Where to move

How to avoid signing your life over to a mortgage
Viktor K
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Where to move

Post by Viktor K »

Hello everyone,

My girlfriend and I are looking to move soon. Currently close to downtown Chicago paying $1550/month in rent, with utilities and other living expenses on top of that.

My job is remote, she's finishing a coding bootcamp and will pursue remote as well. If it all works out, we'd like to sublease this apartment and hopefully (up to) cut in half our living expenses.

Looking around IL, I see a ton of small (1-3k pop.) with cheap houses. Sometimes 1200+sqft for <$50,000.

What's the cons to buying something like this and living remotely on the route to ERE?

I've thought about:

* job loss risk
* nothing to do
* quality of healthcare?
* home ownership and all the trouble that comes with it

Primarily, our goals are

a) cut costs
b) be near nature
c) be in lower pop. density area

Hoping to capitalize on the remote work options we have as much as possible to be close to nature, away from people (at least easier social distancing than current apartment and neighborhood), and save some money.

ertyu
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Re: Where to move

Post by ertyu »

if the area keeps depopulating or otherwise worsens in the coming crisis, you may have trouble reselling.

Viktor K
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Re: Where to move

Post by Viktor K »

True. Just google searched after posting, highlights some obvious cons I hadn’t thought of:

https://www.reddit.com/r/personalfinanc ... town_when/

Many of these small towns though I couldn’t find rental listings on...

ThriftyRob
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Re: Where to move

Post by ThriftyRob »

Knowing what I know now, I'm generally in favour of renting not buying. However, it's worth doing the math comparing the value (i.e. what the rental is as a % yield on the market value of the home). There will be a cost in time and risks in sub-letting your apartment (will they pay regularly, damage the apartment, etc) - so question whether that's worth the effort. I'm in favour of an uncomplicated life, so would want to make a clean break from your current apartment lease.

The advantage of renting is not incurring property maintenance costs (and the time organising builders/trades and ensuring they do the jobs properly). Also, if you have noisy/intrusive neighbours it's easier to move some place else. JL Collins has a very good summary: https://jlcollinsnh.com/2013/05/29/why- ... nvestment/

If you can be really minimalist and function in a smaller property, so much the better. Whilst saving rent is an obvious motivation, the cheapest rentals tend to be in the least attractive places with fewer and low quality amenities, so take into account the extra travel/transport costs you will incur in compensating for the downsides of the location.

sky
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Re: Where to move

Post by sky »

If you buy, you should select a house and location where you can live a long time, perhaps for life. It is not a good idea to buy the cheapest house, but instead, buy an excellent house that you will be satisfied with for a reasonable price.

Cities and neighborhoods rise and fall, what looks.bad today may improve. You need to look into the future and imagine.what will happen.

I think the lower tier of counties in Michigan is good value for housing at the moment. I mean near the border with Indiana, just north of South Bend and Elkhart. For example, Buchanan or Niles. The countryside around these towns is very nice.

Alphaville
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Re: Where to move

Post by Alphaville »

nature is overrated :lol:

downtown chicago sounds great. network effects are real and good for you.

relocating on the basis of a temporary and terribly managed pandemic is a bit of fighting the last war.

in the future you probably just need to find a summer/holiday cabin to decompress every now and then.



ETA: and working remotely with rural internet is... ooooof!

gimme fiber

JamesR
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Re: Where to move

Post by JamesR »

Viktor K wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 2:20 am
True. Just google searched after posting, highlights some obvious cons I hadn’t thought of:

https://www.reddit.com/r/personalfinanc ... town_when/

Many of these small towns though I couldn’t find rental listings on...
From reading that reddit thread I thought it sounded like a fun idea to buy that $33k house. I imagine there'd be a sense of freedom of choice when you own your own house, could make it your own, make whatever changes you want, etc. Might not necessarily make sense from a purely investment perspective, but could potentially find ways to generate an income off the land or do other creative things to make it pay off.

In terms of the economy of the town, I think it'd be important to consider the economy of the surrounding towns and cities too. For example, people could be commuting to a bigger city for work. As an example, based on my experiences in Toronto, a shocking number of people are willing to commute 4+ hours daily! That's 2+ hours in the morning and 2+ hours in the evening.

I would also pay close attention to how far are the large scale grocery stores (something on the level of Costco or some sort of warehouse style grocery store.. and perhaps Walmart/Aldo's to a lesser extent) from you, and how far are home hardware stores from you. If I was concerned about gradual continuous decline then I'd probably want to make sure there's at least 2 large scale grocery stores within a 1-1.5 hour driving range from the potential house location. And generally probably would pick a town surrounded by other decent towns.

1 million internet points if you can pick a town with no fast food chains in Indiana 😜
(Just guessing it's common.. I once spent a month in Indiananapolis/Noblesville.. the people were large, and there was a lot of fast food options everywhere)

Viktor K
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Re: Where to move

Post by Viktor K »

I'm not so sure a return to normal is in the books a la this is just a temporary crisis making city life unappealing. Plus, I've never been a big fan of the city life - a lot of the pros of city life are not things I'm attracted to.

Plus I don't like commuting to an office, and I don't network outside of LinkedIn... so long-term career (which I don't want) benefits to being around other business people is something I think I'm willing to sacrifice. I will search and hopefully secure remote work if I lose this position, without any network outside of LinkedIn, just as I did for my current position.

Fast internet is definitely something I want. My dad is barely outside of a city down in Texas and their internet (over WiFi at least), can barely handle Zoom calls.

I'm worried moving will mean I need a vehicle...

Also with cheap houses, if net migration is down as well or if any reasonable prediction of the future leads me to believe a town is on its way out, not on its way up... then rent would probably be better.

I guess must-haves:
* low pop. density
* access to nature, preferably hiking trails, mountains, forests
* low crime
* nearby grocer or preferably Amazon Prime delivery available
* Reasonable drive and/or public transportation to nearby international airport (this is assuming pandemic/s aren't a new fact of life and travel is advisable again)

The only thing I liked about Chicago was the recreational soccer league. Cons:

* crime
* pollution (pretty much same as Shenzhen, wtf)
* population density
* poor access to nature / overcrowded / far away
* most common past time seems to be clubbing and dining out and bars
* it's in the US

Viktor K
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Re: Where to move

Post by Viktor K »

JamesR wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 9:46 am
From reading that reddit thread I thought it sounded like a fun idea to buy that $33k house.
At the very least, can be a safer dwelling when the next pandemic hits. They're so cheap, sure they may not be the best "investment", but is it a bad idea to have a place to get away too if/when you want to?

Things I dont like about home ownership:
* maintenance/repair
* property taxes
* yardwork
* cost
* less mobility

Viktor K
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Re: Where to move

Post by Viktor K »

Alphaville wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 7:42 am
in the future you probably just need to find a summer/holiday cabin to decompress every now and then.
I would rather never be "compressed".

Viktor K
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Re: Where to move

Post by Viktor K »

sky wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 7:15 am
If you buy, you should select a house and location where you can live a long time, perhaps for life.
I don't know if I could ever make this sort of commitment :|

Viktor K
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Re: Where to move

Post by Viktor K »

You know the best bet maybe would be something right on the edge of major, growing city, but still currently rural / sparse suburban.

Then in 5-10 years when everything starts growing up around the area, can sell presumably at a profit after enjoying the benefits of a more rural life with still having the conveniences of the city (grocery and shopping delivery)....

I don’t have any knowledge around Amazon’s delivery coverage, though. My dad can get delivery though, even being super rural

Alphaville
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Re: Where to move

Post by Alphaville »

Viktor K wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 2:15 pm
I would rather never be "compressed".
i’d rather experience positive stress than be bored to tears, but ymmv.

eta: i’m saying this from the experience of having moved from city to country. huge regrets!

(ended up returning to a lesser city, as a remedy/consolation prize.)

Viktor K
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Re: Where to move

Post by Viktor K »

It’s an intriguing perspective. I lived in the hill country for a period of time when I was younger, and I liked it. It was one of the happiest times in my childhood, which could be giving me rose-tinted glasses.

I’d like to hear more about what was so boring, and how smaller city life worked out as a compromise.

I think the hardest thing will probably be making and seeing friends. However, we’ve been in Chicago 1 year now and still don’t have any local friends... outside of work and football.

In China, all friends were also from work and/or hobbies, e.g. D&D, which we play remotely now.

It’s not just me moving though, it’s me and my girlfriend which is why I do appreciate an open discussion around pros and cons, even if largely subjective... if I think it’s not a big con, she might!

Viktor K
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Re: Where to move

Post by Viktor K »

My recent month or two of searching for low cost of living, close to hiking trails but still cities search turned up Boise, Idaho and Dayton, OH as candidates.

Both are on this list: https://runrepeat.com/americas-most-liv ... king-towns

I think that most of that list is too expensive though.

Seppia
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Re: Where to move

Post by Seppia »

Utah?
The whole state is beautiful and most areas are I believe a fraction of the cost of Chicago

Alphaville
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Re: Where to move

Post by Alphaville »

Seppia wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 3:47 pm
Utah?
The whole state is beautiful and most areas are I believe a fraction of the cost of Chicago
the horror... the horror...

Seppia
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Re: Where to move

Post by Seppia »

I don’t have a huge experience, I admit, I’ve only been to Utah for maybe 120 or so days in my life.
Still, I found it to offer something for (almost) everyone.
Salt Lake City is nice and green and close to some beautiful nature. It is also a relatively big city and it offers a decent convenience.

Then across the rest of the state there’s some of the most beautiful nature in the world.
I could live in Moab for example.

I have to admit I’m not really a club and party kinda person so I probably don’t feel the lack of action.

Alphaville
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Re: Where to move

Post by Alphaville »

Viktor K wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 3:22 pm
It’s an intriguing perspective. I lived in the hill country for a period of time when I was younger, and I liked it. It was one of the happiest times in my childhood, which could be giving me rose-tinted glasses.
hill country? so... what about austin?
Viktor K wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 3:22 pm

I’d like to hear more about what was so boring, and how smaller city life worked out as a compromise.
not a compromise: a consolation. not first prize, not second prize, not third prize, but a set of steak knives :lol:

a big city is full of opportunities and interesting people doing work at the top of their game. business people, musicians, bartenders, healthcare people, they’re they because they can hack it. you get the best performances from everyone.

a remote rural hamlet maybe has a supermarket 20 miles away if you’re lucky. family dollar?

density is great for walkability and bicycling options. you can basically live in your neighborhood, which is like a small town, but with a great art museum 15 minutes away.

in a rural hamlet, you have to drive to a city and then catch and airplane to see a good painting.

in a small city, ok, maybe there’s one interesting gallery or something.
Viktor K wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 3:22 pm
I think the hardest thing will probably be making and seeing friends. However, we’ve been in Chicago 1 year now and still don’t have any local friends... outside of work and football.
ah! so you don’t have roots there. what about your girlfriend?
Viktor K wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 3:22 pm
In China, all friends were also from work and/or hobbies, e.g. D&D, which we play remotely now.
but if you could play in person. would you?
Viktor K wrote:
Thu Jul 16, 2020 3:22 pm
It’s not just me moving though, it’s me and my girlfriend which is why I do appreciate an open discussion around pros and cons, even if largely subjective... if I think it’s not a big con, she might!
you sound like you’re too young to leave the world behind and retreat to a monastery... wait for old age! :lol:

but ok, if you want to have kids, the burbs are made for breeding (and little else)

Miss Lonelyhearts
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Re: Where to move

Post by Miss Lonelyhearts »

Alphaville, don’t you live in New Orleans? Runner up to very few cities imo.

Viktor, I’m a Chicagoan. Have you attended any
of the ERE meet ups in the area? If you’re having trouble connecting with friends (and I’ll grant this a real problem that many have) I think it’s unlikely to be ameliorated by moving to a less populous area. Making friends is a skill that can be improved like any other. Networking aka INTJ kryptonite can be miserable, but finding motivated and intelligent people is a very real reward.

+1 to ThriftyRob’s post. Very good summary imo.

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