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Frugality ends in a stucco exterior
Old 01-18-2010, 07:38 AM   #1
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Frugality ends in a stucco exterior

Well, maybe it won't be stucco.

We bought our house 2 years out of college as a starter house. Years go by. We pay it off, have a miserable business failure, and pay it off again. Several more years go by.

We have been mulling over redoing the kitchen for many years now. We decided to go to open houses to see if just maybe we'd rather buy a new house than redo that -- plus the walkway, 2 bathrooms, the guest bedroom. And even then we wouldn't really like the house.

So now we're looking. One of the open houses we really liked a lot, and it fits us pretty well. The house is interesting, secluded yet close to main roads, well-constructed, and has almost all the features we want.

Whatever we buy will have higher taxes, and most likely higher utilities and upkeep.

But at this point, with retirement at least 10 years away, I'd rather buy a nice house like this and have retirement be 13 years away. Or at least have the option of selling that house, downsizing, and still not putting off retirement for too long past that 10 year mark.

Looking at houses is fun. Getting our current house ready for putting it on the market will not be.
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Old 01-18-2010, 08:47 AM   #2
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I would not want to work three years for a nicer house, no way. Add the stress and expense of selling and buying a house, and it's even worse. Be careful here. I'm not saying that you have house buying fever, but beware that that is a dangerous disease to contract.
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Is it worth it to you ?
Old 01-18-2010, 09:33 AM   #3
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Is it worth it to you ?

Well this topic keeps coming up...

Should I spend some more now and be more comfortable/fulfilled ? Or should I save as much as I possibly can to retire at the earliest date ?

The answer to this question is for the OP alone to answer. To help you consider your options...is the extra utility/enjoyment of the new house worth an extra 3 years of working. That's the only question. Is it worth it to you ?


By the way, The title of this thread sounds like a humorous book title. So I was a little surprised by the subject.
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Old 01-18-2010, 09:51 AM   #4
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Our house is going to have a stucco exterior. Is that an expensive thing? (not that I really care - that's how a lot of houses are done down here).

Audrey
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Old 01-18-2010, 10:28 AM   #5
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I presume that buying the new house is going to entail a mortgage, and you mentioned higher utilities, upkeep, and property taxes. Also there is the well known "lifestyle inflation" that goes with moving up to a better house and neighborhood and eats away at your income. Saving is going to become much more difficult to accomplish. It is hard to imagine that this move would only make a three year difference in your ER date.

I would urge that you don't count on downsizing or equity in your new house to fund your ER - - lots of people who did that are in trouble lately.

This is not a move that I would make or recommend to a friend, though you know yourself best. If you would feel unhappy or as a failure if you had to live and retire in your present home, then it sounds like you will have to w*rk a long time beyond just ten years. But as someone else mentioned, your life, and how you choose to spend your money, is up to YOU.
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Old 01-18-2010, 10:36 AM   #6
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Personally, my feeling is ten years (and more) is a long time to live in a house you don't like. I'd go with a new one in your situation. You might be selling low but you'll be buying low too (and it might even be cheaper than doing all the work on your current house).

And you might still be able to retire on schedule.

(I thought this thread was going to be about having to replace all the stucco on a house)
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Old 01-18-2010, 11:05 AM   #7
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Sorry for those who thought the title misleading. I thought it was cute, so I went with it.

We're just about to leave for the afternoon search. A painter came by this morning and he'll start in on Friday.

Talked with a mortgage guy, and it doesn't seem like we have enough income to support buying an upgraded house without selling our current house. So it'd have to be a contingent sale. Fortunately for us, houses in the price range of our current house are selling okay.

And yeah, lifestyle inflation. Taxes will be significantly higher. Insurance, yard care, maintenance, utilities etc.

But, really, money is there to make our lives more pleasant. In our opinions, the upgraded house will make us happier. I know, hedonistic adjustment and all that. This isn't a decision we're reaching lightly. And while in same ways it has been a sudden decision, it is one that has been building for a number of years.
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Old 01-18-2010, 11:48 AM   #8
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You said you were considering remodeling your present kitchen. Why not do that and more. Change some decor, knock out a wall, convert a room into a theater, etc. Make your present house your new home, save the equity you have, if any, and build a little sweat equity.

Our washing machine flooded our house a few months back. Insurance paid for new floors in our master bedroom, laundry, kitchen, dining room and living room. We had the painter do a few extra walls and we did a few very minor changes. It feels like a new house. and we like it so much more. I can imagine what a real remodel would feel like.

Remember, 5 years from now the new house will feel like the old house. The grass is always greener. Just a thought.
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Old 01-18-2010, 12:35 PM   #9
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But, really, money is there to make our lives more pleasant. In our opinions, the upgraded house will make us happier.
Moving may be a good decision, but both of those arguments are fallacious. Working for an extra three years may very well make your life less pleasant. If you get buyer's remorse, it will be unpleasant.

The first argument is the kind of thing that cuts off further thinking. Like saying "It's only money!" or "There are more important things in life than money!"

There's no good support for the notion that buying things will make you happier.

Having said that, I know what it's like when you're thinking of moving, and suddenly all the things you don't like about your current location bug you more and more. Once we decided to move out of the Bay Area, the crowds and traffic drove us crazy.

I'll bet that if you are patient, you could find a new house that you prefer, yet would result in lower costs. Perhaps a semi-fixer upper in an ideal location.
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Old 01-18-2010, 12:44 PM   #10
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Damn the torpedos! Full speed ahead!
Life is too short to live in a house you don't like.
You clearly understand the financial issues, the tangible and intangible benefits of a new home, and will be the one living with the upside and downside ramifications of your decision.

A lot of folks here would opt to live in a mud hut to be able to retire early- you clearly aren't in that camp. IMO, upgrade now while prices are down- you should see an increase in your Net Worth when things pick up- and in the meantime, you have to live somewhere, might as well be somewhere you like.
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Old 01-18-2010, 12:45 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by audreyh1 View Post
Our house is going to have a stucco exterior. Is that an expensive thing? (not that I really care - that's how a lot of houses are done down here).

Audrey


Stucco houses are easy to maintain . Just have them power washed regularly and they are good to go .
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Old 01-18-2010, 12:48 PM   #12
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I agree that ten years in a house I did not like would be torture .
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Old 01-18-2010, 01:15 PM   #13
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If you have really done your homework and know the true added cost of moving to a new house (whether the one you mentioned or some other) then I would do it. Ten years is an awful long time to live somehwere you don't like but don't go saddling yourself with long term added costs without plenty of thought and consideration.
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Old 01-18-2010, 03:20 PM   #14
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Stucco houses are easy to maintain . Just have them power washed regularly and they are good to go .
That's what I thought! It looked like a pretty low maintenance exterior to me.

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Old 01-18-2010, 03:37 PM   #15
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Stucco houses are easy to maintain . Just have them power washed regularly and they are good to go .

Not the stucco houses down here... they are a PAIN... nobody wants them..
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Old 01-18-2010, 03:43 PM   #16
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Not the stucco houses down here... they are a PAIN... nobody wants them..
Same here in New Orleans. At least when I was looking for my present house, my realtor advised me to avoid stucco or at least look into it if I was thinking of buying a stucco house. I didn't since my house is brick, so my memory of this is a little hazy (sorry). I think he said something implying that while stucco is fine in California/Arizona, in our (very humid) Louisiana climate there are problems with toxic mold in stucco houses or something like that.

I had a stucco house in San Diego and it was fine. No problems at all and no maintenance required. So it may differ in different locations. I love the look of stucco.
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Old 01-18-2010, 03:43 PM   #17
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I am not sure how bad a house your currently live... only you do...

I moved to get more space because I expanded my family... also, the old neighborhood was going downhill... so I wanted to get into one that would not..

The extra costs etc. will keep me working for a bit more, but getting married with kids are my bigger changes that will keep me working...


Now, my BIL was looking to move a few years back... or do major remodeling to the house because he was 'tired' of living in the same place for 25 years... the costs were just to great, so he did not buy a new house... good thing since the prices have dropped... plus, they would not have been able to afford it.... and after he died, my sister would have had to move since her income dropped by his SS... she fixed up her old place with some 'new' stuff, but the cost was a lot less then a new house...
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Old 01-18-2010, 04:07 PM   #18
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We upgraded to a brand-new townhome 3 years ago. It's still moderately sized (1,500 s.f.) but feels much more spacious. It's a little more expensive, particularly given association dues and more taxes, but I don't regret the decision at all. It allowed me to live much more carefree. I am not a yardwork kind of gal.

Selling our old house was a pain, but we lived through it. So for now, it's a happy ending. I hope I never have to move again (unless to Mexico or something exotic).
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Old 01-18-2010, 05:35 PM   #19
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Lots o' quotes...

Quote:
Originally Posted by flyfishnevada View Post
You said you were considering remodeling your present kitchen. Why not do that and more. Change some decor, knock out a wall, convert a room into a theater, etc. Make your present house your new home, save the equity you have, if any, and build a little sweat equity.

Remember, 5 years from now the new house will feel like the old house. The grass is always greener. Just a thought.
That's the possibility we've been mulling over. We've kind of decided that there's no way this house will be like the house we want. One example is that the garage is below the house, so you have to cart groceries up a flight of steps. Maybe it doesn't sound like much, but it is one thing. There's also no way to get a nice master bathroom short of a six figure addition.

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Moving may be a good decision, but both of those arguments are fallacious. Working for an extra three years may very well make your life less pleasant. If you get buyer's remorse, it will be unpleasant.

There's no good support for the notion that buying things will make you happier.

I'll bet that if you are patient, you could find a new house that you prefer, yet would result in lower costs. Perhaps a semi-fixer upper in an ideal location.
And yet. I drive a BMW, and every time I drive it I appreciate that it is a quality vehicle. I've had it for 5 years and haven't had a desire to upgrade it. "Happy" is always an odd word for purchases, so it was probably not good of me to use it. I'm pleased with that decision, and I appreciate the extra money spent every day.

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Originally Posted by Westernskies View Post
Damn the torpedos! Full speed ahead!
Life is too short to live in a house you don't like.
You clearly understand the financial issues, the tangible and intangible benefits of a new home, and will be the one living with the upside and downside ramifications of your decision.

A lot of folks here would opt to live in a mud hut to be able to retire early- you clearly aren't in that camp. IMO, upgrade now while prices are down- you should see an increase in your Net Worth when things pick up- and in the meantime, you have to live somewhere, might as well be somewhere you like.
Ah, a counter argument! We're kind of feeling that way right now. We bought the house two years out of college at age 24. When we bought the house, we figured it'd be a starter house. We liked it, but it isn't us any more.

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I agree that ten years in a house I did not like would be torture .
QFT.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan View Post
If you have really done your homework and know the true added cost of moving to a new house (whether the one you mentioned or some other) then I would do it. Ten years is an awful long time to live somehwere you don't like but don't go saddling yourself with long term added costs without plenty of thought and consideration.
That, too.

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I am not sure how bad a house your currently live... only you do...

The extra costs etc. will keep me working for a bit more, but getting married with kids are my bigger changes that will keep me working...
The house isn't a sty by any means. It is a fairly basic 4 bedroom 2 1/2 colonial in a good area. Once we get through the putting-it-on-the-market fix-ups, it'll be a nicer house than it is today.


All that said, I'm kind of going through a mental decompression this evening, after a day of cleaning and looking at 3 more houses. We want a nice, solidly built house that works with how we live. That house isn't this house. But, since we are not having kids, we don't really need a huge house. One tough thing around here is finding a nice house that isn't all that big. We're definitely not going to buy as much as we could get a loan for, and I've decided that there's a price point where the size of the house gets to be way too nutty.

We went through a 4 bedroom 3 1/2 bath today, great room, awesome kitchen. It was really nice, but I left kind of feeling overwhelmed, I think. Believe me, not all parts of my mind agree with each other. My mind will be united before we do anything, though.
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Old 01-18-2010, 05:46 PM   #20
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One tough thing around here is finding a nice house that isn't all that big.
I think that is a problem in a lot of locations. I really don't want a big house for my ER home, but I do want all the bells and whistles. I want luxury, but do not need a big home for just one person. Yet many smaller homes are finished with the cheapest of materials and are not luxurious enough to suit me.

One approach to that problem for me could be to buy a relatively modest home, and then spend a lot on renovations and upgrades. These would not pay off in a resale, but if it is my last home there will be no resale anyway. Another approach would be to buy a larger home and then shut off some rooms, but that seems such a waste. So, I'll probably buy a relatively modest home and go from there. Guess I'll play it by ear when I see what's available at the time.

I find that there is a price above which the homes are ridiculously large, even though I can afford to pay more. So, I will stay below that price and that probably means renovations.

Are you planning to renovate the kitchen so that your house will sell more easily? I was thinking that if you did that, maybe you would like your house better when it was done.
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