Tag Archives: Rent or buy?

Home-buying on the rebound: bad idea

100-year-old charmer could have been mine...

I closed the sale of my beloved home on December 11, and thought I’d be perfectly happy floating for awhile.

Wrong. I hate living out of a few boxes. I’m already itching for a new love. Need that warm cozy feeling of Committed Relationship to My Place.

So a couple of days ago I started poking around the real estate listings to get a feel for what was out there. Wondering: should I buy or should I rent?

Two things make me think I should rent:

  • Renting is less expensive (no property taxes, expensive repairs, interest payments).
  • Renting is more flexible – you can unencumber yourself relatively quickly, stay light on your feet. Some time here, some time there, some travel, whatever. No seller’s outrageous closing costs.

More things make me think I should buy:

  • You can put your personal stamp on a home – colorful paint, yard revisions, open a wall here, build shelves in there. You can rarely do this with a rental.
  • Packing up and stuffing my stuff into a storage unit was A BIG DRAG. No sane person goes through that process more than once a decade.
  • You can settle into a neighborhood in a permanent sort of way – make friends across the street, join the neighborhood association, walk your neighbor’s dog when he’s away and vice versa – that sort of thing.
  • Oh yeah… and there’s the $6500 tax credit if the place is in escrow by April 30. That would cover a lot of paint.

My realtor friend and I went out for a look-see yesterday where I want to live in the downtown area. The 3rd house we saw was a charmer, and I was ready to buy! It was 100 years old, airy, quirky. Right across the street from a good friend. Four blocks from the grocery store and a 15 minute walk to my yoga class, the farmer’s market, restaurants.

I even made my ex, who’s very real estate savy, come and do a walk-thru.  He saw thru the charm to the ancient plumbing, the jerry-rigged kitchen and drafty Victorian era windows. The unreinforced brick construction (god forbid we’d have an earthquake!).

I slept (badly) on it. Woke up in the middle of the night realizing there was no closet for hanging coats, no place to put the broom or vacuum cleaner, and that my rugs were about two inches too long.

Called the realtor back and told her no deal. But now I feel as deflated as if I’d just lost a lover.

What I’ve learned: It’s one thing to live out of a suitcase when you’re actually traveling, but when you’re back in your regular busy life, you need a place to call home. I’m on the case now.

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Filed under Baby steps, Emotional issues, Envisioning a simpler life

Ruling out a condo…

condosWhen you have to make a decision, it can be easier if you first eliminate some of the options.

My current options:

1. Remain in my 3000 sq ft home

  • gradually spend all my money to keep the place up or
  • rent two rooms to help with expenses

2. Sell my home and  then:

  • buy a much smaller house
  • buy a condo
  • rent an apartment
  • rent a house
  • move into some sort of adult community
  • move in with an adult child or friend

I have no adult child with an extra room, and I’d have to be really hard up to ask a friend to let me move in, so that option is out.

I am not old enough, and may never be old enough in spirit, to live in an adult community.  Yecchh! That option is scratched.

And last night I scratched the condo idea from the list, after visiting a friend who lives in a very nice condo of just four townhouses.

It was great at first, she said. But then the quiet older woman next door sold her place to a noisy and disagreeable couple. The couple was friends with the people on the other side of them, and they sided with the new couple at condo meetings.  Condo meetings have become very unpleasant, needless to say.

The covenant is extremely restrictive – it won’t allow my friend to knock out a wall between the kitchen and dining area, which would open the place up significantly.  She can’t even change the curtains in the front window.

Another friend belongs to a much larger condo association, where 30% of the units have gone empty.  As a result everyone’s condo fees have skyrocketed, to cover the costs of the empty units.

So I’ve scratched the condo option. That leave me with

a) rent out rooms (which still leaves me with a lot of responsibility I don’t want, though it’s a temporary alternative)

b) buy a little house (but to do so will be near impossible until this one sells)

c) rent an apartment or small house (not easy because it means paying rent as well as house payments till the house sell)

More and more it looks like the only feasible option is to rent rooms while I fix the place up to sell (and get rid of lots of crap), put it on the market and when it sells see what’s left in my pocket for my next living space.

Argh. I want so to have a specific place in mind, so I know what MUST go and what will fit into the new place.

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Filed under Baby steps, Downsizing, Emotional issues, Rent or buy?