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Housing Help.

October 25, 2009

What would you do?

When Joe and I moved to the Chicago ‘burbs, we chose a place that was comfortable, affordable, and was across the street from the only people we knew in the ‘burbs. It’s been home for the last 15 months. Joe has been commuting half an hour southwest for the past 15 months. For the first four months, I commuted an hour northeast. Then I commuted an hour fifteen due south. What I’m trying to say is it’s been a central location for us. But now we’re both working in the same town, both commuting half an hour to the same street essentially. And that town? Is a bajillion times cuter than this one.

Everyone has been asking, “Why don’t you just move there?”
Well, in a nutshell, the answer is… because our lease was up the day we got married. And we weren’t going to move and get married in the same week. So we renewed the lease. And shot ourselves in the foot, duh.

We’ve been looking for deals, you know, first month free, no security deposit, etc. We can’t find ’em. We met up with a realtor today. He showed us a few places… one was too big and too expensive. One was super dumpy and sucky. One was the cutest little house in the entire world but was a bit out of our price range but had an apartment in the basement that we could rent to a friend for cheap and then split the utilities. (Who wants to live with us?)

So no deals. Which means breaking our lease and still paying a security deposit and rent in a new place. Which means a lot a lot a lot of money. Keep in mind, we paid for a hefty chunk of our wedding. We paid for our honeymoon. I work in a coffeeshop. We have a LOT of student loan debt. We aren’t really well off. In fact, we would have to take a loan (from Bank of Dad and/or from Joe’s 401K) in order to make this work.

BUT the pros include saving approximately $100-150 in gas each month, saving in taxes, sleeping in just a little later since we won’t have a half hour commute and I won’t have to leave the apartment at 5am…. Plus the town is absolutely darling, I can’t get enough of it.

So what would you do? Take a couple loans that you’ll be able to pay back in the next year? Or stay comfortably 20 miles away from work even though the living expenses would be more in the long run?


ETA: It surprises me that my first few comments were opposed to moving. I feel I need to add the following: Would YOU want to scrape your car at 4:30am in the middle of February in Chicago? Also, yes, we would be able to pay back the debt and save more by moving. Now discuss.

29 Comments leave one →
  1. October 25, 2009 7:17 pm

    I vote move but only if we can still make trips to IKEA since I seem to be obsessed with it recently. Sidenote, I’ mulling this around as my new blog name/username. Whacha think???

  2. October 25, 2009 7:23 pm

    If you can get someone to live in the apartment in the basement then do it, if not wait it out.

  3. October 25, 2009 7:29 pm

    I’m with Rachel – if you can share the expenses, consider it. However, I personally would be VERY unlikely to choose an option that meant gaining MORE debt, as that’s been a priority of mine this year to pay off and reduce/eliminate. So, I’d be hesitant to add more and would then just wait it out. But if you could pad that with a tenant, then I might consider it.

  4. October 25, 2009 7:56 pm

    If you have a renter that is locked up, do it otherwise I would hold out. I just get weird feeling when make moves without having those details locked up.

  5. October 25, 2009 8:17 pm

    Ok, so here’s the thing. This is all a numbers game. Would you make up the money you’d be losing by breaking your lease by the time that lease would have been up? If yes, then moving might be worth it. If not, you aren’t really saving money in the long run. Second, St. Charles is an expensive place to live. It just is. So, you might be saving some in taxes, but overall cost of living is going to be higher. I would make a spreadsheet…or ask my financial wizard dad who you are welcome to use as a real estate sounding board.

  6. October 25, 2009 8:19 pm

    If you definitely had someone to live in the basement, then I’d say do it. Otherwise I wouldn’t suggest adding on more debt, even though you’d be saving money by moving. You’d just be putting that money saved toward paying off the debt, so you’d be no better off anyway right?

    Good luck with whatever you choose. I’m having the same issue trying to decide to break my lease or not so I totally relate.

  7. October 25, 2009 8:22 pm

    I agree with Rachel and Doni. I am not a fan of adding more debt, unless you have someone to share the expenses with already lined up.

  8. October 25, 2009 8:37 pm

    If it’s really going to save you money…then do it! Sometimes you have to spend money to make money. Plus, not having to scrape your car is glorious. Seriously one of my favorite things about living in my house!

  9. ashleymarie6 permalink
    October 25, 2009 8:41 pm

    I hate commuting.


    (Plus, you obviously want to. You’re just asking us to validate your desires. So consider this a whole pile of validation and DO IT! Commutes suck!)

  10. October 25, 2009 8:43 pm

    Let’s be honest here, you know what you want to do, as we can tell by your edit šŸ˜‰ You can’t get both the great place & the money saved (trust me, I know this one). You have to decide if moving to make you happy will make your debt worth it.

    Remember, whatever we tell you to do isn’t going to affect us. Are you going to spend the money you save on me? Nope. They do what works for you guys. You are also young enough that if it ends up being the wrong one you can & will recover from it.

  11. October 25, 2009 10:13 pm

    Living that far away from where you’re working sounds kind of brutal, especially in the deep dark of winter! I think I’m a little confused on the logistics- can’t you sublet out your lease on your current place, or is there a cost to breaking your lease? Is the debt that you add on just the cost of moving, or am I missing something? Making the rent and a security deposit payment in one month definitely sucks, but that’s a one time expense, not an ongoing one & you’ll get the damage deposit back- ideally you’ll get that back from your current place and can just give it to the new landlord, right?

    In my mind, that’s not adding debt, that’s a cost of living.

    If you can find somewhere close to work in an adorable town, where you guys cut a whole ton of your commute out I would say do it. Not for validation, just because moving anywhere costs money- but better to be somewhere you’re happy about and excited about.

  12. October 25, 2009 11:32 pm

    hubs and i had to take out a loan for our deposit – however, because we’re selling our coop back, we know it’ll get repaid (and bank of mom and dad doesn’t charge interest). We moved, not just because we wanted to and it was our goal, but because despite what ANYONE says about dc having a good job market, with both of us out of work, we had to jump on the first thing that came our way. Funny that three weeks after hubs started looking for work in CT, he got a job as opposed to three months of unemployment in DC…./end bitter hatred of everything dc

    now i realize that’s totally different than your case but my point is that more debt, that you know you’ll be able to pay off in a reasonable amount of time, shouldn’t necessarily be a deal breaker.

    Think about all the factors – overall lifestyle savings…Gas $$, commuting time (aka quality of life), and money you’ll save in the long term are definitely factors. Do the numbers and think about it long and hard, but I vote for yea šŸ™‚ xox

  13. October 26, 2009 12:33 am

    I’m a big fan of living near where you work. I live only three miles from where I need to be for school/work. I’m commuting once a week to a school 25 miles away and I HATE it. (Of course, it’s LA traffic, so it’s kind of a given; but still.)

    I agree with Erin, do a spreadsheet just so you have a super clear picture of everything. I’ve taken to do that with most financial aspects of my life and it’s been amazingly helpful all around.

    Can’t wait to hear what you decide!

  14. October 26, 2009 2:24 am

    I say do it. Use the money you would save every month by living in the new neighborhood to pay the debt you’d go into to get there. Living space is wicked important to me. If I’m not a fan of where I live, I feel consistently negative.

    Do it, baby.

  15. laura251 permalink
    October 26, 2009 2:24 am

    I agree with some of the lovelies who vote that you only move if you definitely have someone to stay in the basement. If you stay and wait out the lease, it may be better in the long run, even if it is annoying and feels like it will be forever til you move.
    Good luck!

  16. October 26, 2009 5:59 am

    My advice is this…. live were you feel most comfortable….
    I used to live in the city, and 2 years ago I moved to a very small town an hour and a half from were I work. everyone I work with thinks I’m just flat out crazy driving 3 hrs each day…. but for me getting away from the city was the best thing I ever did…. I’m a small town kid working in the big city!!!
    after 2 years I don’t even notice the drive… I will admit I do miss sleeping in… and if you think scraping your car at 430 in Chicago is bad try doing it in northern Ontario!!!!

  17. October 26, 2009 8:09 am

    Is the new place a house? If so, have you considered the $8000 first time buyer tax refund thing??

    I would move…but maybe that’s cuz I’ve been dying to move for the past 4 months!

  18. October 26, 2009 8:22 am

    1. it’s only money. you’re young.
    2. regardless of how much debt you’ll have, you’re young. you’ll have a roof over your head and be able to afford the things you need and hey, maybe be able to have a little bit of fun too.
    3. i drive a half hour to and from work and it sucks. i’ve been doing it for for and a half years now, so i’m used to it… but it still sucks. i waste so much gas and i would absolutely kill to live in the town where i work. but sadly, my butthead of a better half has to reside in the township where he works. FAIL.
    4. if you think you’re going to be happier in this new town? that is all that matters. really. i’ve made some dumb decisions with money and i’m still fine. you know why? because i don’t regret a single one of those choices. sure, i might have taken on 5k in debt i didn’t need to, but i was happier in the end. šŸ™‚


    ps. have you thought about buying something? i know you said you were with a realtor, but i didn’t know if that meant looking at rentals. the realtor in me feels the need to mention something about buying… because then you’ll be in debt, but it will be YOURS. šŸ™‚ a lot of the times, you can negotiate the sellers to pay the closing costs at settlement and there are so many 100% financing first time buyer programs out there, i’m sure there is one in your state. just some food for thought. xoxo

  19. October 26, 2009 11:32 am

    I’ve moved so many times in my life that I would definitely find a way to make the move possible. Commutes are the worst, and knowing that you could be living closer will eventually get to you (if it hasn’t already).

    My advice is to take it slowly. There’s no need to move today, right? Make the decision to move and then work on saving up some money if at all possible. Wait for just the right place to open up. Wait for a deal. Wait for everything to be lined up. If you rush into it, you might regret it, but at least if you have to break you lease and get into some debt, you will have thoroughly thought it through and made the best decision.

  20. October 26, 2009 11:42 am

    I’ve put myself in debt (not in the form of loans, but in credit card debt and taken money out of my savings account) in order to break a lease and move somwhere that was cheaper + saved me money on gas. Once I got the security deposit back from the old place, that helped. And once I cut back on a few other things (like cable, I honestly didn’t have cable for the last four years, just Netflix) I was saving money and living in a better spot. So, really it can be done and it can be justified. If it’s what you and Joe want, go for it. I’m sure there is someone who could use a basement apartment (sounds so cute! Maybe I’ll relocate!?) and help out with the finances, though make sure to screen them in advance just in case, you know, they are super weird or something.

    At any rate, I know how you guys are feeling and I know what it’s like to have the itch to move for convenience.

    Big hugs & love and wishing you the best of luck with whatever decision you choose =)

  21. dreamstela permalink
    October 26, 2009 12:12 pm

    I would wait for something that’s right in your price range rather than bank on having a renter since money is the only issue.

    For me, at least, I don’t think it would be as great if we were stressed out about money for several months.

    I hear you about commuting to open the coffee shop in the middle of winter. I don’t like to do that here, and it hardly even gets below freezing here.

  22. October 26, 2009 12:57 pm

    Honestly, quality of life is so important. If you are going to wake up happy in the new place, have more time together at home because of shorter commutes, and will pay off the debt that the move is going to initially cause? I’d do it in a heartbeat.
    Ju & I were in the suburbs this weekend, and while battling traffic to get back to the city, we both agreed that the cheaper rent wouldn’t be worth waking up earlier, the time spent commuting and having less time at home overall.
    Good luck with whatever you choose, love! If you need a sounding board, I’m here =)

  23. October 26, 2009 1:05 pm

    I definitely agree with everything that Kyla said. I mean, you obviously want to move, so if you can find a reasonable way to make it work, do it. If not? wait a little bit and keep looking!

  24. October 26, 2009 1:25 pm

    I think, when it comes to one’s living space, there are a lot of things more important than money. If it will improve your quality of life, in terms of a shorter drive to work, a nicer home, a neighborhood you love, I say do it!

  25. October 26, 2009 5:44 pm

    oh man this would be tricky for me for sure. but i’d say if you two could make it work and maybe cut back on some other things in your life and save some there then it would definitely be worth it to move and be happier (and get more sleep!) overall. hope it works out! good luck!

  26. October 27, 2009 5:10 pm

    If you could reasonably pay back the money in a year, I don’t see why not. If it’d be a lengthier financial burden, then it becomes more difficult. Clearly you made up your mind already and are just seeking the approval of others here to kind of cement the decision. So I say go for it. Why spend the next several months waiting for the lease to expire and being miserable, and losing money in the long run, when you can be happier and closer now?

  27. October 29, 2009 1:25 am

    If I were you I’d move.

    That’s basically what my husband and I did. We wanted to buy a house near my parents and we already liked the location. Before we were living only 20 minutes away from my work but now we live 1 hour away. It is painful but I remind myself that we have a beautiful home where we are more happy now & that my job isn’t permanent – a home is.

    We’re in the same situation and have college loans to pay off (no where near paying ’em off). We have saved a lot of money (gas bills have gone up but that’s it).

    Good luck!

  28. October 29, 2009 9:28 am

    Wow. There are some fantastic comments here, and I think everyone has a good point. Also, if I’m not mistaken, I think y’all just signed a lease. Which means you made the decision. Yay!

    I think the most important thing is being happy with where you are. And, even if you have to take out some money, saving more in the long run.

  29. October 29, 2009 2:32 pm

    aiye. I hate moving, and also I hate the thought of the fees for canceling a lease. I would probably not move, but I understand the pros!

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