Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Time Has Come for a Decision....

This is a pic' of where we live now. It is taken from our front steps and looks up the street. To give you an idea of the size/style of our home it is similar to the townhome on the left of the pic', right next to the one with the turret and car parked in the driveway. Living in this townhome is comprable to living in a single family home, without a front yard. We have a backyard [fenced] a deck, with parkland, trails and playgrounds with swimming pools/tennis courts surrounding us. The number of swimming pools we have access to is embarrassing, so I won't list the number, but suffice it to say we use one. The whole neighborhood is also surrounded by a members only golf course. [Obviously, we don't belong! $$$] Our home is a 3 bedroom, 3 1/2 bath, 2 car garage townhome with 2400 sq. feet.

I do love our home - it is a nice place to live, with great neighbors and conveniences just a short drive away.

The downfalls? It is a huge home. More than we need. It is expensive to heat/cool. I hate dealing with the gas company [jerks]. But the biggest suck, besides not owning it? The rent payment. It is $1,800 a month. Now I know a lot of you will find this a bargain [Hi! Yvo! for those of you who don't know Yvo lives in NY - my cousin lives next to the UN building in NY and pays $2900 for a 400 sq. ft. efficiency] for 2,400 sq. feet, and for our area it is a steal [the house is assessed at 500K] and our landlords are fabulous, but the rent is killing us savings wise. I want to save more money, but with that payment and the high utility costs every month it isn't possible.

Here is the decision part - we found a townhome in another neighborhood that we can purchase - and our monthly payments will be $1,000 per month [P.I.T.I.] It is two stories, instead of three, no garage and would be so much cheaper to heat and cool [and easier to clean!]. There are pools, playgrounds, walking trails and a lake. Although it is a bank foreclosure the floors, windows, doors and siding are new. The best part? Same school district for the SkippyKids - something we insist on. So, a lot of their friends live in and around this neighborhood and they are in their same schools -big bonus!

Where is the decision? Why haven't we jumped at this you ask? Well, the neighborhood is sketchy. It is an older neighborhood [established in 1984], but in recent years it has become a mecca for a huge rental market and now it has a large number of foreclosures listed because of the ARMs made to people that couldn't afford them. They were selling for $350,000 two years ago and people are fleeing left and right due to the banks foreclosing. Additionally [and much more important] it is not considered as "safe" as our current neighborhood. That is what scares me the most.

I don't forsake people that rent [heck, we are!] but it is a different neighborhood, where the renters aren't keeping up their properties and the homes that are being foreclosed upon are falling into disrepair. The homes that are occupied sometimes house two and three families at a time [this is a violation in our county, but not enforced] and there really isn't the space for that many people in these small homes.

It is as tho' I need a crystal ball to see into the future. We could have this home paid off by the time Pooldad retires [in 10 years] and we would have instant equity upon purchase. We would save about $1,100 a month in rent/utilities and have more money towards retirement and the kids college tuitions.

Why is the neighborhood holding me back so much? I would like to think I am not overly protective/scaredy cat/snob and I honestly don't think I am, but it just feels at this point in our lives we should, at least, be making a lateral move [to a similar neighborhood, not a comprable house size] or moving up [to our farm dream - not until the girls are in college - 6 years :(], but instead we are considering a leap down. I don't need, nor want a larger home - I just want something to call our own and save money, but I want my family safe and secure while doing it.

I also realize that a house is just that. A house. What matters is the home that we make and I like to think we are pretty good at that...but if we are unhappy with the world outside the door in this neighborhood will it be worth the home we have made on the inside?

What say Ye' tadpoles?


Gail said...

Can you talk to some neighbors? See what it is like in the neighbor. Maybe even talk to the police, if they will take the time, to see if it is a troubled area.

SkippyMom said...

It isn't that far from our neighborhood now Gail and the crime stats are a bit different for there then for where we live now.

I wish I could talk to the neighbors, but there a few impediments - 1. a lot of the homes are empty [due to the foreclosure mess] and 2. I don't speak their native languages.

What is interesting for the neighborhood we are looking at is there is a police substation in the middle of the community. It was put there as a deterent, but I don't know how well that has worked as our current neighborhood doesn't have/need one and our crime rate is lower.

pdudgeon said...

with no garage and in a sketchy neighborhood your car insurance will probably go up, as will your renter's insurance. lots of vacancies equals an increased risk of crime. that's something you should look at.
and if you don't speak your neighbor's language, would you feel as safe as you do now?
I think i'd look for another way to save money, or else another area to move to. there's no sense in putting your family's safety at risk.

SkippyMom said...

Hi pdungeon!
Thanks for the advice - I am not so worried about the insurance as my insurance co. now doesn't know my home has a garage and the house we were looking at is in the same zip code [which is what I assume they base their rates on] so I don't think that is a deterrent.

But...I never thought of what to do if I couldn't speak their language and somethime happened. Great point!

I really appreciate your thoughts. sigh...just don't know what to do.

Yvo Sin said...

I hope I'm not too late. Skippy, here are my thoughts (oh, and total steal, I paid $2400/mo for a 600 sq foot 1br... but I was a block away from work and in Manhattan and yes it was awesome and totally worth it imo). But back to you.
Buying a home is probably the biggest purchase a person will make in their lifetime. It is not taken lightly (obviously) and if anything makes you hesitate at all, do not jump feet first. It can be as silly as your apartment number or floor (my apartment number and floor actually irritate me, irrationally, I had to get over it because I bought the place, but if I could go back, I probably wouldn't have, knowing what I do now), but something as big as the safety of your children, how safe you feel, that is major. Do not do it. It isn't worth it. This is just a sign that this isn't meant to be, and something better will shortly come along. You will find something even better with the requirements you have. It will happen.

Buying is a major commitment. You won't buy and then sell within a year so just wait it out. The home you have now, while yes, a bit expensive and you'd like to save some extra money, will suffice until that better house- THE dream house - surfaces. I promise, it will.

And bad neighbors? You think they'll move away but they never do. I keep hoping...

And a house will never become a home if you're afraid of what's outside it. Remember that!