up a few side gigs from people there (painting inside homes and this summer I'm painting the exterior of a house - she is a 70yr old friend that I met there and she's getting one hell of a deal from me!). I've even attended parties there, a wedding there, and a wake there.  I have, however, cut back and only go there a few times per week now (my friend and I have a standing date there with our kids on Thursdays). I would say that that place has been my fancy coffee habit, my counselling, and my headhunter all at the same time. Eating out, however, I could care less about, even though I live in the hottest restaurant neighborhood of Seattle. Too fancy for my taste. I take my $5 bottle of wine at home, instead (over a week, of course).

Now I need to get off of the internet and get to work!

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #43 on: July 23, 2014, 04:52:06 PM »
Out of curiosity, what are taxes like in Seattle on a $800k house.   We pay about $3.6k on our $300k house in Snohomish county.   I am going to guess you are up near $10k real estate tax?

seattlecyclone

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #44 on: July 23, 2014, 05:14:18 PM »
Out of curiosity, what are taxes like in Seattle on a $800k house.   We pay about $3.6k on our $300k house in Snohomish county.   I am going to guess you are up near $10k real estate tax?

Based on the rate I pay on my much smaller and less valuable house nearby, I would guess $8-9k for a house that is assessed at $800k.

zippyc

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #45 on: July 23, 2014, 05:27:12 PM »
Fortunately, our assessment isn't anywhere near the assumed value (it's only the true value once it sells for that price). But we pay about 1% of the assessed value. It used to be a bit higher when we were paying taxes for the freaking monorail that they never built. There's Seattle's wonderful transit program! Pay loads of money to study and vote on something. If it passes, fight it and send it for a revote, at least 3 times until it finally gets voted down. Continue to pay for all the studying and land they bought for years afterwards, even though nothing was built. Then cut the bus routes.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #46 on: July 23, 2014, 05:42:39 PM »
If you think the monorail is bad, wait until you get the bill for that tunnel boring machine!

zippyc

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #47 on: July 23, 2014, 06:24:17 PM »
LOL! I know, right?! When everyone was fighting to keep the Sonics, I knew we couldn't afford them. Build another stadium so rich people can have fancier box seat? This city has too many infrastructure issues to pay for. For the record... I was a diehard fan in 1978-79. I watched  the whole season and the championship game and then we drove honking down the street to McD's for a celebratory sundae. I had memorized the name, position, number, and height of each player. My parents forked over for the cheap seats in the Kingdome a couple times to feed my obsession, but I was the only one who could see that far away, so had to describe the game to them as it was played. Go Gus Williams #1! Go Downtown Freddy Brown!! :-) Now if I drove around honking, everyone would think I have road rage!!

MoneyCat

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #48 on: July 23, 2014, 06:28:41 PM »
I think you should move out of Seattle for two very important reasons: 1.)  Hipsters.  Hipsters everywhere.  *shudder* and 2.) Grunge is dead, so that removes the best reason to be in Seattle.  *sigh*

surfhb

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Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
« Reply #49 on: July 23, 2014, 06:38:12 PM »
I think you should move out of Seattle for two very important reasons: 1.)  Hipsters.  Hipsters everywhere.  *shudder* and 2.) Grunge is dead, so that removes the best reason to be in Seattle.  *sigh*

Yeah.....I was in Freemont and was shocked!     They sure love their craft whiskeys :)

Id like to see you move because:   1) you hate it there.    2)  you can easily retire right now

You won the game!   Now to convince your husband