Author Topic: To House or not to House, that is the question.  (Read 1189 times)

SimpleCycle

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To House or not to House, that is the question.
« on: August 28, 2018, 09:10:42 PM »
My wife and I live in a 1200 sq ft condo with our two children, 1 and 3.  Lately we’ve been considering buying a single family home in the city, which would be a significant increase in spending.  I should probably post a full case study, but I’m interested in discussing it more from a philosophical perspective.

Relevant facts:
1. Our savings rate is about 45% and we’re 7-10 years away from FIRE.
2. DW doesn’t seem to want to retire early, even though we’ll be FI.
3. The house purchase would decrease our savings rate to around 36-37%.  I haven’t calculated how much it pushes out our FIRE date.
4. We will be able to save more in a couple years when our daycare cost is decreased when DD starts K.
5. The houses in question are about 2000 sq ft and have yards and garages.  We currently have minimal outdoor space, one uncovered parking spot, and no bike storage.
6. Our commutes would be increased from 20ish minutes each way to 30ish minutes each way, by bike or train.
7. We like our condo, and although it feels like we’re outgrowing the space, we could probably improve livability substantially with a concerted decluttering.
8. I feel deeply conflicted about whether I’d prefer more living space or more financial flexibility.
9. The kids share a room, and are opposite genders.
10. The school situation is fine in either location.

Would you be considering a SFH in our situation?  If we’re planning to buy a larger place eventually, does it make sense to buy sooner or wait?  How would housing market conditions factor in?  Any ideas for how to think about the living standards vs. financial flexibility trade off?

ixtap

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Re: To House or not to House, that is the question.
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2018, 09:18:37 PM »
A longer commute, adding yard work, more space to clean...it sounds like a drag to me. I am all for spending money for quality of life, but this sounds like the opposite. Does your condo or neighborhood not have common spaces for outdoor play?

Are there bigger condos, or better yet, better laid out condos or houses that have 3 bedrooms without such a significant increase in square footage available, especially without adding the commute?


SimpleCycle

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Re: To House or not to House, that is the question.
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2018, 09:31:29 PM »
That’s an interesting line of thinking.  Like with everything, there would be trade offs.  There’s not a lot on the market that checks all the boxes for us, especially in our current neighborhood.  Although right now we could move a neighborhood or two further out without increasing the commute due to the non-linear nature of train commute times.

Viking Thor

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Re: To House or not to House, that is the question.
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2018, 10:13:33 PM »
With two kids of different gender you will want two rooms eventually. We have two daughters, they shared for a while until the younger one was in kindergarten, but now they are older and highly value their own room. With opposite gender it's really a.no brainer long term of you can afford, which you can.

It's really just a matter of timing, since they are little you could get by for a while.  I think it boils down to lifestyle perspective whether you'd prefer to move now or wait. From a financial perspective i don't think it's clear which is better. If you moved now instead of 5 years from now, it would probably be better if that was your "forever" house. But of course of you moved now and then again in 5 years (due to job or some other reason), then maybe staying put would be better ( depending on what happens with RE prices).

Cranky

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Re: To House or not to House, that is the question.
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2018, 05:42:44 AM »
Do you *want* a house? I think that should be the deciding factor.

It's nice to have a little more room and a little more privacy with kids, especially as they get a bit older, but you can make it work either way.

SimpleCycle

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Re: To House or not to House, that is the question.
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2018, 07:40:01 AM »
Do you *want* a house? I think that should be the deciding factor.

It's nice to have a little more room and a little more privacy with kids, especially as they get a bit older, but you can make it work either way.

I honestly feel 50/50 about the prospect of a house right now, and DW is probably more like 70/30 in favor of the house.  I think we'd appreciate more space, but am concerned about more maintenance and the longer commute.

FWIW, the condo option is not maintenance free.  Our condo association is a four unit self-managed association, and I am condo board president and it's a ton of work and politics.  One of the biggest appeals of a SFH is the end of condo board drama.

SimpleCycle

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Re: To House or not to House, that is the question.
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2018, 07:44:40 AM »
Also, I think one of the reasons I feel some pressure to decide is that I am worried people will think we are insane to continue living here after the kids are school age, and if we're going to move eventually it might make sense to do it sooner rather than later.

My inner Mustachian is "who cares what other people thing" but we already get a lot of comments and the kids are still small.

magnet18

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Re: To House or not to House, that is the question.
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2018, 08:23:59 AM »
Sounds like you're in a hcol area
Just don't want forget all the other costs (lawnmower, utilities), and the fact that it can be a huge timesink, mowing grass is one of my least favorite activities, up there with dusting.  I also highly value having my own 4 walls.  Just go in with your eyes wide open.

Sibley

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Re: To House or not to House, that is the question.
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2018, 10:07:21 AM »
First, do that concerted decluttering. Then think about if you want to move. Right now, your thought process is cluttered up with "but we're running out of room", which isn't necessarily accurate. So, declutter, and reevaluate your options from an accurate starting point.

Lady SA

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Re: To House or not to House, that is the question.
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2018, 10:44:36 AM »
we're going to move eventually it might make sense to do it sooner rather than later.


Why not just move when you need to, and not before? Just like the advice that I see sometimes here that says get the car you need, WHEN you need it, not in anticipation of needing it. I think this would fall under the same umbrella. You don't know for sure what you will need 4 years from now, or 10. I think I would be inclined to stick it out where you currently are for as long as I could.

I'd do the decluttering, and do some work in the kids' bedroom to give them their own private space inside it (hang curtains, put up a bookcase wall to split the room, etc). Then you have the time to make a decision that is best for you instead of being driven by future speculation.

SunnyDays

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Re: To House or not to House, that is the question.
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2018, 11:03:04 AM »
Why not just move when you need to, and not before? Just like the advice that I see sometimes here that says get the car you need, WHEN you need it, not in anticipation of needing it. I think this would fall under the same umbrella. You don't know for sure what you will need 4 years from now, or 10. I think I would be inclined to stick it out where you currently are for as long as I could.

I'd do the decluttering, and do some work in the kids' bedroom to give them their own private space inside it (hang curtains, put up a bookcase wall to split the room, etc). Then you have the time to make a decision that is best for you instead of being driven by future speculation.

Yes, this, unless housing prices are skyrocketing in your area and you want to get in while you can still afford it.  And, to a lesser extent, depending on the age of your son.  The bigger the age gap, the better separate bedrooms are, in my opinion.  Once he hits 12 or so, then definitely separate rooms.

Khaetra

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Re: To House or not to House, that is the question.
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2018, 11:18:14 AM »
With two kids of different gender you will want two rooms eventually. We have two daughters, they shared for a while until the younger one was in kindergarten, but now they are older and highly value their own room. With opposite gender it's really a.no brainer long term of you can afford, which you can..

I agree 100%.  Right now it might not seem like a huge deal for them to share, but in just a few short years it will be a very big deal and that reason alone is a good one to start looking for a home (or maybe a different condo so the kids can have their own room).

mxt0133

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Re: To House or not to House, that is the question.
« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2018, 11:53:38 AM »
Also, I think one of the reasons I feel some pressure to decide is that I am worried people will think we are insane to continue living here after the kids are school age, and if we're going to move eventually it might make sense to do it sooner rather than later.

My inner Mustachian is "who cares what other people thing" but we already get a lot of comments and the kids are still small.

I live in a 650sf one bedroom apartment with with three kids, two boys and a girl.  I used to have the same worries about what people would think.  But we are happy living in a small space, it prevents us from buying lots of stuff, the money we are saving is put into savings and travel.  We love to travel even though we love our city and neighborhood.  We first moved into this place when we first got married.  After our first child one relative said "well I guess you are going to move now".  After our second child they said :now I know you are definitely going to move".  When the third child was born, they said nothing.

So yeah, the art of not caring what other people think is very liberating.  Unless, they are going to pay your bills then they don't really have a say in the matter.  It helps that from my perspective our space, location, and amenities we have free access to is very luxurious compared to where I was born and have visited relatives that live in tin shacks and with no running water.


SimpleCycle

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Re: To House or not to House, that is the question.
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2018, 12:04:12 PM »
Also, I think one of the reasons I feel some pressure to decide is that I am worried people will think we are insane to continue living here after the kids are school age, and if we're going to move eventually it might make sense to do it sooner rather than later.

My inner Mustachian is "who cares what other people thing" but we already get a lot of comments and the kids are still small.

I live in a 650sf one bedroom apartment with with three kids, two boys and a girl.  I used to have the same worries about what people would think.  But we are happy living in a small space, it prevents us from buying lots of stuff, the money we are saving is put into savings and travel.  We love to travel even though we love our city and neighborhood.  We first moved into this place when we first got married.  After our first child one relative said "well I guess you are going to move now".  After our second child they said :now I know you are definitely going to move".  When the third child was born, they said nothing.

So yeah, the art of not caring what other people think is very liberating.  Unless, they are going to pay your bills then they don't really have a say in the matter.  It helps that from my perspective our space, location, and amenities we have free access to is very luxurious compared to where I was born and have visited relatives that live in tin shacks and with no running water.

Obviously the solution is to have a third kid so the questions will stop. :)

I also have extended family living with six people in a two room house with two beds, which certainly changes your perspective.

Altons Bobs

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Re: To House or not to House, that is the question.
« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2018, 12:04:29 PM »
Our first home was 1700+ sqft, 2 stories, so it seemed smaller than a 1-story same size home, it certainly felt that way. Before we had our first baby, no problem, we had enough space, then the baby came, we no longer had enough space. We did get rid of a lot of stuff, but still we were stressed out because of the space situation. We didn't really care or hear anything other people said, so whatever they said didn't affect our decision to stay or move. Almost 20 years later after living in that small house, we built a new house, which is now our forever home, 1 story.

I think your situation may change in the future, your decision may be very clear to you if you wait. If it was me, I would not be buying a house right now, but we're waiting for the market to crash, then labor and materials will be cheaper, we'll wait til then to build an extension.