An Uncomplicated Life Blog: Musings About The Future

Monday, March 2, 2020

Musings About The Future

My family is on the precipice of a big decision. Here's what we're contemplating and some of my thoughts, fears and hopes about it.

We've reached it. Hit that milestone. It's time. We have an urban, 2700 square foot four bedroom, 2 and a half bathroom home and we're *starting* to think about our move. This home would have been entirely sufficient had we only had three kids... But we had surprise twins. None of our family lives in-state, so we need a guest room for visitors. I work from home. My husband offices from home, but is usually out meeting clients. All that to say, we NEED more space, especially as these four boys grow. We're just starting the planning process of what we'll need in a new home... Except there's a whole hot mess of issues associated with it! This is gonna be a "bare it all" post about where we live, how we live, what I want, what I want for my kids and the issues we face. If you're down for some frankness and want to give me your two cents, please read on for my musings about the future, and please - give me some direction!

My "office" - currently a small corner of the play/rec room

One of the more bizarre things about Dallas is that it reminds me a lot of Paris (probably the first time you've ever heard that, huh?!): the city is where the charm is. The suburbs are mostly new construction, no mature trees and lots of strip malls and restaurant chains. But the city is full of massive live oak trees, unique restaurants and best of all, you don't have to drive far to get anywhere. The other thing about Dallas that mimics Paris is that the city itself is massively, massively more expensive than the suburbs. And not just the actual cost of housing, the property tax burden in Dallas is insane. Our property taxes are about the same dollar amount a month as our actual mortgage.

Now that I've set the scene a bit, here's the dilemma I'm weighing: do we stay in the city or do we move out to the suburbs? In the city, we'll max out our budget and not get everything on our "wish list" for a new home. There will also only be about 3-10 listings to choose from, whenever we decide to bite the bullet and list our house. In comparison, if we moved to the suburbs we'd have over 200 listings to choose from, come in under budget and likely get every single thing on our wish list. Seems like a no brainer to move to the 'burbs, right? Yeah, except...

Being in the city means we're close to Love Field, which is the airport we/hubby uses. He can leave and be there in a matter of minutes, and be home a matter of minutes after his flight lands. In the suburbs, that commute will extend by 30-45 minutes each way, making him leave earlier in the morning and come home later at night.

Aaaand my husband, the breadwinner of the family, measly office space. An even smaller desk with only a stool to sit on in the corner of our formal dining room  (aka where my kids and I do arts and crafts because who with kids actually has formal meals?!)

Currently, we're active in our community school. It's highly ranked in Dallas and I love all the other parents and families we've met because of it. Probably best of all, it's not full of wealthy white kids - there's a huge range of socio-economic classes represented, and Henry has made friends with a diverse range of kids. I LOVE that about where we live! If we move to the 'burbs, I can expect my children's experience with different races and economic levels to be pretty limited. I myself had a diverse school setting and it helped shape me growing up. I don't want my kids to only go to school with other kids who look like them! What a narrow view of the world they'll have. That scares me.

The third exception, and this is more so than in any other city I've ever lived in, is the social aspect. Dallasites don't go out to the suburbs and suburbanites don't come in to the city. It's literally like oil and water! We don't mix. It's not even a matter of snootiness; most of it is a matter of distance and traffic! Dallas is a large land mass city. It takes a solid hour, without traffic, to drive across is. And that's just Dallas proper, that's not the metro. Once someone moves out to the suburbs, us urbanites joke, "welp, there goes Jenny. We'll never see her again!" And it's true. It's too far to drive for an impromptu lunch or play date. It takes PLANNING to go out to the suburbs, and for suburbanites to come to the city.

For reference, one of my sorority sisters from college moved to McKinney two or so years ago. I still haven't seen her since she's moved to Texas, despite the fact that we have kids the same age and would love to reminisce about old times. McKinney is a solid hour away. Nobody has two spare hours in their day to spend driving out there and back, or down here and back!

My work space, wedged amongst all the toys. Which is fine when the room is clean... It's usually not!

All that said, it sounds like I've got my mind made up to stay in the city, right? Wrong! I think there's a strong argument for the suburbs. First, we'd come in under budget. Both my hubby and I aren't big money spenders, especially on a home. I have no intentions of being "house poor" or being stressed out if we can make our mortgage payment each month. Whatever we'd get approved to spend through the bank we cut in half, and make that the starting point for our home budget. This is a great way to approach home buying if you don't want your monthly bills to be a struggle!

Anyway, I have some "must haves" for the new home and not only are they exceptionally rare in Dallas proper, they're insanely expensive. For example, I'll need a 6 burner stove in my new home. That sounds bougie, but let me tell you: currently, with a 5 year old, a 4 year old and 16 month twins, I use two pounds of ground beef for recipes that call for one; we can easily make two boxes of mac n cheese and eat it all for one meal; and we make scrambled eggs not in a regular frying pan but on a flat grill that covers two burners because we go through so many at once. As these boys grow, I'm literally going to need all those burners just to cook one meal! And if they bring friends over? Oh man...

I'm also going to need a place to store all the food I'll cook on a 6 burner stove. Either in an over-sized fridge in my kitchen or in an additional fridge in a rec room, or even one in a garage. That means the house needs to be big enough for a second fridge in the rec room, or has a kitchen large enough for a high-end over-sized fridge or it has a 3+ car garage. All of these are hard to come by in the city; we currently have a play/rec room but it's not big enough (nor is it wired) for a fridge, if your home has a renovated kitchen with a luxuriously large fridge you're looking at a seven digit++ price tag, and sure - I can find a home with a three car garage, but I'll have to drop a couple thousand on an electrician to wire it for a deep freezer or fridge. The city option makes food storage a problem where as in the suburbs, it's already built into the home.

My current kitchen, an extra wide galley, suits our needs. But with a closet for a pantry and a regular size fridge with a 4 burner stove, we're quickly busting at the seams for food prep and storage!

The third thing we absolutely need in our new home is a yard. In the city, a 5 bedroom home will most likely be a zero-yard lot. 5 bedroom listings are either older homes with an addition or a tear down with a new build that maximized house over preserving the yard. In the suburbs, lots are larger because land isn't at a premium. You get the big house AND the big yard! In the city you have three choices: a large home, a decent sized yard with a smaller home, or go over your budget and get both.

The good news about this whole dilemma is that we don't have to make a decision today. A key factor in what we'll do is directly tied to what we can list (and get) our current home for. All the current listings in our neighborhood are for $200,000-$350,000 more than what we paid for our home. If we could list our home at a similar price, we'd easily be able to get an amazing city home! Then all this pondering would be wasted time on my end. While our neighborhood is in a "hot" real estate market, who knows what it will look like when we actually list our home. And I don't want to make plans on other people's numbers, I need to make plans on reality. Getting a $250k paycheck from the sale of our current home would be amazing and *could* happen, but it's not our reality yet.

Now that I've laid out all my musings about the future, what we need and where that might be, I'm dying to know: what would you do? Stay in the city where you're already established and have friends? Peace out to the burbs to get more home for less? If I wasn't so attached to urban living, this would be a no brainer (we'd be out in the suburbs already if that was the case!) but I love what being centrally located offers me and my family! And the one thing you can't change about a home after you buy it is the location.


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