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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was in Portland recently, and I liked it so much, I checked out the housing market. Ouch. However, there seemed to be no shortage of SAHMs, because wherever DS and I went (zoo, children's museum, etc), there were plenty of kids with their mothers. I know that many US housing markets are considerably more expensive than the one we're in. I'm fairly sure that DH makes more than many people do (not bragging, just saying), yet I really don't think we'd qualify for a mortgage in some of these more expensive markets! Do they have different qualifications there? Does everyone take out 40 year mortgages? I know we could be more frugal, but being house poor does not sound like a fun proposition.
 

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I also live in a high COL area, and there are tons of SAHMs around. At least around here, most people don't do 40-year loans--30 or 15 are more common. But, I've read that over the past few years, the number of interest-only loans has gone up a lot here. (Actually, it's starting to go down again I heard as people switch to fixed rate.)<br><br>
I think some of the big differences are that in a high COL area, salaries also tend to be a bit higher, and people tend to spend a bigger percentage of their income on housing. The bigger salaries can make a big difference--if you make $15,000 more per year in your job by living in this area, that's an extra $1000 per month for the mortgage, which makes a pretty big difference.<br><br>
I do boggle sometimes, though, at the number of people who seem to have so much. My DH makes a good salary, but our house is pretty modest compared to a lot of people we know because we like to save some. It seems like everyone here remodels all the time, and most of the people we know have granite countertops and the like. I always imagine that some of the people I see really have lots of money and some have lots of debt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The median house price here (3+ BR, 1.5+BA) is about $125K, with our particular zip code (generally nicer areas) being about $145K. In the Portland Metro area, those same parameters bring up a median of $420K. I assume that anything under $200K is crap or in a questionable neighborhood. Also, most of the lots are much smaller. So to get anything remotely comparable there, we'd need a lot bigger income increase than $15K/yr.
 

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Yes -- the cost-of-living here is very high (to give you some idea, the median price for a single-family home or townhouse in this area is over $400,000 right now).<br><br>
We couldn't possibly afford to buy a house here now on one salary -- we bought our house nine years ago, before the prices really shot up.<br><br>
But we do enjoy living here!
 

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We considered moving to Phoenix last year. Until we looked at housing. If we wanted to buy (which is what we wanted because I can't imagine living in an apartment with my toddler and renting a house was beyond our means) I'd have to get a job. Or dh would have had to make a HECK of a lot more than they were offering. As a result, we didn't move. It was better for us just to stay here (which we love, most of the time) where I can SAH and although we struggle, it's not so bad.
 

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I live in the Seattle area and agree with everything rainyday said. Also, it's exactly because the housing market is so insane that so many people I meet have huge gorgeous homes and still SAH. They stretched and scrimped or had had help from family to get into the market 5-10 years ago while they were a double-income-no-kids family. Then the value of their house doubled. So they traded up, etc. Pair that with low interest rates, creative-financing and sometimes a fair amount of consumer debt and that expains a lot.<br><br>
Salaries are higher here than in some areas, but I don't believe they are *that* much higher proportionally. People also just pay a higher percentage for their house payments here. We bought our first home without doing our research on the location and it didn't go up in value as much as houses in other areas. So we didn't make that much money of off it when we sold this past summer. As a result we now have a modest 3 bedroom house in a nice neighborhood/school district in the 'burbs and our monthly payment is $3200. Luckily both our cars are paid off! And we just live simply and will not be remodeling anytime soon. That's kind of a relief actually because we have small children and I don't have to worry as much about them ruining anything.<br><br>
I feel for anyone who is trying to get into the housing market here now. It would be really hard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>bethy</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/6501730"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">As a result we now have a modest 3 bedroom house in a nice neighborhood/school district in the 'burbs and our monthly payment is $3200.</div>
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<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/jaw.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="dropjaw"><br><br>
It all boggles my mind.<br><br>
I wonder what is going to happen in these housing markets. Didn't southern CA have a big crash after something similar?<br><br>
Ah well, we have at least five years until we leave this area, so maybe things will be different then. LOL
 

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Wow! I thought it was bad here, we pay $950 rent a month for a two br apt 'cuz everything else is so much more expensive. But $3200 a month! Aaack. Here median houses are about $350,000, which we could never afford but things are looking to crash, too. It's terrible for so many people since jobs are scarce and rent is high so there are more "homeless" people, people who can work but can't afford to pay for a room.<br>
We were thinking of this the other day... we know a couple who has two brand new cars, a two bedroom house with a garage and yard, plasma TV, baby, etc. It's so easy to think it must be nice to have all those things but on the other hand we know that they barely make bills each month, often times not paying one bill in favor of a more important one, and we realized that they don't really own anything. The banks own all their stuff. We don't have any car payments, we have $1500 in CC debt, and even though we would like to have our own house at least we don't have the ongoing stress that this couple does. We pay for everything with cash/debit card and while I would like to save more money it is literally paycheck to paycheck for us. So it can be deceiving to see some with all these nice things, they must have a lot of money, right? I think a lot of times they are struggling to make ends meet but still keep up with the Joneses.<br><br>
Andi
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>bethy</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/6501730"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">As a result we now have a modest 3 bedroom house in a nice neighborhood/school district in the 'burbs and our monthly payment is $3200.</div>
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Yikes! Now that would be the kind of house payment we couldn't possibly afford on one income, even though my husband has a good job.<br><br>
Though I suppose that if I had to buy my house today, that's about what the payment would wind up being (assuming a 30 year mortgage, and including the cost of taxes and insurance).
 

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$3200 per month is for about a $480,000 loan at 6.7-ish(?) percent. It's for a much lower risk loan than a 1 yr ARM interest-only type loan, but I dont' recall the exact details. Our property taxes actually aren't included in that - we pay them seperately twice per year. They are going to be about $6,000 per year.<br><br>
Our house cost more than the median value around here - which I think is around $450,000 as well. DH does have a better-than-average commute for the Seattle area and the schools and parks are really, really good (hence the high taxes). Also, though our house is 1800 sq ft and was built in 1984, we do have 1/3 of an acre and live on a cul-de-sac. There are beaches within walking and biking distance. So that's why such a small, older house cost so much. Actually, the prices here aren't cooling as much as in other areas. Based on recent sales in our neighborhood our agent estimates that we could sell our house for $40,000 more than what we bought it for in July. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/dizzy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Dizzy">:<br><br>
Honestly, even though Seattle is a beautiful area which offeres a diverse and fabulous lifestyle for families we wouldn't live here if it weren't for the fact that our extended families do. It's worth it to us to give up lots of things to be near them (and to put up with the rain and traffic). Also DH enjoys his job and that helps, too.<br><br>
Being forced to live a simple life hasn't been so bad either. We've learned a lot about ourselves and what we truly do and don't need in life.
 

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I live in NoVA (not far from Tacoma Park) - we moved here in June 2003. In our neighborhood, the families who moved in 6+ years ago often have a SAHM. The more recent families all have part or full time WOHMs because the cost of houses has tripled. Yes, tripled. A house purchased for $200K in 1996 now costs over $650K.<br><br>
It is astonishing.<br><br>
Siobhan
 

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We chose to live 35 miles away from where DH's work is at for this reason. DH makes very good money, we could afford to buy a house in that town where the median home price is $436,000 but we don't want to owe that. We bought in another county before home prices increased, and only have a mortgage of a thousand a month. It is a trade off though, we go back and forth, the time that it takes DH to commute could be spent at home if we were to move, but having a mortgage of 4 thousand or so a month scares me.
 

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I live in Portland, and I don't feel COL is that hi... and we're in a lower "echelon" in terms of economic status. Great big 3 bedroom, 2 bath duplex, nice hood, nice yard, etc, $825, and we have FIOS and Satellite included...
 

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Amy, I think the trade off is well worth it if your DH works fairly reasonable hours and still gets to see the kids before they go to bed at night. To me a mere $1000 per month mortgage would be totally worth the commute then. Plus the equity you build up in your current house will provide some nice financial security.<br><br>
My DH's commute is about 15-20 minutes in no traffic. Closer to 30-35 minutes in rush hour. That's almost the best you can get around here for commuting into the city but for a few pocket neighborhoods (like West Seattle.) We just have too many waterways and bridges around here. If he wanted to walk to work we'd have to buy a one bedroom condo in a high-rise.<br><br>
Also, because of our geography with the limited land between the mountains and the water, our housing prices are supposedly going to stay steady and/or steadily rise. In Portland there's a lot more building and a lot more room for sprawl so PrennaMomma, what you are prediciting could very well be right on.
 

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I've lived and been a SAHM mom in two high COL areas - Fairfield county, CT and the Seattle area. We just moved from the Seattle area to Greensboro, NC and will be buying a much nicer home than the small 1600 sq ft one we sold in WA. We make sure to always buy a home we have to stretch a little bit for (with the assumption dh's salary will grow over the years) as opposed to getting in over our heads. I'm amazed at how much the bank is willing to lend! I can see how a lot of people buy too much because it can be tempting.
 

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Bethy, I read where housing prices in the Seattle area are supposed to increase 59% over the next 10 years, the highest of any area. I think I read the article on MSN just last week!
 

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We also live in Seattle and there is NO way we could afford to buy a house until something pretty drastic happens with our financial situation. Even me going back to work (pretending here that the money I made wouldn't 100% have to go to childcare) it wouldn't even help.<br><br>
I don't think the people who live here make enough more to even out the higher COL. I just keep thinking that if we had the same income and lived somewhere else where COL was cheaper we could have the "American Dream". Alas, we love it here. Don't ever want to leave, but we're sacrificing alot to be here.
 

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I live in Hawaii. Doesn't get a lot higher COL than here. We live in military housing. We thought about buying when we got back here 2.5 years ago (we'll be here until 2011) but we just can't afford it. We could swing a mortgage on a decent house, but taxes, water, sewage, electricity, insurance would kill us. I work part-time as a freelance writer (all from home) and if I had stead work we'd probably look into it again, but no way could we get what we have now (4 bedrooms, fenced in yard, playground and basketball court in the backyard) if we bought. We'd end up in a tiny townhouse somewhere very inconveinent.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>zannster</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/6501932"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/jaw.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="dropjaw"><br><br>
It all boggles my mind.<br><br>
I wonder what is going to happen in these housing markets. Didn't southern CA have a big crash after something similar?<br></div>
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I keep hoping for another. Then DP and I could maybe afford a house if it drops below half a mil. The same house you described in Portland for 420 would go for 600 in a nice area here.
 
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