Author Topic: Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC  (Read 7811 times)

oldtoyota

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Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC
« on: July 06, 2013, 07:51:55 AM »
I was pondering MMM's friendly jabs at the east coast and the expense of living out this way. He's right. It's expensive. Several months ago, I went out with a friend. I felt like I was on another planet when I got the bill for a martini. $13!!!!

Needless to say, I did not return to that restaurant. I walk by, though, and people are always spilling out onto the sidewalk happy to waste their money there.

I have already digressed.

My house is cheaper than MMM's. His house is probably much nicer though.

If I compare some big ticket expenses, I think one can live in the expensive east coast without paying a whole lot more than a traditionally lower COL area.

MMM's house was $400K in CO. Mine was $190K in the DC metro area. This is just one example of lower-cost east coast living.

I think my housing cost is pretty bad ass for this expensive area! And did I mention that I live steps from a metro station making my car very unimportant. (I should sell the car but SO is REALLY dead set against that.)

Many museums and attractions in DC cost zero dollars.

MMM obviously beats me in many areas--bike/car, food, and others.

Most importantly, I bet he beats me on taxes.

The house, though, seems a huge factor in overall expenses--especially if one stays with the 30-year plan of paying the mortgage. I know MMM paid his mortgage off early. I am paying mine off in 15 years instead of 30. Still, though, this is a chunk of change over time albeit in future inflation adjusted dollars.

Just wondering your thoughts and if assumptions of million-dollar homes are made when saying that the east coast is expensive.

That said, the SO and I are planning to retire to northern Florida when we retire, so we obviously see the advantages of no state income tax. =-)







« Last Edit: July 06, 2013, 07:55:18 AM by oldtoyota »

Rural

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Re: Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2013, 08:04:04 AM »
The house is a big deal. Your choice there will pay off for your whole life. But there are constant little things that will probably amaze you when you do move to a lower COL area. I don't know about MMM's area, but our food costs are lower, so the grocery bill every month is low. When we eat out, it's a full meal for both of us for the price of that martini. Used cars are cheaper... Everything here is priced according to what the market will bear, and the market as a whole is lower income, low COL. That includes taxes.

So I think the answer is a happy one -- yes, you've found a way to live for less in a high COL area, and yes, it will get much better when you do move to a low COL area. :)

oldtoyota

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Re: Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2013, 05:06:24 PM »
The house is a big deal. Your choice there will pay off for your whole life. But there are constant little things that will probably amaze you when you do move to a lower COL area. I don't know about MMM's area, but our food costs are lower, so the grocery bill every month is low. When we eat out, it's a full meal for both of us for the price of that martini. Used cars are cheaper... Everything here is priced according to what the market will bear, and the market as a whole is lower income, low COL. That includes taxes.

So I think the answer is a happy one -- yes, you've found a way to live for less in a high COL area, and yes, it will get much better when you do move to a low COL area. :)

Good point! If I go into the suburbs, food gets cheaper. I like using Pho as an example. Pho--Vietnamese soup--is $10 + tax inside DC. Go to the suburbs and the price is $3 cheaper. Crazy to have a 30% drop with just a 10-mile difference.


Rural

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Re: Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2013, 05:12:00 PM »
Ah - here's a possibly less happy part of the answer, too, though. Options will likely decrease a bit. For example, I'm roughly 90 miles from the nearest Pho. Learn to make your favorites if you can't live without them. I make a mean biryani. :)

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Re: Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2013, 09:15:14 PM »
Yeah principals of mustachianism can work in any area, you just have to tweak and customized to match the features of your local area.

Personally, I cannot do what you are doing. 

Great for you if you can pull it off, I know some people absolutely love DC and would never live anywhere else.

I know there is affordable housing and its ground central for everything exciting, but I cannot live in a smoosh-up townhouse sliver.  I remember back in 2006-2007 when the housing market was around its peak, in some areas people could sell a place the size of a broom closet for 300k in DC or NoVa.  It was a crazy time.  And that sellers market was tight as tight can be, people put down their 300k-400k for that broom closest, and they better be thankful and humble they even got that; you better be kissing the real estate persons feet, showing your respects, and screaming out tears of joy because if they didn't 4-5 more buyers were dying to own that closet; backup offers were being made, and would be lining up with their money ready to grab it.   


kendallf

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Re: Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2013, 09:47:41 PM »
We live in northern FL, and we'll be moving in a couple of months into our new house.  It's in a bike friendly neighborhood, within easy riding distance of good restaurants, bars, and my work.  Cost: $35k.  Now, I will be digging out from under my other two real estate "investments" that are worth about 100k less than I owe on them for a while.. but it's nice to get in on the low end of something once in a while.  :-)

oldtoyota

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Re: Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2013, 10:08:03 PM »
Yeah principals of mustachianism can work in any area, you just have to tweak and customized to match the features of your local area.

Personally, I cannot do what you are doing. 

Great for you if you can pull it off, I know some people absolutely love DC and would never live anywhere else.

I know there is affordable housing and its ground central for everything exciting, but I cannot live in a smoosh-up townhouse sliver.  I remember back in 2006-2007 when the housing market was around its peak, in some areas people could sell a place the size of a broom closet for 300k in DC or NoVa.  It was a crazy time.  And that sellers market was tight as tight can be, people put down their 300k-400k for that broom closest, and they better be thankful and humble they even got that; you better be kissing the real estate persons feet, showing your respects, and screaming out tears of joy because if they didn't 4-5 more buyers were dying to own that closet; backup offers were being made, and would be lining up with their money ready to grab it.   

Which thing am I doing that you could not do?

I am not a fan of new town homes or their construction. I once helped to build a house and have seen just how flimsy a house can be!

I live in a blue collar area. Many are too snooty to live where I do. I think it is perfectly fine, and my house is solid. We have had two earthquakes and a derecho and a microburst and she is still standing strong.

When lenders told me I could afford more house, I did the math and did not believe them. I have never regretted that.


oldtoyota

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Re: Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2013, 10:09:20 PM »
We live in northern FL, and we'll be moving in a couple of months into our new house.  It's in a bike friendly neighborhood, within easy riding distance of good restaurants, bars, and my work.  Cost: $35k.  Now, I will be digging out from under my other two real estate "investments" that are worth about 100k less than I owe on them for a while.. but it's nice to get in on the low end of something once in a while.  :-)

I heart northern FL. Are you in Jax?

oldtoyota

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Re: Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2013, 10:11:30 PM »
Ah - here's a possibly less happy part of the answer, too, though. Options will likely decrease a bit. For example, I'm roughly 90 miles from the nearest Pho. Learn to make your favorites if you can't live without them. I make a mean biryani. :)

You are right, of course. When it cools off, I will be more willing to make Pho. It is extremely time consuming to make it right, so I have not minded paying for someone to do the work for me. That said, I still want to learn. It is on my list.

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Re: Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC
« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2013, 02:05:18 AM »
I think one of the drawbacks of the high COL areas is all of the temptations. There are $13 martinis, great restaurants, shows, shops, etc. But it sounds like that's not a problem for you. And on the other hand, salaries are usually higher, and those high housing costs can come in handy.  I have a lot of retired relatives in FL, and they were pretty happy to sell their houses in the Northeast for $300,000 to $500,000 and buy ones for much much less in FI.

(***$190 is fantastic for DC. Congrats)

jfer_rose

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Re: Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2013, 05:29:01 AM »
I'm with you here! My DC place was $128,000. I live in a great neighborhood in NW DC too. Living where I do, and without a car, is the main reason I am able to keep my cost of living so low. I have very little space, but for me that is a benefit-- I didn't know it when I moved in here 8 years ago, but I am passionate about small space living.

oldtoyota

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Re: Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2013, 06:30:16 AM »
I'm with you here! My DC place was $128,000. I live in a great neighborhood in NW DC too. Living where I do, and without a car, is the main reason I am able to keep my cost of living so low. I have very little space, but for me that is a benefit-- I didn't know it when I moved in here 8 years ago, but I am passionate about small space living.

Me too! I have a 3 br. I would like a 2 br yet they are rarely for sale. I could go way smaller.

kendallf

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Re: Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC
« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2013, 09:01:39 PM »

I heart northern FL. Are you in Jax?

I am.  Actually, I live in Orange Park (southern suburb) but our new house is up in Murray Hill, near a historic area (Riverside) and a lot of good restaurants, bars, and an easy bike ride to downtown.  :-)

oldtoyota

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Re: Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC
« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2013, 08:05:12 AM »
I was in DC a couple weeks ago for worked and was SHOCKED at all the restaurants and how packed they were.  Granted the weather was perfect for much of the time I was there (sunny, but relatively cool and low humidity), so people were probably taking advantage of that, but it sure didn't look like there was an economic downturn/sequester going on to me.

I took advantage of being on per diem to eat at some places I probably won't have splurged on otherwise.  And a colleague treated us to an awesome farm to table type place that was shockingly expensive in my mind. 

One nice thing about DC is that it is so walkable/bikable, at least outside the depths of winter.  And the bus/subway systems are good too.

Did you eat at Founding Farmers on Pennsylvania Ave? If so, I ate there (paid for by someone's company) and liked it but was shocked at the prices.

For better or worse, DC will always be in a bubble due to the government and the security of those jobs.


oldtoyota

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Re: Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC
« Reply #14 on: July 08, 2013, 08:06:06 AM »

I heart northern FL. Are you in Jax?

I am.  Actually, I live in Orange Park (southern suburb) but our new house is up in Murray Hill, near a historic area (Riverside) and a lot of good restaurants, bars, and an easy bike ride to downtown.  :-)

=-)

prodarwin

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Re: Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC
« Reply #15 on: July 08, 2013, 08:13:24 AM »
I was in DC a couple weeks ago for worked and was SHOCKED at all the restaurants and how packed they were.  Granted the weather was perfect for much of the time I was there (sunny, but relatively cool and low humidity), so people were probably taking advantage of that, but it sure didn't look like there was an economic downturn/sequester going on to me.

I took advantage of being on per diem to eat at some places I probably won't have splurged on otherwise.  And a colleague treated us to an awesome farm to table type place that was shockingly expensive in my mind. 

One nice thing about DC is that it is so walkable/bikable, at least outside the depths of winter.  And the bus/subway systems are good too.

Did you eat at Founding Farmers on Pennsylvania Ave? If so, I ate there (paid for by someone's company) and liked it but was shocked at the prices.

For better or worse, DC will always be in a bubble due to the government and the security of those jobs.

I've eaten there a few times.  Its delicious.  Thank god I wasn't paying.  DC has lots of excellent restaraunts.  I'm parial to Brasserie Becks (11th and K) - I did the engineering for all of the architectural metalwork in there :)

I just moved away from DC (well, NOVA) due to cost of living and a poor job market for Mechanical Engineers.  I'd love to move back one day, and I think moving in close enough that no car is necessary is certainly a good way to approach it.  190 is crazy cheap for something up there.

MissStache

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Re: Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC
« Reply #16 on: July 08, 2013, 08:51:42 AM »
$190K!?  $128K!?  How in the hell did you find these places!?  What part of DC are y'all living in, because that is astonishing.  I'm in Alexandria and love the area, but buying seems so impossible here.  I could never justify spending more than 200K on a house.  My parent's huge, gorgeous, well-built house on 35 acres in a nice part of Alabama (they do exist!) was under 100K and sits like a weight on my conscious when I see a place and think, "Hey!  $350K is a really good price here..."

jfer_rose

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Re: Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC
« Reply #17 on: July 08, 2013, 09:11:30 AM »
MissStache, my place is an efficiency and I bought it in 2004. It is 466 glorious square feet. Obviously a place that small won't work for everyone. That said, it really is perfect for me and my cat. When I bought it, I assumed that I would be moving to a bigger place within 5 years. But now I can't see myself moving anytime soon-- it turns out that I love living in a small home!

DoubleDown

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Re: Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC
« Reply #18 on: July 08, 2013, 10:04:46 AM »
There can definitely be advantages to living in a high COLA. Higher pay, in general, is one obvious advantage. If you can keep your expenses low(er), then you can really take advantage of the higher wages. I don't find much difference in the cost of most things like groceries, etc. In fact, I think they are often less expensive in large metropolitan areas with efficient distribution chains.

Expensive housing is also frequently lambasted on this site (with good reason), but it's definitely a case of Arebelspy's beloved-by-all "YMMV." Buying a home in an area like DC, SF, LA, NYC can result in some amazing increases in net worth through appreciation alone. Just look at Bigote's recent sale of a $2 million place in NYC, purchased for just under $1 million about 10 years ago as I recall. That shouldn't be a license to buy into a McMansion, but the point is that an area with good jobs, growth, and expensive housing will generally provide returns on your housing investment that will outpace just about anything else you could reasonably invest in, including stocks.

oldtoyota

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Re: Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC
« Reply #19 on: July 08, 2013, 11:35:01 AM »
There can definitely be advantages to living in a high COLA. Higher pay, in general, is one obvious advantage. If you can keep your expenses low(er), then you can really take advantage of the higher wages. I don't find much difference in the cost of most things like groceries, etc. In fact, I think they are often less expensive in large metropolitan areas with efficient distribution chains.


This is true. I know people who bought homes way back when for $32K and now developers are willing to buy them "as is" for $700K or even $1M. The land alone is valuable.

I used to live in a lower COLA area. This meant I could not find regular gainful employment. I was waaaaay out there in the country. When I did cobble bits and pieces together, it was paying way less than a living wage. I knew I had to move if I did not want to slip into poverty.

Plane tickets or gasoline to go visit family were not cheaper because I lived in a lower COLA area.

Edited to adjust verb.





« Last Edit: July 08, 2013, 11:53:39 AM by oldtoyota »

oldtoyota

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Re: Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC
« Reply #20 on: July 08, 2013, 11:52:09 AM »
$190K!?  $128K!?  How in the hell did you find these places!?  What part of DC are y'all living in, because that is astonishing.  I'm in Alexandria and love the area, but buying seems so impossible here.  I could never justify spending more than 200K on a house.  My parent's huge, gorgeous, well-built house on 35 acres in a nice part of Alabama (they do exist!) was under 100K and sits like a weight on my conscious when I see a place and think, "Hey!  $350K is a really good price here..."

We kissed a lot of frogs, and I saw some truly terrible houses. I found a house that was solid but a bit worn (old paint and old appliances). I learned to paint and repainted various rooms, but I lived with a 1970s kitchen (harvest gold, baby) for years until we found a low-cost way to upgrade. (I still use a 1970s oven).

Alexandria is too nice these days to find affordable housing there. By the time the large scale developers do their research and start pouring $$ into an area, it's usually too late. I have seen that same scenario play out all over DC. However, looking at where developers are going can be a good way to find value. They pour a LOT of money into research. Brookland DC in NE is one example, but many folks are scared to live in NE.

You could use Zillow or Trulia to do a search for lower-cost homes around the DC area. Also, look at where EYA is putting in new homes.

Have you looked in Shirlington near Rt 7 and 395? They have some old-style durable attached homes there. I am not sure how much they cost these days though.

NoMa used to be really cheap after the 1960s riots up until 5 years ago, and now it has become Schmancyville.

 









« Last Edit: July 08, 2013, 11:55:07 AM by oldtoyota »

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Re: Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC
« Reply #21 on: July 14, 2013, 06:22:16 AM »
I've lived all over the country and world, and most of the time I was in low cost of living areas.  For the past 6 years, I've lived in an affluent area.  I've concluded the differences come down to this:

- Housing costs
- Falling into the patterns of people around you.  The kids friends go to Disney World every year so the kids want to go to Disney World too.  Birthday presents cost more.  Hanging in the social circle costs more. 

_C_

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Re: Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC
« Reply #22 on: July 19, 2013, 12:45:54 PM »
$190K!?  $128K!?  How in the hell did you find these places!?  What part of DC are y'all living in, because that is astonishing.

There are pockets here and there. In Alexandria, you can find condos near the Huntington metro, or houses off of Telegraph that are walkable to the metro for a fair price. These are also in Fairfax County, and not Alexandria city, so there aren't any city taxes. It wasn't a great neighborhood 15 years ago, and people don't realize it has changed.

Close access to the Mt. Vernon trail, and easy access to Old Town now that the pedestrian bridge to Eisenhower is done. BUT, there are at least four properties under redevelopment, and with the 4,000+ jobs being transferred out to Eisenhower, I wouldn't expect it to stay cheap, or old, for long.

Frugalady10

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Re: Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC
« Reply #23 on: July 19, 2013, 01:28:43 PM »
I live in an area that is smack dab in the middle of nyc metro/ philly metro area (people commute to both cities). A townhouse is even $300,000. I really want to move to a cheaper place in the area, but a big concern of mine is school district.

Kudos to you finding such a cheap place in dc. My sister lived in Alexandria for a while, it is $$ costly.

oldtoyota

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Re: Shockingly Simple Badassity in Expensive DC
« Reply #24 on: July 20, 2013, 08:41:19 AM »
I've lived all over the country and world, and most of the time I was in low cost of living areas.  For the past 6 years, I've lived in an affluent area.  I've concluded the differences come down to this:

- Housing costs
- Falling into the patterns of people around you.  The kids friends go to Disney World every year so the kids want to go to Disney World too.  Birthday presents cost more.  Hanging in the social circle costs more.

You are so right. I was at a kid's bday party full of white people. The only person of color was the nanny. Instead of gift bags, each child got a Melissa and Doug stamp set (probably cost as much as our birthday gift).

In this affluent area, the assumption appears to be that you are "the help" if you are of color. That is what they see over there. At a different party, a friend of mine was taken for a nanny and given dirty looks because she had her own children with her and did not know when the host child (her supposed charge) had been fed.

I'd honestly experienced nothing like the above before and found it shockingly racist.

To address the school district, I would not use this area's school district.

I do pay for private school, which is not frugal to all. The kids next door got into a situation with guns and boys in a basement. It was not a hard decision to make to pay for private, and I NEVER thought I would support a private school ever. I am a public school person all the way...so I thought until I had a kid in an areas with suspect schools and, apparently, a lot of guns.

On the other hand, another local kid who went to public school told me he was building a microwave and learning Japanese. So, YMMV. Another friend of mine has her kid in a school where they learn a second language and seems willing to sacrifice a good curriculum for her kid learning another language. The teacher eventually got fired for not teaching (and he was not even that good at the second language) so that was a waste of a year for the kid, IMO. I looked at the $$ I pay and strongly feel it's worth it. My kid was learning algebra concepts at age four and knew all the parts of speech by age six and writes fairly complex sentences. Heck, she's writing reports, which I did not do until a much later age and I was supposedly in the adv classes.

We have a gang in our area. Hence, I won't ride my bike to work (got chastised here for that here, but whatevs). Too many people have been beaten up for my taste. And nothing was stolen. They just beat people up for the heck of it.

I am now able to distinguish gun shots from other sounds. I've perfected that skill.

We have had a domestic violence victim hiding in our driveway. Our older neighbor was held up at gun point in his front yard. I just assume 50% of the people walking down my street are armed and act accordingly.

Even at the White House--which I walk past 2-3 times per week--a man was caught with guns in his pockets. I had walked past just before/after he was arrested.

My neighbors have been held up at gun point. In one situation, a neighbor was a cop, fired back, and killed a guy. You'd be surprised how quickly that becomes the new normal. So far, my street skillz and Spidey sense have kept me safe. I have a very strong Spidey sense.

If you go into the fancier neighborhoods, there's still crime. One of my former neighbors was a high level guy who got in a lot of trouble. He tried to kill himself in his garage. It was all over the news. Maybe they do not use guns, but they are committing crimes like anyone.

You might walk through a parking garage and find a bag of marijuana with a police vehicle sitting a few yards away. Mysteries abound.

I know the above will be quite shocking to those of you who have not grown up in a gun heavy city.

I've said all the bad stuff. Now, the good stuff is we have a strong community. People help each other. If you need a meal, someone will make one and bring it to you. We have porch parties and laugh and drink wine. If your kid is in the hospital, you can be sure the neighbors will bring you food and make cards to encourage you through the hard time. People are crazy smart around here for the most part. We have parties where we go from house to house drinking beer or wine and have funny and fine times. It's like we're in an ecotone. Danger lurks are the edges and sometimes that danger spills in. If you need someone to watch your kid, you can ask a dozen different parents/families to do so. We compost. We recycle. We care deeply about our area. The school are probably getting better. The parks are amazing. The libraries are very good.

The guns are actually a small part. I have not been directly affected. I've seen them at the edges. I've seen people not be smart about safety and get into trouble. The guns command a lot of attention because they are loud and scary and frightening. If you add it all up, though, they are still a small part of living where I do.