Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

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MindTheGAAP
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Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by MindTheGAAP » Thu Mar 23, 2017 10:31 am

All -

My wife and I have three (3) young daughters (4.5, 3, 6mos) and currently live in Allen ISD. We have been eyeing Lovejoy ISD which is about 2 miles east of us for a few reasons and I wanted to see if I could get the BH perspective on the matter. Both are good school districts with some distinct differences between the two:

Allen ISD Pros:
  • - Stay in current house (est. value $350-375k) which has sufficient bedrooms and could be a decent house for us with some remodeling. This will keep our fixed costs down b/c my income has increased significantly in the last 2.5-3 years since we bought the house
    - In-laws are literally across the street so are on-hand to assist with babysitting, our kids get to see them plenty etc. (my folks are still in the UK so see them a couple of times a year)
    - Allen ISD has a massive HS (~3k kids in a class) that comes with pluses and minuses but on the good side of that, it has some great vocational facilities and they're adding a specialty STEM building - some of this stuff is as good or better than numerous universities
    - Smaller pro but there's more diversity at Allen and it's less of a homogeneous pool of wealthy kids - the area that feeds to Lovejoy have >1 acre lots and is typically wealthier families
Lovejoy ISD Pros:
  • - Smaller class sizes (~475)
    - Greater chance of competing athletically - you basically have to be one of the best in the nation at a given endeavor to compete for Allen
    - Buying a property with acreage now would likely have a high floor in regard to value as Allen, McKinney, Murphy, Wylie, etc. all get built up.
    - Some different opportunities - coding classes, etc. that aren't currently typical in schools
    - Houses that feed into this school district are typically 50% higher than the same house that goes to Allen b/c of the school(s). We wouldn't be able to afford a great house in this school district right now but with it being smaller, we could move within the district and our kids wouldn't need to move schools which isn't the case with Allen (18 elementary schools, 3 middle schools).
    - We have always considered living on a little acreage (<6 acres) to give our girls some freedom in terms of space and to experience things like raising chickens, goats, etc. This is doable in Lovejoy ISD since typically no HOAs.
Any feedback would be welcome - our goal will be to not move house, unless needed for my job to where they'll need to change schools, once they start so they can have some stability in terms of their environment (wife moved a lot growing up and had to start fresh at many new schools) and majority of the kids they'd be in classes with. This means if we stay in our current place we'd remodel the kitchen and add a sunroom etc to make it more suited to how we'll use the space(s). Given our lower mortgage payment (unless we find a unicorn in Lovejoy), we'd likely have the financial freedom to do these things and travel with our girls more, etc. Any house would take into consideration us maxing out our 401(k)s (I consult through an S-Corp where my wife is also employed) on both the employee and employer side... and Roth IRAs.
Last edited by MindTheGAAP on Thu Mar 23, 2017 3:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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I_Am_Not_A_Doctor
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Re: Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by I_Am_Not_A_Doctor » Thu Mar 23, 2017 10:53 am

For what it's worth, I run similar questions in my head, but in Indy. But, it comes down to what you prioritize, of course. In my case, I'm attempting to prioritize the cash flow into post-"mandatory spending" accounts (the mandatory spending being "taxes", other payroll deductions, retirement accounts, emergency funds, and some taxable investment accounts).

A step-up to a home in the suburbs would take a serious chunk out of my post-mandatory accounts, not just now but for many years to come (years I can't get back to invest in ETFs, stocks, bonds, etc. at today's prices, in order to let the magic of compounding interest/gains work in my favor). So for now, I'm trying to stay put with the current home, with relatively-minor capital improvements. But I'd be more ready to leave, even at the loss of compounding, if I felt my family's safety was in jeopardy in the current neighborhood, for example.

And it sounds like the two school districts you're describing are largely the same except some of the peripherals. If it were me, I'd stay put and get the kids into coding in their free time at home, etc. And the kids may eventually cherish that their grandparents are so accessible from the current home; hard to put a price-tag on that. And, to me, I'd rather have the greater diversity including a larger swath up and down the socioeconomic scale around my kids, rather than just the kids from wealthier families (I'm finding that even the kids from rich families seek trouble but actually have access to finances to leverage-up on their bad behavior, while less-affluent kids don't have the same access).

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Re: Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by MindTheGAAP » Thu Mar 23, 2017 11:29 am

Thanks for the response. You're right, it isn't like we live in a rough neighbourhood - it is a typical middle-to-middle-upper suburban Dallas subdivision with all of the +ves and -ves that come with that. Cookie cutter homes, alley system that causes neighbours to not really know one another, etc. But is it unsafe? No. Is there anything "wrong" with it? Not out of the ordinary (what subdivisions/areas/cities don't have minor issues or flaws?)

I'm leaning towards us staying and adding a sunroom (would estimate it to be about $25k) which would give us a good family eating space off of the kitchen. We'd have more financial flexibility that way, too.
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Re: Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by RoadHouseFan » Thu Mar 23, 2017 11:51 am

It's a win win decision. Can't wrong with Texas!

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Re: Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by Levett » Thu Mar 23, 2017 11:56 am

Remodel and stay put--that's what I see within and between the lines.

It's such a pleasure to hear you take into account the needs and benefits for the entire family. :thumbsup

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Re: Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by Leemiller » Thu Mar 23, 2017 11:58 am

I'd move. The remodel will likely cost more than you think and take longer than they promise. I just had two bathroom remodels go over the promised timeframe by more than double. Really fun with a kid and a new baby....

Also, the other neighborhood will likely be a better long term investment. We are in a similar neighborhood and find it to be very culturally diverse, if not as socio-economically diverse. Then again, I don't mind that the norm here is having a graduate degree(s) / owning your own business etc.

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Re: Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by I_Am_Not_A_Doctor » Thu Mar 23, 2017 12:42 pm

Leemiller wrote:I'd move. The remodel will likely cost more than you think and take longer than they promise. I just had two bathroom remodels go over the promised timeframe by more than double. Really fun with a kid and a new baby....

Also, the other neighborhood will likely be a better long term investment. We are in a similar neighborhood and find it to be very culturally diverse, if not as socio-economically diverse. Then again, I don't mind that the norm here is having a graduate degree(s) / owning your own business etc.
Generally I'd agree that remodels will be costlier and longer than anticipated. But run the math (I did for us). I found that we'd come out ahead - WAY ahead - with a remodel even if it runs over. I had to figure what our bigger mortgage would be monthly, the bigger interest due on a larger mortgage, the more insurance required on a pricier home, the high cost of utilities to heat/cool/water/power the home, etc. If I remodel and stay, I'd save the difference from all of that and let the savings compound/gain yearly, starting from today's prices for ETFs, bonds, etc., rather than tying-up that cash flow for 15-30 years and then investing in the same type of investments but from a higher price (and less time to old age and thus disallowing the magic of compounding interest/gains for work me in that case).

But this is more than a pure math problem. To me, a home is indeed an asset, but not an investment (I'm not flipping my home because the market ramped over the past year, for example, but I might consider flipping a ETF in my IRA if it ramped). And emotions are involved, like those of you/your kids and access to grandparents. And you may need to consider if you really are trying to squeeze too much out of your current home (like adding rooms, square footage, etc... do the math but don't overspend to stay). And also consider that, for example, if your goal is more outdoor dining with the kids, then occasional or even frequent picnics or trips to state/national parks are a great option, and that doesn't cost a large fixed sum of money that could have otherwise been invested for other future goals.

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Re: Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by tainted-meat » Thu Mar 23, 2017 12:50 pm

If you like having your relatives next door to help then I would stay. Especially with 3 kids.

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Re: Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by Texanbybirth » Thu Mar 23, 2017 12:55 pm

Long time ago, I had family in Lucas when it was...very different from what it is now. You're going to find all kinds of houses with <6 acres in Lovejoy ISD. From what I've heard, it's a fantastic school district, and you'd be selling at a time when hoards of people are still trying to get into Allen. We have a good friend who is an elementary school teacher in LISD, and she raves about it. I think you still have a pretty good shot at finding cheaper sq ft out east, but that won't be the case in 5-10 years.

You're in a very good position, and I would advise you not to rush. Your girls are still young, though I can understand you getting anxious with your oldest about to start school. Being someone who also wants to own a few acres for my kids, I suggest you move. However, I would feel very differently if my parents (or my wife's parents) lived across the street.
Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow, | Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow. | None has ever caught him yet, for Tom, he is the master: | His songs are stronger songs, and his feet are faster.

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Re: Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Thu Mar 23, 2017 12:58 pm

I certainly like the "no HOA" choice and would probably be sold on that alone.

Bigger schools do not equate to better. Kids can get lost (not literally as in needing a GPS) in big schools and administration and support staff doesn't know when a kid is in a death spiral until it's too late. Our town has an A+ rated high school with 1500 kids in 4 grades. Nationally ranked. We pulled my son out and he's now in a much smaller private school where he is thriving.

Selling will cost you at least 6% and figure after offers come in lower than asking, more like 10%. So there's that.

Coding in schools isn't coding in real life, from the courses my kids have taken. (they have app development, coding, digital literacy and a host of other courses in our town's middle and high schools....none of which write even higher level language programs. Drag and drop visual basic at most. Sorry, but useless in my eyes)
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MindTheGAAP
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Re: Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by MindTheGAAP » Thu Mar 23, 2017 12:58 pm

Texanbybirth wrote:
You're in a very good position, and I would advise you not to rush. Your girls are still young, though I can understand you getting anxious with your oldest about to start school. Being someone who also wants to own a few acres for my kids, I suggest you move. However, I would feel very differently if my parents (or my wife's parents) lived across the street.
If my parents were the ones across the street we would be long gone!
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Re: Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by TxAg » Thu Mar 23, 2017 1:29 pm

As a DFW resident, I'd move if I were in your shoes.

I'd either want to be in Dallas proper or on a few acres outside of town. To me, Allen is the middle ground.

Bonus: Your kids will love growing up with a few "pets."

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Re: Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by MindTheGAAP » Thu Mar 23, 2017 1:31 pm

Jack FFR1846 wrote:I certainly like the "no HOA" choice and would probably be sold on that alone.

Bigger schools do not equate to better. Kids can get lost (not literally as in needing a GPS) in big schools and administration and support staff doesn't know when a kid is in a death spiral until it's too late. Our town has an A+ rated high school with 1500 kids in 4 grades. Nationally ranked. We pulled my son out and he's now in a much smaller private school where he is thriving.

Selling will cost you at least 6% and figure after offers come in lower than asking, more like 10%. So there's that.

Coding in schools isn't coding in real life, from the courses my kids have taken. (they have app development, coding, digital literacy and a host of other courses in our town's middle and high schools....none of which write even higher level language programs. Drag and drop visual basic at most. Sorry, but useless in my eyes)
Understand the thought on the 6% but this area is piping hot at moment and likely we'd repeat what we did when we last sold and that was to use a flat-fee service. So 3% maybe on transaction - and we'd get some back at closing through the buying service we'd use.


100% agree on the coding being unrealistic - still not a terrible intro.

Small school - we actually dug into it more and the max class size in Lovejoy would be 475... Compared with AISD which is 4x bigger. Absolutely bonkers. You are literally a # in AISD which is something we don't like... We are not equating bigger=better... Especially when Lovejoy is ranked higher locally and nationally than AISD...

Thanks for the feedback!
"One of the funny things about the stock market is that every time one person buys, another sells, and both think they are astute" - William Feather

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Re: Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by MindTheGAAP » Thu Mar 23, 2017 1:32 pm

TxAg wrote:As a DFW resident, I'd move if I were in your shoes.

I'd either want to be in Dallas proper or on a few acres outside of town. To me, Allen is the middle ground.

Bonus: Your kids will love growing up with a few "pets."
I'm beginning to lean that way, honestly. Especially since Collin County is exploding... Lucas area is likely to be a haven with acreage in 10-20 years time (even more than already is).

One area of downside with acreage? Time to maintain it. I'm in consulting so hours can get lengthier... but they're going to get bigger to where they could feasibly assist.
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Re: Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by MindTheGAAP » Thu Mar 23, 2017 1:34 pm

Texanbybirth wrote:Long time ago, I had family in Lucas when it was...very different from what it is now. You're going to find all kinds of houses with <6 acres in Lovejoy ISD. From what I've heard, it's a fantastic school district, and you'd be selling at a time when hoards of people are still trying to get into Allen. We have a good friend who is an elementary school teacher in LISD, and she raves about it. I think you still have a pretty good shot at finding cheaper sq ft out east, but that won't be the case in 5-10 years.

You're in a very good position, and I would advise you not to rush. Your girls are still young, though I can understand you getting anxious with your oldest about to start school. Being someone who also wants to own a few acres for my kids, I suggest you move. However, I would feel very differently if my parents (or my wife's parents) lived across the street.

It seems like a no-lose situation so I'm pretty thankful for that. We either stay and keep the in-laws nearby... or we move and end up with land and room to spread out. Depending on where we bought (if the house location on the land suited, etc.) , we could feasibly build a custom home on the land at some point down the road too.
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Re: Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by Texanbybirth » Thu Mar 23, 2017 1:43 pm

You can maintain as much of the (roughly) 6 acres as you want. Get a bovine or two, and put in a wire fence. They'll keep your grass trim for you. Add an acreage or two of trees if you find the right lot, and you've gotten out 80% of maintenance. Cows are fun to own, too. Add chickens and goats, and you're looking at only maintaining the equivalent of a large suburban front and back yard.

I dunno how much you could expect your kids to help you once they're fully involved in school/extracurriculars, but that's a personal parenting decision. My grandma milked cows before and after school till she graduated HS. We plan to have our kids do the same.
TxAg wrote:As a DFW resident, I'd move if I were in your shoes.

I'd either want to be in Dallas proper or on a few acres outside of town. To me, Allen is the middle ground.

Bonus: Your kids will love growing up with a few "pets."
That's a great point.
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Re: Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by MindTheGAAP » Thu Mar 23, 2017 2:19 pm

Texanbybirth wrote:You can maintain as much of the (roughly) 6 acres as you want. Get a bovine or two, and put in a wire fence. They'll keep your grass trim for you. Add an acreage or two of trees if you find the right lot, and you've gotten out 80% of maintenance. Cows are fun to own, too. Add chickens and goats, and you're looking at only maintaining the equivalent of a large suburban front and back yard.

I dunno how much you could expect your kids to help you once they're fully involved in school/extracurriculars, but that's a personal parenting decision. My grandma milked cows before and after school till she graduated HS. We plan to have our kids do the same.
TxAg wrote:As a DFW resident, I'd move if I were in your shoes.

I'd either want to be in Dallas proper or on a few acres outside of town. To me, Allen is the middle ground.

Bonus: Your kids will love growing up with a few "pets."
That's a great point.

And to your first point about not rushing... Our current plan is to see how this next year goes and to save money to help with either the down payment or re-modeling of whatever home we buy, or to remodel our existing place. It will also give us a longer time-frame to see what our true cash flow is for this solo consulting path I'm going down and what we're comfortable with. As of moment, not an issue at all but there will be a little slower period I'm sure.
"One of the funny things about the stock market is that every time one person buys, another sells, and both think they are astute" - William Feather

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Re: Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by Texanbybirth » Thu Mar 23, 2017 2:25 pm

MindTheGAAP wrote:
Texanbybirth wrote:You can maintain as much of the (roughly) 6 acres as you want. Get a bovine or two, and put in a wire fence. They'll keep your grass trim for you. Add an acreage or two of trees if you find the right lot, and you've gotten out 80% of maintenance. Cows are fun to own, too. Add chickens and goats, and you're looking at only maintaining the equivalent of a large suburban front and back yard.

I dunno how much you could expect your kids to help you once they're fully involved in school/extracurriculars, but that's a personal parenting decision. My grandma milked cows before and after school till she graduated HS. We plan to have our kids do the same.
TxAg wrote:As a DFW resident, I'd move if I were in your shoes.

I'd either want to be in Dallas proper or on a few acres outside of town. To me, Allen is the middle ground.

Bonus: Your kids will love growing up with a few "pets."
That's a great point.

And to your first point about not rushing... Our current plan is to see how this next year goes and to save money to help with either the down payment or re-modeling of whatever home we buy, or to remodel our existing place. It will also give us a longer time-frame to see what our true cash flow is for this solo consulting path I'm going down and what we're comfortable with. As of moment, not an issue at all but there will be a little slower period I'm sure.
We're in the same boat. We love where we are right now, but I miss the big Texas sky in the rural areas. We're going to store up cash to help whatever future decision.

Our kids are 2y and 6 months, so I won't be able to convince my wife to leave the city until we have at least one more little farmhand. :D
Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow, | Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow. | None has ever caught him yet, for Tom, he is the master: | His songs are stronger songs, and his feet are faster.

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Re: Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by MindTheGAAP » Thu Mar 23, 2017 2:28 pm

Texanbybirth wrote:
MindTheGAAP wrote:
Texanbybirth wrote:You can maintain as much of the (roughly) 6 acres as you want. Get a bovine or two, and put in a wire fence. They'll keep your grass trim for you. Add an acreage or two of trees if you find the right lot, and you've gotten out 80% of maintenance. Cows are fun to own, too. Add chickens and goats, and you're looking at only maintaining the equivalent of a large suburban front and back yard.

I dunno how much you could expect your kids to help you once they're fully involved in school/extracurriculars, but that's a personal parenting decision. My grandma milked cows before and after school till she graduated HS. We plan to have our kids do the same.
TxAg wrote:As a DFW resident, I'd move if I were in your shoes.

I'd either want to be in Dallas proper or on a few acres outside of town. To me, Allen is the middle ground.

Bonus: Your kids will love growing up with a few "pets."
That's a great point.

And to your first point about not rushing... Our current plan is to see how this next year goes and to save money to help with either the down payment or re-modeling of whatever home we buy, or to remodel our existing place. It will also give us a longer time-frame to see what our true cash flow is for this solo consulting path I'm going down and what we're comfortable with. As of moment, not an issue at all but there will be a little slower period I'm sure.
We're in the same boat. We love where we are right now, but I miss the big Texas sky in the rural areas. We're going to store up cash to help whatever future decision.

Our kids are 2y and 6 months, so I won't be able to convince my wife to leave the city until we have at least one more little farmhand. :D

It's terrible, I'm partly hoping for a mini-RE crash in the next 12-mo since any property we buy is going to be more $ so even if ours and the potential future house lose the same %, we'd be closing in on them in $-terms. Awful on my part.
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Re: Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by Watty » Thu Mar 23, 2017 2:36 pm

MindTheGAAP wrote:Houses that feed into this school district are typically 50% higher than the same house that goes to....
How much difference is there in the property taxes? It could be that the property tax savings alone would pay for the remodel if you stay where you are now.
MindTheGAAP wrote:I have three (3) young daughters (4.5, 3, 6mos)
In your post you focused a lot on the high schools, but how to the grade schools and the middle schools compare?

I would guess that you have well over ten years until your oldest kid starts high schools so it is pretty early to be focusing on that especially since the high schools may be very different by the time they start them. It is also possible that by the time they start high school that new high schools may have opened so they may not even go to the high school that you are expecting them to go to.

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Re: Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by MindTheGAAP » Thu Mar 23, 2017 2:59 pm

Watty wrote:
MindTheGAAP wrote:Houses that feed into this school district are typically 50% higher than the same house that goes to....
How much difference is there in the property taxes? It could be that the property tax savings alone would pay for the remodel if you stay where you are now.
MindTheGAAP wrote:I have three (3) young daughters (4.5, 3, 6mos)
In your post you focused a lot on the high schools, but how to the grade schools and the middle schools compare?

I would guess that you have well over ten years until your oldest kid starts high schools so it is pretty early to be focusing on that especially since the high schools may be very different by the time they start them. It is also possible that by the time they start high school that new high schools may have opened so they may not even go to the high school that you are expecting them to go to.
The earlier schools are fine for both. And based on everything that's happened at Lovejoy (they just got their own HS because Allen got too big for them to share) they're limiting how much the ISD will grow by not allowing multifamily properties be built.

Also, you're underestimating AISD and their desire to be elite at sports. The reason they don't have multiple HS is to concentrate their athletic talent. This is the same HS that built the $68M stadium that had concrete problems. Was reported throughout the US, so I'm told.

As for the property taxes, the rate is lower in Lovejoy because the appraised value is higher and they aren't supporting as much school system. It's a wash in that sense.
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Re: Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by Texanbybirth » Thu Mar 23, 2017 3:05 pm

I don't think North Dallas real estate is going south anytime soon. People want to come here in droves. I know I know, I could be wrong; but I don't think I am. I think if anything you'll see price appreciation slow as interest rates rise, but no red.
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Re: Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by MindTheGAAP » Thu Mar 23, 2017 3:09 pm

Texanbybirth wrote:I don't think North Dallas real estate is going south anytime soon. People want to come here in droves. I know I know, I could be wrong; but I don't think I am. I think if anything you'll see price appreciation slow as interest rates rise, but no red.
Oh I know. Toyota and co have made sure of that. I agree in that I think it'll just be a flatter ascent/ trajectory
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Re: Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by Texanbybirth » Thu Mar 23, 2017 3:12 pm

So again, you're in a great position either way. This ain't a bad place to own a house no matter what. (Assuming you can afford it, which y'all obviously can.)

Let us know when you decide to move. :beer
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Re: Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by Meg77 » Thu Mar 23, 2017 3:24 pm

I live in Dallas with family in McKinney (Frisco ISD). So I don't know a ton about AISD or Lovejoy from personal experience, but it seems like the school districts are a wash - at least for now until your girls get a bit older and their interests, aptitudes and challenges emerge. Also I respect your desire to keep them in a "stable" environment, but moving in elementary school is not a big deal; my family moved from Louisiana to Alabama when I was between 3rd and 4th grades and it was barely a blip on my radar.

That said, there are other factors to consider anyway: home size/quality, commute length/quality, and the financial implications are the big three, and you don't go into a lot of detail on the differences there. Two miles can add 20 minutes to a commute in some areas of DFW, depending on the routes available! And financially if you save a lot by staying put, you can do things like send the kids to amazing summer camps or provide great tutoring and other extras. Some of my best childhood memories are of the sleepaway summer camp my sisters and I attended for four weeks every summer from ages 8 to 16. It isn't cheap (Camp Desoto if you're interested), but it was far and away the best investment my parents could have made to cultivate independence, curiosity and outdoor skills in us.
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin

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MindTheGAAP
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Re: Stay & remodel vs. Move - North Dallas

Post by MindTheGAAP » Thu Mar 23, 2017 4:12 pm

Texanbybirth wrote:So again, you're in a great position either way. This ain't a bad place to own a house no matter what. (Assuming you can afford it, which y'all obviously can.)

Let us know when you decide to move. :beer
Thanks for that!
"One of the funny things about the stock market is that every time one person buys, another sells, and both think they are astute" - William Feather

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