We Bought a $90,000 House. And Yes, We’re Moving In.

Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.

We had been watching the real estate market for months, looking for the right place for a home base as we set ourselves up to travel for months at a time over the next several years.

A few places were snatched up before we could even see them. We were in Costa Rica, Honduras, and Minnesota while looking for a home in Michigan.

Refresh.

We found one! It wasn’t perfect, but it was on a desirable lake, and when we found out we could get the property across the street with a garage and little bunkhouse included, we were sold. Just under $300,000 and we were prepared to pay cash.

Then we got the inspection. Gaping cracks in the foundation. Water in the crawlspace. Maybe some mold. Major issues with the electric. Recommend repairing, maintaining, and monitoring again and again and again.

I’ve seen The Money Pit and we didn’t need one for ourselves. Hard pass.

Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.

What’s that? A mid-century modern home from 1964 that looks like this?

 

90k house

a $90,000 house on a corner lot

 

For under $100,000?!?

No, it was not on the lake, but in a family-friendly neighborhood on the outskirts of town. After several months of disappointment and no lakefront places worth mentioning available, we had broadened our search.

We didn’t need the perfect place, but we did need a place or at least a plan, as pretty much all of our stuff was in a pole barn and garage taking up space that will be occupied by two boats and a truck come this fall (Thanks, Dad!).

It’s not true that all of our stuff has been in storage. We do have a little lakefront cabin where we’re spending the summer, as my family has for the majority of the time the last eight summers.

The cabin is a wonderful place to stay, but it’s not really a great place to live, especially if you want a garage, shed, or place to store anything. It’s also a bit further from family, which is why we’re interested in relocating about 80 miles to the south and east.

We toured the pictured mid-century home the day after it came on the market and made the first of four offers that would come in by the end of the day. The fact that we offered first and offered cash put us at the top of the list. We were able to stop hitting “refresh.”

 

We Bought a $90,000 House. And Yes, We’re Moving In.

 

We closed on the house Friday August 2nd, 2019, just a week and a half before my last day of work. I had a trailer full of our stuff to unload that day, another load yesterday, and I’ll have several more trailer loads to drag over before the fall sets in and we take off for two months each in Ecuador and Spain.

For better or worse, we scheduled three weeks between those extended trips to experience a taste of winter again to remind ourselves why we’re choosing this life of more adventure and fewer blizzards. There’s also celebrating the holidays with family, and we’ll be back for both Christmas and New Years.

The FIRE movement is often knocked for being overly frugal and unrealistic. By not only purchasing a $90,000 home, but also moving into it, I feel I’m doing my part to perpetuate the stereotype.

But we’re not doing this for the sole purpose of looking cheap. Let’s rewind and see how we arrived at a place where we would buy an old starter home when we could afford to spend a whole bunch more, but intentionally make this surprising choice.

 

Gainesville, Florida. 1 BR, 1 BA. $120,000

 

In the fall of 2002, I was an intern living in resident housing in La Crosse, WI, renting for a year. I was excited to be moving on to sunny Florida, and I was keeping a keen eye on the condo market there.

When a place opened up in what I considered to be the premier property at the time, Union Street Station, I made some calls, arranged for financing, and by October, I was the proud owner of a swanky, one-bedroom apartment. I spent one weekend “camping” in the empty place with a high school buddy and his friend, and then found a renter to occupy the home for the next eight months until I moved in the following summer.

By the time I was moving on from residency three years later, I had acquired a fair amount of furniture, a fiancee and her stuff, and we used the condo as a home base while we traveled doing locum tenens work. Eventually, we got rid of most of that stuff, stored some things in her mother’s garage (Thank You, mother-in-law!), and rented the place out to two tenants over about seven years until we finally sold it in 2014.

 

Union Street Station

image credit: union street station

 

Cheboygan, Michigan. 4 BR, 4 BA. $660,000

 

After two years as a road warrior, we were married, expecting our first child, and I had signed on to return as the Chief of Anesthesia at a small, rural hospital close to my wife’s extended family. I had mostly taken long-term locums assignments and lived in decent apartments, but we were ready to build our dream home.

We found a waterfront lot, spectacularly overpriced when we purchased it in 2007, just like every other property was at the time. We picked out a beautiful house plan reminiscent of some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s larger constructions, and we dropped over a half-a-million dollars on the build via a physician’s construction loan.

Doing the math, we actually spent a touch less per square foot on the place as compared to the 670 square foot condo in downtown Gainesville, but this place was six times the size!

We spared no expense because it was our forever home.

I lost my job a little over three years after we moved in. The hospital went bankrupt and shut down, and two years later, I was sued along with the rest of the current and former Board members for having a non-voting position on the Board of Trustees for my final ten months at the cursed hospital.

After four years in which we had one long-term renter and several short-term seasonal renters in our one-time dream home, we sold it at a loss of over $200,000 (before realtor fees) in 2015.

 

view from the water

 

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Aberdeen, South Dakota. 5 BR, 4 BA. $325,000

 

When I was let go from the failing hospital, we were a family of four with a two-year old and an infant. I was back on the locums circuit, but unlike before when it just us two, it no longer made sense to travel for these jobs as a family.

After a few months of being apart with the exception of some weekends, we decided we could be happy anywhere as long as we were all together. With a brand new hospital opening in a growing and relatively affluent community in a state with no state income tax, I jumped at the opportunity.

In terms of the house, we didn’t downgrade in size, although we did in amenities. We no longer had granite everywhere, a two-story great room, or a dock in the water. We were on a pond, which was something, I guess.

After a couple of years, we had grown to like the town itself and the people, but not the remoteness of the place. The drive to see my family was over five hours, and hers was 15 hours away. A job opened up very close to my folks at a hospital that I was familiar with, having worked there as a locums doc in those early years. We were Brainerd-bound.

 

 

aberdeen rolling hills

our  home in the “rolling hills” neighborhood, which was perfectly flat

 

Brainerd, Minnesota. 5 BR, 3 BA. $269,000.

 

We had little trouble finding a buyer in Aberdeen, selling by owner with the title company helping out with the paperwork. We got back what we put into the house, and set out to look for a reasonable home to purchase in the Brainerd lakes area.

There’s a definite bimodal distribution of home prices in this part of Minnesota. Most homes without lakefront were going for $250,000 or less. A modest home on the lakes would command $400,000 or more.

We were looking for a place we could buy with cash (by selling mutual funds from our taxable account) in that price range in between.

We toured a handful of homes with the hospital-assigned realtor and didn’t see anything that had us excited. We decided to circle back afterwards to a neighborhood where we had noticed a for-sale-by-owner sign.

Fifteen minutes and a handshake later, we had a verbal agreement to purchase a great mid-century ranch on the Mighty Mississippi, just across from the river from the hospital. When you take home call as often as I did, location is paramount.

Like our Aberdeen home, with a finished basement, we had about 3,600 square feet. What we gave up in recent construction, we gained in home character.

We put over $50,000 into a massive new retaining wall, new deck and patio, paint, and a roof, but we got that back when we sold in June of 2019.

 

tyrol hills

inside our tyrol hills home, a neighborhood that was actually hilly

 

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Mullet Lake, Michigan. 2 BR, 1 BA. $15,400.

 

We actually purchased the home we’ve been living in this summer way back in 2011. It was sold at auction just weeks before I would lose my job. We loved it because it was just nine miles from our dream home and could be easily reached by bike path, river / lake, or road from our home.

By the time we had it fixed up to be inhabitable — we spent about another $50,000 on an extensive remodel down to the studs — we were no longer living in Cheboygan.

Nevertheless, we’ve used it extensively ever since and it has been our primary residence since June of 2019 and likely will remain so until at least June of 2021.

 

Second Home

home sweet cabin

 

Alpena, MI. 3 BR, 1 BA. $90,000.

 

For a 43-year old who first became a homeowner at age 26, I’ve owned and lived in a lot of homes. I’ve never made any real money on them, and I did take one huge loss. We’ve loved our homes as places to live and raise a family, but with the exception of our current cabin, they’ve made for lousy investments.

One thing we have learned by living in 3,600 to 4,000 square feet most of the year, and squeezing into 700 square feet over the summer, is that we don’t need all of that space. It’s more to clean and maintain, heat, cool, and fill with furniture that rarely gets used.

This new-to-us home is 1,150 square feet with a two-car garage. Easy to clean, not much to maintain, and conveniently located. It’s close to the old elementary school that’s now used for homeschool outreach. The town is a shopping hub for the area, and there are two very nice lakes just to the north. We have property on one of them, and may build or buy a home there, eventually, but the place in town checks a lot of boxes for us right now.

 

The Benefits of Owning an Inexpensive Home

 

We now own two homes, the total value of which is under $250,000. We’ve got about 1,900 square feet 5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a 2-car garage, and 1 boat on a dock on a very nice lake.

Owning inexpensive property has the following benefits:

  • Low cost to insure
  • Low property taxes
  • Low cost of heating, cooling, utilities, maintenance, etc…
  • Small opportunity cost (more money is available to invest elsewhere)

 

We’re going to be subjecting ourselves to some forced minimalism, but not nearly as much as we would have if we had kept the cabin as our only home, which was a consideration. But for the price, I’m very pleased with what we got. It’s a cozy, cool-looking home that could easily become a long-term, single family rental someday.

By having two places, we can more easily accommodate out-of-state guests. We could also consider making our new home available to others on Airbnb, as well, whether we’re spending time at the cabin or in another country.

Speaking of being out of the country, keeping our home base costs low makes it easy to spend more while away. Should we stay in a yacht? Why not? I booked this bad boy for a month spanning February to March of next year.

 

Yacht in Barcelona

 

Airbnb is ideal for longer stays, as weekly and monthly discounts are often applied when you search for a longer stretch. This one, in particular, offered 57% off for a full month (defined by Airbnb as 4 weeks). I’m a big fan of Airbnb and if you’ve not used them before, sign up with this link for $40 off your first stay and $15 off your first experience of $50 or more.

For the time that we actually spend in Michigan in the coming years, which I guesstimate will be maybe four to six months a year, I think we’ve got a great setup that gives us a convenient home close to family for the many family gatherings throughout the summer, and we’ve also got a fun getaway spot when we want to spend half the day in the lake.

It’s not at all what I expected, but I’m pretty happy with it, and I look forward to seeing how next summer goes with this setup. That is, unless we change our minds and do something different yet again. At these prices, it’s not like we will have made a huge mistake. Been there done that.

 

 

How much did you spend on your current home? If you have plans to move eventually, will you upgrade, downsize, or move somewhere else? Are we crazy for buying a $90,000 home?

36 comments

  • That was an impressive list of homes Leif. I have only owned 3 homes (2 during residency).

    It is definitely a great bargaining chip making an offer for all cash. The sellers appreciate that there are no contingencies or potential for a deal to fall through if something happened with the lenders.

    That’s a pretty sweet deal for getting to be on a yacht. With how expensive yacht ownership is, this is one way to get a taste of that life without having a huge financial anchor.

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  • I was just in Gainsville this weekend. My wife added an MBA (online) to her Pharm. D. and wanted to walk for the summer graduation. We weren’t there very long, but what we were able to do was quite nice. Fun area with lots of friendly people.

    That’s a lot of buying and selling of homes for my tastes (but understandable why). I’ve never figured out the process for selling, so we just keep them and rent them out. It’s worked out to be a decent wealth builder so far.

  • I would flip that house and sell it for more $ gUaP $. Not goint to front though. The look of it is very nice. 🙂

  • Love the new-to-you mid-century modern home. Gainesville Modern does a a five or six home tour of local MCM houses once per year. It’s my chance to drive around and drool over them (because there aren’t any MCM homes selling for anywhere close to $90k around here). Thanks for taking us on a tour of your homes.

  • Psy-FI MD

    Wow, leif. You are quite the connoisseur of homes!

    As for myself, I’ve only owned one home. I bought in 2011 right after training. The home was worth $400k and we sold it for that amount about 7 years later when we moved. When factoring maintenance and selling costs, we essentially paid some really cheap rent on a 3000 sq ft home. In retrospect, we really could have done with much less house (shocker I know). The unfinished basement served as a repository for opened amazon boxes.

    We are currently renting where I am now. It’s around a 2000 sq ft in size and we don’t miss the extra 1000 sq ft of space at all.

    It’s likely we will move in the near future and based on our experiences, we will likely rent for the next 1-2 years at the new location.

    I really like your idea of owning 2 smaller places instead of 1 big space. With the advent of airbnb, it’s easy to turn that living space into a cash generating machine.

    Regards,

    Psy-FI MD

  • Wow, I’m amazed at how many homes you’ve had already. I’m on number two, largely because I get all hung up on the realtor cost of selling a home.

    The new home you bought looks great, and my soul, the price is amazing! You can’t even touch a shack here for that money, much less a move-in mid century modern.

  • Congrats! I love the walk down memory lane! That huge lakefront home from the water does look very nice.

    It’s pretty cool that you have experienced the gamut, and know what you want.

    Not experiencing any type of home financial stress is great. I am in the beginning stages of raising a family still, so a bigger home is what we need. But I think something like 2600 ft.² for a family of four is about as large as we will go.

    But man, it sometimes cost $90,000 just to renovate a kitchen here in San Francisco! Have you thought about relocating to somewhere warmer for at least 4 months a year?

    Sam

  • Txgaslady

    Forgive me if you’ve addressed this elsewhere, but how are you managing kids’ education while traveling? Love to take that travel leap but … kids , pets

  • Lynne

    I had no idea a MCM home with such nice curb appeal could be had for that kind of price anywhere in the US. Good find.

    It’s funny to hear discussions about square feet. I live in a 1600 sf home and it seems too large to me. I guess I won’t have trouble downsizing to 1000-1100 sf as long as I get rid of some stuff.

  • $90,000? That won’t even buy a shack in our neighborhood. I’m insanely jealous.
    We’ve lived in smaller to mid-size homes and we also came to the same conclusion. We don’t need a ton of space. It’s just more work to maintain.
    Currently, we have about 1,000 sq ft. That’s okay for now, but we would like a little more space when our son is older. 1,000 sq ft is just about perfect for 2 people.

  • “How much did we spend on our house?”
    Too frickin much and the issue is it never ends.

    Buy an expensive house=pay large annual costs and upkeep

    An equation I’ve lived to regret.

    Like you we’ve learned through a tiny ski house that we don’t actually need a ton of space or all the fancy stuff.

    So I will remedy this problem soon but it’s been a big blot on my plans. Oh well…

  • Congratulations! That is a really nice-looking home. Small, inexpensive homes are the way to go for people who want to retire early in life.

  • I felt like I watched an episode from HGTV just now 🙂 thanks for sharing your list of homes, that’s a lot of homes, the prices are much more reasonable compared to up here in Vancouver BC. We were in 450 square feet and now we are in over 3000 square feet for a family of 4.

  • Wow, that’s really cool, PoF! I can’t believe you’ve lived in so many houses over the years.

    I have to say that I agree about the bigger houses. My wife, Lisa, and I always ask ourselves why we purchased our last house. It was way too big for the three of us. The only reason we did was because it was a great deal.

    The problem is exactly what you mentioned – cleaning, maintenance, etc. I’ll never buy a big house again. And honestly, I may never buy again – I kind of like this renting thing and that’s the plan when we get to Panama.

    Congrats on the new house – hope it feels like home for you guys!

    — Jim

  • Buckeyecub

    Guess I must live in a low cost area because I didn’t think 90k sounded abnormal. I know median home prices are above that in my area but they have 2000+ sq ft. Our condo of the same size cost around that 10 years ago though it is worth more. I have friends in my city who would love to be able to afford a 90k house. Compared to coworkers (I am a quant) our house is below what they would consider. Glad we stopped caring about that.
    Buying no more house than you need is always a good idea. We learned the lesson the hard way, much better when we downsized.

  • Wow, quite a journey. I enjoyed reading it and your thought process /reasons throughout. It was also affirming to our recent choices.

    We’ve just completed downsizing – moving from what we once considered our dream home and then realized was way too big for us long term. We were fortunate to get out with some money. We’re renting for now since we may be stepping away from work in the next 5 years. We’re taking our time to find a place we really like. We won’t find anything for $90,000 in the area we live now – but we *may* be willing to move a bit farther away and get down into the 100s at least.

    The good news is after going through house inflation and moving around our area we now have a pretty good idea of what it takes for a home to feel right to us. We’ve got time and we’ll (hopefully) get it right.

  • KR

    Congrats! Some friends of ours went the opposite way and just put an offer on a $580k+ home built in 2018 in a nice neighborhood (median is $350 or so since it’s an older neighborhood). Previously they owned a home and so are using some of the equity as a DP. I hope it works out well for them, they both do well for themselves and I know are not into DIY and have a growing family.

    For our part, we chose a very nice family neighborhood with a median home price of $425k and chose one of the “uglies” on the block and snagged it for $305k. Not only was this a good deal, theres not much wrong with the house itself only that aesthetically it’s a bit dated. It was rented out and owned by a retired couple. My hope is to build some DIY skills to remodel and do some renovations myself and I’ve been investing time to learn and have a membership to a DIY YouTube channel where I can ask the host anything and get help on projects. I’ve been watching his content for awhile and it’s fantastic so I really am getting value out of the membership.

    What about you PoF? Any plans to DIY or shell out for some improvements? Or just happy to live and let live?

  • How much did I spend? $155K plus I had the builder/owner do some upgrades for an additional 5K which I folded into the loan. After college I got a job as an engineer and bought a house in Champaign IL in 1976. 3 br for a single guy. 4 years later I was headed for med school and interest rates were through the roof like 15% so you couldn’t sell anything. Eventually it sold and I moved into my uncles spare bedroom in Riverside IL. Inflation wiped out my savings so half way through I joined the Navy rather than going a billion in debt with 18% student loans. I eventually moved to a little dump next to the med school and just down the road from the city. The freeway into the city was the Eisenhower expressway a place where Mario Andretti likely cut his teeth. I did a lot of 3 am neurosurgery on jokers riding their crotch rockets home to the burbs after a night of partying in the city.

    After residency I did the Navy, assigned to Naval Hospital Orlando and rented, a 2 br condo for $800/mo, I was never moved in the Navy, so I retired out in Orlando. Like you I did locums for a couple years, traveling with my wife. I only worked multi month contracts and worked mostly in beach communities and made the hospital get me a nice condo on the beach. There are always plenty of nice condo’s on the beach available and we wanted to have our own cars (pleural) so while I worked my wife could explore and shop and bring her WOK and cook tasty dinner for me and spend some time enjoying the sun. We lived on the per-diem and banked the salary. I learned a lot about how practices work (and don’t work) in those 2 years. Eventually I heard about the job I finally took while at a locums job on the other side of the state.

    We were still in the $800 a month place when I started and I had to drive every day. My wife had a pediatric private practice in occupational therapy which was pretty lucrative, so we were both fee for service private practitioners. I was assigned the local hospital real estate agent as well. It was her intention to sell me the Dr House and collect Dr House commission so I looked at every high end joint in the town, each with its own useless “special feature” (barf). I told her I wanted acreage north of town since the Hospital was north edge of town. I also wanted something I could sell if I needed to, having suffered through 1981 and a horrible market. I lived on the Space Coast so I wanted a place the average space coast worker could aspire to purchasing not some tug boat of a mansion.

    I wound up with about 3 acres 7 miles from work 3200 sq ft with a 45×25 out building/workshop, every red neck space worker’s dream. It was plenty of space, had a pool and separate spa house (part of the extra 5K build and a glassed in 35 x 12 tiled Florida room which I turned into a second family room and gym. The place has appreciated 2 x so I likely will make some dough upon sale but my walk away cost is assured. It’s worth more than the cost of the property plus the interest I paid on the loan. The other cool thing is my kids never felt like we were rich because we lived average lives out with the red necks so my kids never came to expect rich living or privilege. Like you I found it For Sale on my own as the real estate agent wasn’t interested in selling me something in this price category. Her tact was to show me dumps in this price category to force me upscale. When I made the deal she told me hmm you bought just what you told me you wanted to which I relied no shit Sherlock. The chick liked her noon time Mimosa/s and my money. She got the former not the later. Buying a right sized house you can sell if necessary without getting murdered in my opinion is the way to fly.

  • Yay for you guys! And awesome job on the square footage. DH was just saying the other day (as we’re marveling at how “small” our new place is—while also trying to figure out how we can get rid of even more stuff!) that by us “squeezing” into a teeny Airbnb for the summer, our new apt. Looks “large’ by comparison. It’s all in the mindset…So happy for you all!

  • Adam

    In late 2010 (the IDEAL time to buy a house, fortunately) we spent $210k just outside of DC on a 1100 square foot 1921 Craftsman bungalow. It’s now worth almost twice that, and we’ve put ~$40k into foundation repair and significant system upgrades. A new driveway, landscaping, and a bathroom remodel left to go; should be done in time for the place’s 100th birthday. And eleven years left on a 2.625% note. Great neighbors, fantastic little city, and no need for a car… we’re staying put.

  • Wow, I had no idea you at one time lived in La Crosse! I live in Wausau and am a big fan of the Midwest for FIRE. I think my friends parents actually lived in that place you showed when they moved to La Crosse for a while.

    My house cost a little less than $80,000. In my town, that buys a pretty nice house – two-story cape cod, great condition, and the value has increased quite a bit. It sounds really cheap but geographic arbitrage really does its work in the Midwest. My 15-year mortage payments are less than a cruddy apartment in my city, not to mention a good one. I think that’s something that gets lost in the national FIRE conversation sometimes.

  • I see a trend there, PoF.
    I predict a $45K Tiny House next!

    Hey all joking aside you are doing things right.
    Thoughtful, frugal, consistent with your values. My kind of guy.

    People thought Rob Kiyosaki was crazy (some still do) when he said, “Your house is not an asset.” He is right. It is an expense. A place to live. Let’s not make it more complicated.

  • Jim @ MSW

    Great article. Like you, I’ve bought and sold 5 homes and counting, and overall I think I’ve broken even on home equity. However, you have to consider that all of my moves were the result of corporate relocations, in which the company pays all of the transaction costs (including realtor fees, and in one case they also reimbursed me for selling a home – that i purchased at the peak of the housing bubble – at a $50k loss). Nice deal if you can get it, but one that will not be available once I stop working.

    When I retire in a few years, I’m seriously thinking about just renting. I know they say that “youre just wasting money on rent,” but that hasn’t been the case for me so far – my past experience has scarred me a bit. Besides, I kind like the flexibility of being able to leave a place if the neighborhood changes, or if no just feel like moving. In addition, the ability to make the landlord deal with maintenance surprises is really nice. I have stayed in corporate apartments for some long-term ( ie months) business travel, and I’ll tell you – being able to leave the apartment for a week or two at a time and not worry about a water leak or something while I’m gone is really sweet!

    Also would probably downsize. We have a larger home now, and our sense is that it is wasteful- we dont use some of the rooms on a regular basis, so why pay for them? Our need for space will also go down once our kids move out in a few short years, which also helps bias us towards downsizing.

  • Kathy

    Congrats! We live in CT and could never find a decent house for 90k around here. I am ready to downsize but my husband will only move if he can “take all of his stuff.”

  • Here I was thinking you were moving to Michigan full-stop (SPARTA!!!) So, you’re going to live in the new place during the summer, and bop a little bit to Mullet for weekends during the summer (is that still an Airbnb otherwise?)

    Then, back to MN for the glorious winter (9 months)… I reckon you’ll have another 8 years or so until the kids move out, before you can spend more time at the Alpena place? This helpful since I’m trying to finagle a similar path…

  • Its fascinating that you have come full circle. I always thought home inflation was a problem, where once you upgrade your house you can’t go back down, but you have proven otherwise!

    I dislike the maintenance associated with a bigger house. Currently, I’m torn between downgrading to a condo/apartment or upgrading to a bigger house and get a basement tenant. Really, my wife doesn’t want to move so I’ll likely just end up staying right where I am 😛

    • Psy-FI MD

      Although I think it’s hard to downgrade homes, it’s not impossible. Our tendency is to occupy whatever space we live in – be it a tiny home or a 10,000 sq ft mansion. It takes an understanding of your values and how much is truly enough for you.

    • That’s why your “side hustle” should be renting out big houses for big $ gUaP $. Money is everywhere online & offline!

      Am I right? 🙂

  • Dave

    The cost of all of your houses combined is less than the price for a single family home in my neighborhood in Chicago. And Chicago is considered relatively affordable for big cities. Bay Area, NY, LA, Boston, Seattle, DC, etc and you probably couldn’t afford a 3 bedroom condo for that price.

  • How are those RVUs looking this week? ; )

    Congrats, I am originally from Michigan and used to visit Oscoda (south of Alpena) every summer.

    Take care

  • Have you thought about selling all your properties and then renting, especially when you plan to travel so much?

    Is that the more flexible and economically beneficial choice?

  • I can’t even imagine taking a $200k loss, much less on top of a job loss! But you’ve obviously recovered. Your new home and cabin look great – very homey and appealing – so I’m sure you and your family will enjoy both for decades to come.

    I purchased my condo in Philly just over 5 years ago and have had some nice appreciation. Yet, with the money I’ve put into renovations and the astronomical closing costs (high transfer taxes here), it’s not worth it to cash out. I sometimes consider moving into a home similar to your new one in my hometown, where houses are still pretty cheap, but property taxes are not. I’d have to leave my job, unless I want to commute through horrible traffic, but I like my job. So, it’s not the time to change my life. Maybe someday.

    Anyway, enjoy Ecuador and Spain! Both are great!

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  • Mrs Thompson

    I am so excited for you guys! You will not regret moving into a smaller space, as it forces you to take a long hard look at your possessions. Alpena is a fun town —enjoy!

  • our house cost 98k about 20 years ago. it’s in buffalo and a massive stone structure that would likely fetch 400k. we own it for the large attic which is mrs. smidlap’s painting studio. it would break my heart to pony up realtor fees.

    this is interesting too. the house where i grew up is on the NY border with vermont, so it’s a decent country area. you could buy that house for about 60k and i came with a garage and my mom was living comfortably there until she passed away. it’s a little remote but some people really like that country living. we might retire to a smaller village in that area when we pull the plug.

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