Deciding to move, or not?

katmuNovember 14, 2011

Here is my situation:

I currently own a 1930s english revival style house in Minneapolis that my ex-husband and I purchased in 2000. We divorced in 2009 and my ex-husband said he couldn't afford the house so I kept it. Thus far, I have gutted the kitchen, replaced all electrical and mechanicals and the roof. If I keep the house I need to finish the work on the main floor bath (re-tile the shower), re-stucco the outside, restore the windows and replace the retaining wall.

My children are now 19 and 20 so they are not home as much, although the house is small enough that it could work for just me if I closed off the upstairs most of the time.(about 1600 sq ft not including the basement or sunroom -1100 sq ft main floor with about 500 sq ft upstairs). I also have a very spoiled 14 year old lab who likes her yard of about 1/4 acre.

I currently have a reverse commute about 28 miles each way to the far suburbs. Most days it's around 40 minutes each way, although when it snows it can be much longer. The homes near my work are mostly new, in large subdivisions. I've found a few smaller single family homes and a few townhomes but I'm still having a hard time picturing myself in a new house out there.

I have about 25% equity in my current house so it wouldn't be a short sale. I'm just wondering if anyone else has faced a similar situation of whether to fix up your current place or move, and how you came to your decision.

Thank you for reading. I'm sorry for the post being so long.

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When my husband and I separated, he moved to a small town, so I bought him out. Since I'm retired, I agonized for a year over whether or not to sell. (That's why I got started on this forum)

Reasons to sell: large mortgage, house increasingly worth more so could net ~ $150,000 in equity, property taxes increasing ($4,200/year).

Reasons NOT to sell: I have dogs & am an avid gardener. I love my 1100 sq/ft house and private, treed urban yard, and wouldn't be able to find a similar house for less within the city. Selling costs would eat into my profit.

I made a choice that I want to stay in a home I love, even though my mortgage is almost four times my yearly income. I live in a city where property values continue to increase, and properties in my area sell fast. So I know I COULD sell if I had to. I am pretty frugal in other ways, so this is my choice about how to spend my money.

Good luck with your decision!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 7:07PM
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I'm reading a book right now called "Around the House and in the Garden" by Dominique Browning. She gets divorced and she stays in the old house. It's all about what our houses symbolize and our dreams and expectations.

Well, if it was me and I could afford to, I'd stay in the house because I love old houses. I tried that one time, moving to a new house because it was practical. I appreciated that the first year or two and then I hated it and wanted my drafty old farmhouse back with the beadboard walls and all the fireplaces and the high heating bills. So it depends on how much you love the house. Also, keep in mind, even if you buy a newer house that APPEARS in great condition, you already did the electrical, mechanicals and roof--major things. Just because a house is new, unless it is brand new, doesn't mean you won't have to do these things.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2011 at 11:24PM
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I think it depends on how much YOU LOVE that house. For me, I'd want to get away from all of the memories of your ex and start a new life in new surroundings. I do not like to commute because we have bad weather here and I hate to drive on the ice/snow, plus the cost of gas and putting so many miles on your vehicle.

Are the houses holding in value there? Would you have enough left from the sale of the present house to buy another one and be able to make the payments, etc.?

Are you comfortable with expenses (taxes, insurance, etc.)
on your present house?....or could you walk away with some cash in your pocket?

You are the only one that can look at your heart and decide in your gut if you LOVE that house or not. But, I'd move and make a fresh start.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 2:13PM
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Selling in the winter is a pain. There's weather and holidays to deal with. Just trying to keep a place clean under those conditions can be VERY stressful. IF it were me I'd finish up all the projects I could before spring and then take a look at where I'm at the end of Feb. It's much easier to sell with a house that is somewhat completed than one who has a pile of half finished projects.
BTW those 19/20 yr olds grow up and have families. What seems like it may be too big right now may not be once they start having families of their own and come back for visits.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 3:28PM
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Yes, decide how much you love your house.

Then, decide how much you love spending hours and hours each week in your car commuting. What could you (and your dogs and your family) do with all those hours if you weren't in your car?

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 11:32AM
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It's tough. It seems to me there are often compromises each way. Do you love your current home or see it only as a place to live? Do you like your neighborhood and neighbors? These are real assets. Is the future repair work fun or interesting for you or just a royal pain, something you resent? Make a list of plus and minuses. Take at least a few months to think through the decision and visit open houses in the area you might consider. Talk to friends and family. In short, it is a big decision with no easy answers, but the more you invest in making a good decision the happier will be the outcome.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 12:07PM
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I do love my current house, it's quaint and the style is very much my style.

The new houses I've seen thus far near my job are well...bland. And the older houses near my work thus far have been downright scary in terms of the amount of work.

I'm leaning towards staying put, but I'm going to continue to watch the listings near my job and keep running the numbers.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2011 at 2:34PM
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We are empty nesters. Our 3 kids are in their 30s, one married with 2 little boys, another marrying next year. The third one lives across the country. They all come home for the holidays, and sometimes when one takes a week off to visit, the others come too. As a result, we use the entire house often, and if we didn't have all the bedrooms, the kids wouldn't be able to gather here as they do. So it is well worth it to us to keep our large house.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 10:40PM
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My DH tells me that is what motels are for~~ We have 4 bedrooms and only use 1, so that extra space/heating/cooling/taxes/etc. is quite expensive per room compared to what a much smaller house would be. We are fortunate that our children all live within a couple hours drive, so it is very seldom they stay over-night.

Again, YOUR contentment is all that is important and if you can handle the payments etc. and feel safe and secure in your present well as figure what it is costing you to drive those miles to commute to work. Sit down and physically write out the pros and cons...get through the winter months (if you are in a cold climate) and by spring, an answer will come to you....especially if you have to drive on snow/ice this winter~

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 12:32PM
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