Real Estate Dreaming

Mr. Monkey and I sat on the couch last night, scrolling through pictures of charming older homes in our dream city (DC for short). We happily noted built-in shelves and original wood trim in pictures of older Craftsman style houses that make me want to write a check for right now. We clicked past houses with only one bathroom (one of our few real deal-breakers) and yards that are too big (we are not so into the whole yard work thing). We wondered how long it will take us to get into one of those houses.

Sigh. The whole real estate thing is a tricky subject for me.

We currently rent a great old house in a basically perfect neighborhood. We’ve been renting for five years now, after the real estate stress that came with our old house in Arizona (see here for a recap of that hot mess). We currently live in a town where it would probably be cheaper to buy a house than rent, at least in terms of the monthly payment, but since we don’t plan to live here forever renting is the clear better choice for us. We’ll rent as long as we stay here and that is fine with me.

Someday though we hope to move to DC and stay there for the long haul. DC is also a real estate market where rent is expensive compared to the cost of a mortgage for a comparable house and so I find myself crunching the numbers and trying to figure out how we can save more for a down payment. We could probably put down about 5% right now and the distance between that and the ideal 20% seems like an exceedingly long distance to cover, even if we try to tighten up the budget and put more money in savings.

I’m aware that the whole buy vs. rent debate has both financial and emotional components. I want to own a house so I can feel like we are done moving (we’ve moved seven times in the last ten years) and that the kids can grow up in one house, one neighborhood. I don’t like some of the uncertainty of renting, like when we had to move out of our last rental house because our landlord put the house up for sale. But I also like not being responsible when something breaks and at having the option of moving if some amazing job comes along or if the house that seems perfect turns out to be filled with random structural and electrical issues that renting gives us.

I know that it is sort of a blogging cliche to end a post with a question, but I am genuinely curious: do you own or rent and how do you feel about that? How would or did you decide to buy?



5 thoughts on “Real Estate Dreaming

  1. Melissa says:

    We own because it makes more sense here (Iowa). Rent is as much or more than a mortgage in most cases in this area. Our first home was small and affordable for us and when we sold it we had enough equity in it to move into what I called my dream home at the time, and mostly still love now. I don’t intend to move again until we’re much much older (say retired and stairs are a problem maybe)…so it worked for us to try find what we loved and buy it (if we could). We refinanced awhile ago down to a 15yr mortgage and now we have only 3 years left to go. I couldn’t be more excited. For us, renting feels like throwing money away, you have no equity in those payments and no way to get that money back out of where you’re living. I might feel differently if we moved a lot though, it might make more sense to rent for short periods in that case.

  2. Jesabes says:

    We own and I, personally, couldn’t be happier about it. My husband isn’t so sure. It’s not that he’d rather rent, he just finds homeowning exhuasting and kind of feels we got a bit of a lemon. We bought the house from a plumber and the guy went cheap and/or crappy on EVERYTHING plumbing so we’ve had to replace it all. I agree the guy screwed us in the plumbing department, but all houses have problems and I don’t think we have more than most.

    Anyway…we love our house and will have it paid off in 12 years! (We also refinanced to a 15-year mortgage.) We’re happy the mortgage payment will disappear right when our oldest heads off to college. I do hope we never have a need to move until we’re old:)

  3. velocibadgergirl says:

    We own our house (Well, ha, the BANK owns it. But we are paying the mortgage.) probably for two major reasons. First, because when we bought, the going advice was still that it was a good investment to buy rather than rent if you’d be living in the same place for three years or more. Of course the economy tanked right after that and we’re still slightly underwater, but it does feel nice to have the money going toward something we hope to one day own outright. Second, because I grew up in one house my entire life – a house that my parents still live in – it felt really important to me to have that rootedness for my kids as well. And of course – OF COURSE – kids can grow up just fine and happy and rooted in rental houses or apartments or a different house every two years…but because I’ve always had a very strong and positive association with a certain house as home I wanted to give that to my kids as well. Who knows if we will really end up staying here until our kids are grown, but that is the current plan. We waited a while to buy because we didn’t want to get stuck with a starter house like several of my friends did – we wanted a house that had enough space for the long haul and was in a decent school district (couldn’t afford to buy in the really good school district) so that we wouldn’t have to move once we had kids.

    I do sometimes still daydream of a nice place in the country, but in reality that’s not ever going to be in the cards for us. And while our house isn’t perfect, I am very fond of it.

  4. tubasheila says:

    We rented while Jeremy was in school, then bought right before the collapse. I wanted to rent there, too, but it was a strange little town where anything worth renting was waaaay out of our range. Then Jeremy lost his job, and had to commute to his new job. I kept trying to get him to sell and move to the new job- it was in a town I had spent time in, and had a TON of rentable houses.

    Nope. Jeremy is all about the long-term investment of buying, and he spent his entire life in two houses. Dad was career Army, so we moved every 2-4 years, and I’m used to it, AND not opposed to renting.

    We wound up selling, and are currently renting from my parents. Paying via repairs and upgrades, currently, supposed to start paying via money this winter. I thiiiiink we may end up owning it outright. I guess we’ll ride it out and see.

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