Author Topic: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!  (Read 10997 times)

OmahaSteph

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Cross-posted from my journal:

**ADVICE PLEASE!!!**

I need y'all's help deciding whether or not this is a good financial move, because I'm too emotionally invested.

My apartment lease is up at the end of July and I've been researching where I want to move and how much I want to pay. And a rental house popped up today on Zillow that has me way too excited. Here's roughly what I'm paying now (obviously the utilities change with the seasons):

Rent:   1,305.00
Pet rent:   25.00
Electric:   50.00 (estimate)
Gas:   28.40
Water:   12.26
Sewer:   14.36
Admin. Fee:   3.00
Renter's insurance:   15.36

The new place costs $1,395.00, which is obviously in the wrong direction, but there are a number of pros as well as unknowns.

The pros:
-It's in a very desirable area with EXCELLENT schools
-The schools are within walking/biking distance
-It's near a small downtown area that is walkable/bikable with parks, businesses, etc.
-It doesn't add any time to my commute
-It cuts Current's bicycle commute in half, if not more
-It puts a farmer's market within biking distance
-It has a yard for raised garden beds (if they allow it)
-It has a shed to store the bikes, garden equipment, etc.
-They accept pets
-It comes with a washer and dryer (I have my own, so depending, I'd either sell mine or move theirs out to the storage shed and use my efficient ones)

The unknowns:
-Will my renter's insurance go up?
-Is there pet rent or a one-time fee?
-Are any utilities included?
-It's an older house, so are the windows newer? (will it cost more to heat/cool the place?)

The cons:
-no garage (that I'm aware of)
-it's an older home (which I love aesthetically, but not financially)
-there's a yard to mow (is lawn care included? snow removal?)
-utilities will be higher in a large house than an apartment or smaller house

Houses almost never come up in this area, so I almost literally squealed when I saw this. I realize there are lots of unknowns, but what do y'all think? Are there enough benefits and possible savings in other areas to justify the slightly higher rent and associated costs?

**edited to add the following**


Sorry, I forgot to mention that the house is available July 1.

And here's the rub: I *had* planned to move to a smaller/less expensive place so I could save up for a house downpayment. Even a lateral move will make it more difficult, but I've been watching the markets for several months now and all the smaller/less expensive places are in undesirable areas or would be quite cramped, kinda cruddy inside and quite frankly, I don't want to live that way for three or so years, nor do I want my kids in that environment. So ...
« Last Edit: March 11, 2016, 11:12:35 AM by OmahaSteph »

neo von retorch

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2016, 11:08:24 AM »
- Do you have a garage now?
- Can you get a quote from your insurance agent?
- Find out what utilities you would pay at the new place!

OmahaSteph

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2016, 11:13:39 AM »
- Do you have a garage now?
- Can you get a quote from your insurance agent?
- Find out what utilities you would pay at the new place!

- Do you have a garage now?
Nope

- Can you get a quote from your insurance agent?
Yep

- Find out what utilities you would pay at the new place!
I've already called the agent to set up a viewing! :)

neo von retorch

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2016, 11:17:25 AM »
There are emotional elements to where you live, and that's OK. The important thing to remember is to evaluate everything as objectively as you can.

Renting a house now (and for the next few years) might be better long-term, then renting a cheaper apartment (where you may or may not be happy) and then using your savings to buy a house.

Have you looked at the NY Times rent vs. own calculator? Renting might be better long-term, in which case, finding a great rental now might be a solid move for you.

OmahaSteph

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2016, 11:20:59 AM »
Have you looked at the NY Times rent vs. own calculator? Renting might be better long-term, in which case, finding a great rental now might be a solid move for you.

I haven't looked at that calculator, but I've read MMM's post on renting v buying and buying makes much more sense, especially since I'm here until I retire (which may not be early, but I'll be well-prepared). So, buying is in my future, I'm just not there right now.

nereo

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2016, 11:23:41 AM »
Here's my 2. 
Cutting your commuting time and living in a more desirable location are net positives to your life that shouldn't be overlooked.  The $90/mo increase of course isn't great, but more than compensated by the fact that you'll save time commuting and running errands.

IME, renters insurance doesn't change by more than $1-2/mo, so I see that as a non issue (but good thing to check just to be sure).

one last thing - keep looking to see if you can't find  a similar rental for even less.  If you found this one for $1395, perhaps there's another one out there for $1195... never hurts to check.

Giro

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2016, 11:42:23 AM »
any potential to buy the house after your lease is up?  maybe % of your lease payments could go towards down payment.  I've sold homes like this before.

never hurts to ask.  Home owners love when renters want to buy the home because they keep it nice, even if the deal never happens at the end of the lease.

OmahaSteph

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2016, 11:58:07 AM »
Thanks for the input. Maybe I was being TOO cautious, after all!

any potential to buy the house after your lease is up?  maybe % of your lease payments could go towards down payment.  I've sold homes like this before.

never hurts to ask.  Home owners love when renters want to buy the home because they keep it nice, even if the deal never happens at the end of the lease.

Without having seen the house yet, I can't say. But if it's in decent shape, then YES, I would love to buy the house. Seriously, the location is THAT good.

And there's this: http://time.com/money/3984383/papillion-nebraska-best-places-to-live-2015/

mozar

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2016, 12:01:02 PM »
Do you have kids?

OmahaSteph

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2016, 12:07:07 PM »
Do you have kids?

Two in elementary school.

Dee18

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2016, 12:32:41 PM »
Where I live you can call the utility companies yourself and see what the bills were last year for a particular address. 

norabird

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2016, 12:40:29 PM »
Sometimes emotions can be a great guide :)

OmahaSteph

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2016, 12:54:02 PM »
Where I live you can call the utility companies yourself and see what the bills were last year for a particular address.

Ohh, thanks for the heads up! I figured there was a way to find out. Although Non-mustachians may have had the AC and heat cranked more than you or I would. ;)

RosieTR

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2016, 01:16:02 PM »
Sometimes some of the utilities are covered, esp water for a house with a yard. We did not do this when we were landlords, but I have come across it as advice for those considering landlording. If this is the case, then the difference between the two is smaller.

As for pet rent: owners charge this because of the potential for damage that a pet can cause. This can sometimes be negotiable, especially if you offer to do stuff for the owner such as allow periodic inspections. If it's a cat, the worry is the cat peeing all over, since the smell can be very difficult to get rid of, and soak all the way through carpet and pad. If a dog, then chewing or scratching is the problem. If it's a property management you may not get too far (though ask them to ask the owners even so). If it's a direct owner, then they may be willing to negotiate more, especially if you offer inspections, and if that won't sway them, possibly a bigger deposit.

What is your vehicle situation? If you would considerably decrease your driving, you may be able to decrease your insurance on the vehicle. Obviously wear and tear will go down, as well as gasoline expenditures. What about stuff like working out? If you would drop a gym membership or sell equipment because now you're walking, that may also be worthwhile. As would connecting with neighbors in a more walking neighborhood, which could include: trading veggies or babysitting, decreased stress (which helps long term health care costs), and of course all the intangibles. Walking your kids to school may not have a price, but $90 (or less) might be worth it, for example. Not just for your own happiness in spending some pleasant time with them, but also some other things like demonstrating a certain lifestyle for them and the possibility of learning more about them that may not come about in a car ride, because walking lends itself to better conversational interaction than sitting in a car, especially with you in the front and them in the backseat. They also might get to school a lot more prepared to learn than they would sitting in a car for X minutes, since exercise stimulates blood flow to the brain and sitting has the opposite effect.
Not every single decision that saves money is the right one. The point of Mustachianism is to realize *why* you might be spending the money and really choose if that matches your values, and why.

OmahaSteph

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2016, 01:37:22 PM »
Sometimes some of the utilities are covered, esp water for a house with a yard. We did not do this when we were landlords, but I have come across it as advice for those considering landlording. If this is the case, then the difference between the two is smaller.

As for pet rent: owners charge this because of the potential for damage that a pet can cause. This can sometimes be negotiable, especially if you offer to do stuff for the owner such as allow periodic inspections. If it's a cat, the worry is the cat peeing all over, since the smell can be very difficult to get rid of, and soak all the way through carpet and pad. If a dog, then chewing or scratching is the problem. If it's a property management you may not get too far (though ask them to ask the owners even so). If it's a direct owner, then they may be willing to negotiate more, especially if you offer inspections, and if that won't sway them, possibly a bigger deposit.

What is your vehicle situation? If you would considerably decrease your driving, you may be able to decrease your insurance on the vehicle. Obviously wear and tear will go down, as well as gasoline expenditures. What about stuff like working out? If you would drop a gym membership or sell equipment because now you're walking, that may also be worthwhile. As would connecting with neighbors in a more walking neighborhood, which could include: trading veggies or babysitting, decreased stress (which helps long term health care costs), and of course all the intangibles. Walking your kids to school may not have a price, but $90 (or less) might be worth it, for example. Not just for your own happiness in spending some pleasant time with them, but also some other things like demonstrating a certain lifestyle for them and the possibility of learning more about them that may not come about in a car ride, because walking lends itself to better conversational interaction than sitting in a car, especially with you in the front and them in the backseat. They also might get to school a lot more prepared to learn than they would sitting in a car for X minutes, since exercise stimulates blood flow to the brain and sitting has the opposite effect.
Not every single decision that saves money is the right one. The point of Mustachianism is to realize *why* you might be spending the money and really choose if that matches your values, and why.

Rosie, I could hug you. YES. ALL OF THAT.

I'll have to see if there's room in the basement for lifting (probably) and I could drop my gym membership when it's up. And the whole reason I love the location is because it provides all the things you mentioned. Neighbors, community, easier walking, cycling, no upstairs and downstairs neighbors, stability and an awesome lifestyle for the kiddos.

I have one cat who is pretty well behaved, though not declawed and she tends to scratch at door casings (WTH?) but no litter box issues. I love the idea of a larger deposit and inspections. Thanks for the tip.

I have one vehicle - Current does not. He cycle commutes. I could probably switch to a higher deductible, but I do commute to downtown Omaha everyday and park in a parking garage. More good stuff to chew on. I knew I could count on y'all to think of things I didn't!

mm1970

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2016, 02:40:19 PM »
Sometimes some of the utilities are covered, esp water for a house with a yard. We did not do this when we were landlords, but I have come across it as advice for those considering landlording. If this is the case, then the difference between the two is smaller.

As for pet rent: owners charge this because of the potential for damage that a pet can cause. This can sometimes be negotiable, especially if you offer to do stuff for the owner such as allow periodic inspections. If it's a cat, the worry is the cat peeing all over, since the smell can be very difficult to get rid of, and soak all the way through carpet and pad. If a dog, then chewing or scratching is the problem. If it's a property management you may not get too far (though ask them to ask the owners even so). If it's a direct owner, then they may be willing to negotiate more, especially if you offer inspections, and if that won't sway them, possibly a bigger deposit.

What is your vehicle situation? If you would considerably decrease your driving, you may be able to decrease your insurance on the vehicle. Obviously wear and tear will go down, as well as gasoline expenditures. What about stuff like working out? If you would drop a gym membership or sell equipment because now you're walking, that may also be worthwhile. As would connecting with neighbors in a more walking neighborhood, which could include: trading veggies or babysitting, decreased stress (which helps long term health care costs), and of course all the intangibles. Walking your kids to school may not have a price, but $90 (or less) might be worth it, for example. Not just for your own happiness in spending some pleasant time with them, but also some other things like demonstrating a certain lifestyle for them and the possibility of learning more about them that may not come about in a car ride, because walking lends itself to better conversational interaction than sitting in a car, especially with you in the front and them in the backseat. They also might get to school a lot more prepared to learn than they would sitting in a car for X minutes, since exercise stimulates blood flow to the brain and sitting has the opposite effect.
Not every single decision that saves money is the right one. The point of Mustachianism is to realize *why* you might be spending the money and really choose if that matches your values, and why.

Rosie, I could hug you. YES. ALL OF THAT.

I'll have to see if there's room in the basement for lifting (probably) and I could drop my gym membership when it's up. And the whole reason I love the location is because it provides all the things you mentioned. Neighbors, community, easier walking, cycling, no upstairs and downstairs neighbors, stability and an awesome lifestyle for the kiddos.

I have one cat who is pretty well behaved, though not declawed and she tends to scratch at door casings (WTH?) but no litter box issues. I love the idea of a larger deposit and inspections. Thanks for the tip.

I have one vehicle - Current does not. He cycle commutes. I could probably switch to a higher deductible, but I do commute to downtown Omaha everyday and park in a parking garage. More good stuff to chew on. I knew I could count on y'all to think of things I didn't!
You know, emotion should be a part of your decision.  Maybe not all of it.

I think about moving all the time.  To a bigger house, better school district, more space, shorter commute.

But.  I LOVE MY NEIGHBORS.  I have a tribe.  It's a nice neighborhood.

ooeei

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2016, 02:53:44 PM »
Doesn't sound like a bad idea at all!  I will caution you to be careful if the price seems too good to be true.  I recently saved my girlfriend's aunt from signing up for a credit reporting service because a potential landlord wanted her to "provide her credit report".  There never was a house to rent, just a scam to get people to sign up for the service or steal their identities.  Be on the lookout.

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #17 on: March 11, 2016, 03:06:06 PM »
A home near us had a for rent sign in front with a phone #. My friend saw it on CL but it seemed way too cheap for the area. So I called the # on the sign and the rent was 300 more and he had not put it on CL.   So it was all a scam.  People have even paid rent, deposits etc to someone that did not even own the home. The owner called the police but they could care less.

OmahaSteph

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2016, 03:12:48 PM »
Doesn't sound like a bad idea at all!  I will caution you to be careful if the price seems too good to be true.  I recently saved my girlfriend's aunt from signing up for a credit reporting service because a potential landlord wanted her to "provide her credit report".  There never was a house to rent, just a scam to get people to sign up for the service or steal their identities.  Be on the lookout.

The price is where it should be, that's not an issue, and it's listed with a realtor. But yeah, I've come across some scams before. My BS detector is pretty well-honed ;)

OmahaSteph

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2016, 11:51:28 AM »
Update: We did a drive-by yesterday and the location really is perfect. The house is older and definitely needs work, so perhaps I wouldn't want to buy it in a few years, but from what I can tell, it would be lovely for a couple years until I have enough saved for a permanent place.

The realtor finally contacted me again, only to ask if another day would work for a showing if Saturday doesn't work for the current tenants. I once again posed questions to her but haven't gotten a reply. I kinda wanna grab her by the shoulders and shake the answers out of her. I'm also hoping the place isn't a disappointing, rundown sh--hole. 

For fun (*cough*) I looked up real estate in my projected budget range for the area and came up with ONE house in the entire town, a fixer-upper from the 1970s. In order to buy there, I'd have to save a lot more which would take more like 5 years, rather than 3. So it looks like if the place is decent, I should really inquire about lease to own.

OmahaSteph

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #20 on: April 11, 2016, 11:21:28 AM »
UPDATE:

I never heard back from the agent on setting up a time so I kinda let it slide and figured it wasn't meant to be. Well, today the ad was updated with some interior and yard pix. It looked pretty nice, including a decent-sized kitchen, which is a NEED, not a want. We cook in all the time, and not just reheating stuff. Actual cooking and baking. Anyway.

Current and I are using some PTO to go see the place Wednesday afternoon. It's still more than I want to pay, but the rental market has almost completely dried up and it scares me that I may not find a suitable place. No other houses have had the excellent location that will enable us to do more walking/biking AND good schools AND the space we need AND accepts pets AND doesn't lengthen my commute or Current's commute.

When I subtract out pet rent ($25), admin fee ($3), gym membership ($22) for a total of $50, that makes the difference between where I am ($1,305) and the house ($1,395) only $40. If they let us garden (there's plenty of space) and we walk the kids to school, that makes up for the difference right there.

Utilities will likely go up, but if we're in a house long-term, I can change all the lightbulbs and institute other energy-saving measures.

I plan to take my credit report with me and possibly ask for a letter of reference from my previous place ... which I should actually do right now.

Any other tips? I've seen some good ones in other threads, so I think I have it covered (act like it's a first date, be prepared to write a check on the spot, etc.) but always open to other suggestions!

This is the right decision, right???? *freaks out a little*

norabird

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #21 on: April 11, 2016, 11:34:30 AM »
I think it sounds like a good opportunity!

Catbert

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #22 on: April 11, 2016, 11:40:13 AM »
This thread has some good tips on getting as well as finding an apt/house:

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/pound-the-pavement-for-a-good-apartment-deal-what-are-your-strategies/

Of particular relevance to your current situation is the comment about telling the landlord not why you want the house, but why you would be a good tenant. 

OmahaSteph

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #23 on: April 11, 2016, 12:12:54 PM »
This thread has some good tips on getting as well as finding an apt/house:

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/pound-the-pavement-for-a-good-apartment-deal-what-are-your-strategies/

Of particular relevance to your current situation is the comment about telling the landlord not why you want the house, but why you would be a good tenant.

Yep, that's one of the threads I've been watching :)

I printed out two credit reports (which is pretty dang good considering a divorce from a spendypants two years ago) and I've got a reference letter coming from my former apartment complex. I think that's about all I can do.

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #24 on: April 12, 2016, 07:02:42 AM »
The house sounds great for all the reasons you mentioned.  I know you don't WANT to pay more, but if you can swing the extra $40, I would.  We own a dog, and when we were renters our options were always much more limited!

Good luck tomorrow; let us know how it goes! 

slappy

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #25 on: April 12, 2016, 07:37:02 AM »
This thread has me emotionally invested in the house! I can't wait to hear how it goes.  :)

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #26 on: April 12, 2016, 08:06:29 AM »
This thread has me emotionally invested in the house! I can't wait to hear how it goes.  :)
Me too.

OmahaSteph

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #27 on: April 12, 2016, 08:31:03 AM »
This thread has me emotionally invested in the house! I can't wait to hear how it goes.  :)
Me too.

LOL, thanks everyone. I'm trying to remain clear-headed. I think the fact that it's an older house (probably with lots of maintenance) and plopping down $1,395 in one large chunk is keeping me in check. After saving so hard, it's going to be weird and difficult to let go of that amount! :P

OmahaSteph

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #28 on: April 12, 2016, 02:23:49 PM »
Called about the utilities. It's not good.

Current electric: ~$50/month
New House electric: $128/month

Current gas: ~$28.40/month
New house gas: $64/month - peaked in January at $146

Already that's an increase of $113/month, and doesn't even include water, sewer and trash.

This is looking like a bad deal :(

OmahaSteph

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #29 on: April 12, 2016, 03:16:15 PM »
Called about the utilities. It's not good.

Current electric: ~$50/month
New House electric: $128/month

Current gas: ~$28.40/month
New house gas: $64/month - peaked in January at $146

Already that's an increase of $113/month, and doesn't even include water, sewer and trash.

This is looking like a bad deal :(

Not necessarily -- you have no idea what the usage patterns were of the current tenants.  They may be the type who leave the heat blasting with the windows open in the winter, and vice versa with the AC in summer.  Check the KWH used for the electric and compare it to your current usage -- that might give you a better baseline than charges alone.

That's true, and I've brainstormed ways to be more efficient. We're not even home all THAT much and even my little ones know to turn off the light when you leave the room, turn off the TV, turn off the water when brushing your teeth (thanks, Cub Scouts!). Target has sales on energy efficient light bulbs all the time, and since I plan to be in this next residence for several years, I'd feel comfortable replacing them.

Bricks in the toilet ... energy-saving showerheads ...

I think I'm just having panic-induced flashbacks to the 1858 Italianate my ex and I attempted to restore. *cue Tom Hanks's "Money Pit" laugh*

elaine amj

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #30 on: April 20, 2016, 02:48:53 PM »
Checking back in - have you managed to see the place yet? Got all caught up in your excitement and now I need to know the end of the story :)

OmahaSteph

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #31 on: April 20, 2016, 03:48:20 PM »
Checking back in - have you managed to see the place yet? Got all caught up in your excitement and now I need to know the end of the story :)

We did go see it, and I'm afraid there's no exciting conclusion. The house was HUGE and the layout was a labyrinth with multiple, drafty additions. The basement could have been a Halloween funhouse with all the divisions and hidey-holes. The stairs were steep, the windows old, and I knew immediately that this was not my home.

The yard, however, was wonderful and the only thing that makes me wistful. The owners had no problem with gardening and there was already an established compost pile, plus a shed that would have been wonderful for potting. However, it wasn't enough to offset the house.

The search continues...

Sibley

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #32 on: April 21, 2016, 08:01:01 AM »
Well, good luck with the search.

But regarding the cat scratching on door posts - cats need to scratch. Even declawed cats will scratch. Basic instinct. So you need to provide plenty of legal and desired scratching targets. Translation: get more scratching posts, pads, etc, and try different kinds to figure out what the cat prefers. That will help.

OmahaSteph

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #33 on: April 21, 2016, 08:23:10 AM »
Well, good luck with the search.

But regarding the cat scratching on door posts - cats need to scratch. Even declawed cats will scratch. Basic instinct. So you need to provide plenty of legal and desired scratching targets. Translation: get more scratching posts, pads, etc, and try different kinds to figure out what the cat prefers. That will help.

She also prefers my leather couch. *facepalm* Scratching posts are met with, "meh" despite the additions of shoe laces and catnip.

neo von retorch

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #34 on: April 21, 2016, 08:45:40 AM »
Ha, this is our cat as well. So far, she's actually mostly uninterested in leather, but the couch is a perfect scratching post in her opinion. It's in awful shape, but we are loathe to replace it because it might share the same fate. As we move into a house, I plan on making very tall scratching post-like things for her, as I think the "stretch" is her favorite part.

elaine amj

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Re: Stop me from making an emotional v. financial decision, please!
« Reply #35 on: April 21, 2016, 12:28:49 PM »
One day, the perfect house will show up :)