Monday, September 17

Hold still!

Some people go their whole lives only having lived in a few places. Lisa's grandparents come to mind as an example of this. They lived in Los Gatos almost their whole lives... the last 50 years of her grandfather's life was in the same house. That is a long time. As Lisa and I have moved seven times in the last seven years of marriage the concept of being in one place for 50 years just blows my mind.

As you are aware Lisa and have been doing a lot of thinking and praying about what would be the best option for us in regards to housing as well as the best city to live in as well.

The first choice we decided, that would make some of the other choices easier, was whether to stay in Houston or to pursue life in Colorado Springs. We came back to something we felt God had led us to a little over a year ago when we were looking to move again and that was we were going to stay in Houston until the cancer was dealt with. As the cancer has not been "dealt with" we decided that Houston was the place to stay.

Now that we had chosen our city, it was time to figure out what or how we were going to live in it. I looked over our end of lease notice which told us our rent was going up over ten percent this next year. The next question we asked ourselves was, would it be cheaper, and a better use of our money, to buy a place here in the medical district? Looking directly at prices (80-120k) it looked like we could save over 60k in the next three years if we bought. This sounded great, even if we saved HALF of the money we were spending on our mortgage we would be sitting pretty safe financially. We decided to do a bit of a feasibility study this past Friday and Saturday to determine several things:
1. If there were places in our price range that we liked,
2. If we could find a place we both liked, and
3. what other costs are associated with owning in this area?

Friday I went out and saw five or six condos/townhomes and was insanely tired at the end of it. Saturday Lisa and I went out again and saw four condo/townhomes. It was while I was out and about some of the other costs of owning in this area started to raise their ugly heads. First was property tax. Texas, as a rule, seems to really like taxing the property. The tax rate in Houston is something like two and a half percent. In Colorado it was something like one percent or less. Taxes we were looking at an additional 2500 a year. Which is an additional couple hundred a month added to the monthly total. Then as I was looking at places the monthly "maintenance fees" (IE: HOA dues) for these places started to come out as well: 350 to 500 dollars a month in HOA dues. We were shocked.

But still, even with an added 700 dollars to the monthly mortgage it would still be cheaper to own every month. (by several hundred dollars) So out we went on Saturday to poke around some more. Lisa found one she really liked, and I found some I liked. She didn't like my choice and I didn't like her choice. When one of us could concede one place to another we started looking at what we would need to do to get the townhouse/condo up to something that both of us would consider liveable, and we were looking at six to fifteen thousand dollars to make them places we both wouldn't have any issues with. 

I grabbed all the numbers and plugged them into a rent vs buy calculator and at the end of three years at this point "buying" was 20k savings. We figured the an average of 10k (I've been told improvements always seem to cost more) for repairs/ fixing and another 5k in moving costs/ lost wages because we didn't get to work during that time and we were looking at it being a wash for the next three years. Granted if we were trying to settle here in Houston for the next 10, 15, or 20 plus years buying would make a lot of sense. It might not save money right out of the gate, but after a few years we'd really start to see the savings.

At the moment, however, we are not trying to settle in Houston, we are trying to solve a problem. We have signed for another year here at our apartment, so we won't be moving this fall (as Lisa pointed out this is the first fall in three years where something hasn't happened: last two we moved and the one before that I was re-diagnosed and started chemo again.) and we get to enjoy the season a bit. We are both comfortable with this choice and I personally am curious what God will bring our way after the things that turned out the way they did.

We did all sorts of work to discover that we need to stay where we are, doing what we are doing. I was expecting change and ended up with a "hold still!" request instead.

Thanks for the continued prayers and support. I continue to be worn out and lacking motivation with these drugs. This past weekend a side-pain has kicked up as well and I will hopefully be getting that looked at this week. Thanks again.

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