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House Hunting - Maybe

October 9th, 2012 at 05:38 am

Hello all. Long time no chat. Things have been pretty busy around here lately.

Recently, we have been thinking about purchasing a home in slightly nearby Tacoma. Doing so would certainly mean a lot of things. A lot of goods, some bads, and some so-so's.

The Goods
• Yard
• Own home
• Garden
• Lower housing costs
• Bedroom for our daughter
• Plenty more!
• At least $100/mo cheaper.

Bads
• 30-35 mile commute one-way. This equates to over 20,000 miles per year if I work as much as I currently do. Also equates to more wear on our vehicle. We don't put but maybe 250 miles per month on our vehicle now with living on-site at work.
• 1 to 1 1/2 hour commute. Time is money. Or so it is said. The commute time sure would be a downer. Also would not be able to have lunch at home like I currently do.
• Would leave wife & daughter at home without a vehicle.

So-so's
• We are responsible for all housing costs, including repairs/maintenance.

My number one concern is the increased maintenance/repair costs. More wear on the car. Home to care for. Even if I take that $100/mo and divide it, that's only $50/mo more to put aside for either category (Home Maintenance and Auto Maintenance). To me, that does not seem like enough. However, our car is low mileage (46,000) and I drive like a granny and maintain it, and the home we would get would be inspected to ensure that it is not a money pit.

We are meeting with an agent this weekend to help us look, get to know the market, and get to know better what we can do with our income.

I want to know what you all thought about it.

EDIT:
As per so many wise peoples' comments, a house is not the best idea. Now, what about our current rent? $945 for rent, $85-110 for WSG, and $45-50 for electric. Our WSG, we can't really do much about, as it is shared between the rest of the 440-unit property. We could, however, consider moving to the property next door (that I actually work at). It is cheaper by up to $145 (currently with the specials), and the WSG may be cheaper, as there are more residents there to divide the cost between.

Problem with that is that we would then have to pay for carpet replacement (around $300 at this point). That could be added-on to our monthly rent. Maybe worth doing, since after only three months we would be saving money?

I should get with our bookkeeper who is in charge of what residents get charged when they vacate a unit.

Opinions on this?

It is worth noting that I work in apartment maintenance. We would be able to do a lot of the work on a home ourselves, plus the cost of supplies.

9 Responses to “House Hunting - Maybe”

  1. LuckyRobin Says:

    You guys have just got your head above water. Are you sure you're ready to risk throwing yourself back under water? You still have debt, your emergency fund is small and taking on a house that you have to pay for every single little thing that goes wrong with plus a mortgage is huge. Your child is so little. Now is the time to make use of living in a smaller space for as long as you can manage while you save like crazy. At the very least, get your debt gone before you think about purchasing. If you're looking just to look, that's one thing, but if you're serious, I think there's a lot of financial work you guys need to do before considering it. Also consider the increasing gas prices for the commute as well as the increased car insurance because you are driving it more and in more dangerous road conditions, not just the wear and tear on your car.

  2. creditcardfree Says:

    Your $100 savings...would easily be needed for the house...they cost much more to maintain than an apartment. I agree with LR, you are NOT ready. You will be setting yourself up for further problems!

  3. BuckyBadger Says:

    I agree with everyone else. I think buying a house would be a huge mistake. You just aren't in the position to cover the sorts of things that happen to a house. You can spend a few thousand dollars in a HEARTBEAT.

    Do you have 20% of the purchase price to put down? Plus a 6 month emergency fund? Plus a fund equivalent to about 10% of the purchase price of the house set aside for repairs?

    Reread this entry from June and tell me what has changed, because that does not read to me like someone who is in the position to move out of an apartment into a house 90 minutes away from their job.

    http://frugal.savingadvice.com/2012/06/24/our-wsg-bill-is-highway-robbery_95734/#comments

    I really can't recommend against this enough.

  4. laura Says:


    If you were able to purchase an affordable home in the area where you work, I might then consider it; however, given your situation, I wouldn't. $100 a month to split for maintenance on a home AND a car is ridiculously low, even if your home had a warranty on it. We put a roof on last year: $3,500. New hot water heater that needed to be installed two years ago: $900. Service call for furnace to replace condenser unit $600. And then there are the appliances that we've replaced: washing machine $450, dryer $350, dishwasher $300. (And I lived without a dryer and dishwasher for six months until we could afford it). I'd stay where you are and keep on saving.

  5. BuckyBadger Says:

    I agree with everyone else. I think buying a house would be a huge mistake. You just aren't in the position to cover the sorts of things that happen to a house. You can spend a few thousand dollars in a HEARTBEAT.

    Do you have 20% of the purchase price to put down? Plus a 6 month emergency fund? Plus a fund equivalent to about 10% of the purchase price of the house set aside for repairs?

    Reread your "Our WSG bill" entry from June and tell me what has changed, because that does not read to me like someone who is in the position to move out of an apartment into a house 90 minutes away from their job.

    I really can't recommend against this enough.

  6. Frügal Says:

    You all just confirmed my naysaying. Which, typically, is the wiser part of me. Wink

    Please see the edited version of the blog post, at the bottom.

  7. creditcardfree Says:

    Why do you have to pay for carpet? Is that part of your lease?

    And no, the fact that you are in maintenence doesn't change my mind that you can afford a home. Homeowner's insurance is much more expensive than renters.

    You really need to get the debt paid off entirely and have an emergency fund and cash to put down on your home. Getting the debt paid off will be a big signal that you have what it takes to own a home...the discipline to keep spending minimal and the excess cash to build an emergency fund.

    I'm all for you looking for less expensive places to live!! Keep looking and don't make assumptions about utilities...just ask the rental property owners/managers.

  8. Frügal Says:

    Yep. Even as employees, we have to pay for carpet if it needs replaced. It is, however, pro-rated according to the guaranteed life of the carpet. This carpet is supposedly 5-year carpet and it is currently a little over two years old.

  9. Looking Forward Says:

    Just wait. It'll be much better for you to get more money in the bank. Smile

  10. Frügal Says:

    Just gotta get that money in the bank! Really hard to do right now. "/ Last check, though, I was able to move $80 over to savings.

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