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Moving & Assumptions

February 9th, 2012 at 06:46 am

*Assumptions* are the enemy of doing better with less.

This next part will bore anyone who has read my blog any length of time, but there are always new people coming through so figured I'd share. MyMoneyblog was asking for moving stories, and this is my comment:

We moved from Bay Area to Sacramento simply for lower housing costs. Income was the same for me though my spouse has never found a job here. Life is still infinitely easier here – we traded a small condo in a crappy part of town for a luxury home in the best part of town – the costs are similar all around (same mortgage, same property taxes, but lower utilities since home is new and energy efficient – even if it is BIGGER!). So, we basically work half as much for twice as much (what I always say).

When we moved I Wasn’t exactly happy about it but it didn’t take long to *not miss the Bay Area at all.* We both grew up there and it is a wonderful place to live, but it is ridiculously crowded and expensive. So after about 5 minutes I didn’t miss it any more. If I could move back, I wouldn’t. I think I enjoy feeling so central – closer to Tahoe, just as close to LA, SF is just a wee bit farther. Plus, more time to enjoy all of it anyway.

We talked seriously about moving up north to WA a few years after this move. IT was such a positive move (so why not do it again?) and we could have sold our house for a $400k profit at that point. I am so glad we did not do so – since then both us and our parents have had health problems since. This was the *perfect* move in we still live in a great locale, still have GREAT weather, and still are VERY close to our family – kids are growing up with their cousins, etc. We spend a lot of weekend driving to and fro (1oo miles away), but sure beats a mortgage double or triple what we have now.

One thing for others on the fence: Most our friends and family think we are crazy and constantly tell us “They live in the best place in the world.” Yes, I thought so too when I lived there. From the outside looking in, it’s hard to see what is so great about it. For one, we have more time to drive down and simply enjoy all the Bay Area has to offer on the weekend. IT’s not like we are *that far away.* Most our friends and families have giant mortgages, work like crazy, and have no time to enjoy it anyway. So I really don’t *get* it. It’s just very different to get outside of that head space and to get an entirely different perspective. I was in the same head space, for the most part, but could not imagine paying those rents or mortgages for the rest of my life – we found it depressing enough to seek out other options.

For reference, I don't think all my friends and family should move here. Not at all. But the assumptions people constantly are throwing out at us, about what it must be like to move, are ridiculous. The fact that most of them would never consider living anywhere else, though they are really struggling financially, just seems silly to me. They are drowning in assumptions. & it is costing these people a small fortune in the long run. OF course, if they told me being close to their family was the most important, I could at least respect that. There is more to life than money. But it's usually, "This is the best place in the world to live." Okay, but how would you know? How are you even enjoying it with those 2 jobs apiece just to pay the mortgage?

Granted, I am sure I harbor plenty of assumptions - don't we all?? BUT, I think overall this is a huge strength for dh and I - that we hold onto far less assumptions than average. Whenever we approach anything financially, we never generally have too many preconceived notions about where we will get our best value. We look at our options, see what is out there, and go from there. Which means we have rarely ever taken the well beaten path to get anywhere financially.

Our HOUSE is a perfect example. We bought a home brand new construction. People off the bat always assume that is the more expensive way to go, and over the years people have ALWAYS assumed we paid far more for our house than we did. Which means I have several friends who paid more for modest/OLD fixer uppers that are half the size. Over the years they will tell me how they just aren't into the bling that we apparently are. & I just have to laugh! The truth is most people I know will pay more for an older neighborhood (more land and charm). Which is a fine decision. Nothing wrong with a bigger yard or a more established neighborhood. BUT, I always find some of those blingy comments ironic. Are you kidding me? We went with the *cheapest* thing we could find! The best value, anyway... An old neighborhood and big yard sounds nice to me too, but I just couldn't justify the expense. I think there are a LOT of people out there who never even looked at a new house because they just assumed it would be too expensive. Why did we look at new houses in the first place? A friend was looking at told me about these homes. So, it pays to keep your ears open? Would we have looked at new homes otherwise? Maybe not? I really don't know.

I suppose homes and moving come to mind because this is where we have saved the BIG $$$ over the years. But when it comes to everything, we always seem to find some great deal that most everyone else overlooked. It's always kind of right in front of our face. When we bought our first home in the Bay Area, for example, we found a home that was simply *too good to be true.* We almost walked away like everyone else. In a market where homes were selling in 5 minutes and bid up to oblivion we found a beautiful condo that had say on the market for *6 months* Which of course was a HUGE red flag. But we investigated further. You know what the problem was? The selling realtor was TERRIBLE! AWFUL! Who can't sell a home like that in 6 months? Good Lord! (Turns out they had paid the realtor pennies compared to the norm and REALLY got what they paid for - he was MIA for the whole process - but our excellent realtor was willing to get the sale through, even doing the other guy's job. Why not? We got everything we asked for). Once we figured it out, we felt very comfortable making an offer - no competition. For reference, it took us 5 minutes to sell the place when *we* were ready to. We looked for homes on 2-3 occasions since then - we always would stumble on GREAT homes that were being overlooked by everyone else. The signs of "terrible selling realtor" would always emerge. We were looking at a home that had been upgraded to the HILT, but for whatever reason it wasn't being advertised for what it was. The homeowner had given us a tour and mentioned about 100 things that should have been advertised on the MLS, but weren't. The tour sealed the deal and we put in an offer. Here was this gold mine not being properly advertised. I don't know why we always stumble onto these properties every time we are house hunting.

Homes are the biggie, of course. Education is another BIG one. One of the most respected business programs around was my alma mater - a public university that was dirt cheap when I attended. When we bought our home, long before having kids, people would wrinkle their nose at our school district. Seriously? #1 - I didn't have kids, #2 - we live in a GIANT metro area with hundreds of excellent public options, and #3 - was a new/wealthy community. I wasn't worried about it. Fast forward 10 years and our kids attend one of the best public schools in the city - I couldn't have bought them a better education if I tried. It's a public charter school about 3 blocks from our house. This is certainly even better than I expected or planned, but I still get stupid comments about our school district. Rolleyes

Of course, this applies to all things big and little, but you see how you can really cut the BIG/HUGE expenses with a little *outside the box* thinking. I think I am personally hard wired to believe that what everyone else is doing is probably not the best (because I have seen those common assumpions play out over and over and over and so often be wrong). So personally, I am surprised when something very normal and easily assumed does work out to be better. It happens sometimes though, and so I try to approach *everything* with an open mind.

6 Responses to “Moving & Assumptions”

  1. EarlyRetirementJoy Says:

    Monkey Momma - soooo intrigued by your comments on life in the Sacramento area after having been a decades long San Fran baby! We live in S. California and though we really do love it, we've been tinkering for quite awhile with the idea of moving somewhere near the Lake Tahoe foothills - either on the CA or NV sides. The reason for doing so would be the ability to swap houses and bank a good chunk of our current equity, our ongoing love affair with RVing and hiking in the mountains, and the ability to enjoy exploring N. CA and the Pacific NW for the second half of our lives.

    This summer we will be RV'ing near Sonoma, and we plan to drive over toward Sacramento one day in order to do some recreational house hunting. I'm now more intrigued than ever to do so!

  2. MonkeyMama Says:

    Glad this was timely for you ERJ!

    Housing is CHEAP right now here and there is endless amount of exploring to do to the east and the north, for sure! I think Sacramento is the best value in California (as far as great central location, but the prices are just so cheap for what it is). Well, at least in Northern California. You can live a lot further out from the big cities and pay a lot more. It's kind of interesting because everything closer to the Bay is more expensive, and so is everything closer to the Sierras. So it's like the metro hub is this little cheap/affordable oasis, but you get the big city and are so central. IT's very unique. OF course, the JOBS are here too. There may be a better place for someone retired. Wink

  3. EarlyRetirementJoy Says:

    We'd likely be looking in the surrounding foothills, similar to what we are doing on the NV side. I'm aware the costs go up as you get closer to SF and Tahoe, so we'd have to figure out where our sweet spot is, price-wise.

    Still, the looking will be fun!

  4. Amber Says:

    Great post, I would like to move some where that is less expensive than the area that I'm currently in, but to be honest with you I'm scared.

  5. MonkeyMama Says:

    Yes, a big move is scary. I think it was relatively easy on us because we were so young at the time. Plus, I was married so it wasn't like I moved all by myself. It did take a while to build up friends/support system here. That said, so many people were making the move, so I think was where we got the idea in the first place, and have always knows several people in the area. To move anywhere else would probably be a lot more scary! (We were willing to make the move because we were very familiar with the area, too. & had people we could talk to about their firsthand experience. We have some family here, too).

  6. Jerry Says:

    These are fascinating elements in this thread. I am thinking about a lot of them as I try to decide whether to return to the US for my specialty training, when I have a good shot at offers in other (very desirable) parts of the world. Lifestyle and money are a big consideration, but so is the type of work week, and the education for my daughters. For an example, one of my possible options in the US is in a state with some of the worst schools in the nation, so while there are other positive elements it just doesn't lead me to get that excited about living there for 3-5 years. I think I'd rather have some insurance of good schools and a work week that doesn't keep me away from my family for the next several years of my kids' young lives. You raise great points to consider, MonkeyMama (not that it's any surprise!).

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