Big things are happening over here, people.
Basically, Chris and I decided that planning a wedding was too easy and inexpensive (hah!), so we decided to buy a house while we’re at it.
Um, scratch that. The truth is, our lease on our apartment is up in October, and we’re anticipating another rent increase. We’re already paying more than we’d like on rent, so another increase has us running for
the hills the suburbs.
Chris has been in Jersey City for five years, and I’ve been here for four. We’ve loved every single minute of it, and don’t really want to leave, but we do want some space and we want that space for less than half a million dollars, so we’re looking into other options.
The real trouble is that our commute right now is amazing. Chris works in Jersey City, and I’m just a 4 minute train ride and half mile walk from my office in downtown Manhattan. It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that, so anywhere we move will mean a longer, more expensive commute. We’re hoping the decrease in monthly housing expenses and having a driveway instead of paying to garage our car will offset the increased commutation costs.
We’ve just started looking, so there’s not a whole lot to discuss, but I will fill you in on what we’re looking for and what we’ve done so far.
Pretty much everyone has told us to keep our list of “non-negotiables” short in order to remain flexible and find a good house at a great price. So the only things we’re not willing to budge on are: proximity to a train station (less than a mile walk), two bedrooms, and the ability to walk to at least one restaurant. These are our big guns because Jersey City is so walkable and both of us anticipate working in or near the city for a long time. The two bedrooms is just because we’re sick of saying, “Is it in this room or the other room?” as we really only have two rooms in our apartment.
The other things that are important to us are:
- Safe neighborhoods
- Good schools
- Low taxes
We’re not sure we’re buying our “forever home” right now, but we do want a home in an area we can grow with, which is why safety and good schools are so important to us. Diversity is a biggie too, as neither of us wants to live in a town where everyone is exactly the same. We like mixing it up. We didn’t think about taxes until after we started looking at properties, but in New Jersey, the difference in counties can be the difference between hundreds of dollars a month in taxes and THOUSANDS. Seriously.
We’ve done a little looking on our own mostly using Trulia. It’s given us an idea of what where we can afford to buy. As far as deciding on a price we were comfortable with, we used a few mortgage calculators to find a home price (including taxes and insurance) that had us paying less than what we’re paying in rent each month and also talked about what we’re comfortable spending on a down payment. We both wanted to put down at least 20% so we basically extrapolated from that to figure out what the full price would be.
For example, if you wanted to put down 20% and had $20,000 saved, you could afford a mortgage (depending on your credit) for $80,000 and would be able to buy a $100,000 home.
We’re planning on working with a realtor and are in the process of securing one now. We just googled “real estate agents + town name” and went with someone who’s credentials we liked.
Our next big step was getting pre-qualified for a mortgage. It’s not a long process, but this post is running on, so I’ll discuss it more later.
Until then, wish us luck!