6.07.2011

choosing family & putting “the dream” on hold

The search for a house may be coming to a screeching halt. After talking about and convincing ourselves of the merit of every option (buy a condo close to work! no, buy a house with a commute! buy the house we’re renting now! buy a dump & fix it up! buy a townhouse/duplex! buy land and build our own house!) we’ve come to terms with giving up on the American Dream… for today, at least.

We did a lot of work to make the “dream” something we could attain. We established our budget for what we could afford and began saving. We created our list of criteria in a home. We researched and went hunting.

We calculated housing & utilities costs, commute times, hidden costs of the commute, the cost to fix a house that we needed to improve. We calculated our ability to save if we stayed where we are vs. if we rented close to work. We calculated the value of daily time as a family vs. money in the bank. We calculated what our expenses would look like in every conceivable scenario, how much we could save each month and how long it would take us to reach our goal of having a 20% down payment or eliminating PMI.

We evaluated where we thought the housing market was heading and what we thought would happen if we bought now vs. rented for a year. We thought about how long the Mountain Man would be happy at his job, and whether we would regret buying a house that didn’t have easy access to all areas of potential employment.

We thought about how they’re tolling the bridge and tearing down the viaduct. We thought about where we wanted the Pie to go to school. We thought about how close we would be to our friends, hobbies, families, commitments.

We don’t have any answers, but we’re moving forward. Perhaps aggressively. We are choosing simplicity. Today we are choosing family over “the dream”.

We are still planning to buy a house, someday. We would like to take advantage of the depressed housing market and good interest rates, if possible. But right now we are choosing to regain the 3 hours a day that are lost in commuting. We’re choosing to have more family time than dinner-chores-diapers-bed. We’re choosing to spend more, save less and wait.

I realized, thanks to another blogger's musings, that I can only choose two out of three. I can’t have location, quality and price. I just can’t no matter what the market looks like. I also realized that the reason we’re not finding the house that we want is because what’s on the market is not there intentionally. People are not selling their homes, they’re losing the homes that we re being lived in. We’re seeing the vacant homes in mid-life. We see partially-completed repairs or homes in desperate need of repair. We see homes with all appliances torn out and sold in an effort to scrape together a few dollars. We are seeing shells of others’ lives, interrupted mid-stream, as opposed to someone’s home being marketed. Sellers are choosing to hold onto their homes, if at all possible, because they can’t compete with the prices of foreclosures.

Perhaps once the foreclosures clear out and people are able to put their homes on the market, we will be able to find something that we like. Perhaps prices will have inflated a bit, maybe interest rates won’t be quite as favorable. We won’t have missed the boat, though. It will take a long time, I think, for the housing market to make it’s way back into the clutches of “ridiculous”. So we’ll rent for a year.

Maybe we’ll miss out on the “bottom”. Maybe interest rates will increase a bit. We certainly won’t be able to save as much as we are now. But we will continue to save & work slowly toward our goal. We didn’t look as long and hard as many, but we haven’t been able to find the motivation, patience, energy and time, and we continue to struggle with a daily commute that is shaving hours off our family life each day. We’ll choose to live closer, commute less, spend more and put home ownership on hold in order to have more time as a family. We are voting to enjoy our family every day rather than to put our family on hold in pursuit of this goal (a goal that isn’t going anywhere) and wish every night that we had more time.

Are you putting long-term goals on hold to improve your family life? Are you taking the hit to family life now, in order to reach your long-term goals sooner? Are you stuck?

3 comments:

  1. I am so very very excited to have you guys closer! I definitely know how it feels to not be where you want to be. It'll happen. It'll happen. It'll happen. Right?

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  2. we're excited to be back in the city... although I haven't heard anything about our request to negotiate the rent. Hopefully it's still ours! It's hard to give up on our plans to buy when we had worked so hard to make it possible. But I have to keep reminding myself that it is still possible, and we'll perhaps end up with something better than what we've been finding thus far. It will be ok. It might even be good. I even dug up my garden to put it in pots to emotionally (and symbolically) prepare myself for the move. It will be OK.

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  3. I decided to take the hit to family life now instead of prolonging the agony. The thing that made this decision easier for me is that I was already involved in the activity that was robbing me of husband and me time, except now it is husband and me AND baby and me time. But in the end I think it will have been worth to get it over with now instead of getting halfway through and having to resume later. And what am I talking about? Nursing school, of course. At this point I have a final and an exit exam left before I graduate, then take the licensure exam.

    Why did I make this decision? Well, partly because I didn't want to get soooo close to my degree and have to stop, and resume it later. Another reason is because I wanted to have my career established and get it underway while Tobi is still young. It will help my husband and I get to the family life we both would prefer; I'd like to work at something I enjoy (which honestly, I haven't really done before), and my husband wants to stop working his ass off and be the stay-at-home parent. Bonus because my career choice will pay enough for us to do that, and I will have schedule flexibility to also be home with my son and not be bored because I am home all the time. The final reason is because I had this goal for a long time (almost 6 years) and it will be a relief to have it completed; I will be a happier person for this choice, even if the time before its completion was difficult and rife with guilt because I had to put goal before family.

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