Housing dilemma – Part 3: decision made
Should we stay or should we go?
If we go, will we get good value for our current home?
Is our timing right to move? What will the market be like when we sell?
How much stuff will we have to sell to move back into the city, into a smaller place?
Over the last year and a half my wife and I have considered moving back into the city. Doing so would bring us much closer if not right next door to amenities, walking distance to work and much more.
To be honest I’ve struggled with this decision (far more than my wife has). I really don’t like to move…
Here is a continuation of our housing dilemma here – where housing decisions are not just financial ones, there are often a range of emotions and lifestyle decisions involved.
Today’s article is an update on our decision (if you don’t already know) and what lies ahead in the coming year – and more.
Last time we talked about this…
My wife and I narrowed our search for a home in Ottawa. We would like to live here:
We currently live here, about 15-km away from that area:
The outcome of some lengthy (and at times contestable!?) talks around the house, including a strong desire to make some lifestyle changes, we decided against trying to buy a single-family home in the city. Besides, most of those houses cost at least $700,000-$750,000 now. That’s an Ottawa fixer-upper price. Most detached, updated homes (in the area above we are interested in) approach $1 million. We are not paying that.
So what did we decide on and why?
We decided to re-enter the condo market. (We owned one back in the mid-2000s together, some 12 years ago before I started this blog.)
Now, no doubt some readers will groan (i.e., why would you ever want to own a condominium??) but we believe this is the best decision for us – based on our lifestyle plans in the coming years:
- We want and intend to work full-time for another 5 years, in our current jobs or at the same company at least. It would be nice to be closer to work if this is our plan. Our daily commute is at times a grind. We have 8 years experience of that.
- Over the next 5 years, we intend to save and invest by maxing out our TFSAs and RRSPs every year – owing more dividend paying stocks and U.S. listed ETFs like VYM. In doing so we hope to realize this massive financial goal.
- Over the next 5 years we intend to put a higher priority on killing mortgage debt. Our 2018 goals reflect that. We do not want to enter semi-retirement* with any debt obligations.
- *Enter semi-retirement, if we can, in about 5 years from now. We will only stop working full-time once our mortgage debt is gone. We believe with no debt, having some money in the bank at our crossover point; some small future workplace pensions to look forward – that’s enough to give us the freedom to work on our terms. Part-time work or contract work or seasonal work will give us some income AND time to enjoy the activities we love while we’re young, including more travel. With a smaller home, with a smaller footprint to take care of, the condo should be ideal to come and go largely as we please.
More benefits with the move…
While we really like our current home and have made some great friends in our community (both will be tough to leave), we believe the following are benefits to this lifestyle decision:
- While property taxes will be higher in the city; monthly operational costs for the condo (heat, hydro, water, telcos) will be lower than they are today.
- We will no longer need 2 cars in our garage. Soon after we move we intend to go down to one vehicle and use that car sparingly each week. If we do need the car to commute to work, it will be a 5-minute drive. Otherwise it’s a 15-minute walk or an 8-minute bus ride. Going down to one paid off car in the condo parking garage will save us about $300 per month or $3,600 per year. Last time I checked our travel budget, those savings would easily pay for a nice vacation for us!
- While you might believe maintenance costs will be far higher in the condo (with condo fees) we anticipate they will actually be a wash long-term. Consider most single family homes need new roofs; new windows; furnaces, A/C units, and other essential equipment replaced over time – it’s not a stretch to pay the equivalent of thousands of dollars each year to maintain a single family home. That’s what condo fees will pay for in our future building as well.
Is this the best financial decision we could make? Probably not. I mean, heck, moving is expensive and it will cost us money.
But you know what – so what.
Life isn’t about money.
As we get older we’re learning to genuinely value and appreciate our time. We also have a growing, far greater appreciation for our health (and want to take care of it). We want to have time to enjoy that health while we can – do things with our time that our important to us. We want more options and opportunities around us – the ability to walk to groceries, restaurants and employment. We want to simplify our lives with less stuff. We just don’t need some of the things we own.
We’ll have some work to do to prepare the home for the sale but that’s OK.
As we get closer to the sale I’ll keep you posted. But for now if you want to make some early, general enquiries about a well-maintained, all brick three-bedroom bungalow in the south end of Ottawa…well…you know where to find me 🙂