Author Topic: Yet another "where to live" question - the ugly '80's townhome edition  (Read 3317 times)

epipenguin

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Hey all, I'm struggling with some house hunting issues, so I thought I'd ask for your wisdom. I've been looking to reduce my housing costs and it seems that in my area I will get the most bang for my buck if I choose to live in an ugly 70's or 80's quad townhome. [Quad meaning 4 attached in a square or cross shape - each unit is one corner of the square.]  There are many many of them in the area that I live in, and they have pretty much constantly depressed pricing compared to other real estate. I mean, they're not the cheapest homes - those are probably the 50's and 60's single family homes that haven't yet been updated and which are in not-so-great neighborhoods. Any earlier homes are generally in nicer neighborhoods and have already been updated so are expensive. The later homes (90's and onwards) are generally bigger, and further out in the suburbs, so they are more expensive, or are condos downtown and my bf doesn't want to be in a condo (nor do I really).

So I feel like the mustachian choice is either the ugly townhomes OR buy a run down crappy house and fix it up. It's just that each of these has its problems. I'm leaning towards the ugly townhomes but I just can't escape the feeling that it'll be dreary living in one of these neighborhoods and that I'll always feel a bit annoyed that I chose to do the cheap thing. Even though I can redo the inside, I can't change much about the outside of the house. Did anyone here choose the ugly house just to save money? Does it bug you or are you happy every time the mortgage payment is due?

For reference, I currently live in a 50's house in a nice neighborhood. Worth about $350k, but insurance is sky high as it's in coastal Florida and near the water so the hurricane risk is high. If I move to an ugly townhome in a good area slightly north and slightly further inland, with lots in walking/biking distance, it'd cost $200k if redone already, or $170k if needing renovation. [ [While this area is currently further from my work so I would have a longer commute, I may have the opportunity to move my work closer, but we're only talking 10 miles anyway. Similar townhomes closer to work are $120k in a not-so-nice area and really nothing within walking/biking distance.] In the same good area as the $200k townhomes, new townhomes are costing $400k, with single family homes being $500k+.

mozar

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I wouldn't buy an ugly house just to save money. Can you wait for a single family house that hasn't been updated in the nicer neighborhood? Why move though?

epipenguin

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It's very hard to find anything suitable in nicer neighborhoods that is reasonably priced. I probably just need to look harder, I guess.

The reason for moving is to move in with my boyfriend, and to lower costs. Neither of us want to move into the other person's current house so we're looking for something to satisfy both of us. Mostly for me it's to lower costs, and my house only has one bathroom while the bf really wants a place with 2 bathrooms. I'd also like to do less yard work.

Merrie

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Are you keen on buying or could you rent for a while? Are you considering moving or changing jobs any time in the next 5-10 years? Do you and your BF plan to buy this property together or would only one of your names be on it? Are you and he in it for the long haul yet? Personally having heard too many horror stories, I think buying with someone you're not married to/fully committed to is an exceedingly bad idea in most circumstances, but this seems to be an increasingly unpopular view in this day and age. Do you have plans to have kids down the line, and if so, would you still want to live in a place this size?

Personally, I would think that if the market for these homes is persistently depressed, it wouldn't be too hard to find one to rent, try it for a couple years, if you really hate it then don't buy one, but if you decide the minimal yardwork is nice and you can live with the outside appearance, then you can buy down the line. Yeah, you're not building equity in the meantime, but there's something to be said for having the option to move fairly readily if need be and having a landlord to fix things when they break.

epipenguin

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As we are not married yet, only my name would be on it. Which is another reason I'd rather not live in a not-so-nice area, as I have to feel comfortable about living there alone if we split up. We do not plan to have kids - we're too old for that now, so there's no need to plan for increasing family size.

I am generally keen on buying instead of renting. But perhaps even just a one year lease might at least let me know if I can deal with the ugly neighborhood. It's the thought of moving multiple times that puts me off though.

Cpa Cat

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Maybe look around and see if there's anything anyone has done with landscaping to improve the general outdoor appeal of the ugly quad home? It's possible they're not so depressing with some pretty flowers or a tree.

Merrie

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I am generally keen on buying instead of renting. But perhaps even just a one year lease might at least let me know if I can deal with the ugly neighborhood. It's the thought of moving multiple times that puts me off though.

Maybe you could find a landlord who is potentially open to selling down the line, and rent for a bit, then if you like and the landlord is amenable you could buy from them. This seems possible, but idk how easy to find.

Personally I don't care much what the outside of my house looks like. (And my yard shows it!) I would think that putting in some nice flowers would go a long way. I like cute old houses. That's not what we have. There are some more interesting-looking houses than mine in a similar vintage, but I like the interior of mine; that's what we really fell in love with when we decided to buy this one.

epipenguin

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Thanks. These townhomes do have a sizeable private patio area each, so I'd think making that a really nice and welcoming hangout space with furniture and container plants could go a long way to making it an enjoyable place to come home to.