Why Not Live in My House?

Cecilia over at The Single Dollar asked a question that I’m not sure I’ve 100% answered yet:

I just wonder, if the house doesn’t sell quickly, if you might not consider moving back into it with your boyfriend? I know it’s small, but you guys only need one bedroom really, and it would presumably save you a lot of money (over renting the apartment) and hassle (over renting out the house and being landlords while also renters in the same town.)

Um… Well… You See… Well… Um…

In my mind, it all seems so simple: The two of us living in my house just wouldn’t work. But, as I start trying to explain, it becomes a lot more complex. We’ve actually discussed living in my house before. And, when Bryan brings up the idea, he always talks about it favorably. It would work out wonderfully! In theory. But in reality? Well, it’s complicated.

I don’t think us living in my house is a good decision. Part of my reasoning is financial: I’m not sure it would be the money-saving idea it initially seems to be. Part of it is emotional. And, part of it is just plain old stubbornness!

So, let’s start with the Financial Reasons:

Bryan doesn’t want to get rid of anything we own. Or, more precisely, he doesn’t want to get rid of anything he owns, and wants to keep all the big things I own, like my couch, which I could care less about. All my movies and books? Yeah, in his mind, those can all go. We both have a lot of stuff. No way it would ever fit in my house. His solution: Rent storage! Ugh! No!

I’m pretty sure that the monthly cost of renting storage for all of our excess stuff would more than eat up the difference between the mortgage/utilities at the house (~$600/month) and rent/utilities at the apartment (~$800/month). And, if it didn’t, there’s the issue of gas. Everything we do, from work, to friends, and everything in between, is on the opposite side of town. We’d be traveling 30+ minutes for everything. Daily. In traffic. In large, fuel consuming vehicles. Cha-ching!

Adding to the spending: If we stayed in the house, he’d want to add-on, and keep upgrading. The market in the neighborhood won’t sustain that. And he has the expectation that you should be able to get back everything you put into a house, and then some, when you sell. I’ve already put about $30,000 into the house since buying it. I worry about even being able to sell it for what I paid, let alone tens of thousands of dollars more! It’s a lot easier my taking the loss, than dealing with his expectations once it becomes “our” loss.

On top of that, we disagree about various aspects of selling. Price is definitely one. But he also keeps talking about selling the house on contract. I keep explaining that this isn’t the 1980’s. I’m not even sure if I could sell the house on contract, with still having a mortgage. And, me being the “worst case scenario” kind of person I am, selling a house on contract would stress me out way too much. It’s like the house sale that drags on. For years! There’s just too much that could go wrong. I feel like the sales process will be easier while he still has the perspective that it’s my house, and my decision.

The “Not So Financial” Reasons:

With his job situation being what it is, he’s talked a lot about moving to another state someday. Maybe as soon as we get everything settled (Sometime next year). Maybe in a couple of years. Maybe it won’t ever happen. Regardless, I feel like it’s better to get the house sorted out now, so we can take advantage of whatever opportunity may come our way in the future.

In another “maybe in the future” scenario, if we don’t leave the state, there’s a 50/50 chance we’ll end up buying the apartment some day. It’s something we’ve discussed with the current owner. No, it won’t be next year or anything like that. But, it’s a possibility. The “apartment” is actually a triplex, on about 4 acres of land. There’s a one bedroom unit, a two bedroom unit, and a three bedroom unit. Financially, it would be a solid investment. We like living here. We’re currently living in the 2 bedroom unit, but we’ve considered moving into the 3 bedroom when it becomes available. I can also see having a 1 bedroom, ground floor unit coming in handy some day in the very, very distant future. I could see it being a good idea long-term. Again, it’s just an idea. But, something to consider.

The “wanna be minimalist” in me says that we really could down-grade into a one bedroom place. But then, we run into issues, like two weekends ago, when we thought his oldest son would be coming to stay with us for a while. It’s happened before, and, given how not so great things have been going on that front, I can see that happening again. The two of us don’t *need* a two bedroom unit. But the reality is, I don’t see his son’s situation improving anytime in the near future. I definitely think his son needs to take more personal responsibility, and I’m definitely not on-board with supporting an adult child who should be supporting themself. But, his problems go beyond just that, and it isn’t fair to expect his mom to shoulder all of it on her own. At least for now, we need to be prepared for anything.

And Then, There’s The “Not So Logical” Reasons:

I feel terrible saying it, but, from an emotional standpoint, it’s MY house. We could move into it temporarily, but it would always be the idea that it wasn’t our “forever home”. I think I would be very territorial, wanting to protect my investment and the value of the home. We already bicker a lot when we’re over there trying to get it ready to sell. I feel like I’d spend every second saying “Don’t do this” or “Do it that way”. I’d end up making us both miserable!

Emotionally, I “moved on” from the house a long time ago. Years ago, I had a job move me halfway across the country. The job didn’t end up working out, and I was miserable. But I LOVED where I was living. Had it not been for the house, I would have stayed out there and found a new job. But it was incredibly unlikely I could have found a job that paid enough to support two homes. And the market in my area was down; I couldn’t have sold my house for what I owed. My only option was to move back home.

Ever since then, I’ve seen my house as something that is holding me back, keeping me from being able to take advantage of new opportunities. Granted, coming back home has worked well for me; I wouldn’t have met Bryan if I didn’t come home. And I’m close to my family here. But, I look at my house as a remnant of a “past life” that I’m way past ready to move on from. It’s time!

The final straw: As soon as we started staying with Bryan at the apartment, my dog decided she absolutely HATES my house. Like, throw a tantrum, can’t wait to leave type hate. Not that I would let the dog decide our living arrangement. But, why should all 3 of us be miserable?

Honestly, I think I’m being overly pessimistic about selling the house. I should be able to sell it just fine. It’s just a matter of feeling like it’s ready to list. I’m probably being overly cautious there as well; After all, I bought the house when it needed a TON of work, but I’m acting as though it needs to be near perfect before I can list it. At this point though, there isn’t much left to do. We’re in the final stretch!

So, there’s my way too complicated answer on why we won’t (likely) be moving in to my house. Selling the house is my #1 priority. If, for some reason, we can’t get it sold, then I’d reconsider using it as a rental. Some investors would say making it a rental is a great idea. Honestly, it would cash flow immediately. But as I’ve mentioned before, I’m a worst case scenario kind of girl. What if someone lived there a year, and did thousands of dollars worth of damage? A bad renter could easily eat up all the profit! But, if it came down to a choice between renting it out, and us living there, I think I’d still rent it. The possible risk of losing money on a bad renter is still outweighed by the known fact that we would sink too much money into it living there. And the hassle of renting is also better than being in a miserable living situation.

I guess it’s like most things in life: Part logic, part emotion, part stubbornness!

– Cindy W.

Comments

  1. Actually, all of that makes a lot of sense! I’m particularly sold on three points:

    (1) renting a storage unit is ALWAYS a bad idea. ALWAYS. Well, ok, I’ve done it — but it was when I was traveling for long periods of time, not to house overflow stuff that wouldn’t fit in my living space.

    (2) it’s really inconveniently located for where you spend most of your time.

    (3) it’s an emotional drag on you and has been for years.

    Great. Get it done! 🙂

    1. I definitely agree on renting storage. I can see using it as a temporary solution, like in-between moves. But otherwise, you end up paying more to store the stuff than the stuff is actually worth!

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