As I’ve mentioned many times (because I’m just so proud of it), my husband and I live with my parents. We moved in with them in August 2011 (after just over a year of renting a bedroom in a friend’s house) to pay down debt. We’re at the point now where we feel like our debt is under control enough that we think the financial benefits of living here aren’t worth the mental headaches – long commutes, living in an entertainment desert, with a lack of true privacy and a place to call our own. Plus there is the worry that this is becoming a crutch. So, we’re ready and able to move out. Because of where we work and what we like to do with our free time, we’re looking at moving into Chicago proper. (Right now we live in the south suburbs.)
We started talking to a couple mortgage lenders to gauge where we are, and while we likely would be approved for a mortgage, would it be one that would afford us a worthy place? Somewhere worth staying for 5-10 or more years? Somewhere we could live with a tiny human? (That’s my sly way of saying we may have children at some point, and uh, you gotta put those things somewhere.)
Or would we be better off renting a cheap place for a year or two while we further pay off debt and save up a down payment and hopefully figure out a way to boost our yearly income – all of which could contribute to a more attractive mortgage?
I know I’m not the first person to weigh the odds of renting versus owning and this will be an extremely amateur take on things, but when it comes to our situation …
Yes, owning your own place is the “smart” decision in the long run. And right now, the sticker price of monthly mortgage payments compared to monthly rent on similar properties makes the mortgage look like a steal. However, I’ve noticed that those sticker prices assume a 20% down payment. Um, haha. Also, those don’t include taxes, assessments, insurance and other fees. Suddenly, mortgages don’t look so “cheap.”
The other issue is if we hold out a little longer, could we afford a nicer place? If we’re buying, we want to make sure it is a place worth buying. There are places I would rent long before I would ever buy them.
Renting gives you flexibility – if we change our minds on what we thought we wanted in terms of space and amenities or neighborhood, we can pack up and move to a new place. The Sailor has never lived in Chicago proper, and I haven’t in nine years, so it’ll be good to familiarize ourselves more intimately with the various neighborhoods.
And I like the idea of someone else fixing stuff that breaks, clearing the snow, mowing the grass, etc. That’s worth something. (Hence the cost of “assessments” for condos.)
So, renting is starting to look like the more appealing option for us right now. Since it’s only temporary, I would settle for a 1-bedroom (although we’re starting our search looking at 2-bedrooms) in a slightly less attractive neighborhood (although we’re starting with the more attractive neighborhoods we can afford) as long as it is accessible to public transit and I can safely head out the door for a solo run.
What do you think?
Like I said, it’s been nine years since I’ve lived in Chicago-proper … I still have that striped body pillow (sleep with it every night), blue husband pillow (leaning on it right now) and that purple sarong/toga/window treatment.