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Rent before buying when relocating?
Old 08-08-2011, 11:06 AM   #1
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Rent before buying when relocating?

We are most likely going to relocate in the next few years, and the places on our short list are all cities we've never lived in. It certainly makes sense to rent first, months if not years, but the thought of moving twice within a few years (or less) and throwing away money on rent is hard to fathom. We rented an apartment once when we moved and built a house, it was a big hassle, but at least Megacorp paid for moving and storage - not this time of course.

Have any of you actually rented when relocating, and thoughts if you did.
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Old 08-08-2011, 11:33 AM   #2
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How about just renting a furnished apartment/home? Sure, the furniture may not fit your "style" and it's a bit more expensive than an unfurnished place, but assuming you will select the city before you sell your current home, you could just leave the bulk of your "stuff" in place in your current home while you review your options...

If your plan is to sell your current home first, put as much as you can in local storage and get it after you select your new residence. Don't drag the big stuff all over the country.
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Old 08-08-2011, 11:35 AM   #3
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Renting for a while would allow you to get a feel for the various communities around town. After a while, you will be able to determine which community best fits your needs. If you plan on staying at your new location forever, it may be worth getting it right.

We rented before buying at our previous location (yes moving was a pain but, in all honesty, we didn't have much back then). We bought immediately at our current location because DW grew up in this town and knew where the good stuff was.

I agree with rescueme. If it were me, I would rent a furnished place, bring only a few suitcases with me, and put everything else in storage. There is no way I would pack and unpack everything twice.
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Old 08-08-2011, 11:39 AM   #4
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I've always rented first when moving to a new area. The money you spend on rent is trivial compared with the money you could lose making a bad real estate purchase decision.
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Old 08-08-2011, 12:17 PM   #5
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I would rent first too, and when we were planning to move to Springfield I had even checked out apartments that might suit us.

You probably have some idea of where you would like to buy, so I would suggest renting in that neighborhood. That way you can "test drive" the neighborhood, and find out more about the plusses and minuses of living there.

Renting a furnished apartment while putting your things in storage, is a great idea. You might want to check out places like Extended Stay America to see if they would suit your purpose.

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Originally Posted by Peter
The money you spend on rent is trivial compared with the money you could lose making a bad real estate purchase decision.
That is a good point. The cost of renting an apartment for a year could be mentally categorized as part of the moving costs.
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Old 08-08-2011, 12:27 PM   #6
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...but the thought of moving twice within a few years (or less) and throwing away money on rent is hard to fathom. ...
Midpack, I suggest that you look at the situation another way. Yes, I appreciate the annoyance of having to move, so I’m not quibbling about that, but your comment that you’d be “throwing away money on rent” is not the correct way to view the situation in my view. After all, you have to live somewhere. I suspect that the cost of renting down there will be substantially less then the combined costs of taxes, insurance, and the cost of your money (rarely considered during these discussions).

Further, had you made this move a year or so ago, how would you have felt had your newly purchased home fallen in value by 20%. No, renting would be a prudent thing to do until you find “your” place.

Best of luck,

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Old 08-08-2011, 12:32 PM   #7
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We did rent for just about a year when we moved from New Jersey to Florida . Six months would have been plenty as it did not take us long to check out the neighborhoods and find a great house . We sold lots of furniture and tossed out a lot before the move so that helped . We rented a place with a garage so a lot of our boxes were stored there .We just unpacked the necessities .The second move while annoying was easier because we only had them move the furniture .We moved all the boxes in our cars . The thing that I found was the biggest help was getting the local newspaper for six months before the move . It helped us narrow down the neighborhoods. I absolutely hated renting . It seemed so temporary . If I had to do it again. I would rent for the shortest time possible .
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Old 08-08-2011, 12:36 PM   #8
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W2R, what made you pick Springfield,MO as a place to live?
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Old 08-08-2011, 12:45 PM   #9
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W2R, what made you pick Springfield,MO as a place to live?
No hurricanes, low crime compared with New Orleans, big enough town for me but small enough for him, good medical facilities, and most of all, very low cost of housing and low cost of living. Oh, and not too cold! We eliminated the far northern states right off the bat.

We searched for a location and by 3-4 months after Hurricane Katrina had selected 3 places that met our criteria - - Springfield (MO), Huntsville (AL), and Fayetteville (AR). We visited all three and loved Springfield. It also happens to be where my grandparents lived, although I have no relatives or acquaintances there now. In the 50 years since I had last been there as a child, it has changed drastically and for the better. After vacationing several times a year to Springfield from 2005-2010, we decided it was the one.

However, we have put that plan on hold for at least 5 years. New Orleans seems to be recovering, and our memories of the Katrina nightmare are fading. Also, F. thinks he may need a part time job, and could find one here more easily than in Springfield.

Springfield is still our "backup location", though. If we end up wanting to move, we will move there.
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Old 08-08-2011, 12:55 PM   #10
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We are most likely going to relocate in the next few years, and the places on our short list are all cities we've never lived in. It certainly makes sense to rent first, months if not years, but the thought of moving twice within a few years (or less) and throwing away money on rent is hard to fathom. We rented an apartment once when we moved and built a house, it was a big hassle, but at least Megacorp paid for moving and storage - not this time of course.

Have any of you actually rented when relocating, and thoughts if you did.
We rented before buying in South Florida and it made a difference. I think the cost is marginal, because while you are paying rent you are not paying property tax, house maintenance or mortgage interest. The benefit to us was we had time to get to know different towns, get a feel for the traffic, get to know the areas we would be spending our time (and $$).

If faced with the need to move I would do it again.
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Old 08-08-2011, 01:18 PM   #11
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I'm jumping on the rent bandwagon. Getting to know is city can make all the difference in the world, both on where to live and whether to stay.
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Old 08-08-2011, 01:53 PM   #12
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No hurricanes, low crime compared with New Orleans, big enough town for me but small enough for him, good medical facilities, and most of all, very low cost of housing and low cost of living. Oh, and not too cold! We eliminated the far northern states right off the bat.

We searched for a location and by 3-4 months after Hurricane Katrina had selected 3 places that met our criteria - - Springfield (MO), Huntsville (AL), and Fayetteville (AR). We visited all three and loved Springfield. It also happens to be where my grandparents lived, although I have no relatives or acquaintances there now. In the 50 years since I had last been there as a child, it has changed drastically and for the better. After vacationing several times a year to Springfield from 2005-2010, we decided it was the one.
We are considering Fayetteville though we have never been there (been trying to get down there for about a year now for a visit). We have only driven through Springfield on the way to somewhere else (we have lived in St Louis most of our lives.) I think we might have stopped a couple of times to eat.

Do you mind me asking why, in particular, you like SPringfield better than Fayetteville? We were thinking the recreation opportunities would be better in Fayetteville and the climate might be a tad bit better though we might be kidding ourselves on that one.
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Old 08-08-2011, 02:05 PM   #13
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Do you mind me asking why, in particular, you like SPringfield better than Fayetteville? We were thinking the recreation opportunities would be better in Fayetteville and the climate might be a tad bit better though we might be kidding ourselves on that one.
We liked Fayetteville better on paper. But once we were there, we just liked the way Springfield was laid out better. Also, some of the hills in Fayetteville are quite steep. There's absolutely nothing wrong with Fayetteville, though. It's a very nice town too.
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Old 08-08-2011, 03:02 PM   #14
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Do you mind me asking why, in particular, you like SPringfield better than Fayetteville? We were thinking the recreation opportunities would be better in Fayetteville and the climate might be a tad bit better though we might be kidding ourselves on that one.
I know you didn't ask me, but climate is of course a personal preference. We lived in Florida for 3 years and Texas for 7, and we'd never live that far south again. We like 4 seasons. We're near Chicago now and spring, summer and fall are wonderful - but winter is admittedly tough. We're thinking Virginia or North Carolina. I suspect Springfield is 4 seasons with moderate winters too.But Fayetteville is the perfect place for others, I don't dispute that at all...
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Old 08-08-2011, 03:33 PM   #15
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Have any of you actually rented when relocating, and thoughts if you did.
We did this several times with megacorp moves, and DD and SIL are in the process of moving to the Seattle area from Texas and are also planning on renting for several months before buying.

You know it makes sense ....
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Old 08-08-2011, 04:28 PM   #16
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We considered this when moving from the city to the country. We might have rented, but we were quite sure we would be happy here (we are), and we found a good house before we had to make the move. I hate moving, and storage and renting is expensive and troublesome.

Could you take a long vacation somewhere before moving? Perhaps two weeks in the new location would be enough to know.

I'd suggest making a list the things that might make you not like a particular location. How many of those could you not learn about in a few weeks?
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Old 08-08-2011, 04:46 PM   #17
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We're thinking Virginia or North Carolina.
Good choices! Those states have a LOT of natural beauty, IMO, even though their eastern shores can be hard hit by hurricanes.
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Old 08-08-2011, 05:24 PM   #18
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I think that renting is an excellent idea. I would do the same thing. My parents rented when they first moved to Florida years ago. My daughter took a job in another state and is renting for the first year.

I have friends who did this. They put many of their things in storage and rented a smaller town house for a couple of years. Eventually a dream house was purchased and they only had to pack up the things that they did not put in storage.
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Old 08-11-2011, 09:19 AM   #19
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If it's not too late to jump in here, I'll give the perspective of one who bought instead of rented. You can draw your own conclusions.

First, the reason we bought was to "reserve" a place at a time we could afford to buy (1983 Hawaii). We were able to assume a VA loan at a good interest rate. Since we didn't plan to move for at least 20 years (turned out to be 25) we figured that we would at least be "participating" in the local housing market. i.e., if prices went way up, we would have a place to start out and/or "exchange" for another place.

So, we think it made sense (and still think that) to buy instead of waiting to rent.

BUT! Let's pretend that we just purchased the place when we first moved and see what can happen. When we arrived, we no longer liked the place as much as we did at the time of purchase. Our tastes had changed. We had more expensive tastes - or else the willingness to "sleep-on-the-beach-if-that's-what-it-takes-to-move-to-Paradise" mentality had evolved to "we-need-a-PLACE-on-the-beach". So, from almost the time we moved, we began looking for the "better" place. Took 2 years to find.

Now, the story could have had an unhappy ending, but it did work out due to the capriciousness of the housing market(s) in Paradise. We were just about able to "trade" for the place we wanted.

So, my recommendation is to either be "lucky" as we were or else rent first to get the lay of the land. Naturally, YMMV.
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Old 08-11-2011, 09:45 AM   #20
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So, my recommendation is to either be "lucky" as we were or else rent first to get the lay of the land. Naturally, YMMV.
Clever ending, and I'm glad it worked out well for you. I don't think real estate has stabilized yet, though I don't think most markets have far to fall. There will be bargains for years to come IMO, with appreciation unlikely and low interest now almost guaranteed until 2013...
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