Author Topic: Where should I buy a house? (near Boulder, CO)  (Read 3373 times)

jjcamembert

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Where should I buy a house? (near Boulder, CO)
« on: December 16, 2014, 11:20:34 AM »
I'm looking for some local input regarding good Mustachian places to live near Boulder, CO. I currently work in south Boulder and plan to stay at this job for a while. I currently rent an apartment in Boulder, but after computing the numbers, if I can start paying down a house it will help me be FIRE in the future. I'd like to continue living in Boulder so I can stay car-free, but the house prices are extremely high in Boulder. I don't need fancy or big, but still I am doubting whether the significant difference in prices 10 miles out make up for the commuting cost. At minimum I want yard enough for a garden & grill, and 2 bed/2 bath 1200 sqft.

My current goal is to reduce my working time to 50% ASAP rather than wait 10 years to be fully FIRE. So the following numbers are how many years of full-time work before I can go part-time, based on house price.

House Price / Years FT Work
$250k / 3 years
$300k / 4.5 years
$350k / 6 years
$400k / 7.5 years

If I move farther out I am looking at the following additional expenses:
-Commuting expenses (time & money)
-Car purchase

But as far as I can calculate, 1.5 years of part-time work > the expenses of living farther. On the other hand, I don't really want to live in the suburbs, so eventually when I'm FIRE I'd like to be in the city anyway.

What's been your experience, Boulder Mustachians? I know MMM recommends Longmont but I've heard that commute is terrible in the morning, and I'd prefer Louisville/Lafayette if I had to live outside. Will the benefits of living in Boulder outweigh the costs of the house?

Thanks!

MountainFlower

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Re: Where should I buy a house? (near Boulder, CO)
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2014, 12:00:59 PM »
I vote Louisville.  I also work in South Boulder and many of my co-workers live in Louisville.  They rarely drive.  You can take the bus or bike or both.  It has a nice small town flavor.  The one thing I don't know is how Longmont and Louisville compare with regard to property taxes.   I'm not a fan of Longmont, and it's a lot farther from South Boulder.  It takes my officemate 45 minutes to get to work from her Longmont Home.  Also, with Lousiville, you're only like 20 minutes from Lower Downtown Denver by bus.  You get small town and big city.  WIN! 

I don't live in Lousiville, by the way, so maybe someone who does will comment.  As my name suggests, I live in the mountains. 

Another option might be to rent in Lousiville for 6 months and see how you like it.  I know that last year there were bidding wars on starter homes in the Denver/Boulder area, so you might want look for a house now before the big real estate season gets going. Good luck! 

Future Lazy

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Re: Where should I buy a house? (near Boulder, CO)
« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2014, 12:27:58 PM »
Townhomes in the north side of Lafayette seem to meet your lower end price range, but might not have the housey yardy garden and grill standards. You could bike due west on Baseline Rd or South Boulder Rd to get back to work.

That being said, you could look around Flatiron's Crossing area (Broomfield/Superior) for more house/less money options. Broomfield is under a lot of development right now, believe it or not, and will probably continue to grow 'hip and trendy'.

But stay close to Highway 36, and take the BV regional bus to work (apx $8/day or like ~$160/mo, less than a car payment, not to mention gas, car ins, etc...). The BV runs at literally ALL hours, and is fairly fast. I used to take it as part of a weekly commute from Arvada to Gunbarrel, and it was very comfortable and reliable.

In fact, if you're not bus opposed, you could even look along Hwy 36 all the way down to Westminster, but I wouldn't look any farther south than about w 92nd Ave.

Some examples in Broomfield:
http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/230-Redwood-Cir-Broomfield-CO-80020/60239865_zpid/
http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/365-Beryl-St-Broomfield-CO-80020/60237777_zpid/
http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/862-Hemlock-Way-Broomfield-CO-80020/60238050_zpid/
http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/3313-W-11th-Avenue-Dr-Broomfield-CO-80020/60236764_zpid/

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Where should I buy a house? (near Boulder, CO)
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2014, 02:51:30 PM »
There appear to be two sides of this question:  1) cost impact of moving, and 2) lifestyle.  I'm not in the area, so I can't comment on how suitable a location would be for you.  Other commenters haven't said much about the cost of commuting, though, and I can pitch in on that.

Let's say you live 10 miles out and it takes you 20 minutes to get to work.  Let's also assume that you buy a used car for $5k and get 25mpg.  Also assume it costs $400/year to insure, and gas is $3/gallon, and you spend $500 on maintenance and account for $500 for depreciation.  This will at least get us in the ballpark for the cost.

200 days of work * 20 miles/day / 25mpg * $3/gallon = $480 in gas/year.  All up, you're still well under $2000 per year that you'd spend on the car.  If driving an extra 10 miles gets you into an equivalent house for $50k less, you'll make up for almost the entire $2k car cost just with the difference in mortgage interest.  Colorado has very low property taxes, but it's 0.6%, so with the mortgage interest, the 10 mile extra commute vs $50k cheaper house is about break-even.

Future Lazy

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Re: Where should I buy a house? (near Boulder, CO)
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2014, 03:35:51 PM »
There appear to be two sides of this question:  1) cost impact of moving, and 2) lifestyle.  I'm not in the area, so I can't comment on how suitable a location would be for you.  Other commenters haven't said much about the cost of commuting, though, and I can pitch in on that.

Let's say you live 10 miles out and it takes you 20 minutes to get to work.  Let's also assume that you buy a used car for $5k and get 25mpg.  Also assume it costs $400/year to insure, and gas is $3/gallon, and you spend $500 on maintenance and account for $500 for depreciation.  This will at least get us in the ballpark for the cost.

200 days of work * 20 miles/day / 25mpg * $3/gallon = $480 in gas/year.  All up, you're still well under $2000 per year that you'd spend on the car.  If driving an extra 10 miles gets you into an equivalent house for $50k less, you'll make up for almost the entire $2k car cost just with the difference in mortgage interest.  Colorado has very low property taxes, but it's 0.6%, so with the mortgage interest, the 10 mile extra commute vs $50k cheaper house is about break-even.

However, if you chose to live FARTHER from work than 10mi, such as in a 50k cheaper house in Broomfield/Westminster, riding the regional bus would cap your commute at ~$2080/yr ($8/day, 5 days a week 52 weeks a year - assuming the very very unlikely event that you never take a holiday/vacation day/sick day)

Or using zolotiyeruki's 200 days of work, $8*200=$1600

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Where should I buy a house? (near Boulder, CO)
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2014, 09:09:25 AM »

However, if you chose to live FARTHER from work than 10mi, such as in a 50k cheaper house in Broomfield/Westminster, riding the regional bus would cap your commute at ~$2080/yr ($8/day, 5 days a week 52 weeks a year - assuming the very very unlikely event that you never take a holiday/vacation day/sick day)

Or using zolotiyeruki's 200 days of work, $8*200=$1600
I realized this morning that I neglected another factor--the net present value of the $50k you don't spend.  Assuming you stick it somewhere earning (conservatively) 5%, that's another $2500/year in favor of moving further out.

TheDude

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Re: Where should I buy a house? (near Boulder, CO)
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2014, 11:17:23 AM »
I live in Longmont. We love it here but we also work here. I think if I were in your shoes I would looking into Louisville. Its got a decent downtown area and feels like a small town but is reasonably close to boulder and Denver. On the plus side they are building a bike lane on 36.

TomTX

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Re: Where should I buy a house? (near Boulder, CO)
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2014, 11:53:01 AM »
Where do you get the idea MMM would recommend Longmont for you?

He wrote a whole article about how a couple wanting to buy a house in Longmont and commute out were making a big mistake.

Also, why do you want to replace working time with commuting time? Seems quite silly to me.