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Lurker asking for opinions

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
So, I know that I have to make this choice on my own (or rather FH and I have to make it, along with the kids, as a family), but I want to run things past all of you. It's nice to have other opinions, and you might spot ups or downs I haven't thought of. Better yet, someone may have been in a similar situation.

FH, DS (14) and DD ( and I are living in Bigtown, in a very large three bedroom apartment. It's a nice complex, with a pool etc. FH hates living in an apartment, and ever since the herd of elephants moved in upstairs, I am agreeing with him. But it is a nice apartment. I will freely say that I am paying about $1000 a month for the place. I could find a cheaper apartment, but it will be smaller, not as nice, not as safe, and we would hate it. I have looked for a rental house, but for that I will be paying about $200 more a month in rent, as well as utilities.

Money is slightly tight. I get bills paid, but not as fast as I want, and my debt is going down very slowly, and I can't really put anything in savings (not for long anyway). My minivan is starting to nickle and dime me to death, and in a few years we would be able to buy a house. I am going to be leaving my job to go back to school, which, thanks to veterans benefits, will only cause a slight drop in income. FH will be graduated and work ready January of 2012. Right now he is just going to school and drilling with the National Guard. The wedding is small enough that I have the money for it now, and our families have helped a lot.

The issue at hand is that FH has a house, paid off, in Hometown, about an hour and half away. We could live there, 100% payment free. Only pay utilities and upkeep. Even with the added driving (he has class in Bigtown 1-2 days a week) we would be able to make some MAJOR headway on debt and savings. Like, $500 per month easily. There are two colleges with my major in that area, one walking distance from the house, the other about 30 mins away. Not only that, but family in the area would mean that I wouldn't have to pay $100 per week for after school care for DD.

Now, you all are wondering why I am not packing, right? Here are the downs. The house is very very small. Like about half the size that would be ideal. We could make it work; one kid in each bedroom, and FH and I could block off the living room as our bedroom. The dining room would then become the combo living/dining room. The kitchen is so small that only one of us would be able to use it at a time. One bathroom for the four of us. There is a very large garage for storage and the cars, which would be nice in the winter. The basement is unfinished (and not finish-able...already thought of that) and has the laundry room (no laundromat!!) There is no room to add on. We would just have to make it work as is.

Also, two years ago I packed up the kids and moved them to Bigtown from another state. They adapted well, and I am sure they would be able to adapt again, but I moved 27 time by the time I was out of high school, and I hate making them move.

Honestly, I am warming up to the idea of moving more and more all the time. It would be really nice to live way within my means, instead of always being just on the verge of financial ruin. It would take a lot of stress off of me during the whole school thing. And it wouldn't be forever; by the time he gets a job after graduation we should be able to start looking for a house and have a big down payment. But it's a really REALLY small house.

Any ideas? Any gut feelings? Any insight? Anyone ever live in half as much house as they need?
post #2 of 9
Thread Starter 
I should mention...the kids are lukewarm on the idea. Not super against it, and they can see definate ups to it, but, of course, worried about going to a new school and making new friends.
post #3 of 9
How long would you have to live in the house? A year, I'd say go for it. You can do anything for a year! Two years and I'd say everyone involved needs to be on board and willing to make the necessary compromises to make it work. Three years and I'd say maybe not.


Is there a reason that house can't be sold now?--even if you have to take less for it than would be ideal due to the market, couldn't that money be used for a down payment now? I mean, $20,000 is a great down payment...now, I have no idea where you are located and if $20,000 is a 20% downpayment on a modest 3 bedroom starter home or if $20,000 is a laughable sum...but I also figure you'd get more than $20,000 for the home...just something else to consider.

What does your fh and dc think about it? Oh, wait, I think you said you hadn't spoken in detail about it yet...sorry.

Jenne
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Great questions, sorry I left some stuff out. The house belonged to my FH's father. When FH bought it he agreed that he would not sell it to anyone outside the family. At least, not in FFIL's lifetime. Right now, nobody wants it but us.

We looked at renting it, but it's a big job being a landlord when you live so far from the rental.

We would be there for something like 1 year to 18 months. Once FH gets his nursing degree it shouldn't take to long for us to find a bigger place.
post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Magpie30 View Post
Great questions, sorry I left some stuff out. The house belonged to my FH's father. When FH bought it he agreed that he would not sell it to anyone outside the family. At least, not in FFIL's lifetime. Right now, nobody wants it but us.

We looked at renting it, but it's a big job being a landlord when you live so far from the rental.

We would be there for something like 1 year to 18 months. Once FH gets his nursing degree it shouldn't take to long for us to find a bigger place.
That is a huge red flag. I ran from a family like that and never looked back. I *still* have a family member who is trying to control the decisions that everyone makes and honestly that way of thinking just does not work for me.

IDK if I would move or not, It sounds like your kids are in public school so that is alot of transferring for a year or 2. Downsizing to upsize again. (one kid during high school and possibly looking at scholarship requirements). I dont know if you are dealing with an Ex and visitiation as well?

Do you know what the bills and upkeep on the 'free rent' house will be? You quoted the rent on your other thread. One thing I've learned over the years is things that appear to be cheaper in the beginning tend to cost me $$ over the long run. (unhappy teens can be one of those things)
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
When FH got home from Iraq he did a ton of work on the house. New roof, new siding, new windows, new water heater, furnace, bathroom redone, floors redone etc. So upkeep will not be high. He lived in the house himself until January. FH's father is something of a hoarder, esp. with property. If we wanted to, we could sell the house back to him, but we don't really want to do that; the future possibility of rental income is nice. FFIL does not try to control anything, really. He just didn't want to give up this house. I think his intention is to sell us his (huge) house and retire to the small house. We are cool with that idea.

DD has decided that she is excited about the (possible) move. She wants to go right now. DS is a little more lukewarm, but said that he understands that our living expenses right now are unsustainable. There is no chance of getting him a car, no chance of us paying for college as it stands right now. He says he would miss people in Bigtown but that it "might be for the greater good". (We had a huge family meeting about it all last night)
post #7 of 9
Cars do just fine outside, even in winter, even where it's cold. Turn the garage into a play room (otherwise you will go crazy inside, when it's cold or rainy) and move. Good luck!
post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by zebra15 View Post
That is a huge red flag. I ran from a family like that and never looked back. I *still* have a family member who is trying to control the decisions that everyone makes and honestly that way of thinking just does not work for me.

IDK if I would move or not, It sounds like your kids are in public school so that is alot of transferring for a year or 2. Downsizing to upsize again. (one kid during high school and possibly looking at scholarship requirements). I dont know if you are dealing with an Ex and visitiation as well?

Do you know what the bills and upkeep on the 'free rent' house will be? You quoted the rent on your other thread. One thing I've learned over the years is things that appear to be cheaper in the beginning tend to cost me $$ over the long run. (unhappy teens can be one of those things)

That would not necessarily be a red flag to me... We have a place like that in my family. Its a very sentimental place. My gf/gm were career AirForce (well my gf... my gm just had the FT job of being a mother and officers wife...) so when he retired, the never moved again. That farm will stay with the family through my generation at least...perhaps my kids too. We all know that. It simply will not leave the family. Perhaps its a similar deal.

OP, I think it is a fantastic idea. With a little creativity (which it sounds like you are already working on) you can definitely make it work. There is even a thread somehwere around here for families that live in tiiiiiiny spaces (smaller than it sounds like you are talking). I bet they would have some fantastic ideas for how to maximize the use of your space. I know that when I lived in a smaller space, it inspired me to get out and be in my community more too...
post #9 of 9
How long until your debt is paid off and you are able to have some savings? I am a huge fan of having debt paid off and you can always add on to the house/finish the basement (is it that it can't be done or that it can't be done cheap and easy? ) and what about finishing the garage into an extra room? Cars do fine outside. It kinda sucks but it would add a lot of extra room.

As for the bathroom...you will adjust. We have four girls and one bathroom. If I get remarried you can add another adult. It would still be fine.
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