Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

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Myamar
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Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by Myamar » Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:06 am

Long time lurker, first time poster. Curious what some of you would do in our situation--spouse and I want to go two different directions.

We live in a very HCOL area. Real Estate here is about 900/sq ft, give or take depending on building amenities. We live in the NYC area, in an urban walkable neighborhood, in a condo building with parking, but not a "full service building" with doorman, etc. We have two kids, 4 and 7.

So here's the question: We bought a small 2 bedroom condo in 2013, and now we are growing out of it. But we can't agree on our next step. We love our neighborhood and we love being close to my husband's job. We both work full time but he works longer hours so being close to his job means he gets some time at home with our kids that he wouldn't get if we moved to the suburbs and his 25 minute commute turned into a 1 hour, 25 min commute. His job is pretty specialized and doesn't really exist outside of the NYC area--he would have to switch gears entirely and do something else if we moved to another state, which would result in an enormous pay cut (he keeps his eyes open on jobs because we have only lived in the NYC area for 7 years and would be okay with moving somewhere else if the right job/right salary came along--so far it has not).

He takes public transport to work. I drive (because I drive further out to the suburbs), so we have 1 garaged parking space and 1 car.

Here are our housing options:

1)Stay in our 2 bedroom condo. It's worth about $950k now, and we only owe $200k left and my husband is aggressively paying it down (that's his thing--it has to do with his very chaotic childhood. He wants nothing in this world more than to have a paid off house--we've already gone round and round about that). Staying in our 2 bedroom is great financially speaking, because our mortgage is way lower than market rental costs since we refinanced last year. Our mortgage plus HOA plus taxes are only 3.1k. Market rental costs are around 4k for a rental like our unit. The con is, both of our parents live in other places (his parents are in another country, mine are in the midwest), and they are all retired and love to visit. Which means they visit and squeeze into our small space. We are close to our parents and love for them to visit, but we hate that our kids sleep is disrupted because their bedroom is taken over for a week, several times a year. We also have no storage, almost no closet space, a tiny kitchen, the works. BUT--my husband commute is very short for the NYC area, so he gets to do school drop off in the morning, he's always home before bedtime. etc. We don't have to drive--everything is walkable and is feels healthy to walk the kids to school, walk to activities and the supermarket, etc.


2) Move to the suburbs. Taxes in the NJ/NY suburbs of NYC have exorbitant taxes and the ones with good schools are extremely expensive right now. If we sold our condo and bought a 4 bedroom house, it would definitely be in the 900-1 million + range, and would have taxes from anywhere from 20k-30k a year. The houses in the smaller range (say, a 1800 sq ft house that needs some work) would still be in the 700-800k range with taxes around 18-20k, depending on the town. Husband's commute would be much longer (he'd have to leave around 7:15 am and wouldn't be home till around 8pm,) essentially never being home when the kids are awake during the week. We would either live in a smaller, needs work house OR we could buy a bigger nicer house but for a much higher monthly payment than we have now. We would have more space, but less time when Dad and kids are together.

3) stay in our neighborhood and really stretch our house budget and get a bigger condo. A 3 bedroom with parking will be 1.2-1.5 million (HOA plus taxes). Or we could look for a row house where we could rent the finished basement, but the price would be more like 1.7-1.9 million (higher taxes, but no HOA).



Here's a snapshot of our finances.


yearly income: 320k this year. 240k base, 80k bonus last January

Monthly income: 11k, take home. This is after 401k, some small investments, 529, healthcare premiums/contributions

Overall savings/investments. I have 2 pensions from 2 different states (I work in education). My current pension will be vested in 3 years. Husband has about 375k in 401ks and old Roths and regular IRAs. We have about another 75-100k in other investments. We can't do Roth anymore and haven't done IRAs last few years since they aren't tax sheltered. 529s only have about 12k because we just started them last year. We plan to dump another 5-7k in January 2019 when the next bonus comes. If we sold the house today, we'd have about 700k for a downpayment on the next thing. We're down to 1 college loan of 4k balance we are also paying off after January bonus cycle (we throw huge sums into it every year from bonus money).

-current mortgage/HOA/taxes: 3.1k
-Childcare: $1400/month (after school babysitter)
-gas/auto insurance: $250/month
-variable expenses (groceries, clothes, fun, eating out, travel): 2k (bulk of this is travel because our families live far away, and we pay for them to fly to visit us as they are retired and on fixed incomes).
-Classes/activities for kids: $400/month (language class and dance class for 2 girls, soccer for only older kid--classes are very expensive here, it's not like the cheap prices people get in other states).


When we have money left at the end of the month, husband dumps it into an additional house fund or dumps it into vanguard funds. For the past few years, we have paid an additional 30-50k a year into the house through additional monthly payments and a big chunk from bonus money.



Here's the argument: I want to stay in our current neighborhood, buy a 3 bedroom, tweak our finances to make that bigger mortgage work.
Husband wants to either stay in our current 2 bedroom indefinitely (at least till it's paid off, approx 4-5 years from now). Our kids will be teens/pre-teens by then and still sharing a room...OR he wants to move to the suburbs and buy a small house that needs work in the 700-800k range and pay cash. His preference is to always do the most frugal thing. My preference is to find a way to meet our savings goals (we have always maxed our 401 k and invested additional every year and would continue to do so) and still have my husband home to see our kids during the week.

WWYD? I would love input from other people.

bdpb
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by bdpb » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:12 am

Myamar wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:06 am
We love our neighborhood and we love being close to my husband's job.

Here's the argument: I want to stay in our current neighborhood, buy a 3 bedroom, tweak our finances to make that bigger mortgage work.
Husband wants to either stay in our current 2 bedroom indefinitely (at least till it's paid off, approx 4-5 years from now). Our kids will be teens/pre-teens by then and still sharing a room...OR he wants to move to the suburbs and buy a small house that needs work in the 700-800k range and pay cash. His preference is to always do the most frugal thing. My preference is to find a way to meet our savings goals (we have always maxed our 401 k and invested additional every year and would continue to do so) and still have my husband home to see our kids during the week.
If the first sentence is true (both the love and we parts) then the quality of life aspect would drive my decision more than the increased costs. I would "stay in our current neighborhood, buy a 3 bedroom, tweak our finances to make that bigger mortgage work". Move to the suburbs in 10 or so years after the kids are more independent or off to college.

EyeDee
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Visiting Parents

Post by EyeDee » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:13 am

.
Myamar,

If the condo is big enough now except when your parents visit, why not put them up in nice nearby hotel to avoid crowding everyone during their visits. At least until something larger works for you.
Randy

Dottie57
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Re: Visiting Parents

Post by Dottie57 » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:20 am

EyeDee wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:13 am
.
Myamar,

If the condo is big enough now except when your parents visit, why not put them up in nice nearby hotel to avoid crowding everyone during their visits. At least until something larger works for you.
+1

Dottie57
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by Dottie57 » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:24 am

Three bedroom condo in your neighbor hood. Kids of separate genders should have separate rooms. The rooms don’t need to be big. Room for single bed, chest of drawers amd desk for study.

Hotel for grandparents. On their dimeor yours. Hopefully in walking distance.

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HueyLD
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by HueyLD » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:29 am

But a decent hotel can cost several hundred dollars per night!!

Tdubs
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by Tdubs » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:38 am

I'd give just about anything for a shorter commute. Commuting will be what drives me into retirement.

Make do, or bigger condo.

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Cyclesafe
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by Cyclesafe » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:38 am

Quality of life is everything. Use the money you're saving by living in the smaller condo to enrich your family experience even more. Concentrate on ensuring that your children do not feel deprived by not having their own rooms. Make up for it in other ways. This would probably be alot easier if they are of the same sex and are girls, but I digress....

Even though your children are young now, in 14 years the second will be in college. Those 14 years will fly by. As mentioned above, your relatives are gonna have to stay in a hotel because their periodic visits should not cause you to compromise your permanent quality of life.

desiderium
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by desiderium » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:41 am

Stay in the neighborhood. Big suburban house is a false economy and entails time and commuting costs that are not being calculated. Time not spent with kids is incalculable in terms of regrets. Debt is low at present so stretching for a bigger home is probably fine. Without financializing the choice too much, the increased debt is subject to the effects of inflation. Staying put and lodging parents in a nearby hotel is good too. Maybe a cosmetic remodel of your space/kitchen would make it all seem fresh and worthwhile

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:41 am

Stay for another couple years to vest pension and revisit the question. Tell anyone who wants to visit that THEY will need to arrange a hotel and THEY will need to pay for it.

Perhaps expand both husband's and your search for a job in a low cost place.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

delamer
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Re: Visiting Parents

Post by delamer » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:44 am

EyeDee wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:13 am
.
Myamar,

If the condo is big enough now except when your parents visit, why not put them up in nice nearby hotel to avoid crowding everyone during their visits. At least until something larger works for you.
Agreed, or find them an Airbnb.

If relocating to a different area is under consideration, then stay where you are for awhile.

But I think it is mistake for you husband not consider taking a significant pay cut to move out of NYC.

Easy for me to say, I know. But with an overall lower cost of living and the ability to find a larger home with a short commute, there are places you could have an even nicer lifestyle for a lot less money.

Good luck.

runner540
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by runner540 » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:49 am

OP, read this thread with your spouse: viewtopic.php?p=4159387#p4159387

It's about another couple in HCOL that is feeling overwhelmed by housing costs AND have brutal commutes. I'd lean toward the 3bed in your current neighborhood. You have ~$700k+ of equity, so a 3 bed with a $500k mortgage on $240k of salary seems doable to me but you'll have to run exact numbers. Is there another category that you can cut down to help your husband rest easier? (or throw all bonus money at the mortgage?)

Maybe you can get a murphy bed set up for your living room so you have more space for guests. (ikea catalog to the rescue)

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Cycle
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Re: Visiting Parents

Post by Cycle » Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:05 am

Dottie57 wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:20 am
EyeDee wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:13 am
.
Myamar,

If the condo is big enough now except when your parents visit, why not put them up in nice nearby hotel to avoid crowding everyone during their visits. At least until something larger works for you.
+1
+1

Stay in the neighborhood, rule out that miserable commute it wouldn't be sustainable. Time trade-off would be not worth it IMO

Can you rent storage space in the area?

Can you get addicted to minimalism, though I'm sure u already are minimalists, but that might allow u to embrace your current place. Bitman has a nice article on nyt on minimalist kitchen https://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/09/dining/09mini.html

My wife and I have a 2br/1ba 1000 sqft apartment and are planning on raising 2 kids at least until they get larger in size... Probably about the same age as yours... The tipping point.

We have a full basement of storage tho and half a garage... Midwestern city.

Big Dog
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by Big Dog » Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:12 am

how are the local schools, particularly the high schools? (One reason why the burbs are so expensive is the reported quality of their schools.)

As an aside, are you within the locale for the NYC income tax? Can you move outside the NYC boundary to not be subject to it?

That being said, I'd vote for quality of life as long as teh schools are good. (To me, education is paramount.)

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BenfromToronto
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by BenfromToronto » Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:24 am

You can make up for wasted money, not wasted time.
Nothing is worse than a long commute.

I agree with the other posters, you have two optimal solutions:

(1) Stay put if you are planning to change jobs and move out of the NYC area within the next three years -- Rent a close-by AirBnB or an hotel room when you parents visit (even if it costs you several $K per visit, it will be cheaper than the costs associated with selling, buying, and moving).

(2) Move to a close-by 3-BR condo if you are planning to stay in the NYC area for 3+ years.
Minimizing commuting time and improving your quality-of-life is more important than accumulating assets more rapidly.
You can also expect to get back the money invested in the 3-BR condo when you eventually sell it and move to a lower COL area (e.g., once your kids are grown up or retired).

I am very frugal otherwise but I followed this strategy to make my wife happy.
We splurged on a large house and I got way more "dividends" every day from raising our kids in a beautiful place and still being able to walk to work than having more stocks on an investment account.
We have also been lucky that our home has appreciated almost as fast as stocks would have, with less volatility.

I do not like having a mortgage but it replaces bonds in terms of diversification (i.e., no need to invest in bonds until your mortgage is paid).
Becoming rich slowly is simple --earn, save, invest following a Bogleheads philosophy-- but it is not easy.

InvisibleAerobar
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by InvisibleAerobar » Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:38 am

Myamar wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:06 am
He takes public transport to work. I drive (because I drive further out to the suburbs), so we have 1 garaged parking space and 1 car.
this part stood out. To which suburb would you commute? How much longer would your commute be?

as for the 7am-8pm commuting schedule, unfortunately that's just "part of life" in the NYC suburbs. That said, the prevalence doesn't make the commute any less brutal. For the NJ commute, you are counting on the trains working and running on time. The nasty surprise, of course, is that no one knows if that assumption is valid 5 years from now. It could be the same, better (if a new tunnel gets dug under the Hudson), or worse (if they maintain just the status quo).

other thing is schooling. the NJ/NY suburbs would presumably have better schools?

as for the fixer-upper house, there's another load of surprises, though $700-800k should shelter you somewhat from some of the houses loaded with bigger hidden surprises. Lots of flippers bought houses along the popular NJ Transit lines and buffed a shine of the surface of manure, so to speak, without doing much of substance. Caveat emptor. I don't read the NYT real estate section often, b/c it's dross masquerading as newsworthy read, but one that I distinctly remember is that of a couple buying a fixer-upper after moving out from NYC to the suburbs. Of course, it's a worst case scenario, but almost all of the flipped houses in that area have hidden issues.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/21/real ... y-pit.html

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Kenkat
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by Kenkat » Sat Oct 13, 2018 12:05 pm

I am confused that your annual income is 320k but your annual take home at 11k per month is only 132k. Where is all this money going? My initial thought was get the three bedroom condo - you can afford it on a $320k income but then I saw the $11k per month which doesn’t seem like it might be enough.

onourway
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by onourway » Sat Oct 13, 2018 12:27 pm

Kenkat wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 12:05 pm
I am confused that your annual income is 320k but your annual take home at 11k per month is only 132k. Where is all this money going? My initial thought was get the three bedroom condo - you can afford it on a $320k income but then I saw the $11k per month which doesn’t seem like it might be enough.
I suspect that's pre-bonus. $240k income - $37k to 401k, leaves $203k. Less health insurance, 529, and taxes, $11k/month sounds about right.

I too would vote for staying put. It might take a little while to agree you can afford something else. Wait it out.

Isabelle77
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by Isabelle77 » Sat Oct 13, 2018 12:31 pm

My only concern would be schools for the kids. If you're happy with the schools then stay, life is too short to live on NJ Transit :)

Minot
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Re: Visiting Parents

Post by Minot » Sat Oct 13, 2018 12:40 pm

delamer wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:44 am

... find them an Airbnb.
+1. You can probably find something nice within easy walking distance, and it will cost less than a hotel. Since you live near, you can scout it out and meet the host before you rent.

Has your husband had any experience with a long commute?

What might the two of you do to make him more comfortable with taking on more debt?

texasdiver
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by texasdiver » Sat Oct 13, 2018 1:11 pm

If it were me, I'd look at row houses where you could convert the basement into an AirBnB guest suite and then just block out the dates for when your parents come to visit. As your kids get a bit older, put them to work maintaining the AirBnB. It would be a nice little educational job for a middle school/high school student to learn to be a host. My daughters would probably be into it and I would do it myself if our HOA allowed that sort of thing. Put the earnings into their college funds or something.

The other advantage to this approach is that you will have a ready made studio apartment for when one of the kids boomerangs or can't otherwise afford to live in the area down the road a decade from now. Could be a LOT LOT cheaper than having to help them pay for housing in the NYC area when they are in college or grad school or just starting out.

You have the luxury of being able to really take your time and find the exact right opportunity.
Last edited by texasdiver on Sat Oct 13, 2018 1:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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ram
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by ram » Sat Oct 13, 2018 1:11 pm

!. Stay put - 75%
2. Larger condo- 20%
3. Suburb- 5%
My wife and I have lived in urban areas in 3 countries and in apartments from 700 sq feet to 1600 sq ft. We have 2 kids.
Currently 4000 sq feet house (including finished basement) in mid west for the 2 of us.

You simply have to decide what stuff to accumulate depending on house size. Custom made furniture using every nook and cranny of the house is much cheaper than moving. Sofas and dining tables that fold up on the walls and convert to beds at night are options. The time needed to convert these twice a day is a small fraction of the extra commute time.

4. For the last 12 years we are in the mid west and our costs for the same standard would be about 60% of our urban days.
Ram

sport
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by sport » Sat Oct 13, 2018 1:39 pm

I would think about moving to a lower COL area. Even if your income would decrease a lot, so would your expenses. Here are some data for a comparison. A 12-year old house in my neighborhood recently was sold. It is a 3 BR 2.5 B house with 1950 sq. ft. and newly redecorated. Association fees are less than $200. It is in a safe suburban area with very good schools. Commuting to most areas is easy. The house sold for $270K.

Myamar
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by Myamar » Sat Oct 13, 2018 1:40 pm

onourway wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 12:27 pm
Kenkat wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 12:05 pm
I am confused that your annual income is 320k but your annual take home at 11k per month is only 132k. Where is all this money going? My initial thought was get the three bedroom condo - you can afford it on a $320k income but then I saw the $11k per month which doesn’t seem like it might be enough.
I suspect that's pre-bonus. $240k income - $37k to 401k, leaves $203k. Less health insurance, 529, and taxes, $11k/month sounds about right.

I too would vote for staying put. It might take a little while to agree you can afford something else. Wait it out.


Yes, 11k take home after all of our auto deductions, not counting the bonus. The last few years, we sit down in February and allocate the bonus to various lump sum items—special vacation, 529, investment, college loan, house loan, etc. and then the rest of the year we live off our regular monthly salaries. It’s a strategy to stave off unnecessary lifestyle inflation and to avoid getting used to the bonus, which is subject to the economy and things out of our control.

MJS
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by MJS » Sat Oct 13, 2018 1:53 pm

Hire an expert, as well as asking the BH community.

Invest $200-500 in a 2-hour interior designer consultation. Experts see not-obvious-to-us solutions that could save lots of aggravation and thousands of dollars. If they don't, then you have more data for your decision.

Good luck.

Myamar
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by Myamar » Sat Oct 13, 2018 1:53 pm

Other questions people have asked: why do we let our parents stay with us? Well, we are 1st gen Asian immigrants (me as a kid, husband as a teen) with parents who lived in near poverty to save to send us to college. In Asian culture, it’s a grave insult to ask elderly parents to stay somewhere else. On top of that, even in my more Americanized value system it doesn’t seem right to ask our parents to pay—they are all in their 70s on fixed incomes in low COL areas so $1500 usdfor a week in a hotel 3 times a year is not something they could afford. We would have to give up our yearly vacation for us to afford it, or give up paying extra into loans. Between our parents and siblings, we have had 6 visits this year, all from 4-7 days long. I am pretty sure they would stop visiting even if we paid for a hotel—all of our parents are still very frugal and would rather not see us than have us spend a lot of money on them.

As it is, we can only pay for their flights if we tell them they are saving us money on babysitters when they come—which is a lie, because we have to pay our part time nanny the same agreed-on weekly amount whether we use her or not. But it’s part of Asian face-saving culture. We know they want to visit and see our kids, so we say please let us buy you a ticket—you being here is so much cheaper than paying our sitter. And then we pay both.

But to be clear—we don’t mind because our parents worked hard and never spent on themselves to get us where we are today. My mother literally never worked a day in her life till they moved to the US, and my dad could not use his degrees and got a telemarketing job, so my mom got a job working for minimum wage at a supermarket—where she worked for something like $7/hour for 15 years until retirement—purely so she could get SS and not be a burden on us in retirement.

So this type of thing is something we feel we owe our parents.

Hope that makes sense.

btenny
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by btenny » Sat Oct 13, 2018 2:03 pm

You need to stay where you are while your husband looks for a new job out of NYC. The HCOL in a very small apartment in NYC is killing your life and it will only get worse as your kids get bigger. You both can take big pay cuts to live somewhere else that is cheaper and more conducive to real family life. Please MOVE out of NYC and improve your life. Do not move to the suburbs and do the killer commute.

Good Luck.
Last edited by btenny on Sat Oct 13, 2018 2:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

mortfree
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by mortfree » Sat Oct 13, 2018 2:05 pm

Avoid a lengthy commute at all costs. I have been doing a 1hr+ commute for 18 years. It isn’t fun.

So you will need to reprogram your husband’s brain about debt and his goal of not having a mortgage.


If you want the suburb life, then you really should look to be out of NYC all together. Again, commute=bad.

remomnyc
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by remomnyc » Sat Oct 13, 2018 2:07 pm

Before we had children, our second bedroom was a hotel room. We had a constant stream of visitors. As soon as we had child 2, we told all visitors they would have to find their own lodging if they wanted to visit. We pay when my parents visit because they couldn't afford it otherwise. (If your parents don't want you to pay for a hotel room for them, you could visit them instead of having them visit you.) My husband's family pays when they visit. My husband and I have each commuted at different points and neither of us lasted more than one year in those jobs. I would stay put until having the kids share a room becomes untenable. Our kids are 15 and 13 and still enjoy each other's company. When the kids can't stand each other or need more privacy, I would consider buying a larger place with a commute under one hour.

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Stinky
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by Stinky » Sat Oct 13, 2018 2:19 pm

Isabelle77 wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 12:31 pm
My only concern would be schools for the kids. If you're happy with the schools then stay, life is too short to live on NJ Transit :)
+1

Schools for kids are of paramount importance. If the quality of education is good in the local public schools, or if there are very affordable private schools, upgrade to the larger place and stay in neighborhood.

However, if you need to put kids in expensive private schools for good education, you need to add that factor to your plan.
It's a GREAT day to be alive - Travis Tritt

quantAndHold
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by quantAndHold » Sat Oct 13, 2018 2:24 pm

I know that the parents will never understand his. But isn’t it more frugal to pay for an AirBNB a few nights a year than it is to pay for an extra bedroom that doesn’t get used unless someone is visiting?

delamer
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by delamer » Sat Oct 13, 2018 2:35 pm

Myamar wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 1:53 pm
Other questions people have asked: why do we let our parents stay with us? Well, we are 1st gen Asian immigrants (me as a kid, husband as a teen) with parents who lived in near poverty to save to send us to college. In Asian culture, it’s a grave insult to ask elderly parents to stay somewhere else. On top of that, even in my more Americanized value system it doesn’t seem right to ask our parents to pay—they are all in their 70s on fixed incomes in low COL areas so $1500 usdfor a week in a hotel 3 times a year is not something they could afford. We would have to give up our yearly vacation for us to afford it, or give up paying extra into loans. Between our parents and siblings, we have had 6 visits this year, all from 4-7 days long. I am pretty sure they would stop visiting even if we paid for a hotel—all of our parents are still very frugal and would rather not see us than have us spend a lot of money on them.

As it is, we can only pay for their flights if we tell them they are saving us money on babysitters when they come—which is a lie, because we have to pay our part time nanny the same agreed-on weekly amount whether we use her or not. But it’s part of Asian face-saving culture. We know they want to visit and see our kids, so we say please let us buy you a ticket—you being here is so much cheaper than paying our sitter. And then we pay both.

But to be clear—we don’t mind because our parents worked hard and never spent on themselves to get us where we are today. My mother literally never worked a day in her life till they moved to the US, and my dad could not use his degrees and got a telemarketing job, so my mom got a job working for minimum wage at a supermarket—where she worked for something like $7/hour for 15 years until retirement—purely so she could get SS and not be a burden on us in retirement.

So this type of thing is something we feel we owe our parents.

Hope that makes sense.
I sympathize with your situation; most of us have some degree of family obligations that simply are what they are.

But your husband should appreciate that the older your daughters get, the more difficult hosting your families in your current apartment will become. A 4 year old and a 14 year old are literally different people, physically and emotionally.

Also, at some point the babysitting white lie is not going to work any more. And your parents may have physical limitations that limit their ability to visit and/or stay with you.

No easy answers. But consider relocating for quality of life reasons.

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Cyclesafe
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by Cyclesafe » Sat Oct 13, 2018 2:45 pm

The obligation thing.

Worldwide plenty of people live with multiple generations under the same roof. Everybody gets along because it is normal. If OP invokes cultural constraints, then there is just no answer. The visits must be endured. Much better this for a couple weeks a year than having a life draining commute five days a week / 48-50 weeks a year. Chances are anyway that your relatives would tell you that they miss the intimacy of the small condo in the city that you used to have....

onourway
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by onourway » Sat Oct 13, 2018 2:47 pm

I'm confused. I thought you said you had two girls in the first post? How far apart in ages?

Jason622
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by Jason622 » Sat Oct 13, 2018 3:15 pm

I am Asian, first generation immigrant in the US. I understand your situation with parents. I would definitely move out of NYC. There are plenty of areas throughout the country where all of your family can feel happier, including the parents.
Or else buy 3 bd condo and rearrange your finances accordingly

anakinskywalker
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by anakinskywalker » Sat Oct 13, 2018 3:26 pm

Why is it so hard for the kids to give up their bedroom to their grandparents for a few weeks? I don't see why this should disturb their sleep so much.

HornedToad
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Re: Visiting Parents

Post by HornedToad » Sat Oct 13, 2018 3:28 pm

Dottie57 wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:20 am
EyeDee wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:13 am
.
Myamar,

If the condo is big enough now except when your parents visit, why not put them up in nice nearby hotel to avoid crowding everyone during their visits. At least until something larger works for you.
+1
+2. Hotels are cheaper than housing

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HueyLD
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by HueyLD » Sat Oct 13, 2018 3:52 pm

You missed OP's point. In her parents' culture, it is not acceptable to put them up in a hotel.

kelvan80
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by kelvan80 » Sat Oct 13, 2018 3:57 pm

Can you go to a hotel when they come or an air b n b?

delamer
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by delamer » Sat Oct 13, 2018 4:02 pm

anakinskywalker wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 3:26 pm
Why is it so hard for the kids to give up their bedroom to their grandparents for a few weeks? I don't see why this should disturb their sleep so much.
Based on what the OP described, the kids are probably moved to a sofa bed in the main living area that adjoins the kitchen. Not exactly quiet. And the kids undoubtedly go to bed before the adults.

It doesn’t just affect the kids; it affects the whole household.

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TxAg
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by TxAg » Sat Oct 13, 2018 4:10 pm

You owe $200k on a place worth $950k. Sell and take the $750k and apply it to the larger $1.2M place. That should be feasible on your current income. That keeps the commute similar and you get the extra room.
Last edited by TxAg on Sat Oct 13, 2018 4:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

NextMil
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by NextMil » Sat Oct 13, 2018 4:10 pm

Stay put. Suck it up until someone breaks, either you or your parents - that is not meant in a mean spirited way, but at some point someone will give in, and it doesn't sound like it will be you. Sounds like your kids are of same gender and in city living that is no biggie.

I would pay off current place, then save like crazy for the next place. Your husband will appreciate that, and frankly it's the smartest move financially. As you know in NYC people do a lot more with a lot less.

Freefun
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by Freefun » Sat Oct 13, 2018 4:21 pm

Anything but the commute.
Remember when you wanted what you currently have?

blevine
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by blevine » Sat Oct 13, 2018 4:24 pm

I lived in a NYC neighborhood and moved to the suburbs before kids.
Was nice when I moved into my NYC apartment, then new mayor, police laid off, crime rate rose,
left city, new mayor, more police, now city nicer again. Not sure about the schools in your area,
but I am glad my kids went to top suburban school districts, helped them prepare for top colleges.

Maybe RENT a 3BR for next few years, and when they are ready for middle or HS, then buy a house in the burbs.
That said, the longer you wait, the more difficult the transition for your kids, but at least you will see them more when they are young.
I didn't do this, instead I got lucky, found a lateral move in the burbs, got to work near home a few years, but then went back to work in NYC.
Have commuted for many years, the time on the train is rough, but sometimes you can get work done on the train, maybe work from home once
in a while to reduce the travel time.

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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by mmmodem » Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:43 pm

OP, we are also 1st Gen Asian Americans so I fully understand having parents stay the night at your place. We also live in a HCOLA. I literally spent the night before my wedding sleeping in the car when her family traveled from southern CA. I still remember my mom scolding me when we visited once and I woke up early to buy her an egg sandwich for breakfast. I told her it was $3.50 and she couldn't believe I wasted that kind of money. She can make the same sandwich for $1. She told me to never buy her a sandwich again, just give her the money, instead.

We also love having our parents visit so the kids can get to know them. However, I don't buy a house just so my parents have a room to stay in. DW disagrees with me and insists we have to maintain a clean guest room at all times. I also think the disruption to the kids is zero if they have to sleep in our room or the living room a few days. DW is adamant it will so negatively affect their sleeping pattern that they will do horribly in school the next day and she will have a hard time getting then back on sleeping schedule when the parents leave. I also enjoy being able to take the children to school/daycare and pick them up.

I would simplify your situation as you want more space and your husband is open to it but wants to save up some more first. I was also content with our living situation. DW wanted to move. How did we resolve the issue? I challenged DW to find a bigger home that we could afford and meet the requirements of a short commute. I fully expected DW to fail. This is San Francisco, there's no way she will be able to find a nicer place that we can afford. Well, DW showed me and we moved a couple of years after we first discussed it. My suggestion to you would be to take your husband out to look at homes and sell him on a nicer place. Maybe if he sees it in person, it will convince him.

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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by TheNightsToCome » Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:48 pm

Myamar wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 1:53 pm
Other questions people have asked: why do we let our parents stay with us? Well, we are 1st gen Asian immigrants (me as a kid, husband as a teen) with parents who lived in near poverty to save to send us to college. In Asian culture, it’s a grave insult to ask elderly parents to stay somewhere else. On top of that, even in my more Americanized value system it doesn’t seem right to ask our parents to pay—they are all in their 70s on fixed incomes in low COL areas so $1500 usdfor a week in a hotel 3 times a year is not something they could afford. We would have to give up our yearly vacation for us to afford it, or give up paying extra into loans. Between our parents and siblings, we have had 6 visits this year, all from 4-7 days long. I am pretty sure they would stop visiting even if we paid for a hotel—all of our parents are still very frugal and would rather not see us than have us spend a lot of money on them.

As it is, we can only pay for their flights if we tell them they are saving us money on babysitters when they come—which is a lie, because we have to pay our part time nanny the same agreed-on weekly amount whether we use her or not. But it’s part of Asian face-saving culture. We know they want to visit and see our kids, so we say please let us buy you a ticket—you being here is so much cheaper than paying our sitter. And then we pay both.

But to be clear—we don’t mind because our parents worked hard and never spent on themselves to get us where we are today. My mother literally never worked a day in her life till they moved to the US, and my dad could not use his degrees and got a telemarketing job, so my mom got a job working for minimum wage at a supermarket—where she worked for something like $7/hour for 15 years until retirement—purely so she could get SS and not be a burden on us in retirement.

So this type of thing is something we feel we owe our parents.

Hope that makes sense.
I'm not an immigrant or Asian, but I wouldn't put my parents in a hotel if they came to visit either.

typical.investor
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by typical.investor » Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:07 pm

TheNightsToCome wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:48 pm
Myamar wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 1:53 pm
Other questions people have asked: why do we let our parents stay with us? Well, we are 1st gen Asian immigrants (me as a kid, husband as a teen) with parents who lived in near poverty to save to send us to college. In Asian culture, it’s a grave insult to ask elderly parents to stay somewhere else. On top of that, even in my more Americanized value system it doesn’t seem right to ask our parents to pay—they are all in their 70s on fixed incomes in low COL areas so $1500 usdfor a week in a hotel 3 times a year is not something they could afford. We would have to give up our yearly vacation for us to afford it, or give up paying extra into loans. Between our parents and siblings, we have had 6 visits this year, all from 4-7 days long. I am pretty sure they would stop visiting even if we paid for a hotel—all of our parents are still very frugal and would rather not see us than have us spend a lot of money on them.

As it is, we can only pay for their flights if we tell them they are saving us money on babysitters when they come—which is a lie, because we have to pay our part time nanny the same agreed-on weekly amount whether we use her or not. But it’s part of Asian face-saving culture. We know they want to visit and see our kids, so we say please let us buy you a ticket—you being here is so much cheaper than paying our sitter. And then we pay both.

But to be clear—we don’t mind because our parents worked hard and never spent on themselves to get us where we are today. My mother literally never worked a day in her life till they moved to the US, and my dad could not use his degrees and got a telemarketing job, so my mom got a job working for minimum wage at a supermarket—where she worked for something like $7/hour for 15 years until retirement—purely so she could get SS and not be a burden on us in retirement.

So this type of thing is something we feel we owe our parents.

Hope that makes sense.
I'm not an immigrant or Asian, but I wouldn't put my parents in a hotel if they came to visit either.
I would! In fact, I'd put the kids in the hotel with them to give them more time together.

Myamar
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by Myamar » Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:29 pm

For the people wondering why it's a disruption when our parents come--the kids sleep in our room and then they have a hard time going back to their own room, and we spend at least a week afterward getting them used to sleeping in their own room again and it's exhausting. And while they are in our room, none of us get enough sleep--my 5:30am alarm wakes all of them, we have to creep around in the evening after they go to bed at 8pm. I'm afraid to take AM showers and blow dry my hair to get ready for work, etc. It's just a big disruption and it's not particularly fun fitting 6 people in a 2 bedroom condo, although we've definitely fit more--once, we fit my husband's parents, his sister and her husband and their 3 kids, and us. Lots of people sleeping on the floor. :shock:


I'm glad to see most people don't like the idea of a commute--I don't either! Interesting to see the forum is split between upgrading to a 3 bedroom and staying put. That mirrors the split between the two of us. Housing prices are finally starting to cool off (of course, interest rates are also rising)...let's see if the slightly lower prices vs slightly higher interest rates works in our favor. Our neighborhood school isn't the best on paper because it's very diverse socioeconomically, but we've been really pleased so far with the quality of teachers/education so I'm happy to stay put. I prefer a more urban neighborhood and have no desire to clean a big space and worry about snow shoveling and landscaping/mowing.

Hulk
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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by Hulk » Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:35 pm

I'd do just about anything for a shorter commute (and have). 1 or 3 but definitely not 2!! IMO. Look up what makes people happy and a short commute is HIGH on that list. Not being home when the kids are awake is a non starter. Don't even consider that.

And as others have mentioned. Hotel hotel hotel for relatives (that might be better even if you had a 6 bedroom house :D )

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Re: Weigh in on our Marital Argument =)-- HCOL edition

Post by AlphaLess » Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:46 pm

Tough situation.

Making $320K in NYC, with a kid. Wow. That's rough.

Need to look for out-of-box solutions.

E.g., when grandparents visit, get them an Air-BNB.
"You can get more with a kind word and a gun than with just a kind word." George Washington

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