Graduated Learning: Life after College

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

Not All of My Friends are Buying Houses: Sarah and Michael are Happy to be Renting August 4, 2011

Filed under: Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 10:54 pm
Tags: , , ,

Not all of my friends are buying houses.  Some are renting, and plan to rent for a while.  So here’s the next guest post.  Meet Sarah (and her boyfriend Michael).  They’ve come to the conclusion that renting is the right choice for them [for now].  Here’s their story:

Why Renting is Cool

Renting can get a bad rap financially, but it’s still a good option for some people. Like us, for example. We’re Michael and Sarah, DINKs who live in the Space Coast Area of Florida. We’ve been dating for 2.5 years and living together for almost 2 years. We moved in together relatively early in our relationship because I (Sarah) was laid off not long after we started dating. Fortunately I was able to find another job not long after Michael moved in to my two bedroom apartment and we’ve been living together ever since.

Last spring, 5 couples we are friends with were all looking to buy houses (all of whom ended up buying houses). This got Michael and me thinking about what our future plans were. We were all enticed by the $8000 new home buyer credit that was due to expire. Michael asked me how long I wanted to stay in the apartment. To be honest, I hadn’t really through about it. I broached the idea of buying a house, but Michael said that he really didn’t want us to buy a house together until we were married. I agreed, because I figured the process would be slightly trickier in terms of finances. However, we both agreed that we were outgrowing the apartment. We decided the next best thing would be to rent a house.

We started looking at homes to rent in our area to get an idea of what was available and what we could afford. Given that we are both engineers and nerds, we created a Google Docs spreadsheet to keep track of what we found. We listed our “Must Haves”, “Wants”, and “Dealbreakers”. Then we had a separate tab which listed addresses, square footage, rent, distance to work, and links to the listing for each potential house.

As we were building our spreadsheet, but before we had actually gone to look at any of the places we had so meticulously researched, a friend of ours (one of the ones who was looking for a new house) offered to rent us his current house. He and his wife had just brought home a new baby and were looking to move farther out of the city. They didn’t want to sell the house for less than they had bought it for only 2.5 years earlier.  They also didn’t want to rent to strangers. It was a perfect match! It ended up taking a little longer than we had hoped for them to find a house, but it worked out in the end. We moved into the house at the end of September. In hindsight, moving on a Saturday during college football season probably wasn’t the best idea. Oh well. Live and learn!

Our house is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, with a game room upstairs and an office. It has an open floor plan and a two car garage. We see it as a kind of “practice home”. It’s the first time either of us has ever had to worry about lawn care. We’ve enjoyed having more space to decorate and spread out two apartments worth of stuff. That was a problem when Michael first moved in as we had duplicates of many items. We ended up cramming most of his stuff (TV, dining set, couch, etc) in the second bedroom of my old place because there was nowhere else to put it. We also like having actual guest rooms for guests (STEPHANIE!).
As for our future plans, we’ve talked about signing another year lease with our landlords. We still agree that we don’t want to buy a house until we get married. Some friends have suggested that we should buy a house, but we don’t feel ready, financially or otherwise. We don’t believe this area has hit rock bottom just yet in terms of the housing market. With the space shuttle program ending, a lot of people in this area have lost their jobs. One city in the area is tied for having the 15th worst economic recovery.   Michael and I don’t want to feel rushed into buying a house. We are using the time to save up for a house. We don’t plan on renting forever, but for now, we’re perfectly happy where we are.

I think I’m similar to Sarah and Michael.  In a serious relationship, but not quite ready to buy a house.  Taking the time to save up before making a big purchase!

What about you?  Are you a happy renter?  A reluctant renter?  Or have you taken the housing plunge and bought a place?


Sticking around another year August 2, 2009

Filed under: Boston,Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 3:33 pm
Tags: , , , ,

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!


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