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Should we break our lease to rent this house?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I really need some opinions. I am so torn over what I should do in this situation, and I figure asking some 3rd party advice might help.

We are currently renting a very nice, 1 year old "luxury" apartment. It is a 2/2. Our rent is $855/mo
The apartment is nice - great appliances, salt water pool, BIG bathrooms. But, we have no outdoor space to call our own.

We went and looked at a 4/2 yesterday. The guy was asking $875/mo but came down to $800/mo.
It is on 5 acres that are mostly wooded, and it has a very large fenced in yard with lots of space to garden and play and have a clothes line - all things I would love to be able to do.

The house is clean and well maintained, but it is older. It has mostly hardwoods, but the master bedroom and the bedroom that would be my son's have tile, which is weird for a bedroom, to me. The bathrooms are clean, but tiny.

Its a lot more space than we have now, obviously, but it isn't as aesthetically pleasing as the apartment we are in. It does have a lot of nice features, including a glassed in sun room and a balcony off the master bedroom.

I am posting this here because the financial aspect is what I am most stumped on.

To break our lease here we forfeit our $250 deposit and have to pay $855 to break the lease.

Its an $800 deposit to move into the house, which he is willing to split over 2-3 months.

To move into the house, we have to buy a washer and dryer (the apartment furnished those here).

We also have to pay someone to cut the grass, because I am too big and pregnant (over 100 degrees here every day) and my husband does not do yard work. Nor do we own a mower. After this summer is over, I can do the grass myself, but we need to plan to have it cut for the rest of this season. I have no idea how much this costs or how to find someone to do it.

The house seems very energy efficient, with a working attic fan and a gas fire place in addition to central heat and air. We will be going from coop power in the apartment, which is very expensive, to a cheaper state power option.

I don't foresee any additional costs from living there verses living here, its just the initial out poor.

We rented this apartment because my husband's job transferred him and after 3 months of looking we couldn't find a house for rent in a safe area for under $1200 a month. We live in a military town, and its very hard to find affordable, decent rentals.

Another consideration is this - when our lease at the apartment is up in April of 2012, if we don't immediately sign another 1 year lease our rent goes up to $1055/mo. So, we would have to find something in the month of April to avoid that, and if next year is like this year, that may be hard.

We are not ready to commit to buying in this area anytime soon, because we are hoping to go back home in a couple of years.

We have no debt, no credit cards and two paid for (older) cars. We have the funds to make this move if we choose to, but it would essentially wipe out our emergency fund.

The answer is just not obvious to me in this situation, and I feel like it should be. Anyone care to hit me over the head and say DUH - this is what you should do?

EDIT: We decided not to do it. We would love to have a yard, and more space, but it just felt like throwing away a large chunk of money, and we ultimately couldn't allow ourselves to do that. Instead, we are going to continue to save like crazy and hopefully be able to find that perfect place come April when our lease is up. Thank you all for discussing this with me - a lot of points were brought up that helped me to make my decision, and I was given a lot of food for thought. MUCH appreciated!

Edited by L J - 7/2/11 at 10:22pm
post #2 of 23

To give better advice, I'd want to know......Why exactly do you want to move now, instead of just waiting until your lease expires? (I would definitely move then, because of the increase in rent combined with the no yard thing!)


The question is basically this: is moving now instead of 10 months from now (April 2012) worth $1100 to you (deposit plus 855 penalty) plus the cost of lawncare for 10 months (so say that is....another 1000-2000 over 10 months?). So worst case scenario, this could be a $3000 decision. If your income is pretty high and pretty comfortable for you, you might say, "that's worth it to me, to have the yard and more space." But if you live on a very tight budget, you may say, "I could do better things with that $2,000-3,000."


I would think that if you can find this deal now, you'll still be able to find it in April 2012 when your lease expires. So don't think that you need to take advantage of this $800/month place NOW. I honestly don't think the housing market is gonna get much better between now and then, with so many foreclosures that haven't happened yet that are "in the pipeline," etc. So it may not be the same house later on, but I think you'll find something similar. Don't hold me to that! But that is my guess.


Also, depending on how good the windows, etc are and if there is central A/C in the house, your electric bill to cool the house (and possibly heating in winter) may be a lot higher, going from a modern apartment to an older house. So I'd factor that in too. Just make sure you can afford the change. And moving can be expensive too, renting the van, etc. So if you had to put the move on a CC, that would make it even more expensive. Just be sure you can afford to move.


Hope that helps some. I would probably wait it out if it were me, because I'm thrifty and wouldn't want to pay the extra $. Maybe when your lease ends, you will be able to find a house where the owner would take care of the lawn for you. Or the 10 months gives you time to investigate how much lawncare would cost in your area (I'd check craigslist personally, but I dunno).

post #3 of 23

I too want to break my lease 


Is outdoor space something that's really, really crucial for you? FOR ME outdoor space is a must, I need my kids to be able to roam at least a little sothat alone would make me want to move. I would love to live on 5 acres for that price, holy crap! Is it really important to hire someone to do lawn stuff - is there a health issue your DH has or is he just refusing? 

post #4 of 23

Also, I have found Craigslist to be a good place to buy a washer/dryer used. And if you have to rent a moving van to move, try to buy the washer and dryer off Craigslist while you still have the moving van, because then you can pick up the washer/dryer from the old owner, if they can't deliver it (if the price is really good on the W/D, odds are the owner can't deliver it, and that's why it's cheap). That is what we did recently, moving into our apt with W/D hookups, and it saved us a lot of money.


If you rent a van, I think they will also rent you a dolly, which will help lift the W/D. You just need to start checking craigslist the day of the move or the day after the move.

post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
Bobcat - you made me think of something I hadn't thought of yet! - I couldn't find anything for 3 months when we were getting ready to move, but I wasn't familiar with this area. I found this house because I was on my way to the library and saw a sign. Maybe I will have an easier time finding something affordable and nice in April of next year since I now know the area?

The other reasons for moving now are - I feel like its probably easier to move while 7 months pregnant than it is with a baby. Also, it would be nice for my 4.5 year old to have a yard, especially after the baby is born. I know I won't be up for taking him to the park for long outings the first couple of months, but if we had a yard he could get plenty of outside time.

We wouldn't put anything on a CC if we were to move. Its a 3 mile move, so I would do the small things in my Jeep and then we would borrow a pickup truck from someone DH works with for our furniture. We don't have a lot of stuff, at all. (We would have lots and lots of empty space in this big house if we do rent it.) Our income isn't high, but we don't live paycheck to paycheck, either. I guess we are pretty firmly middle-middle class.
post #6 of 23

Also, the more this is sinking in......I'm realizing that 5 acres is a lot of lawn to take care of! So my question would be.....how is the owner currently mowing all that? Does he have a mower there? Can't you just say you'll pay the $875 the owner wants if they will take care of the lawn? Negotiate! Or if they are currently having someone else mow it, I'd ask for that person's number and call to see the price. It may be worth it to pay $950 directly to the owner, if the terms of the lease include lawncare. That may save you money in the long run. I would not buy a mower just for this move, because what if you hate the house and move out, then you are stuck with a mower you probably paid too much for? I'd think you would need a different kind of mower to do 5 acres vs. just to do a small yard in a subdivision.



post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
I just sold my washer and dryer on CL when we moved because we didn't want to store it and the apt came with a nicer set. Y'all better believe I feel silly! We own a dolly, so that's helpful.

mommariffic - My DH does have some health issues and that is his excuse for not doing yard work. He has had several back surgeries because of cancer and I know he does live with chronic pain. I think he could do it if he wanted to, and it would probably be good for him, but that's for another forum. eyesroll.gif
post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 
Only about 1/2 acre actually needs to be mowed. The rest is wooded, thank goodness. There is no way I would be up for mowing 5 acres! My parents have generously offered to give me a self propelled push mower.

I keep toying with the idea of just doing it myself (I'm pregnant, not broken, you know?) but I don't know if that is realistic. I feel healthy. Can y'all think of any reason I shouldn't mow the yard? I'm "high risk" but not on bedrest, no high BP, no issues so far this pregnancy.
post #9 of 23

I guess it would just come down to how much you want the yard then, and also how much lawncare will cost. It seems kind of crazy to me that the owner wants you to care for all that.


If you are considering breaking the lease anyways, you might as well "shop around" and start looking at all houses for rent in your area. Maybe you will be able to find something you like even more! Because to me, the biggest downside of this whole thing (since you have the money/ability to make the move) is the lawncare. I'd try to find a house with a yard, but maybe more like 1 acre. 5 acres is just so much, and I can't imagine a child needing the whole 5 acres. It almost sounds like more trouble than it's worth, if you could instead find a smaller yard that the owner will take care of.

post #10 of 23

Ohhh okay, about the 1/2 acre. Hmmmmmm. Well I still would shop around over the next few days, in case you find something better for the same price (again, check Craigslist! :)) or something you wouldn't have to mow at all. The one downside I can think of with mowing is the fumes from the diesel or gas for the mower, while pregnant. If you are actually breathing any of that in, I wouldn't be comfortable with that, but I am kind of paranoid. I would think if you are healthy enough, the exercise isn't an issue, just the fumes (disclaimer: I'm not a doctor!!!! So check to be sure). Also, you wouldn't want to be around a lot of yard chemicals, like pesticides. So don't go out there right after the lawn was sprayed with something, and I've also heard that after a rain, the fumes from the chemicals then rise up.


Other than that, it's sounding like maybe you should move. :) Just don't feel rushed. If you are gonna break the lease, you can do it whenever....so shop around!

post #11 of 23

I don't know what you 'should' do, since wiping out your emergency fund isn't ideal, but I think if I was in a similar position I'd take the house.

Hopefully you can find a nearby teen to mow the lawn for a reasonable price, or encourage dh to reconsider not doing yardwork (if possible.)  If you watch craigslist type sites you can often get mowers and washer/dryers for pretty cheap.  


edited:  oops, didn't see all the posts after the first one! 

post #12 of 23

I wouldn't move.    I can tell you that utilities on a house are generally much higher than utilities on a apt.   

How long is the lease on the house?  Whats to say the guy isn't going to raise the rent when its time to renew (similar to the apts?)

Have you done a title search on the property?  Are you sure the property is clean and not in danger of forclosure?



You want the house, you dont NEED the house.

post #13 of 23
Is the landlord going to take care of the house? It seems weird to me that he'd expect you to mow at all, around here the landlord takes care of the house AND property, unless they've otherwise negotiated some sort of exchange. If you also have to (financially & physically) take care of house repairs etc. that could be quite taxing on you.

If you have a gas mower, you'd need to keep your 4.5yo inside while you mow -- will that be possible? If so, and you feel up to it, I see no reason you can't mow it yourself, but you could also probably find a HS/college student who'd be willing to do it pretty cheap (since you'll already have the mower).

How long will your lease be in the new house? What if your lease is up in a year and the owner decides to sell the house (this happened to a family I know!) or otherwise needs you to leave? You'll end up needing to move with a baby around the same time your current lease would have expired, but you'll also be out ~$3000... So I would think of it in those terms, in other words, this place will actually be costing you $250/mo more than the rent itself for the first year, so $1050/mo... $200 more than your current place (plus possibly increased utilities etc. that come with a much bigger place!) Is it worth that much to you? Would you enjoy the new house enough to make it worth that, or would you rather use the $200 for something else -- say, to pay for someone to take your DS to a park a few times a week or whatever?

And will you miss the pool?
post #14 of 23

i would just figure out if the extra money is worth the piece of mind. i know the apartment living mindset was fine when dd was 18 mos but now that my kids are 4 and 2 we want out regardless of the cost!!

post #15 of 23

I'm not sure where people are getting their figures from.... 


Personally, I lived in small, awful apartments for 9 years before buying a house. We're talking bare bones, no luxury (though we did have space for our own washer and dryer-around here most people own and MOVE with their appliances, whether in a house or apartment, they rarely come with.) So I've been in the cooped up/cut off from nature living when I wanted so badly to have my own yard. And that's just for me, we don't have kids. ;) So all along, you have me yelling DO IT!!! lol.gif


BUT here's what I'd look into:


  • how much are heating/cooling costs for the house? You should be able to call the utility company or ask to see previous bills. 
  • I don't think it costs that much to have your lawn cut! Get the kid down the street to do it or something. It's not a BIG deal to cut grass. (I'm not saying it's not a big deal so you or your DH should do it, hire someone!)  I wouldn't let that stand in my way! Also, I don't think it's odd that the LL would ask you to mow the lawn. Around here, you rent a house, it's YOURS to take care of. If something big happens, yes, call the LL (broken toilet, etc) but otherwise it's up to you take care of it, cutting grass, snow removal etc. 
  • Are there any other expenses that may pop up? Something you haven't thought of? You say it's 3 miles from your current place so I guess there won't be an increase in commute or anything.
  • This move would wipe out your emergency fund. How quickly can you build it back up?
  • Will you be saving money with this move? Will you be staying home more, paying less for fun treats and trips? Are there other money saving perks  you'd be interested in like gardening? (maybe not this year but next year unless you went with something simple like a tomato plant or two)



Personally, I would do it just for the change of pace, lifestyle and to be settled in before the new baby comes. I can see you not wanting to go out much afterwards and the 4 year old bouncing off the walls in an apartment. A new house to explore and a yard where you can go sit outside with the baby will the 4 year old runs around sounds perfect. 


Good luck! 

post #16 of 23

As for people being suprised that the landlord would expect you to take care of the lawn; we have rented 3 houses during our 16 year marriage, and we ALWAYS had to take care of the yard. If things broke in the house, we called the landlord, but small repairs we did, as well as all yardwork.


If it were me, I would move in a heartbeat.

post #17 of 23
Originally Posted by mar123 View Post


If it were me, I would move in a heartbeat.



post #18 of 23

When I said it might be worth paying $950 for lawncare included, I was thinking of the costs of mowing 5 acres! Then when I realized it was a half acre, I changed my mind. :) That's a huge difference in space, 5 acres vs. 1/2 acre. I wouldn't have a clue what it costs to take care of 1/2 an acre or 5 acres, because I don't pay for lawncare (landlord does) but my previous estimates are now probably way too high after the OP's clarification.


I would think it would vary greatly area to area......you also may need to think about how watering the lawn would affect your water bills. I live in S. California, so everything is crazy expensive. People can spend tons of $$$$ just in the water bill to water a lawn, let alone mow it. I'd try to shop around for a landlord that takes care of the lawncare. But if she lives in AL, the costs may not be bad. It probably rains enough that your water bill isn't really impacted by running sprinklers, etc.


I'd check the gardener/lawncare section of craigslist (if such a thing exists) to get ideas for your area. It may just be $30-50 each time. Or hire a neighbor kid!!!!!!! That is probably the best bet.

post #19 of 23

I would move.  That is a small price to pay for breaking the lease and it sounds like you could end up paying just as much once your lease is up at this place.  It sounds like good houses are hard to come by.  I would snatch this one up.


I mowed our lawn while pregnant.  Piece of cake. I  can't think of any reason why you can't.  It doesn't have to look like better homes and gardens.  It just needs to be cut.  If it is already really hot it probably won't grow very much and may even turn brown all together. (let it)  What would your landlord expect for lawn care?  Ours wanted us to keep it within city ordinances but didn't care if we let it go to weed and never expected us to water it.   And since this house sounds like it is out of the burbs there shouldn't be any HOAs to worry about.    But ask around and find out what kid you need to call.  I have never rented a single family house where the landlord took care of any of the lawn care.  We were lucky if they cut back the trees every now and then.  And we lived in town.  Living in the country seems like it would fall even more on the renter to care for the grounds.


yep, your utilities are going to go up.  It is an old house and there is more room.  Worth it though.  


You can pick up used appliances fairly inexpensively.  Heck, you can pick up new one for reletively cheap as well.  A washer and dryer don't cost that much.  But definitely shop around before you commit.  



post #20 of 23

I'd move, too. True, you didn't know the area before, but three months is a long time to look for a rental. This one's available now, and I agree it would be easier to move while pg than w/the baby, having done both.


Also, I bet you can find a teenager who can mow 1/2 an acre for cheap.


Also, what do you have for flooring in your bathrooms, if you don't have tile? Just asking out of curiosity?

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