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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: zippyc on July 21, 2014, 10:40:50 PM

Title: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: zippyc 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!!
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: ModernIncantations 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!
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: surfhb 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 :)
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: zippyc 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.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: PilotsWife 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.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: Cressida 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.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: zippyc 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).
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: surfhb 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.   
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: TrulyStashin 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.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: TrulyStashin 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.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: frugaliknowit 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?
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: whiskeyjack 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.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: Goldielocks 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.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: SondraRose 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!
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: Westoftown 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!
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: totoro 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.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: SunshineGirl 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.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: seattlecyclone 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 (http://www.redfin.com/neighborhood/121/WA/Seattle/Ballard/real-estate#!max_price=600000&num_beds=3&v=8&sst=&lat=47.67077397940832&long=-122.38494504760746&zoomLevel=14&region_id=121&region_type=1&market=seattle) 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.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: magnuminator 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. 
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: Wolf_Stache 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.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: mariejm 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 :)
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: totoro 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.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: ch12 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/
(http://rootofgood.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Summary-retirement-budget.png)
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.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: ShortInSeattle 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
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: rmendpara 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?
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: Goldielocks 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!
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: zippyc 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!!
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: zippyc 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.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: surfhb 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 ! ;)
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: surfhb 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?
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: electriceagle 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.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: aj_yooper 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.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: Roland of Gilead 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 :-)
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: Goldielocks 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.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: seattlecyclone 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. (http://www.seattle.gov/util/MyServices/FoodYard/HouseResidents/Rates/AlternativestoCollection/index.htm) 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.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: Glenstache 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. 
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: Roland of Gilead 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...
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: aj_yooper 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.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: surfhb 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. :)
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: MayDay 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. 

Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: Simple Abundant Living 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.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: begood 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/ (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.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: zippyc 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!
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: Roland of Gilead 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?
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: seattlecyclone 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.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: zippyc 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.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: Roland of Gilead 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!
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: zippyc 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!!
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: MoneyCat 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*
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: surfhb 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
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: ShortInSeattle on July 23, 2014, 06:51:40 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*

LOL!

Have you seen the hipster map for Seattle? Beards and fedoras are on the rise.
http://www.yelp.com/wordmap/seattle (http://www.yelp.com/wordmap/seattle)
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: Cressida on July 23, 2014, 09:40:52 PM
Yes True.....I should have mentioned that Seattle has one of the best public transport systems in the country too. :)

Is this a joke??
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: Wolf_Stache on July 23, 2014, 09:52:10 PM
Yes True.....I should have mentioned that Seattle has one of the best public transport systems in the country too. :)

Is this a joke??

It's about 10000% times better than the system I grew up with, where buses all stopped at 6Pm, and didn't run on at all on Sat, Sun, or Holidays. Oh, and did I mention there is only one route?
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: RootofGood on July 23, 2014, 11:55:41 PM
Hey zippyc, that's cool that you're looking at places like Richmond VA and Raleigh NC.  And thanks to ch12 for citing my COL here in Raleigh!  I think both cities (Richmond and Raleigh) have places where you can buy a reasonable house in a decent area for $150-200k.

As for specifics of COL, there are a bunch of online data sources (sorry I can't point to any in particular beyond what's mentioned in this thread.  I have some specific cost data on my grocery shopping habits I can share if you're interested (a full month's worth of grocery shopping where every item and its cost is presented). 

I realize I live in a lower income area of Raleigh (not my neighborhood itself, but areas around the neighborhood).  That means cheap eats at ethnic restaurants, cheap groceries at lower end grocery stores, cheap ethnic groceries at a wide variety of Asian or Latino groceries, cheap stuff at thrift shops, and discount bakery outlets.  And we're on 2 different bus routes. 
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: hexdexorex on July 24, 2014, 08:11:44 AM
Yes True.....I should have mentioned that Seattle has one of the best public transport systems in the country too. :)

Is this a joke??

It's about 10000% times better than the system I grew up with, where buses all stopped at 6Pm, and didn't run on at all on Sat, Sun, or Holidays. Oh, and did I mention there is only one route?

I gave up my car when I moved to Seattle. Was really ez to get around. Unless I wanted to leave the city proper : )
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: sarah8001 on July 26, 2014, 05:10:25 AM
I'm not trying to be an asshole here, and maybe I'm projecting on you a little bit, but what if moving doesn't solve your problems? My dad used to tell me "You can't apply a geographical solution to a non-geographical problem. Wherever you go, there you are." I sense a lot of nostalgia, and discontent, and boredom, and some anger or maybe regret in your post. In my limited experience, moving won't fix any of these things. Also, maybe your SAD is made worse by some situational depression? There are a billion incredible things to see and do in the PNW. The raw beauty and poetry of the land around us and the fascinating complexity of the society we live in keep me entertained daily. But I've felt this way wherever I lived. Maybe you need to try to find that wonder and fullfillment before relocationg? Sure would suck to move, and feel exactly like you do now in six months.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: zippyc on July 27, 2014, 10:24:30 PM
Yes, it is very likely that the grass won't be greener and that I'm sure I will miss many things. However, I've been talked out of leaving here multiple times in my life (mostly by people that no longer live here). I agree that this is one of the most beautiful and scenic parts of the country. In fact, I consider myself a bit of a scenery snob. Yellowstone, eh, it's ok. Glacier National park on the other hand is a knock out.

Getting rid of a $2400 mortgage and owning a house outright would definitely be a change and an improvement. The question is, is that one thing worth is if we don't enjoy ourselves in other ways. Probably not. However, how does one ever find out if it would be fun to move to another part of the country if they don't try?

I am so pleased that you are enjoying the area and I'm happy that you've been able to try out other places to live. I have not lived more than 1.5 hours from Seattle ever in my life and after 45 years, I'm kind of bored with the whole thing. I also don't appreciate how much more crowded, expensive, and fast paced my city has become.  I think there are areas that would provide a more kid friendly experience for my children, and really that is one of the most important things to me right now. Wouldn't an outdoor pool for the kids to play in during the summer be amazing???!!!! My kids LOVE to swim, but don't love the indoor pools. Do you feel like people who want to move out of NY city for their kids are making the wrong move because they can't find contentment where they are?

I think, at first, the move would be pretty stimulating. I kind of crave culture shock a little and that might explain why I'm kind of bored here. I've traveled to 14 other countries around the world and would really truly like to explore more of the US. I've seen a lot on the west - driven down to California and around, driven out to Chicago twice, driven through the Desert SW, once made the drive from New Orleans back to Seattle. But I'd really like to check out the East coast more. It is really so hard to reach from here. And once you have kids, that's 4 plane tickets where ever we go, so someplace within driving distance is helpful.

If it was just me, I would have been out of here years ago, but I'm part of a family. The kids will adjust. In fact, it wouldn't hurt for them to experience change and adjustment. My husband, on the other hand, is the one I'm most worried about. He doesn't like change, but I think he would do fine once he adjusted (he adjusted to Seattle from Chicago, right?).

We don't have the type of careers that pay super well and are in demand in just this area, so the more I think about it, the better I think the idea of moving is. If Hubs lost his job, we could easily scrape together $30-$40K per year to pay our bills if we didn't have a mortgage. It's that darned mortgage that makes things so stressful.

I also know for a fact that I will not be retiring here. I like hot weather. I like humidity. I hate that damp windy cold at 40 degrees that covers us for half of the year. You might like it, but I truly loathe it and I think 45 years of living here has been giving it a fair shake. I think it would be nice to get my kids out of here before their roots grow too deep, then I might have half a chance of seeing my grandchildren some day.

I was a tad more emotional when I posted originally. I feel very good about the fact that moving would be the right move for me, I just have to wait until my family gets on board. In the meantime, I'll just keep paying that mortgage. :-)

I'm also pretty sure they don't slam the gates closed behind me when I leave. If we want to come back, we can come back. What have been your reasons for moving?

Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: surfhb on July 27, 2014, 10:32:58 PM
When you told your husband everything you've told us here....what did he say?  ;)
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: pdxvandal on July 27, 2014, 11:45:18 PM
Come to Portland. Better weather, less-shitty traffic, 30-35% cheaper housing and just as good as food. The hipster quotient may be higher here, though. :)

Seattle is the prettiest city in the U.S. (on a nice day), but I have no desire to live there. Move.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: Dicey on July 28, 2014, 12:05:59 AM
Okay zippyc, I have read all of your posts and most of the responses. Interestingly, though I'd been there for business and several weekends, DH and I just spent over a week in Seattle in May on nobody's schedule but our own. We are such geeks that we wandered around the Queen Anne District one *sunny* afternoon and googled every house that had a "For Sale" sign, just to see what they were going for and what they looked like inside. Cost us nothing and we had a few laughs. We're from the Bay Area, so we weren't shocked at the prices. Mostly we were amazed by the variety of styles and the craftsmanship. BTW - Who the hell owns that giant yacht on the west side of Union Lake. WTF???

We had a great trip, but I would never consider a move there because of the dreary weather, which we miraculously experienced very little of.

With that as background, here are my suggestions. First, culturally, Seattle is an awesome town. There is so much to see and do and learn. See it. Do it. Learn it.
City Pass, Chinook Book, Living Social and the freakingly awesome Seattle Public Library are your friends. Suck the marrow out of Seattle while you develop your mustachian muscles and build your savings. You are in enviable position with your house. Moving, downsizing, selling and renting all come with very expensive "hidden" costs. Living within cycling distance to work is invaluable, especially in Seattle. You live in a lovely, affordable (for a high COLA) home in a good school district. It will most likely continue to appreciate above national averages for some time. Sit on it, watch your children grow, learn how to save like a pro. Stop treating your equity as if it was burning a hole in your pocket.

Given your husband's family ties and personality, it is uncertain that you will convince him to move. Even if you do, he could hate it and make your life miserable until you agree to move back, none of which would be cheap or easy. It will suck a ton of your life energy, which could be better spent on developing your frugality muscles and enjoying your family while your children are young.

Take all the advice offered here about dealing with SADD. It truly may be clouding your judgement. You have so much going for you, but you don't really seem to know just how much is good in your life. Blame SADD, fix it and focus on blooming where you are planted for now. You're going to be one helluva garden, baby. And you have a lovely writing style. Please keep us apprised of your progress.

P.S. Have you read "A Girl Named Zippy" by Haven Kimmel? I loved it!
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: pdxvandal on July 28, 2014, 12:15:08 AM
I'd advise to not take advice from anyone from N. California. I would never move there because of the dreary, rat-raced Californians.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: Roland of Gilead on July 28, 2014, 09:08:30 AM
It is too hot in Seattle right now.   About 82 degrees today.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: zippyc on July 28, 2014, 10:34:52 AM
My husbands whole family is in Chicago. We would actually be much closer to them - a one day drive instead of a four day drive. Most of his best friends are also in the Midwest. He just likes it here and doesn't like change.

I have sucked the marrow out of Seattle. For heaven's sake, I was an elevator operator at the Space Needle when I was 19. My dad used to work for them and my grandfather helped to build the roof on the tower (not saying that the Space Needle is indicative of culture). Interestingly, I'm not feeling much into "culture" these days. I want some more nature - no, not the type that I have to drive 1.5 hours to get to and pray traffic isn't too much. I want to feel the space to sit still, read a book, work in a garden (my yard is too small and patiod over for a veggie garden). I also want to explore more, but something new.

I used to like camping, but I've since declared western WA off limits for camping, since I spend most of my time cold and wet (my 2 most hated things). If we can't go over the mountains, I won't go. Really, I just need to get out of the city, but I won't go out of the city here, because of the traffic and the weather isn't worth it. I would prefer a much smaller town with bigger cities within a days driving for when I want it. I actually enjoyed living in Bremerton for my stint over there. Are there still places where kids' social life isn't dependent upon scheduling play dates and organized activities? I don't mean to be a Scrooge, but I really hate scheduling play dates. In fact I need to go to the grocery store and get food, so I can invite someone else's kids over. Do kids ever just run outside and play down the street anymore?

The weather is Spectacular right now!! This is one of the best weather years we've had in a very long time. In fact, it was the 3 years of truly miserable, damp weather (this includes the summers) that really had me in a tizzy. Right now, I'm doing pretty good, but I still want to move on. I don't have SAD's right now. That is at it's worst between Feb and June. I just wish it wouldn't cool down so much at night.

We have a rule in my house that mom doesn't go in the water unless it's 85 degrees or hotter. We're almost there! I've actually gotten mild hypothermia in the Caribbean and in Hawaii. I'm a pretty big wimp! To me, all that water around here is only for looking at. I don't sail and I won't swim in it. I also don't ski, so the mountains are for hiking and looking at. If you are a boater and a skiier, this is definitely your mecca!

Anyhow, that's enough for now. I know I want to leave, but we aren't going any time soon, so I'm just belly aching and it sounds awful. Thanks!
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: Dicey on July 28, 2014, 01:53:48 PM
Zippyc, Since it's free, bellyaching could be considered a very mustachian pursuit, albeit in limited doses. Sometimes it really does help to sort things out.

I wholeheartedly agree with you about traffic. UGH, it was far worse than SF or LA, in my experienced opinion. I was a road warrior in both cities. Even with a company car, it sucked, but nowhere close to Seattle. You have my complete sympathy on that one.

One of the reasons for our trip was for a wedding in Spokane. We spent additional time there and in Coeur d' Alene. I loved both places for their small town feel, ease of navigation, friendly people, and overall cool vibe. I was stunned by the new-ish Cd'A library. Who builds a big, beautiful library on prime lakeview property these days? The fine folks in Cd'A, that's who. RE prices were lower in both places than Seattle, too. Not sure who your husband works for, but would those areas be worth exploring?

Glad the SAD has abated. Sorry about the unclarified mis-spelling of "SAD". One of my former customers who suffered greatly from it used to always say "I'm SAD, Dammit!" When his happy light was on, we all knew to tread carefully. That stuck with me as SADD, as in, really, really bad SAD.

BTW, I don't know who pdxvandal is, but if anything in my post came off as deserving of this comment, you have my sincere apology. I tend to read the forum threads without commenting these days. I was intrigued by your situation and your clear writing style and decided to offer another perspective that I hoped would be helpful.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: zippyc on July 28, 2014, 11:34:08 PM
No worries, Diane. My whininess can provoke a different type of face punch! :-) I have received a lot of advice on my moving as an emotional move, but what I was looking for here was advice on moving as a financial move. That said, I added way too much emotion into the game myself.

I LOVE Coeur d'Alene! We drove through last year and I looked it up right away. Unfortunately, their warm season is the same or shorter than Seattle's. The scenery is amazing, though. I've definitely chosen the east coast with purpose. As a family, we love to travel and I see it as a great opportunity to see more of the eastern half of the US (and Canada!!) and has shorter, cheaper flights to Europe. It's even quicker to visit my dad in Ecuador. Helena MT was another really neat town. It's just so darn far from everything. Taking my husband out of a big city will also require a smaller let down, meaning he will need big city amenities nearby. If we move, I imagine it will just the next step, not the final house.

That being said, if I lived in Gary IN, would everyone tell me to stop drivelling and stay put? I understand that we make more in Seattle now, but if that changes, or we find a way to make a similar income in another town I can't see why we should stay put. That is the plan we have in place right now - if things change, we may move. I feel like so many people are crazy high on Seattle right now and their own experiences/desires with this town make them feel that no one should ever move away. Sometimes it's that thing that I feel I'm fighting against. Maybe I should listen more and not be so defensive about that.

You totally nailed it about the equity burning a hole in my pocket though! Part of that is paranoia. I've watched my house value go from $390K up to about $800K, crash down to $500K and climb back up again - much of that gain being made in the last year. Our neighborhood has become suddenly very popular and is very fueled by Amazon. I've been told I even live on the "right" side of the street. My feeling is, if someone wants to pay crazy stupid money to live on my street, I will gladly hand it over and move on. I just bought a crappy house to fix up and didn't realize I had picked one in such a great spot. I have no issues with slumming it in a smaller house on the lesser side of the street. I happen to live on the right side of the street in a very popular neighborhood, in an exceedingly popular town and it just doesn't matter that much to me. That being said, I want a clear picture of where we're going before I start selling it off. But that's a lot of money in a relatively short period of time and I do kind of feel like we should be leveraging it better before something happens and it disappears again.

You know, as a side note, I actually did go to a counselor when I knew my job was disappearing and one of the things we talked about a lot was my desire to leave and my intense dislike of the weather. She basically said she felt the only thing I could do was move. Pretty funny! Guess I tried that. I just don't want to pay more money and have that be the answer again. Kind of like I could choose to go on antidepressants with all their horrible side effects and continue to live here, or just move to sunnier weather. Hmmm.... The worst of my depression has subsided, but my desire to move has never budged in the last 4 years. I'm trying to be practical, but those damned emotions keep getting in the way. :-)
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: ch12 on July 29, 2014, 09:21:48 PM
As a family, we love to travel and I see it as a great opportunity to see more of the eastern half of the US (and Canada!!) and has shorter, cheaper flights to Europe. It's even quicker to visit my dad in Ecuador. Helena MT was another really neat town. It's just so darn far from everything. Taking my husband out of a big city will also require a smaller let down, meaning he will need big city amenities nearby. If we move, I imagine it will just the next step, not the final house.

That being said, if I lived in Gary IN, would everyone tell me to stop drivelling and stay put? I understand that we make more in Seattle now, but if that changes, or we find a way to make a similar income in another town I can't see why we should stay put. That is the plan we have in place right now - if things change, we may move. I feel like so many people are crazy high on Seattle right now and their own experiences/desires with this town make them feel that no one should ever move away. Sometimes it's that thing that I feel I'm fighting against. Maybe I should listen more and not be so defensive about that.

Unless your husband's entire family lives in Gary, I would not move there. I'm a native Hoosier myself, and that's probably not the best of destinations. There'll be a major culture shock coming from Seattle. The Chicago area is nice enough, but, as you know, it's even colder than Seattle. Humidity and sun, to me, are Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. You could pull a Marc Hardekopf and move to Orlando.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-itk10RHF_g
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: Chranstronaut on July 31, 2014, 11:17:09 AM

Unless your husband's entire family lives in Gary, I would not move there. I'm a native Hoosier myself, and that's probably not the best of destinations. There'll be a major culture shock coming from Seattle. The Chicago area is nice enough, but, as you know, it's even colder than Seattle. Humidity and sun, to me, are Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. You could pull a Marc Hardekopf and move to Orlando.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-itk10RHF_g

I think she's making a Music Man reference.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: ch12 on July 31, 2014, 07:45:00 PM

Unless your husband's entire family lives in Gary, I would not move there. I'm a native Hoosier myself, and that's probably not the best of destinations. There'll be a major culture shock coming from Seattle. The Chicago area is nice enough, but, as you know, it's even colder than Seattle. Humidity and sun, to me, are Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. You could pull a Marc Hardekopf and move to Orlando.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-itk10RHF_g

I think she's making a Music Man reference.

Ah, then I took it way too seriously. :) My mistake.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: aeliz on July 31, 2014, 08:32:09 PM
I moved to Seattle from Sacramento when I was 18, and I lived there for 12 years.  I loved it, I love it still, but there came a time it was time to go.  I felt like I hadn't put down roots after all that time.  And once I decided I was leaving, which was about a year before I did, I stopped investing in Seattle, and nothing could have kept me there.

I left last July 2013, and moved to Oakland, CA. I found a great place to live (that is a STEAL by COL standards like anywhere), found a job I love (after I moved, btw), met an incredible man, and now a year after my move, and contemplating how to convert him to MMM because I am fantasizing about just how much money we could save with his (much larger than my) income. I'm the happiest I've been in years, even though I wasn't miserable in Seattle, and moving catalyzed that.

I am a HUGE believer in, at some point in your life, moving away from the place you grew up in. While a move won't solve, like, big underlying problems in your life, it can give you new energy, allow you to purge, break old habits (including mental ones), and help you reset those habits. There are real and valid reasons to move that are more than monetary.  People will try to discount those reasons, which has happened in this thread, which is what's making you defensive. It's okay to have non-monetary reasons to want to move, but if you're getting defensive about those reasons, I think that's a sign to yourself that you do need to really spend some time clarifying them for yourself.  I find that if I'm getting defensive about something, there's more exploration I need to do into why.

The upshot it, it doesn't sound like fixing your budget so you're saving more will make you any more invested in Seattle.  Your budget and your desire to leave Seattle are separate issues, and I think you should treat them as such.  However, emotions around each issue are, it seems, exacerbating emotions around the other, so to alleviate that and help you clear your head and make a plan, I would:

1. Build an emergency fund to take some of the panic about thinking about money/jobs etc.  I don't have a house, but sounds like a HELOC is a good way to do think quickly, then you can start stashing some cash.  You are in an advantageous situation.  Time is on your side.  There's nothing to panic about, and a few tweaks to what you already have should make you feel calmer.

2. Build a moving timeline the same way you would a budget.  Sit down with your husband.  Explore possibilities and contingencies.  You're not committing to anything, you're just creating a picture of what different possibilities would look like.  Decided what steps you need to take to get there.  Write Pro/con lists.  When I decided to leave Seattle, I made a 3 year plan.  I made it when I was 27, and I moved a month before my 30th birthday.  Now, I was single, so it was pretty simple, but I still started planning logistics nearly a year out.  Now that my boyfriend and I are planning to move to Portland next year, we're making a similar plan together.  I would personally in your situation like a 2 year plan, just because there are so many logistics, assets, and people involved.  Plus, 2 years is a long time for the other people involved to get used to and maybe even excited about the changes.

3. Don't make any big decisions about the house until you've done 1 and 2.  In fact, if I were you, I'd take making any decisions about the house off the table for at least 6 months while I sorted out those first two steps.

4. During the ensuing time, work on your budget and saving money.  Build and emergency fund and a moving fund.

Good luck!
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: zippyc on August 01, 2014, 01:19:36 AM
Thanks, Aeliz, that's some great advice.

I have plans to start looking for a HELOC next week. I think that will ease my mind a lot.

I have to work on my future plans alone right now, as my husband has made it clear that it's too stressful for him to think about. We have talked about it enough, however, that I have a pretty good idea what kind of move he'd be willing to make and under what circumstances. I just can't pin my hopes and dreams on getting out of here, because I'm not sure he'll ever fully agree to it.

I think I get defensive mostly because I kind of feel trapped here (unless I want to divorce, I'm stuck) and I'm surrounded by so many people that love living here so much, that all they try to do is persuade me never to move anywhere. That doesn't feel like helpful info to me. It just feels like me dealing with someone else's passion for this place.

At the same time, I also agree that it's good to really examine reasons that I want to leave and explore how I might handle it if things didn't work out the way I hoped. Although, lord knows, one of my favorite pastimes is to over think everything. And thinking about ways that we could fail by moving is exactly what keeps many people from making any changes at all. But making pros and cons is a great way to help with the decision to move.

I think the positive reasons that you listed for moving are excellent points and you are the first person who has really articulated it in that way (and I mean first everywhere, not just here).  Thank you for that.

House decisions are on hold until next Spring or when/if a big job change happens. The HELOC will give us time to catch our breath, get the house ready and make a decision about where to go next. In the meantime, we are doing a big purge this week, which doesn't require any decisions about moving, but still feels really good. It's nice to have breathing room around us, by eliminating some clutter.

Thanks again for the thoughtful feedback.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: mozar on August 01, 2014, 08:24:27 PM
This reminds me of my situation a bit.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: aeliz on August 01, 2014, 08:28:57 PM
People trying to talk you out of what you feel is the worst!  But I think that's one reason you're tempted to make it about money, because then you have cold, reasonable math on your side, and they'd look unreasonable to talk you out of math.

But emotions are essential in our decision making. People like to think they make entirely "rational" decisions.  But then they follow logic like, "Well, I just got a big raise, so now I can afford that fancy car I've always wanted.  The math works."  Really, they're making an emotional decision, but cloaking it in mathematically reasonability.

What I get out of the MMM philosophy is that you should thoughtfully make decisions based on their effect on your quality of life. And "quality of life" is basically all about happiness, i.e. how you feel.  So taking into account the emotional aspect of your decisions is just as important as taking into account the monetary effects.

At the same time, I also agree that it's good to really examine reasons that I want to leave and explore how I might handle it if things didn't work out the way I hoped. Although, lord knows, one of my favorite pastimes is to over think everything. And thinking about ways that we could fail by moving is exactly what keeps many people from making any changes at all.

Ha, you know, when I gave that advice I wasn't really thinking that the timeline would include thinking about how things could fail.  I don't even know how a move could fail, really, when you've done it carefully and are in a financially good place to do it.  I mean, the worst that happens is you move across the country and you hate it and you move elsewhere.  You will have already moved once, so you're experienced, and moving again becomes way less of a big deal.  I find moving also makes me feel way less attached to my stuff.  In my move to Oakland I came to peace with the idea of my entire moving crate going up in flames, and it was an incredibly freeing revelation.

And I'm someone who lived in the U-district for 10 years because I was so afraid of how hard moving would be, so it's not like I've always been zen about this.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: Roses on August 02, 2014, 04:13:20 PM
Same thing happened to my house in NE Seattle and Iíve also been tempted to cash in on the appreciation.  However, I think itís true what people are saying that this bubble may never burst so Iíve decided to hold on to my place, but I like where we live.

I have another suggestion.  If your husband does get laid off, or even if he doesnít, you might try talking him into a trial move for a year or so.  You could rent a home in your desired city and time it so your kids start and end a full school year there rather than in the middle (donít take all your things just get cheap craigslist stuff there).  If you all like it you stay, if not you come back and pick up right where you left off in the same house, same school, etc.  So instead of selling your home in Seattle you could advertise it as a short-term fully furnished rental.  My parents and sister do that in the Greenwood/Ballard area and they get way more than market rent because they are short-term and furnished.  The key is not to do an airbnb thing where people rent your place for a week and there is a lot of turnover.  You want to advertise on Craigslist, Ballard momís list, etc and then youíll see how many people need short-term housing in this area.  Most stay between 3 and 9 months.  The reasons vary but you get a lot of hospital residents/interns, visiting professors, researchers on temporary projects, also consultants & interns at boeing, Amazon and other companies.  Lots of people who relocated here for a job but havenít decided where they want to buy so they look for something temporary until they get the ley of the land.  And then the biggest category is families remodeling their home (lots of that right now) who need a place to move to for 6 months or so. Oh and also people who sold their home and have to move out but still havenít found something to buy.  My family seems to never have vacancies.  You have to get someone locally to help if there is a move out/move in.  I just did that last weekend for my sister who has been travelling the world for the past year and is living off her rental townhome.   To give you an idea, a 1300 sf, 3bd, 2ba townhouse on a busy street in Greenwood rents for 2600K/mo, furnished, and average stay is 6 months.  Sounds like your house is bigger/nicer/better located so youíd get more.  By the way, most of these short-term renters are professionals and damage to property has never been an issue.  But you have to screen people just like you would a regular rental.

I know this plan doesnít take advantage of the equity on your home but you can always sell your home at the end of the trial period if you decide to stay (I bet the market next summer will be just as hot as this one).  And this gives you a little flexibility and maybe peace of mind for the hubs. 
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: Roses on August 02, 2014, 04:16:33 PM
Iím wondering about your car situation.  In your first post you said you donít drive much and your husband bikes to work.  Maybe I missed this but why do you have two cars and spend $100 on gas?  You could sell one car and save on insurance and maintenance.  I assume your kids go to Ballard schools.  Iím sure they have other activities but since your neighborhood has pretty much everything you can think of Iím wondering where all the driving is to.  Ballard is so walkable.  And even if you drove within the neighborhood it couldnít be that bad.

Iím in a similar situation Ė also SAHM, also freelance from home.  Weíre in NE Seattle.  I walk my son to school, walk or bike to parks & playgrounds, friendís houses, grocery store, even restaurants and other non-mustachian activities.  I do use our car every couple days but I have no reason to sit in traffic.  Neither does my husband (he bikes/buses to work).  Weíre so oblivious to the traffic that weíll occasionally do something really dumb like try to leave on a road trip on Friday afternoon.  Then we look at each other and say ĎOh yeahÖ. Traffic sucks here!  DuhÖí  So then next time we just leave earlier or on a weekday and itís no problem. 

As for 'been there done that', I often feel the same (been here 2 decades) but somehow new places and activities are always popping up.  Iím not saying you should stay if you donít like it but if you do stay for a while longer to accommodate the family, might as well make the best of it.  Iím certain there are new experiences you havenít had.  Iíd be happy to share some of my favorites.  BTW, Iíve never reserved a campground in E WA and I always find something good Ė but I try to go during the week and never on holidays.

As for the playdate issue, I hate that term too.  Check out this article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-bernholdt/banish-the-playdate_b_5577558.html  Seems to be a trend all over the country, not just Seattle.  For what itís worth, my kid bikes and scooters all over our neighborhood and has met lots of neighbor kids in the process.  They play on the street all the time.  Several homes have put up slides, swings and even a zipline on the sidewalk that all kids are welcome to use.  We still get asked for playdates by school friends but most live close enough to just walk over and once the families get to know each other it becomes much more informal. 
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: CDP45 on August 03, 2014, 12:24:33 AM
Zippyc is stressed about money because they are spending almost 50% of take home pay on housing.

You should consider housing options that cost 25% of your take home, or about $1250/mo. This may necessitate moving further from downtown , but I couldn't tell where your DH worked amid the blathering. Taking public transit will reduce transit expenses. I recommend living on the same side of town he works on so he doesn't have to community across a downtown metropolis daily.

Your family is in a precarious financial situation due to your high spending, don't pursue additional debt such as a HELOC. Don't plan on "trial moves" either, real estate transaction costs will be at minimum 5%.

Don't worry about any other expense category, as all of your spending besides the house only adds up to $2400 for a family of 4, commendable.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: RapmasterD on August 03, 2014, 02:23:09 AM
I'd advise to not take advice from anyone from N. California. I would never move there because of the dreary, rat-raced Californians.

Unnecessary.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: Dicey on August 05, 2014, 11:59:39 AM
I'd advise to not take advice from anyone from N. California. I would never move there because of the dreary, rat-raced Californians.

Unnecessary.

Thanks, RD. I was surprised that the mods didn't pick up on this. Initially I was puzzled by it, but not for long. Nobody who's FIRE can be described as "dreary or rat-raced", no matter where they live. Since my time is my own, I looked up this relative noob's posts and found this:

I grew up in Boise...you won't find nicer people.

I've lived in Oregon for 15 years and would never return to Idaho full time. People are friendly, but not as friendly as Boise.

I don't see much CA experience. Perhaps a visit to Boise would restock his supply of nice.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: Roses on August 05, 2014, 03:05:47 PM
I gotta show my husband this thread. He was brainstorming retirement places and was all enthused about Seattle.
On the other hand...for the OP, something you said jumped out at me about Seattle not being what it used to be. Where I live, the neighborhood was solid working class 1900-late 1990s, then it gentrified. I've heard people say how much they miss the old neighborhood and I see their point, even though we bought in 2008. We wanted a small prewar home in an established neighborhood with small businesses, and that's what it is. But I also wonder if there isn't some rose colored glasses when looking back.  I don't know the  answer, wherever people flock they bring change.

It depends on what your husband was attracted to about Seattle.  There are areas near Seattle that would be good for retirement and still reap some benefits like natural beauty, being near the water, lots of outdoor activities, etc..  And you could still come into the city (at non-traffic times) if you wanted.  But if you want to live right in the city then it's pretty expensive. 
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: zippyc on August 05, 2014, 05:01:50 PM
Basenji, I know a couple that moved here from "near DC" for retirement and they Love it. They came from MD and bought a $1 mil house here with a view of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. He is the first person to declare my insanity when it comes to my desire to move. They really like the cooler weather (a couple years ago, it didn't hit 70 degrees until after July 4th). I also have friends that love the cooler weather. Unfortunately, it's just not for me. Also, it would be an adventure for you. It really is one of the most beautiful areas of the US here and there's plenty to explore, if you're so inclined. It's just that I have been there, done that for 45 years and I'd rather experience something different and slower.

Living near DC, you are probably used to much worse traffic and housing that is just as expensive, if not worse, so unless you are looking for cheaper, this could be a fine move for you.

I'm not a huge fan of the Seattle burbs or outlying areas, so I will either stay here in the city or move elsewhere, but you could save a lot of money by living near the city, but not in it, especially since you won't be working. I do believe the Seattle burbs are very different than those on the east coast or in the midwest. Hard to explain. If you do live in the city, learn to take the bus. They just announced all the areas of free parking in the various neighborhoods that they will be metering. In my own neighborhood, if I can find a parking spot in the town center, they charge about $4/hr to park. Of course, that's all the more reason to park the Clown Car and bike, walk, or bus. :-)

Also if you boat and/or ski, this is a great area. I don't do either. I told my husband if we stay, I want the kids to learn to ski, as I think that is the key to getting through the winters here.

I'm just a cranky, cold Seattleite looking for a change, so don't put too much weight on my woes.
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: zippyc on August 05, 2014, 05:58:26 PM
No way would my husband ever do rural. Getting him to an area of $300,000 people would be hard enough. :-)

Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the US right now. It's being bantered about a lot these days and I think it makes a lot of people start thinking that this would be a great place for them to live. If you can live without the sun for 6 months at a time, you could be fine, but lots of people have no idea how the lack of light will affect them until they get here. For some it takes a year or two before they start to go stir crazy. I swear half the people I know are on antidepressants. Then, of course, everything is hunky dory. :-) But for some, it never affects them and they wonder what all the hoopla is about. You can see the dichotomy of opinions of the residents on the city data forums.

New Orleans might be fun! Talk about culture!
Title: Re: Should we move out of Seattle?
Post by: mozar on August 05, 2014, 07:40:54 PM
I do believe the Seattle burbs are very different than those on the east coast or in the midwest.