Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Still not buying a house.

When left to my own devices on a long, lonely, much too quiet Saturday night, I start house hunting. I'm not sure what the origin of this house lust is. I've never dreamt of making some huge profit on a home, just buying it, paying it off as quickly as possible, and then having it to live in until I die. It's a harmless enough fantasy at the moment; I know far too well I probably won't be in any position to buy for at least a decade, but if daydreaming about houses keeps me putting my spare cash into savings instead of buying junk, it's a net positive.

Interestingly, the prices of houses I daydream about buying keep getting smaller. A year ago I contemplated a tiny house for $75,000, not so much because I wanted it as because I wanted to know what it would cost to live in my parent's neighborhood. Last I checked, the charming brick place in the town where I'm stationed is still for sale by owner for $60,000. The latest fantasy is an 840 square foot cabin on 1.37 wooded acres near my old hometown for a mere $35,000.

This is probably the least practical house as well. It's a cute little barn red A-frame built in 1975. It'd serve well enough for me, a dog, and perhaps a couple of cats, but not so much if I ever end up with someone else. The house has electricity and public water, but, even though I occasionally entertain Mother Earth News-fueled daydreams of dropping out and living off the land, I suspect I'd quickly tire of chopping wood to keep the place warm in the winter after the novelty of sowing my transcendental wild oats wore off. Plus, well, even if I can "afford" it now, in a couple of years it'd be a financial disaster. Paying for a house I couldn't live in while making a grad student stipend would probably break the budget.

Never mind all that and the fact that I probably couldn't get a mortgage in today's economy, I still decided to play with some online calculators. (What can I say? My roommate was spending the weekend with her boyfriend, I was alone with the dog, and we don't have television. How else would a 22 year old fill an idle Saturday night?) So now I know that if I were a proper grown up, with more credit records and an employment history stretching back somewhat longer than August, I could probably buy an entire house with a 15 year fixed rate mortgage for substantially less each month than my roommate will be putting toward student loans on a 20 year repayment schedule.


Over the Cubicle Wall said...

I love house hunting too, and I already own a house. A cabin like that would be great for getaways. Keep up your hard work, and you will get in a position to have what you want soon enough.

Revanche said...

Funny, I was running the numbers for a 500k mortgage just for the reminder that that's an insane amount for someone with my income to commit to.

Yep, and that's even after a 60k down payment that I don't have.

E.C. said...

@Over the Cubicle Wall
Am I allowed to be tiny bit envious of your paid off house?

There are advantages to living out here in flyover land. It's still to soon to tell what part of the country I'll end up with when it's time to buy so I'm trying not to get to excited about the relative affordablity around here.

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