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Affording paradise

November 29, 2015

Of course we can afford paradise.  Here we are, affording it! Look!

But in the worst-worst case scenarios, I’m sure we can’t.

Committing to being able to afford to live here is a constant risk.

We put more chips on the table than I would have wished when we bought a house, although it was a calculated decision.  Staying in the rental market long term wasn’t a great option either.  When choosing between the two, we decided to go for it.  In the short term, it is looking to be a brilliant decision, but I’m not one to look only at the short term.

Can we afford it, permanently, on a single salary?  Maybe.  We’d have to cut back retirement, and I’d hope we’re talking about T’s salary (including summer funding) rather than mine – though mine isn’t far behind.  I feel like we could get by on one for quite some time (and certainly w/unemployment benefits), but I’m not sure we could adequately afford retirement if it were a permanent situation.  I’m even less sure that would be true if we had children in the picture.  (Note the “I feel” phrasing rather than the “I calculated” phrasing!)

But how likely is this worst case?  Intermittent job loss happens, long term unemployment happens, but permanent unemployment years before we are ready? Unlikely.  A more realistic undesirable scenario would result in a terrible commute for me.  Which would be terrible, indeed – but not impossible.  Not unlivable.

My midwestern frugal sensibilities wish for a situation where almost EVERYTHING could go wrong, yet we’d still be OK.  I worry a little, but it doesn’t keep me up at night.  In fact, my husband just commented this morning on how freaking lucky we are, how unfair that is, and how “easy” it is to save “lots” when you aren’t a graduate student.  Unfair, indeed.

Our house isn’t large by any means, but we have enough bedrooms for 0-3 kids (if we made same sex kids share – which even T’s family did in the midwest for his unlucky sisters).  Our “yard” is not great, but living in California makes it easier to tolerate a small yard.  We have parks very close by – both the trees & trails version and the swings set and slides version.  Right now, we are both within 2 miles of our jobs, which is basically a fantasy situation.  I really couldn’t ask for a better life.

We put our bet on making this work.  If we lose, we mostly likely don’t lose big.  We just lose this thing that we’ve put together.  Then we try again with some new parameters.  Maybe we lose this slice of paradise, but we’ve already left one version of paradise and found ourselves in another.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. November 30, 2015 9:57 am

    My friends in the bay area says different sex kids can share until the oldest is like 10. But I guess with 3 kids, you’re going to end up with two kids of the same gender anyway. Math!

    It’s likely if you got a terrible commute you’d also get telecommuting privileges.

    Sounds like a great life!

    • November 30, 2015 10:40 pm

      You wouldn’t necessarily get telecommuting privileges if you have a terrible commute. Telecommuting at my job isn’t very welcomed, despite me having a bad commute.

      My friends who bought big-ish houses before kids like you and T did have been making extra mortgage payments to help with the risk factor. And having a bigger emergency fund than I do. (Though mine is also way bigger than my boyfriend’s since he “rents” rather than owning.)

      “My midwestern frugal sensibilities wish for a situation where almost EVERYTHING could go wrong, yet we’d still be OK.” This is me too! So long as I have a well-paid job, everything will be fine, but otherwise, I start to worry a lot. It was a bit of a risk when I bought my condo, but my income kept going up from there, so everything has worked out okay.

      • December 1, 2015 7:26 am

        But SP lives in SF. The worker is king in SF.

        • December 1, 2015 11:39 am

          We wish we were. Well, I am probably in the wrong industry to begin with for so many reasons.

          • December 1, 2015 2:12 pm

            Well, tech workers are king?

          • December 2, 2015 7:38 pm

            Maybe they are right now. I don’t think that can possibly last forever! Plus, I don’t write SW, which seems to be the most common telecommutable job.

    • December 2, 2015 7:42 pm

      Yes, it is unlikely I will have 3 kids anyway. the more likely range is 0-2 🙂

  2. December 1, 2015 11:41 am

    While I have that lurking fear in the back of my mind and want to be prepared for early retirement in case it’s forced on me (developed from watching friends and family experience this in their 40s and 50s), I sure do hope that it’s just an unreasonable fear. Well, aside from the becoming permanently disabled and unable to work scenario which I can’t discount entirely, anyway.

    I feel the same as you: I appreciate that we’re really lucky right now and I still yearn to have the nearly complete sense of safety that a huge emergency fund and paid off mortgage would help bring.

    • December 3, 2015 9:21 am

      This is a good point, and why I think you can never go wrong with “oversaving” for retirement if your budget allows. Because you never know.

  3. December 4, 2015 11:53 am

    For us, we are working towards 3 major goals:

    1. A fully paid for condo / home so we just pay the fees for upkeep

    2. No debt at all

    3. Save $1 million each to retire in 5 years. My partner is probably closer to this goal than I am because I seem to have a tendency to spend it all on pretty clothes.

    Still, I want like Revanche, to have a paid off home and a huge, HUGE emergency fund and completely out of the world retirement accounts.

  4. December 8, 2015 7:06 pm

    We bought in a very expensive major Canadian city in 09. We spent what seemed like a small fortune, especially when you compared it to similar housing in smaller cities an hour away. But we were close to our jobs (biking and walking only) and close to parks and shopping and great restaurants and indie coffee shops. Now, we are selling and moving quite distance to totally change things up and our house has sold for almost double what we paid. Best decision we ever made. I am sure you will do well too! I would just work on getting that mortgage paid off ASAP! Good luck! Sounds like you love where you live.


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