Graduated Learning: Life after College

I got my degree, I got a job…now what?

We skipped past the starter home June 27, 2018

Filed under: Boston,Personal Finance,Uncategorized — Stephanie @ 9:53 pm
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2016 was a big year for us.  We had our first child!  And then later that year, we bought our first house!  We’d been “seriously” house hunting for about a year. At the beginning of our search, we had a vague idea of what we wanted: something closer to work, in a good school district, with a garage, a yard, and enough rooms for a growing family. As we went to more and more open houses, we got a better idea of what we wanted. A family room right off the kitchen so we could entertain guests or have kids play nearby while we were in the kitchen. We also wanted a big enough kitchen to host my famous fondue parties 🙂 After an inspection of one house we almost bought that showed high levels of lead all over the place, we realized we also were only going to look at houses built in or after 1978 to avoid any lead paint issues.

Of course cost was a big factor as well. We were originally pre-qualified for a mortgage WAY more than we ever wanted to spend, just based on credit scores, income, etc. So we pared down choices to a more comfortable price range far below that amount. We had to keep in mind that our monthly payments would include the actual mortgage payment as well as money for escrow to cover property taxes and homeowners insurance.

We did consider first buying a “starter home” or a “fixer upper” but realized a few things: we are not super handy, and aren’t good at picturing a hypothetical home based on the current condition of a “fixer upper”. Plus we were already expecting our baby when we started seriously looking for a house, so trying to deal with renovations while pregnant/with a newborn was not something we wanted to do.  And most of the fixer uppers were still quite expensive as-is!  Also, we knew that if we went with a small home to start, we’d probably want to or need to move to a bigger house within a few years. And so a few factors related to buying a new house a few years down the line became clear:

1. The housing market in the Greater Boston Area is so hot that it’s hard to buy a house if you have any sort of contingencies. That could include getting a mortgage, wanting an inspection, or having to sell a house first. We were still renting, and so we were in a much better position than anyone else who might have to sell their house first. So the next time we’d buy a house would be while also already owning a house, which would make us less desirable to sellers.

2. Costs associated with selling/buying/moving are not negligible. And with every move, you inevitably have more stuff you’ll need to move, so it’s more expensive. Closing costs when we bought this house ended up being significant, so trying to sell a house only a few years later means you might lose money even if you sold it for more than you bought it for.

3.  Even with the recent boom in house prices, we had no guarantee that our house would go up in value enough that we’d make money on the sale.  And keeping in mind point #2, it’s possible we’d lose money on the whole deal.  Regardless of if you think a house is an investment or not, this would make a starter home for us a risky short-term investment.

So, we bought this house.  We like it a lot!  We plan on sticking around in this house for a while.  Sure, there are some small fixes our home inspector found that we’ve been working on, and we have plans this summer to upgrade our heat/hot water system (they’re at the end of their useful lives) and add a generator (after dealing with multiple power outages since we’ve moved in, due to various rain/wind/snow storms).  But we don’t have plans to do any major renovations any time soon.

I would have loved to have started with a smaller, cheaper house, but our needs and the housing market meant it didn’t make emotional or financial sense.

How did you decide if/when/what to buy? Or are you still renting (out of choice or necessity)?


Sticking around another year August 2, 2009

Filed under: Boston,Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 3:33 pm
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Yesterday was the first day of our 4th year-long lease at our apartment.  Yep, by the time we (presumably) move out at the end of July 2010, we will have lived at the same place for four years.  That’s like an entire college career!

We decided to stick around here for a few reasons.  We really like this place, the rent is reasonable, it’s close to the highway for the commute, but a decent walk to the T.  It’s a lot more spacious (and cheaper) than places closer to the T.  And above all, we’re lazy, and would much rather stay in a place we like than have to go find, and then move to, another place.  The one drawback right now is we’re looking for a 4th roommate, so we’re paying a little extra per month to cover that missing person (splitting the rent 3 ways instead of 4).  Anyone looking for a place to live? 🙂

Even at the higher rate we’re paying, it’s still a pretty good deal, and I like our place a lot!

I mentioned before that I was debating buying a place. I’m very thankful for all the feedback I’ve gotten (both here and at my crosspost at qvisory). The general feedback is that, if you’re not ready for a house, don’t by a house.  Sounds like some pretty obvious advice.  I shouldn’t feel pressured by “everyone” (the media, realty “experts”, financial gurus).  Especially these days, when housing prices continue to fall, and I don’t want to get financially “stuck” in a place if I end up wanting or needing to move, which might require me to sell the house at a loss.  I’d like to save up a bit more money in the meantime, while looking a bit more casually at the real estate market.  Besides, there would have been extra pressure to find a place quickly, since I didn’t start looking at places until a bit earlier this year…and I’d much rather keep my apartment than worry about finding a place ASAP, which would force me to perhaps settle on a place I wasn’t a fan of.

I also realized I don’t have a good idea of what I want in a place.  I should make a list of “must haves”, and then a list of “would like to haves”, to get an idea of what I should be looking for.  When we went to a few open houses, we realized that there’s a lot of things to *not* like about a certain place!  I think I’ll compile ideas as I go.

So, here’s to another year at my apartment!


Thinking about housing April 5, 2008

At the end of my lease, I will have lived in the same apartment for 2 years. We have the top 2 floors of a 3 floor, two family house. I love how big it is, and how low the rent is compared to that of some of my friends. But it’s too far away. I complain, when I note that it takes me 20 minutes to walk home from the subway, when I’m walking quickly. And many friends complain that we live to far away to visit or come to parties. I’ve begrudgingly become used to the walk, knowing which buses to catch if I want to get a little bit closer to the T, shorten my commute by a few minutes to get out of the rain/cold/wind/heat/uncomfortable shoes. And I’ve noticed with such a large, open apartment in an old house leads to relatively high gas/heating bills. So that cost would be nice to lower…

So there are many things to consider:

Q. Should we move?

A. Technically, we could probably get another lease for the next year. We’d have to find a replacement for at least one of our roommates, since he’s planning on moving out at the end of the lease anyway.

Q. If we move, who should we live with?

A. This is a rather complicated situation for us. So, A and I have been dating for almost a year, but we’ve both been living here (with 2 other roommates) for the 2 years of the lease. And we’ve known each other since the begining of college. So we know each other pretty well. I wouldn’t mind living with some of our friends…in fact I think I’d still prefer that to just the two of us…I think it would be weird if it were just the two of us. Plus it would (most likely) be more expensive with just the two of us.

Q. Where should we live?

I very much want to live closer to the T. Both for the sake of shortening my commute, and to urge friends to visit more often. Plus I think living closer will help me get more motivated to be social and go out instead of being lazy and staying in. I’m thinking I’d want to live on the Red Line, perhaps Davis, Porter, Harvard, or Central Square.  I guess I could also live in Boston, but that would mean a bit longer of a commute (switching from the Green Line to the Red Line).  I love all the fun stuff to do in the squares, and living closer to at least one of them would probably get me out trying new things.

Q. Rent or buy?

A. With the current housing market, I keep thinking about buying.  But then I realize it’s a heck of a lot of money, and that I don’t know how long I’ll be around this area (hopefully a while, but who knows?), and well, owning is pretty darn permanent by comparison to renting.  I would like the ability to alter things more (I’ve been watching plenty of decorating shows!), but I figure I can wait a little bit longer and continue to put money away towards a down payment.

So, what am I doing about all these questions?  I’m browsing Craigslist, and discussing housing with friends, both to determine roommate possibilities and to learn more about some apartment and house hunting experiences and opinions.

Sorry for the large gap in postings.  I was having a blog-identity crisis and wasnt sure what subjects to post about.  I was thinking about what my friends blog about, and wondered if I should shift in that direction.  I think I’ll still stick with personal finance related topics and decisions that 20-somethings face.  But we’ll see where we go from here.  Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!


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