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When is it worth it to buy a more expensive house?


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We're thinking of moving a few towns away. However, the houses there are about $100,000-150,000 more than our current house. We could afford it, but I tend toward frugality for vehicles and houses.

Considerations:

DH wants a house with a workshop or detached garage. At minimum, a two car garage could work, although a detached building is better from a noise and fire safety standpoint. (We currently have a one car garage.) It might be possible to build a detached one here, although the shape (pie-shaped) and slope of our lot might make it look a little weird.

We are thinking of switching our boys back to their old gymnastics gym. Next year DS1 will have practice five days per week. I currently drive about 40 minutes to practice (same time for current and old gym) and this eats up a lot of my time, because it isn't worth it to come back home. I also go to soccer 2-4 days per week in the direction of the old gym (but not as far), so if we moved, that would save me driving time for my sport.

I have been going back and forth in my mind if it is worth it so spend so more much money to save driving time. Then it occurred to me a few days ago that if we lived 10-15 minutes from the gym, I could drop them off and then come home and cook and clean in peace. Right now taking them to practice and waiting there takes about about 18 hours per week, and it will only get worse next year. I do use some of that time to work on my college courses, but I could really reclaim a huge amount of time if my gym commute was short.

Other considerations: DH works from home, but if he ever needed to work for someone else, our current location is too far from jobs. He is not one to do a 45-60 minute commute. The other town would be half as far for jobs. Likewise, if I ever needed a job or internship in the field I am taking classes in, it would be in the same area as most of the jobs for him. (I'm not trying to get one, but you never know what could happen.)

With all this in mind, would you move from a $200,000 house to a $300,000-$350,000 one to save on driving and waiting around?

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We choose where we stay because of availability of jobs for my husband and in future my kids and me. So we end up with a smaller house but in a more convenient location. Plenty of potential employers that my husband can walk to. 

For my family’s financial situation, we would happily moved for anything that cost $200k more (with same or better job availability) since our current home is paid up and can easily be rented out if we don’t want to sell immediately. Property tax would be at least $2k more per year for us but still tolerable.

It’s hard to say for someone else because besides the initial outlay for $100k to $150k, there is also the increase in property tax and home maintenance/repair costs. Also if homes generally sell well in the new location, that would also be a benefit if you intend to sell and retire elsewhere in the future.

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It would depend on many factors. Things like, how much we made, how much we already had for the future, how much we had for an emergency, how much longer child would be in the time consuming activity, etc. But most likely, I wouldn't.

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We moved to a smaller house that was more expensive than our old house. I had hoped to find a house that was about $100k less than what we ended up paying. But we moved because we moved into a better school system and closer to dh's work. It has absolutely been worth it. Dh bikes to work most days, dd2 loves her high school, and it is a nice place to live.

Getting rid of the commute has been huge for our family. It has freed up a car and has given dh at least an extra hour in his day. We moved into a house that is much, much smaller and more expensive but the location was worth it. I would make the same decision again.

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Is the new house bigger and better than your current home, or is it the same size or smaller? Is the new neighborhood nicer or about the same? Are property values more stable (or rising/falling) in either area? Will your family be leaving lots of great friends and neighbors if you move?

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We moved for dh’s job. We determined the acceptable commute time first then looked for houses within that radius that fit our other requirements.  We could have gotten a larger, newer, and less expensive house had we been willing to drive farther.  So yes, I think paying more to live in a convenient location is worth the money. 

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36 minutes ago, hjffkj said:

It would depend on many factors. Things like, how much we made, how much we already had for the future, how much we had for an emergency, how much longer child would be in the time consuming activity, etc. But most likely, I wouldn't.

 

We are on track saving for retirement, the kid's college, etc. My oldest son plans to compete for five more years. My younger son could potentially be competing for nine more years.

25 minutes ago, MysteryJen said:

Getting rid of the commute has been huge for our family. It has freed up a car and has given dh at least an extra hour in his day. 

 

I just added it up again. I am currently driving to or from practice or waiting at practice for 22.5 hours per week. Next year it will be 26.5 hours per week. Tuesday one of them has two practices so we are gone for 11 hours. In between practices we stay at the gym and we do their work, but still, it is time when I can't cook or run the house.

DH and I could use the Saturday practice to go on a date, but there is little to do in the area. If the weather is nice, we can ride our bikes but that is about it. The old gym is closer to things for us to do on a date.

If we moved to this other town, it might cut my involvement down to 6 hours a week of driving. I could potentially have 2-3 hours at home without them 4-6 days per week. (Right now I have zero time at home without them.) I could get a lot more cooking, cleaning, and bill paying done in that time. We could also live close enough for DH to drive them sometimes.

23 minutes ago, Catwoman said:

Is the new house bigger and better than your current home, or is it the same size or smaller? Is the new neighborhood nicer or about the same? Are property values more stable (or rising/falling) in either area? Will your family be leaving lots of great friends and neighbors if you move?

 

We don't have any specific houses in mind, although I have looked online some. These houses would probably be a few hundred square feet bigger and nicer. Changes in property values would be similar between the towns, although the other town will always cost more (and have smaller lots) because of the closer location to jobs, better park system, etc.

My kids have one friend in the neighborhood they play with regularly. The two kids next door are also friends, but they can go months without playing because somehow they rarely play outside.

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4 minutes ago, JumpyTheFrog said:

 

We are on track saving for retirement, the kid's college, etc. My oldest son plans to compete for five more years. My younger son could potentially be competing for nine more years.

 

I just added it up again. I am currently driving to or from practice or waiting at practice for 22.5 hours per week. Next year it will be 26.5 hours per week. Tuesday one of them has two practices so we are gone for 11 hours. In between practices we stay at the gym and we do their work, but still, it is time when I can't cook or run the house.

DH and I could use the Saturday practice to go on a date, but there is little to do in the area. If the weather is nice, we can ride our bikes but that is about it. The old gym is closer to things for us to do on a date.

If we moved to this other town, it might cut my involvement down to 6 hours a week of driving. I could potentially have 2-3 hours at home without them 4-6 days per week. (Right now I have zero time at home without them.) I could get a lot more cooking, cleaning, and bill paying done in that time. We could also live close enough for DH to drive them sometimes.

 

We don't have any specific houses in mind, although I have looked online some. These houses would probably be a few hundred square feet bigger and nicer. Changes in property values would be similar between the towns, although the other town will always cost more (and have smaller lots) because of the closer location to jobs, better park system, etc.

My kids have one friend in the neighborhood they play with regularly. The two kids next door are also friends, but they can go months without playing because somehow they rarely play outside.

 

Based on everything you posted, I would move. 🙂

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10 minutes ago, JumpyTheFrog said:

 

We are on track saving for retirement, the kid's college, etc. My oldest son plans to compete for five more years. My younger son could potentially be competing for nine more years.

 

I just added it up again. I am currently driving to or from practice or waiting at practice for 22.5 hours per week. Next year it will be 26.5 hours per week. Tuesday one of them has two practices so we are gone for 11 hours. In between practices we stay at the gym and we do their work, but still, it is time when I can't cook or run the house.

DH and I could use the Saturday practice to go on a date, but there is little to do in the area. If the weather is nice, we can ride our bikes but that is about it. The old gym is closer to things for us to do on a date.

If we moved to this other town, it might cut my involvement down to 6 hours a week of driving. I could potentially have 2-3 hours at home without them 4-6 days per week. (Right now I have zero time at home without them.) I could get a lot more cooking, cleaning, and bill paying done in that time. We could also live close enough for DH to drive them sometimes.

 

We don't have any specific houses in mind, although I have looked online some. These houses would probably be a few hundred square feet bigger and nicer. Changes in property values would be similar between the towns, although the other town will always cost more (and have smaller lots) because of the closer location to jobs, better park system, etc.

My kids have one friend in the neighborhood they play with regularly. The two kids next door are also friends, but they can go months without playing because somehow they rarely play outside.

 

Based on this I would highly consider it. If possible, I'd try to find a smaller home at a price closer to what your current house costs. But if that isn't possible and a more expensive house doesn't stretch the budget too much I'd highly consider it.

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14 minutes ago, JumpyTheFrog said:

 

We are on track saving for retirement, the kid's college, etc. My oldest son plans to compete for five more years. My younger son could potentially be competing for nine more years.

 

I just added it up again. I am currently driving to or from practice or waiting at practice for 22.5 hours per week. Next year it will be 26.5 hours per week. Tuesday one of them has two practices so we are gone for 11 hours. In between practices we stay at the gym and we do their work, but still, it is time when I can't cook or run the house.

DH and I could use the Saturday practice to go on a date, but there is little to do in the area. If the weather is nice, we can ride our bikes but that is about it. The old gym is closer to things for us to do on a date.

If we moved to this other town, it might cut my involvement down to 6 hours a week of driving. I could potentially have 2-3 hours at home without them 4-6 days per week. (Right now I have zero time at home without them.) I could get a lot more cooking, cleaning, and bill paying done in that time. We could also live close enough for DH to drive them sometimes.

 

We don't have any specific houses in mind, although I have looked online some. These houses would probably be a few hundred square feet bigger and nicer. Changes in property values would be similar between the towns, although the other town will always cost more (and have smaller lots) because of the closer location to jobs, better park system, etc.

My kids have one friend in the neighborhood they play with regularly. The two kids next door are also friends, but they can go months without playing because somehow they rarely play outside.

 

Before looking for new house, take some time to think about what you need in a house and what you would like to have.   I agree with hjffkj - consider smaller homes.  If your children spend most of their time at the gym and your husband wants to spend his free time in the garage, do you really need a larger home? Lower heating/cooling costs and less time and money spent maintaining the house could help offset costs.

 

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We actually downsized from our previous newer home to be in our current historic neighborhood with the shorter commute and better access to kid activities, walkable urban neighborhood, etc.  

So I think it's a balancing act.  I will say on the brink of sending a senior to college and on the brink of paying off the mortgage, I'm extremely glad we stuck with a very conservative mortgage for our income level.  So if moving meant to moving to a new 30 year mortgage where the payments are really at the max you can squeak out every month, I might step back.  It might depend how much equity you have in your current home too.  We were able to put a substantial down payment into our current home.  I also think if you have time on your side, you can be picky about homes and really watch for the price point you want to be at.  It's always harder to buy a home under duress.

Edited by FuzzyCatz
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We are moving into a more expensive house.  We think it is worth it.

If your quality of life improves and you can fit it into your budget, and you want it, it is worth it.

Edited by DawnM
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I live in a hcol area, and commutes are obnoxious.  they are measured in minutes - NOT miles.  one thing that came up here, you will spend your money on your house in a better (for your needs) location, or you will spend you money on the wear and tear on a car driving from your (not as good) location to the location where you spend the majority of your "not at home" time.  you are also spending your money on your time you take to sitting in traffic that you could be being more productive doing something else, and not in your car.

so it's really what is your time worth to you?

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Location is absolutely worth moving. Our house isn’t perfect for us, but the location works so well that we just adjust or make changes to the house. Getting everywhere in ten minutes or less is a huge quality of life luxury that we’re thrilled to have.

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If you haven't done so yet, it's an interesting exercise to calculate gas and wear&tear and compare it with the cost of housing. We were once choosing between a larger, cheaper apartment with a long commute, and a smaller, more expensive apartment with a short commute. We were *this close* to signing a lease for the larger, cheaper place, but then decided to calculate the gas. It came out dead even. That's not even counting wear&tear, commuting time, and traffic stress. We chose the shorter commute.

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When we moved to NOVA, the driving factor of where we bought was commute time for DH and DD, who was transitioning back into high school after being homeschooled. We choose the smaller house and lot because DH was exhausted after his hour or more commute while living in SanDiego. If you can afford it, I wouldn’t think twice. Happy house shopping😊

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Oh you are right with me.  My  5 kids dance and the school where they are wanting to go right now is 1 hour in good traffic from our house.  So a 2 plus hour round trip.  Last month with shows and rehearsals we were there 5 days a week.  As they get higher up you are for classes 5 days  week.  I dream of moving closer to save time.  Although our same house would be 100k more there, honestly I don't know that it would really be more expensive.  With the wear and tear on my car and gas.   

Only problem is that dh works in the opposite direction.  There is a school there that we could switch too, but they don't want to leave their friends. 

I would move if I were you.  I dream of doing it everyday. 

The only thought I would say and maybe this isn't for you.  But for the people I know that are in the city I would move too, even though they are in the city, they sometimes have horrible commute times just getting to the other side of the city.  Almost to the same as us.  I doesn't happen everyday, but it does.  So I would make sure you think about that and the actual driving times even if you live in that city.  

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We buy a more expensive house:

*better commute

*better church community

*more stable housing prices (likely to hold value)

*access to better schools (which ties in to the house being more likely to hold/increase in value)

*access to medical care & shops (things that are "my" commute)----we used to drive 2 hours to specialists and 1 hr to Costco when we lived out on the prairie.  

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With all the factors you mentioned, then absolutely we'd be moving. Peace of mine is worth a lot. The negative would be any stress level caused by the more expensive house. If you foresee yourself stressing about that, then I'd have to think real hard about which is the worst of the two.

My son's brother-in-law and his family are buying a more expensive house because where they live now they would want to send their kids to private school. But if they move to a different part of the city, then the will be happy with the public school and not shelling out thousands of dollars on private education. So in their case, totally worth it as well.

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The funny thing with the advice I gave is that we are currently doing the opposite.  We used to work a mile from dh's work. The location was great but we were in a townhouse that just didn't work for the size of our family.  We searched for months to find a house that was still a mile or so from dh's work.  All of those houses were either bigger than what we needed or the same size but way too expensive to justify it.  We are currently under contract for a house that is now 15 miles away which is roughly 20 minutes away.  It is pretty much farther away from everything we do but significantly enough for us to pay the same price for a house that is half the size.  One of the biggest factors for us is that the house we are buying will accommodate my parents living there and our extended families when they visit, which is often. 

Now we wouldn't have every moved an hour away to accommodate those things but 20 minutes isn't too bad.

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If I could comfortably afford it I would. Yes. Sounds like the other location will save you on gas and wear and tear on the car. And remember, the more you are on the road, the more likely you are to have damages to your car or an accident. Plus, sounds like you would have more space in the other location which you say you need. If it would make money really tight, I would not. Also, consider, the more expensive houses could be more energy efficient. When we moved, we purchased a house a lot more expensive, but, the utility bills were lower because of the area (different utility companies) and I am guessing the newer house was more energy efficient.

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As someone who used to have a long daily commute to kids activities, and who moved to a house within 10 minutes of all activities and most shopping and other errands, I vote for moving. Our current house is a significant downgrade, in terms of size and amenities, but it's still worth it to have those 15 hrs/wk back.

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One unmentioned (I think) consideration is the long term investment and appreciation factor in the homes (and neighborhoods).

For many of us, a house is the biggest investment we will ever make. Often a nicer home in a better neighborhood will appreciate in value much more than a less nice home in a less nice neighborhood. So it can be a better investment even if the mortgage is higher (assuming one can swing it). One can't predict entirely the future of housing and the directions neighborhoods will take, but it is a factor to consider. 

Bill

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On 1/21/2019 at 6:21 PM, JumpyTheFrog said:

 

We are on track saving for retirement, the kid's college, etc. My oldest son plans to compete for five more years. My younger son could potentially be competing for nine more years.

 

I just added it up again. I am currently driving to or from practice or waiting at practice for 22.5 hours per week. Next year it will be 26.5 hours per week. Tuesday one of them has two practices so we are gone for 11 hours. In between practices we stay at the gym and we do their work, but still, it is time when I can't cook or run the house.

DH and I could use the Saturday practice to go on a date, but there is little to do in the area. If the weather is nice, we can ride our bikes but that is about it. The old gym is closer to things for us to do on a date.

If we moved to this other town, it might cut my involvement down to 6 hours a week of driving. I could potentially have 2-3 hours at home without them 4-6 days per week. (Right now I have zero time at home without them.) I could get a lot more cooking, cleaning, and bill paying done in that time. We could also live close enough for DH to drive them sometimes.

 

We don't have any specific houses in mind, although I have looked online some. These houses would probably be a few hundred square feet bigger and nicer. Changes in property values would be similar between the towns, although the other town will always cost more (and have smaller lots) because of the closer location to jobs, better park system, etc.

My kids have one friend in the neighborhood they play with regularly. The two kids next door are also friends, but they can go months without playing because somehow they rarely play outside.

Yes, if you can afford it, do it. It sounds like it will hugely impact your quality of life. Your time is worth something, you are basically at the point of an unpaid part time job right now! And the other town has better ammenities, parks, jobs, etc etc. I'd do it in a heartbeat. 

What is the point of having money if you don't spend some of it to make your life better? You can't take it with you. I'm imagining your DH works hard at his job, and he'd like to know that some of that money he works so hard for goes to making his family's life better. 

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For the amount of hours you spend out of the house for your kids, I'd go insane.

After many house buying mistakes, we bought our current house solely based on location. We paid $550K for a tiny, old house. Basically a dump. One of our kids cried when he saw it. He is a homebody and loves his space. We only moved 15 min away from our old house and if we were willing to move 20-30 min in any direction, for $500K, we could buy a McMansion. 

But no more of that for us. The traffic around here can be a nightmare. The commute, soul crushing. 

It is tight space wise, but the overall quality of life has been so phenomenal for us. 

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Cutting down on driving time, for me, would be the number one factor in moving.

I love our current house and think of selling it (often) just to cut down on drive time.


Things we've considered:

We live on a couple acres - this isn't possible in town (where driving would be most convenient) and is the SINGLE reason we don't move.

Future: We could move 20 minutes closer to our homeschool group location / activities.  However, that's 20 miles FURTHER than our parents.  We realize as they get older, we'll make more trips home, and as the kids get older, we'll make fewer trips to homeschool activities.

The other consideration - in buying ANY house, not just moving, is obviously everything on level/handicap accessibility.

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We did move to decrease driving time, and it was worth it, even though housing is more expensive here. We had to jump up in price by $100,000 for a slightly smaller home when we moved.

OP, in the meantime, can you reconsider how you manage the driving to gymnastics. We used to live 40 minutes away from gymnastics, and we currently live 30 minutes away from some of our weekly activities. There is a tipping point, where it is better for me to drop the kids and return, even though it means more driving, because I can be at home for a few hours in between.

How long are the gymnastics practices? I assume they are three or even four hours long at his level? For that amount of waiting around time, I determined it was definitely worth it to drop and return.

One of the other things that we do is split the driving. I will drop the kids off at their activities, and DH will pick them up. So it's more driving total than if I stay, but DH shares the burden. Would this be possible for you? Can your DH do any of the driving to relieve the time crunch for you?

Since dropping and going back home would give you hours in the house alone, I would say it is TOTALLY worth it to drop and run, even if you don't move. And I would consider it worth it to move, if you decide it would be better.

Edited by Storygirl
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On 1/23/2019 at 2:36 PM, Storygirl said:

How long are the gymnastics practices? I assume they are three or even four hours long at his level? For that amount of waiting around time, I determined it was definitely worth it to drop and return.

 

Unfortunately, three of the practices are only two hours long, so it isn't worth it to drop them off an return home. Also, three of the days they attend during the day, so DH can't drive them. At the other gym, practices are longer.

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