Monday, June 25, 2007

Shanty for sale

In our neck of the woods (of the Bay Area) the median home price is 1.5M (yes, 1.5 MILLION for the typical 3 bedroom 2 bath, 1500 square foot home!). So Berilac (the hubby) and I are trying to figure out if we continue renting (at a monthly price greater than most American mortgages) or if we try to buy a shanty (Note: shan·ty1 [shan-tee] noun, 1. a crudely built hut, cabin, or house. 2. The biggest house your double income family can afford in the Bay Area, CA)

Now mind you, we are looking to move to a city that doesn't have that high of a median home price, (luckily, it’s only 1.2M) ... so we are trying to find a teeny, tiny cardboard box to live in for about half that.

So the questions we’ve been facing are:
-Do we rent or buy?
-Regardless of if we rent or buy - how much money should we spend?
-Do we choose a condo/townhouse or a house?
-How long will we live in this next place?
-Will the housing market go DOWN in the short term? (due to the upcoming flood of foreclosures that are occurring b/c people are facing their interest only adjustable rate mortgages they signed up for during the boom a couple of years ago)
-If we buy, do we buy a 2 bedroom, 1 bath (that is within our price range) and assume that we will build on it in the coming years as/if needed? or do we stretch now and buy a cheap (fixer-upper type) 3 bedroom, 2 bath that is family ready?

If you're reading this and you live outside of California you're probably thinking "Sheesh Polly you're crazy, you should high tail your behind outta there!" Trust me, we've been there, we've had that thought ... who's to say that someday we won't be those market-spiking, migrant Californians who've moved in to the mansions down the street? Sounds mighty nice. But for now, we're living in the land of the rich and we will be for at least the next three years ... so jumping ship is not an option.

Now, back to my decision making process. So these are some of the benefits I’ve seen for each option: (please feel free to suggest others if they are missing)

-cheaper than buying
-money goes further, you can get nicer quality place for less money
-not dependant upon two incomes
-little to no maintenance

-provides a much needed tax break
-potential equity
-more fulfilling nesting
-better for entertaining

If we choose to buy, we run into another whole slew of questions ... do we save money by going with a condo/townhouse? or do we go all out and pop for the full size?

Monday evening, Berilac and I submitted an offer for a 2 bedroom, 2 ½ bath 1140 square foot home on a bad street. I won’t say how much it was (as that’s scary) but our low-ball offer was not accepted. So with only 2 weeks left in our current rental lease, we are back to the drawing board … and obviously still not even sure WHAT direction we’re heading!!

Lord, help us to NOT try to answer all the big, future type of questions today. Help us to trust you in whatever option we pick, knowing you'll be there guiding us along our paths.


  1. Wow, $1.2 million would buy a whole bunch of crudely built huts, cabins, or houses in Oregon!

  2. A shanty!!!! I love it. Great post, and very indicative of the Bay Area. Makes us wonder how anyone can have a typical, traditional, nuclear family (mom, dad, kids, dog, etc) in one house. No wonder there's 3 generations and 10 cars in front of people's houses these days. Yeah, I'm just bitter.