Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

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Neoseo1300
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Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by Neoseo1300 »

Hi there,

I know it's a recurring topic but it's such an important matter for my wife and I at the moment that we would like external unbiased (or let's say neutral) opinions from complete strangers we never met before ( :D ). I know that ultimately, it's a personal decision but we're first-time home buyers and we dont want to screw up too badly (especially given that the real estate market is on fire right now).

So background: my wife and I work in NYC and we have a combined gross income of ~$450-500k. We've been renting a relatively small apartment until today so we were able to save around 80% of our monthly net income (we both have a pretty low key life style). We are now planning on moving outside of NYC, in CT and found a very nice house for $1.3MM. Both coming from modest families, we initially completely disregarded homes in that price range but we're starting to reassess our position given our strong desire to have a house (and most importantly a nice backyard) and the high cost of living of the NYC / CT region.

More than the absolute price point, another thing that scares us is the recurring expenses associated with owning such a house (we're talking about 3,500sqft with pool on 1.0-1.5 acre of land). We brutally realized that when the owner of one of the similar houses we recently visited shared his home expenses for 2020. While we had a pretty good idea of standard expenses such as heating, electricity, pool service, sceptic, etc., certain other costs were more "shocking" to us (who said naïve?), such as lawn mowing (damn expensive), lawn fertilization, pest control (??), tick control (??), garbage, irrigation, tree care, house cleaning (okay, this one is on us), chimney cleaning, gutter cleaning, etc. Overall, that owner was spending over $2,000 per month on expenses and utilities.

So, if on paper (i.e. using those online calculators...) we can afford the $1.3MM price tag for a house, I'm wondering if this is still a rational / wise decision. Appreciate any point of view and personal experience from people who have been in similar situations.

Thanks a lot,
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by z3r0c00l »

Broadly home ownership is called affordable up to 3x annual earnings. As a NYC resident I say nonsense to that and would go 10x earnings for a person who lives frugally. So yes you are good to go on that price point. There are other issues like property taxes, schools, to consider.
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mikejuss
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by mikejuss »

z3r0c00l wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 7:17 pm Broadly home ownership is called affordable up to 3x annual earnings. As a NYC resident I say nonsense to that and would go 10x earnings for a person who lives frugally. So yes you are good to go on that price point. There are other issues like property taxes, schools, to consider.
Can one even qualify for a loan if he's trying to buy a house with a price that's ten times his earnings?
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by z3r0c00l »

mikejuss wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 7:20 pm
z3r0c00l wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 7:17 pm Broadly home ownership is called affordable up to 3x annual earnings. As a NYC resident I say nonsense to that and would go 10x earnings for a person who lives frugally. So yes you are good to go on that price point. There are other issues like property taxes, schools, to consider.
Can one even qualify for a loan if he's trying to buy a house with a price that's ten times his earnings?
Remember this is a world where housing is an outsize part of the financial picture. 100K salary puts 500K down on a 1M property with 500K mortgage over 30 years? Not a big deal imho. No, I wouldn't recommend that the OP buy a $5 million property especially if they have not saved a few million by now.
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Jacotus
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by Jacotus »

What is your net worth? Saving 80% of net income sounds like you may have quite a bit.

From a risk perspective, buying a $1.3 M house with $2M net worth is quite different than with a net worth of $200k.
knowledge
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by knowledge »

You can afford it.

Also, your home maintenance costs will depend on what you do yourself vs. outsource. If you want to lower your home maintenance costs, one area to look at would be to decrease your acreage. 1.0-1.5 acres is a lot to maintain - says me with a similar sized house on 1/4 acres. Also, a pool is one of those binary things, either you love it or hate it, and I'm definitely in the latter camp.
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Neoseo1300
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by Neoseo1300 »

Jacotus wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 7:35 pm What is your net worth? Saving 80% of net income sounds like you may have quite a bit.

From a risk perspective, buying a $1.3 M house with $2M net worth is quite different than with a net worth of $200k.
Net worth is ~$1.0MM accumulated in the last 3.5 years of working (no income before that).
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by mikejuss »

Are you prepared to pay roughly $25,000 a year in property taxes?

You have the income for the price of the house. The taxes will be stiff--and perhaps a total waste if you don't have a child in the school system.
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by mikejuss »

z3r0c00l wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 7:24 pm
mikejuss wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 7:20 pm
z3r0c00l wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 7:17 pm Broadly home ownership is called affordable up to 3x annual earnings. As a NYC resident I say nonsense to that and would go 10x earnings for a person who lives frugally. So yes you are good to go on that price point. There are other issues like property taxes, schools, to consider.
Can one even qualify for a loan if he's trying to buy a house with a price that's ten times his earnings?
Remember this is a world where housing is an outsize part of the financial picture. 100K salary puts 500K down on a 1M property with 500K mortgage over 30 years? Not a big deal imho. No, I wouldn't recommend that the OP buy a $5 million property especially if they have not saved a few million by now.
Yes, but a person with a salary of $100,000 is unlikely to have 50% to put down on a $1 million property.
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WarAdmiral
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by WarAdmiral »

mikejuss wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 8:01 pm Are you prepared to pay roughly $25,000 a year in property taxes?

You have the income for the price of the house. The taxes will be stiff--and perhaps a total waste if you don't have a child in the school system.
Agree with this. Over 10 year ownership you are looking at $250K in taxes alone, plus you said 2K per month in utilities etc. that's another 250K

You are looking at 500K ownership cost over 10 years for this house.
elle
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by elle »

How much are you putting down?
What are your other expenses?
If you know you are saving 80%, my guess is you could probably break this down. I’d recommend modeling it out.

Are all the expenses you listed necessary? No. Figure out what you plan to do yourself vs. pay someone.

We make a little less than you and purchased at 1.35. [edit] plus daycare and private school for 2 kids.
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by mikejuss »

WarAdmiral wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 8:08 pm
mikejuss wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 8:01 pm Are you prepared to pay roughly $25,000 a year in property taxes?

You have the income for the price of the house. The taxes will be stiff--and perhaps a total waste if you don't have a child in the school system.
Agree with this. Over 10 year ownership you are looking at $250K in taxes alone, plus you said 2K per month in utilities etc. that's another 250K

You are looking at 500K ownership cost over 10 years for this house.
I gotta wonder--what in the H are you spending $2,000 a month on, maintenance-wise (apart from property taxes)?
OnTrack2020
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by OnTrack2020 »

I'm sorry, I don't necessarily agree with your neighbor. We have a push mower, and mow the lawn ourselves and live on an acre. You can buy a lawnmower and gas containers for a few hundred dollars.

Lawn fertilization. Buy a bag of fertilizer and fertilize the lawn yourself.

Pest control--for what? You can spray around the foundation of your home. Pretty inexpensive. But some mice traps if needed.

Tick control. We have never done tick control--ever. And there are ticks in our part of the country.

Garbage being hauled away--maybe $500 per year.?

Irrigation? Do you mean sprinklers? Or are you going to plant some vegetables/fruits?

Tree care. This one I will say is probably the most expensive. Solution--do not buy a house with many trees, and make sure the trees are nowhere near the house. Removal of large trees is fairly expensive, depending how mature the tree is.

Chimney cleaning does not need to be done that often unless you are using your fireplace on a pretty regular basis.

Gutter cleaning. Solution is to have gutter guards or a leaf guard installed. It will make such a difference and pay for itself.
Topic Author
Neoseo1300
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by Neoseo1300 »

WarAdmiral wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 8:08 pm
mikejuss wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 8:01 pm Are you prepared to pay roughly $25,000 a year in property taxes?

You have the income for the price of the house. The taxes will be stiff--and perhaps a total waste if you don't have a child in the school system.
Agree with this. Over 10 year ownership you are looking at $250K in taxes alone, plus you said 2K per month in utilities etc. that's another 250K

You are looking at 500K ownership cost over 10 years for this house.
Totally agree, so painful just to think about it. One good thing though is that, based on numbers on Zillow, it seems that most houses have a lower tax assessment than their market price. The current owner of the house we're looking at paid ~$15k in taxes last year, based on a property assessment of ~$700k. I checked for other properties in the region and their assessment values are all much lower than what they sold for.
mikejuss wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 8:40 pm
WarAdmiral wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 8:08 pm
mikejuss wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 8:01 pm Are you prepared to pay roughly $25,000 a year in property taxes?

You have the income for the price of the house. The taxes will be stiff--and perhaps a total waste if you don't have a child in the school system.
Agree with this. Over 10 year ownership you are looking at $250K in taxes alone, plus you said 2K per month in utilities etc. that's another 250K

You are looking at 500K ownership cost over 10 years for this house.
I gotta wonder--what in the H are you spending $2,000 a month on, maintenance-wise (apart from property taxes)?
I agree it seems high. Here's the breakdown I received: https://prnt.sc/12c6tph (again, that's for a different house), and the average monthly amount is $2,157. I was not expecting that honestly ($725 in lawn and tree care??)
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JonnyDVM
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by JonnyDVM »

I think your neighbor is either overestimating or overspending on maintenance. Even by a standard 2.5X gross income you’re in the clear here if this house is what you want.
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Metsfan91
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by Metsfan91 »

You can afford the house! Go for it!

Assuming you put 20% down, your monthly mortgage + property tax + lot maintenance & utilities will be about 10K or less. As others have mentioned, you may be able to cut some of the expenses down, if you choose to do so.
You are looking at 500K ownership cost over 10 years for this house.
You are looking at household income of $5M or more over 10 years. Spending 500K from $5M is no biggie.

Congratulations in advance on your new house.
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PowderDay9
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by PowderDay9 »

If your jobs are fairly secure or you could find similar ones at the same compensation, then I'd say you can definitely afford this house. It's really just a matter of if you want to spend the money and how much you value the house.
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by mikejuss »

Neoseo1300 wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 9:32 pmTotally agree, so painful just to think about it. One good thing though is that, based on numbers on Zillow, it seems that most houses have a lower tax assessment than their market price. The current owner of the house we're looking at paid ~$15k in taxes last year, based on a property assessment of ~$700k. I checked for other properties in the region and their assessment values are all much lower than what they sold for.
I agree it seems high. Here's the breakdown I received: https://prnt.sc/12c6tph (again, that's for a different house), and the average monthly amount is $2,157. I was not expecting that honestly ($725 in lawn and tree care??)[/quote]

Two thoughts: don't trust Zillow; make sure you confirm the property-tax numbers. Do you have kids? If not, I can't imagine why you'd want to pay any property tax. Second, I think you can do better in terms of home maintenance.
FIREmeup
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by FIREmeup »

Can you afford it....yes. if you are looking to move that far away from NYC you can get away with cheaper taxes but perhaps your ideal location revolves around family.

As another poster said...buy a top of the line push power
Or even ride on mower if.you have that much land. The HRX Honda mower is $600 for a self propelled and is cheap compared to $250 a month maintenance.

I have a pool...the quotes I got were $2k a summer for a visit every 2 weeks or $3k for a visit every week inclusive of all chemicals. Use the BBB method, and troublefreepool, I spend about $175 on bleach, $20 baking soda and $20 bucks on a few bags of shock for a 30k gallon in ground pool each year. I learned quickly to not listen to the pool stores. It does take about 5 minutes a day for me but been 10 years now and it is easy.

So you can afford it....you can make the house maintenance cheaper. A big nice house like thay makes everything more expensive.. a plumber has to come... a normal $200 job is now $500 because you have a million dollar house. Learn to do things yourself for the simpler things. Also, just be aware 25k taxes now are gonna be 50k in 10 to 15 years.

Good luck.
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by mikejuss »

Again, why are you moving, and willing to pay property tax, without kids?
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by optimusprima »

We're pretty similar to you in terms of income, a touch higher. We bought a house at 1.3MM after leaving NYC area and moving to a MCOL area. We put almost 30% down and have a mortgage payment that is reasonable on a cashflow basis - though I would love for it to be just a little bit less (it's almost 33% of take-home on a monthly basis, but given our high incomes, the remainder is still a good amount to live on & save).

There are A LOT of additional associated maintanence costs to include in your calcualtions:
- 25K for property taxes
- 300 / month pool service
- 300 / month landscaping (and it sounds like you have much more grass than me)
- Heat / electricity - 500 / month (up to 700 when it's a particularly hot month)
+ pest control, +housekeepers, + annual stuff like: painting, staining deck, fence repair, replacement of ...

+ the cost of filling up the house with furniture after leaving NYC. We bought 2 couches, 2 dining tables, 14 chairs, an extra bedroom set...

So it's a lot. But doable.
I love our house, we didn't buy until we were close to 40. And i get how much a nice house, in a nice place, feels good after being in NYC apartments for years.
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Neoseo1300
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by Neoseo1300 »

mikejuss wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 10:10 pm
Neoseo1300 wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 9:32 pmTotally agree, so painful just to think about it. One good thing though is that, based on numbers on Zillow, it seems that most houses have a lower tax assessment than their market price. The current owner of the house we're looking at paid ~$15k in taxes last year, based on a property assessment of ~$700k. I checked for other properties in the region and their assessment values are all much lower than what they sold for.
I agree it seems high. Here's the breakdown I received: https://prnt.sc/12c6tph (again, that's for a different house), and the average monthly amount is $2,157. I was not expecting that honestly ($725 in lawn and tree care??)
Two thoughts: don't trust Zillow; make sure you confirm the property-tax numbers. Do you have kids? If not, I can't imagine why you'd want to pay any property tax. Second, I think you can do better in terms of home maintenance.
I checked the assessment value on the county website and that's the correct figure. Couldn't find the $ amount in taxe paid but I would assume it's accurately reported by Zillow (at least for this one).
mikejuss wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 10:14 pm Again, why are you moving, and willing to pay property tax, without kids?
Well, 3 reasons: we're really fed up with living right in the middle of a big city (I've never been a big fan of cities, and I ended up in NYC..) and we plan on starting a family in the next few months (but we wanted to handle the house situation first). Also, both our families (parents) live abroad so having a nice and comfortable home is a big plus to host them for extended periods of time (something we clearly can't do in our current one-bedroom apartment..)
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by mikejuss »

Neoseo1300 wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 10:37 pmWell, 3 reasons: we're really fed up with living right in the middle of a big city (I've never been a big fan of cities, and I ended up in NYC..) and we plan on starting a family in the next few months (but we wanted to handle the house situation first). Also, both our families (parents) live abroad so having a nice and comfortable home is a big plus to host them for extended periods of time (something we clearly can't do in our current one-bedroom apartment..)
Fair enough. A few thoughts: lock down what the property-tax number is. Don't trust Zillow. Second, I gotta imagine you can buy a nice house without those kinds of maintenance fees. Maybe skip the pool and the giant lawn.
HereToLearn
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by HereToLearn »

Those numbers look in line with what I see. The electric bill is high for a 3500 sq foot house, or perhaps someone runs the A/C on high all summer. Conversely, home heating oil bill seems low, so perhaps the house has a mix of electric heat and home heating oil?

If you have an acre +, the lawn service will run that high. Spring clean-up, lay down mulch, weekly cuts, then hauling away all those leaves each fall, and fall clean-up. I don't spend that much on tree care annually, but do spend that every few years having things pruned or taken down.

I don't see a water bill, and that could run $100/month if running sprinklers during the summer months, but maybe $50/month during the rest of the year. A bit unusual to have well water and town sewer, so perhaps just an oversight. (Oops...I see that is septic, so perhaps annual maintenance cost, so well water makes sense.)

Add snow removal, unless that cost is included in the landscaping bill. Driveway will need to be resealed periodically, exterior of home will require power washing and then painting at some point. Random things will break or require repair or replacement. It's just the reality of home ownership, and something you have not had to pay for as renters in NYC.

Also add purchase of two cars and associated carrying costs, unless you keep a car in Manhattan now, and then you will see your car insurance bill drop.

I would trust the Zillow tax info but you can probably look up the info at Town Hall or just call the tax dept in Town Hall. I think it is public info.

Random comments.

Are your jobs in NYC? If so, how far away is the train station and how many years is the wait for parking at the train station? Confirm that the nearby station is not on a spur line.

You mentioned wanting to have children. Will one spouse remain home with the children? If so, can you manage this on one salary? Ignoring child care, babies add a lot to your budget, but those numbers would exist in NYC also, and would probably be higher in Manhattan.

My unsolicited opinion is that it is a lot of house & grounds for a first time homeowner.
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Watty
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by Watty »

A pool would be great in some place like Arizona or Southern California but in Connecticut I would guess it might only usable for three or four months a year if that.

One thing that people often do not consider is that during the summer they will be busy with vacations and other activities that will reduce the time that they can actually use a pool. When you only have a 16 week pool season going on a two week vacation takes a pretty big chunk out of it.

If you have kids then you need to carefully consider the risk of owning a pool.

Some people really enjoy pools but other people tire of them and eventually fill them in.

Unless you were specifically looking for a house with a pool then you need to be real cautious about buying a house with a pool.
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by TheHiker »

You should be able to afford the house.

The expenses can be quite small if you are willing to do the work yourself.
We do lawns, trees, pests, chimneys, gutters, roof, fences, paint, repairs, improvements and cleaning ourselves so these things cost very little.
In fact, the costs are lower than the HOA fees were in our old townhouse which covered many of these things and are not anywhere near $2000/mo.
Heating/cooling is a non-issue where we live.
We specifically bought a house without a pool as it is a pain to maintain and expensive to repair.

Now a large house is more expensive than a small house (let alone an apartment) in time, money or both. So buying a bigger house than you need will be a drag.
Don't forget the property tax which for us is the biggest expense.
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by bluebolt »

Neoseo1300 wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 10:37 pm Well, 3 reasons: we're really fed up with living right in the middle of a big city (I've never been a big fan of cities, and I ended up in NYC..) and we plan on starting a family in the next few months (but we wanted to handle the house situation first). Also, both our families (parents) live abroad so having a nice and comfortable home is a big plus to host them for extended periods of time (something we clearly can't do in our current one-bedroom apartment..)
I recommend against buying a house in advance of having your kids. Your ideas about what makes a good house/layout/yard will change once your little ones arrive.
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wander
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by wander »

With your income? Yes, you can afford it.
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by remomnyc »

Yes, you can afford it; however, there are other considerations.

1. How secure it your income? Could you carry the house if one or both of you lost your jobs? What if one of you wants to stay home with your future children?
2. Do you need such a large house, so much lawn, and a pool? More house means higher utilities, furnishing costs, maintenance. More lawn typically means higher property taxes. A pool is rarely used and expensive to maintain and a huge liability.
3. Don't forget commuting costs and transportation if you continue to work in the City. You'll have train passes, two cars, insurance, gas, etc.

Spending $1.3M isn't the issue for me. It would be the size of the house, the size of the property, and the pool. I would buy a smaller house (2,000 sf) on a smaller lot without a pool and make sure the public schools are acceptable for your future children so you don't add private tuition to your expenses.
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by snackdog »

It is good you are looking at Opex as well as Capex. Related to Opex, are you ready and willing to take on the burden of not just opening your wallet but managing all the upkeep? You will either be out there doing it yourself every week or juggling a long list of sketchy vendors who may or may not do what they say when they say. It can be exhausting if you would prefer to use your energy in other pursuits.
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unclescrooge
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by unclescrooge »

JonnyDVM wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 9:46 pm I think your neighbor is either overestimating or overspending on maintenance.
Agreed. Or he's getting fleeced.

Tick control should be covered under pest control. They're both insects and both respond to pesticides.

Electricity costs can be offset by solar.

Tree maintenance isn't usually an annual thing unless you have a lot of trees.

If OP is bothered by maintenance, a smaller yard is the solution.

Also, I would recommend against a pool if you have, or are planning to have, small children.
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unclescrooge
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by unclescrooge »

bluebolt wrote: Sat May 01, 2021 7:06 am
Neoseo1300 wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 10:37 pm Well, 3 reasons: we're really fed up with living right in the middle of a big city (I've never been a big fan of cities, and I ended up in NYC..) and we plan on starting a family in the next few months (but we wanted to handle the house situation first). Also, both our families (parents) live abroad so having a nice and comfortable home is a big plus to host them for extended periods of time (something we clearly can't do in our current one-bedroom apartment..)
I recommend against buying a house in advance of having your kids. Your ideas about what makes a good house/layout/yard will change once your little ones arrive.
Wisdom!!!
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by KlangFool »

Neoseo1300 wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 7:46 pm
Jacotus wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 7:35 pm What is your net worth? Saving 80% of net income sounds like you may have quite a bit.

From a risk perspective, buying a $1.3 M house with $2M net worth is quite different than with a net worth of $200k.
Net worth is ~$1.0MM accumulated in the last 3.5 years of working (no income before that).
Neoseo1300,

I would not buy a 1.3M house unless my net worth excluding the house is at least 2.5X = 3.25M

Rent a house instead.

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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by Triple digit golfer »

How secure is your income? If you both lost your jobs, could you find other jobs paying the same?
Katietsu
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by Katietsu »

I wonder if you are taking into account all of the time and energy commitments that you will be adding? And the possible increased costs because you have so much less time?

Young children, a large house with the additional maintenance of a large yard, pool, etc, and, possibly, a significant commute? I wonder if you would have room to handle any of the suggested DIY chores? In fact, you might not even have time to look around for the best value hire.

It sounds like you current situation might be challenging with a baby. Could you rent for a couple years? The primary benefit is that you would see what life with a child entails. I think you might well pick a different home if you wait. Maybe it would have less maintenance, less commute or just a different layout. It would also mean that you were not trying to buy during this crazy real estate market.
DharmaBum
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by DharmaBum »

My wife and I have similar stats, and spent almost exactly $1.3M on our house. We have been able to manage it well and continue to save aggressively. If you’re going to need a FT nanny down the road like we have now it will crimp things a bit, but you’ll still have plenty of money to max tax advantages accounts and put a little into taxable.
ButterUtterD
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by ButterUtterD »

Yes Buy the House - You can afford it by a very wide margin . Please read the following from a peer of yours (me).

6 Years ago I posted the classic "Can I afford this house" (cant find that username as I would love to directly reference the post)

The #s then were roughly exactly half of yours (half the income and half the home cost).
At the time HHI was ~250K and buying a ~800K house (with 25K Property Taxes). Everything else (life wise is a clone of yours).

The exact same usernames in this thread saying don't buy the home were the same usernames telling me not to. Truthfully I ignored them; and you should to.

Just sold that house for 1.4 million, income has doubled in that time. I now have a 2.5+ million dollar net worth - mid 30s.

Have some confidence in you and your spouse; you have a top % income in an extremely competitive geo local and industry. Even if the house situation goes really really south you will figure it out...

I lost my first child at the age of 1.5 in the span of buying that home and today; that is a risk that cannot be recovered from. That is a situation in life that will ruin you.

Buying a home that may require you to work a few more years longer or spend a little more money than you want is not a "risk" in life that will destroy you. You can unwind that scenario; I have all but stopped reading this forum as there are so many members here that give the same "advice" and write with such hyperbole over and over which basically amounts to -- never buy a home, never spend your money. Save your money as the unthinkable may happen--.

Let me tell you , as someone who has had the unthinkable happen, no amount of money can save someone from the truly unthinkable destructive life events.

Spend your money, try and be happy, live your life, - you get exactly one of them... And some people's are extremely short.
59Gibson
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by 59Gibson »

Watty wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 11:08 pm A pool would be great in some place like Arizona or Southern California but in Connecticut I would guess it might only usable for three or four months a year if that.

One thing that people often do not consider is that during the summer they will be busy with vacations and other activities that will reduce the time that they can actually use a pool. When you only have a 16 week pool season going on a two week vacation takes a pretty big chunk out of it.

If you have kids then you need to carefully consider the risk of owning a pool.

Some people really enjoy pools but other people tire of them and eventually fill them in.

Unless you were specifically looking for a house with a pool then you need to be real cautious about buying a house with a pool.
I have to agree, an outdoor pool in NE seems to be such a waste with all that goes along with it. What does a similar property rent for?
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Metsfan91
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by Metsfan91 »

ButterUtterD wrote: Sat May 01, 2021 1:46 pm Yes Buy the House - You can afford it by a very wide margin . Please read the following from a peer of yours (me).

6 Years ago I posted the classic "Can I afford this house" (cant find that username as I would love to directly reference the post)

The #s then were roughly exactly half of yours (half the income and half the home cost).
At the time HHI was ~250K and buying a ~800K house (with 25K Property Taxes). Everything else (life wise is a clone of yours).

The exact same usernames in this thread saying don't buy the home were the same usernames telling me not to. Truthfully I ignored them; and you should to.

Just sold that house for 1.4 million, income has doubled in that time. I now have a 2.5+ million dollar net worth - mid 30s.

Have some confidence in you and your spouse; you have a top % income in an extremely competitive geo local and industry. Even if the house situation goes really really south you will figure it out...

I lost my first child at the age of 1.5 in the span of buying that home and today; that is a risk that cannot be recovered from. That is a situation in life that will ruin you.

Buying a home that may require you to work a few more years longer or spend a little more money than you want is not a "risk" in life that will destroy you. You can unwind that scenario; I have all but stopped reading this forum as there are so many members here that give the same "advice" and write with such hyperbole over and over which basically amounts to -- never buy a home, never spend your money. Save your money as the unthinkable may happen--.

Let me tell you , as someone who has had the unthinkable happen, no amount of money can save someone from the truly unthinkable destructive life events.

Spend your money, try and be happy, live your life, - you get exactly one of them... And some people's are extremely short.
Sorry for your loss :(

I agree that the OP should buy the house.
“Time is your friend; impulse is your enemy.” — John C. Bogle
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JonnyDVM
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by JonnyDVM »

ButterUtterD wrote: Sat May 01, 2021 1:46 pm Yes Buy the House - You can afford it by a very wide margin . Please read the following from a peer of yours (me).

6 Years ago I posted the classic "Can I afford this house" (cant find that username as I would love to directly reference the post)

The #s then were roughly exactly half of yours (half the income and half the home cost).
At the time HHI was ~250K and buying a ~800K house (with 25K Property Taxes). Everything else (life wise is a clone of yours).

The exact same usernames in this thread saying don't buy the home were the same usernames telling me not to. Truthfully I ignored them; and you should to.

Just sold that house for 1.4 million, income has doubled in that time. I now have a 2.5+ million dollar net worth - mid 30s.

Have some confidence in you and your spouse; you have a top % income in an extremely competitive geo local and industry. Even if the house situation goes really really south you will figure it out...

I lost my first child at the age of 1.5 in the span of buying that home and today; that is a risk that cannot be recovered from. That is a situation in life that will ruin you.

Buying a home that may require you to work a few more years longer or spend a little more money than you want is not a "risk" in life that will destroy you. You can unwind that scenario; I have all but stopped reading this forum as there are so many members here that give the same "advice" and write with such hyperbole over and over which basically amounts to -- never buy a home, never spend your money. Save your money as the unthinkable may happen--.

Let me tell you , as someone who has had the unthinkable happen, no amount of money can save someone from the truly unthinkable destructive life events.

Spend your money, try and be happy, live your life, - you get exactly one of them... And some people's are extremely short.
This is why we need people on the forum who can evaluate appropriately and tell posters if they really can afford it or not. The conservative view is ok too, but some here are beyond rational. I think many posters get nervous about a big life change and just need a little push. If I had posted about my house five years ago I’m sure posters would have told me no, so I didn’t even bother. Truthfully, five years in I’d be kicking myself if I hadn’t bought it. And our income has increased so much I joke about buying a bigger place. OP, if you want this place, you can afford it. Dont sweat it.

ButterUdder, I’m truly sorry to hear about the loss of your child. I hope you are doing OK and thank you for posting.
Last edited by JonnyDVM on Sun May 02, 2021 8:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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jharkin
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by jharkin »

Neoseo1300 wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 7:13 pm Hi there,


More than the absolute price point, another thing that scares us is the recurring expenses associated with owning such a house (we're talking about 3,500sqft with pool on 1.0-1.5 acre of land). We brutally realized that when the owner of one of the similar houses we recently visited shared his home expenses for 2020. While we had a pretty good idea of standard expenses such as heating, electricity, pool service, sceptic, etc., certain other costs were more "shocking" to us (who said naïve?), such as lawn mowing (damn expensive), lawn fertilization, pest control (??), tick control (??), garbage, irrigation, tree care, house cleaning (okay, this one is on us), chimney cleaning, gutter cleaning, etc. Overall, that owner was spending over $2,000 per month on expenses and utilities.

Thanks a lot,
Most of the expenses you listed are a Choice, nobody is forcing you to pay top shelf and have everything done for you when you buy a house. You can learn to DIY some of those and completely skip others.


I live in a house like that. 2800sq above grade (3400 w/ basement). 2 acres (1 grass). Where I live it cost about half hat you are spending but the upkeep is no different.

Let’s see:

House cleaning? You know the answer here, but a vacuum...

Lawn mowing? I bought a rider. Couple grand up front but now it only costs a gallon of gas and one hour of my time per week. And that’s an hour sitting! It’s not even a workout..lol
(Previous house on 1/2 acre I had a nice Honda self propelled walk behind, my criteria is to get the smallest machine that will do the entire lawn in an hour)

Lawn fertilization? I pay a service about $600 a year. $1k if I ask them to aerate and reseed. Used to do this myself but it cost almost that much just to buy the fertilizer so why not.

Pest/tick. Only needed if you have issues. We have used it occasionally. $600 a year pays for full service if so.

Garbage is municipal.

Irrigation? Just say NO. It’s a fantastic waste of resources, environmentally and money wise. My lawn is as green as an emerald right now without it. All that happens is a little browning in Aug but it comes back by October. And you get to mow less as a bonus.

What tree care? Trees don’t need care other than some pruning If they overgrown the house or power lines. I do a lot of cleanup diy with a manual pole pruner.

Septic care? Unless the system fails (good ones go 30-50yr) all it needs is a pumping every 3 years or so for about $250

Chimney cleaning? Once a year costs about $300 if you hire. I have a device called a soot eater ($50) it’s a brush you attach to the drill. I can brush out my chimney DIY from the bottom, so easy anyone can DIY and only takes 20 min.

Gutter cleaning? Only an issue if trees overhang the house.If the eves are low enough you can buy long pole brushes and DIY without even getting on a ladder.


TL/DR ? Life is expensive if you choose to outsource everything and try to keep up with the Jones’s... There is another path.
jharkin
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by jharkin »

I’d like to add also.. ButterUtter that was the post of the year. Thank you.
TSWNY
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by TSWNY »

Totally agree, so painful just to think about it. One good thing though is that, based on numbers on Zillow, it seems that most houses have a lower tax assessment than their market price. The current owner of the house we're looking at paid ~$15k in taxes last year, based on a property assessment of ~$700k. I checked for other properties in the region and their assessment values are all much lower than what they sold for.


Be prepared for the possibility of your home being reassessed at your purchase price for tax purposes. That $700k tax base might jump to $1.3m.
ajcp
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by ajcp »

JonnyDVM wrote: Sat May 01, 2021 8:03 pm This is why we need people on the forum who can evaluate appropriately and tell posters if they really can afford it or not. The conservative view is ok too, but some here are beyond rational. I think many posters get nervous about a big life change and just need a little push. If I had posted about my house five years ago I’m sure posters would have told me no, so I didn’t even bother. Truthfully, five years in I’d be kicking myself if I hadn’t bought it. And our income has increased so much I joke about buying a bigger place. OP, if you want this place, you can afford it. Dint sweat it.
100% spot on, one of my biggest pet peeves is seeing replies like "When I bought my house I set my limit at 12% of my net worth." Sure that's great for you Mr./Ms. 800k/year salary plus bonus, but that's not helpful to the other 99% of us.

I'm quite certain I would have been responsible for at least 5 heart attacks if I posted before I bought (my numbers were legitimately aggressive, and certainly more than I'd recommend for most people). Only a year in, but so far my confidence has only increased that it was the right decision.
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Watty
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by Watty »

Neoseo1300 wrote: Fri Apr 30, 2021 7:13 pm I'm wondering if this is still a rational / wise decision.
One thing that has not been mentioned is that when you go from renting an apartment to owning a single family home there is often a bit of a shock in the amount of other expenses and work that you have to do.

It seems pretty clear that you really want a single family home and they you can afford one but the big question is if a house that cost this much is right for you.

I don't know that housing market but I would assume that if this house costs $1.3 million dollars then you could also find an acceptable smaller house on a smaller lot for something like $800K and that would be easy to see that you could afford that even with all the costs of home ownership.

The big questions are then if you can afford the extra costs of the additional $500K and if having the extra space and amenities is worth it to you.

Looking at it that way may be less intimidating so you may be able to look at it more objectively.

One other thing is that if you will be commuting in to jobs in NYC then be very careful about the commute. You can do a test drive and it may not be seem so bad but a long commute gets real old after a few years. If you have something like a 45 minute commute than likely means 45 minutes on a good day. There will also be not so good days, bad days, terrible days, and the occasional commute from hell. If you have jobs where you have to be at work at a specific time for things like appointments then you may need leave for work very early in the morning just so you can be at work on time if there is a bad commute that day. If you have kids in daycare then you will also need to pick them up on time. I have know people that have been dropped by their daycare because they were late too often.

If you will be living in CT and working in NYC be sure to also do a dummy tax return so there are no tax surprises.
jharkin
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by jharkin »

ajcp wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 7:31 amIm certain I would have been responsible for at least 5 heart attacks if I posted before I bought (my numbers were legitimately aggressive, and certainly more than I'd recommend for most people). Only a year in, but so far my confidence has only increased that it was the right decision.
Same here. First house we bought about 2.5x income with only 10% down... appreciated 50% in 10 years allowing us put 20% down and buy the house we will have till retirement for about 3x current income.

2 years in the new house has already appreciated 20% and the ridiculously low rates let me refinance into a payment that’s only about 50% more than the starter house was and this place is twice as big with 4x land! Our DTI is quite reasonable and I feel no desire to pay low interest debt down aggressively as we will downsize when the kids leave the nest anyway. In the meantime I can use the cash to fill up retirement accounts and live a little.

You have to live your life. I know of too many people who faced health issues early on in “retirement” to squander these good years living like a Scrooge.
Drewski04
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by Drewski04 »

JonnyDVM wrote: Sat May 01, 2021 8:03 pm
ButterUtterD wrote: Sat May 01, 2021 1:46 pm Yes Buy the House - You can afford it by a very wide margin . Please read the following from a peer of yours (me).

6 Years ago I posted the classic "Can I afford this house" (cant find that username as I would love to directly reference the post)

The #s then were roughly exactly half of yours (half the income and half the home cost).
At the time HHI was ~250K and buying a ~800K house (with 25K Property Taxes). Everything else (life wise is a clone of yours).

The exact same usernames in this thread saying don't buy the home were the same usernames telling me not to. Truthfully I ignored them; and you should to.

Just sold that house for 1.4 million, income has doubled in that time. I now have a 2.5+ million dollar net worth - mid 30s.

Have some confidence in you and your spouse; you have a top % income in an extremely competitive geo local and industry. Even if the house situation goes really really south you will figure it out...

I lost my first child at the age of 1.5 in the span of buying that home and today; that is a risk that cannot be recovered from. That is a situation in life that will ruin you.

Buying a home that may require you to work a few more years longer or spend a little more money than you want is not a "risk" in life that will destroy you. You can unwind that scenario; I have all but stopped reading this forum as there are so many members here that give the same "advice" and write with such hyperbole over and over which basically amounts to -- never buy a home, never spend your money. Save your money as the unthinkable may happen--.

Let me tell you , as someone who has had the unthinkable happen, no amount of money can save someone from the truly unthinkable destructive life events.

Spend your money, try and be happy, live your life, - you get exactly one of them... And some people's are extremely short.
This is why we need people on the forum who can evaluate appropriately and tell posters if they really can afford it or not. The conservative view is ok too, but some here are beyond rational. I think many posters get nervous about a big life change and just need a little push. If I had posted about my house five years ago I’m sure posters would have told me no, so I didn’t even bother. Truthfully, five years in I’d be kicking myself if I hadn’t bought it. And our income has increased so much I joke about buying a bigger place. OP, if you want this place, you can afford it. Dont sweat it.

ButterUdder, I’m truly sorry to hear about the loss of your child. I hope you are doing OK and thank you for posting.
Agree so much with this perspective, and I too am sorry about the loss of your child.

It is ironic that the most conservative posters who regularly say to not spend on a house, save 50x+ for annual expenses, have an emergency fund of many, many years...do not realize how risky they are being in betting almost 100% that they will live long past 60+ years old.

In other words, these ultra conservative savers are risking missing out on the real consumption value that comes from so many things in life.

And a consumption value that has hyper inflation every year, in that, as we age most activities become harder and less enjoyable due to increased physical limitations.

That ski trip at 40 is certainly different than at 60+...and of course, this assumes one even makes it to 60+.

Health and money are two sides to the coin...without health your money is worth a lot less...without money, your good health is with a lot less...interesting that so many risk adverse posters only seem to account for one side of the coin.
KlangFool
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by KlangFool »

Drewski04 wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 11:42 am
It is ironic that the most conservative posters who regularly say to not spend on a house, save 50x+ for annual expenses, have an emergency fund of many, many years...do not realize how risky they are being in betting almost 100% that they will live long past 60+ years old.

In other words, these ultra conservative savers are risking missing out on the real consumption value that comes from so many things in life.
Drewski04,

1) I eat out regularly and have plenty of money to spend on everything else because I spend less on the big items: house, car, and college education. And, I save 1 year of expense every year.

2) Meanwhile, my income peers overspend on their houses. They do not eat out regularly and they do not save any money.

<<In other words, these ultra conservative savers are risking missing out on the real consumption value that comes from so many things in life. >>

3) I disagreed. Many folks overspend on their houses and they are "House Poor". Hence, they are missing out on consumption values on so many things in life. If someone overspend on the house, they have no money for everything else.

It is simple math. If most of your income ended up in paying for the house, you have no money for everything else.

KlangFool
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investingfan
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by investingfan »

We bought our house 2 years ago 5 times the income. Two years later, our house is almost double in value. And spouse just got a job making the mortgage balance only 2 times the current income. It's ok to take a little risk.
Last edited by investingfan on Sun May 02, 2021 12:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
jcricket73
Posts: 36
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Re: Can we afford a $1.3MM house?

Post by jcricket73 »

Drewski04 wrote: Sun May 02, 2021 11:42 am Agree so much with this perspective, and I too am sorry about the loss of your child.

It is ironic that the most conservative posters who regularly say to not spend on a house, save 50x+ for annual expenses, have an emergency fund of many, many years...do not realize how risky they are being in betting almost 100% that they will live long past 60+ years old.
I generally agree with this - and totally support buying this house given the OPs in the 15% DTI range and will likely find that declining to <10% over time. I've been in the same boat and taken the "calculated bet" on myself those times, and it's worked out for my family and myself. If it didn't work out I would have sold the place, licked my wounds, and moved on. Neither were "load up on 3x leverage and 36% DTI and roll the dice on BTC with my retirement" type of risks, but "taking zero risk" is itself a risk too (like being 100% in bonds creates the scenario you fear, where you run out of money in retirement).

I would add that a lot of the "no don't buy it, you can't afford it" is just value judgment - although it's far worse if you go to MMM than here on BH. It's often anti-consumption ethos (fine if you hold those beliefs, but not objective truth) or an argument from personal experience wrapped up in SWR/FIRE theory (ditto). When you scratch it, "you cannot afford <x>" is often missing a "if you want to retire forever at 30 and live on $50k a year which is more than enough for anyone" or "because I have lost jobs multiple times for years in a row and you will too" - certainly things/choices to be aware of when you think about these big purchases, but people should be transparent when they offer advice, not pretend they're preaching the gospel.

To me it's about balance between the saving & enjoyment of my money/time/health now, especially when I factor in the time you cannot count on always being there with my children, family and friends. Sure, I don't want to end up unable to retire in my late 50s/early 60s (voluntarily or otherwise) because of no financial means, but I don't want to end up in those years (or soon thereafter) w/o the physical means to enjoy my money when I could have at least enjoyed it earlier when healthy. And going back to the "value judgment" thing - I don't personally value the concept of retiring in my 40s on what I would call a shoe-string budget while hoping that everything BigErn/MMM/Physican on Fire has put in a spreadsheet is correct and my 15 side-hustles provide me the actual income I need to "retire". But there's my being judgmental ;)

Many things can steal future enjoyment from you even if you personally are healthy (death/injury of spouse, children, friends). I've seen that happen increasingly as I approach 50. Here's three examples off top of head: One of my healthiest friends got persistent headaches, went to the doctor - inoperable brain tumor, dead 3 weeks later at 49. Another was hit by a car while out on a walk (dead at 42). And another high powered many-millions-a-year earner was hit by another car while driving and is permanently disabled. She got a huge settlement and so her family is "fine" - but they will never again be the same.

I do try to be conscious of what I spend it on providing the right mix of necessity and "entertainment" value so I'm not just frittering money away. Haven't always been successful at that. But if I highly value something, like a house or trip? If I don't buy that, or do the remodel that gives my wife her dream kitchen, or take the trips now with the extended family, or spend on my/kids fun opportunities that aren't strictly needs - easily possible I never get those things.

So figure out what matters to you, balance that with being at least somewhat prepared for a future without regular income, and then just try and live in the present.
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