Dollars and Sense!

OK.  It’s time for the big reveal.  I’ve been meaning to provide a “cost analysis” of downtown living, but if you know me well, you know numbers are not my thing!  In fact, I avoid them like at all cost.

So, I’ve asked my number wizard and very handsome husband, Andy, to provide you with a rundown on how our financial picture looks downtown, compared to suburbia living.  Obviously, we save on commute, energy bills, neighborhood association fees, lawn service, home owner’s insurance and home maintenance … but, downtown living is not cheap!  But, the bigger question, which we are not going to attempt to tackle in this post …. “With the current economy, is home ownership still a good investment?”

Here’s Andy’s rundown.  Please feel free to throw out some questions for us. 

When considering pros and cons of our downtown move, economics were certainly part of it, but not as huge a consideration in the final decision as one might think. For years, we’d hashed out typical questions I suppose folks do – like remodel and tackle those hassles? ( sounds like another potential blog ) – Would someone want to buy our house for what we think it’s worth? Could there be a house for sale out there which might offer what we wanted?  Do we really want the gigantic disruption of status quo?  Leave our neighbors and neighborhood we love so much, not to mention our home’s memories?  Will the birds find enough food and water if I’m not around to see after them?  Will there ever be another place with as much peace and enjoyment as on the deck overlooking the backyard (well, except for the occasional disruption by Snickers, the uncanny-hearing barking dog next door – we do love the owners, though). 

Anyway, this installment is supposed to be about costs.  Bottom lines. Comparative analysis.  It’s no great secret or revelation that home ownership is costly  –  what with mortgage, insurance, taxes, maintenance – and the list goes on.  We all know the job of home ownership is dangerous when we take it, yet we do, and we often include in our prayers the aging air conditioner compressor and that it might make it through just one more summer.  But as the famous credit card ad sorta’ says – “joys of home ownership – priceless”.  I’m just not convinced a value can be placed on some things, like how much does good fortune cost these days adjusted for inflation or deflation and how good, really, is our better than national average but still somewhat stagnant, improving or declining housing market?  We fortunately did well on our house sale, so we thankfully started out somewhat ahead.

 So, with all that said, and with all the past year’s bills and receipts poured over, it was somewhat surprising to surmise that we weren’t saving buckets of money as, on paper, it seemed we might.  In six months, the average has been about $400 a month in actual dollar amount savings, but that’s before mortgage interest deduction, which will lower it a little.  Oddly, we still needed megawatts of electricity this summer (go figure) and a little more gasoline as Kathy’s clients spread out over the city and from Lawton to Tulsa.  Then, add on the necessary evil of storage units ( yes, plural ), both cost-wise and inconvenience-wise, which sadly includes running out to buy another whatnot which you know you have several of packed safely away in the unit.

 But, it has been very nice to come home for lunch a time or two a week, which might have saved a little bit, and our gym membership dues for the Edmond gym we didn’t go to much are now included in our apartment rent so that we don’t have to pay extra for the gym here we aren’t going to much, either.  I’m sure over the winter with heating costs rising we will see some increase in savings, but just in time, our 7 – month lease is up, and, naturally, they are going to stick it to us pretty good with a rent increase unless we sign another longer term lease.  Probably a wash there.

 All in all, considering we moved into a very-nice-although-maybe-a-bit-pricey-but-secure-almost-new apartment complex with great amenities right smack dab downtown, which we’ve really enjoyed, the net savings has been appreciable, but not entirely monetary.  It’s also been a savings in time – time to enjoy downtown living as we had hoped we would, and, at least for now, not being stressed dealing with a remodeling contractor.

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2 responses to “Dollars and Sense!

  1. What about renting a house in the area versus an apartment? Does that still work out the same?

    • Anil, I don’t think it matters whether you are renting a house or an apartment. Real Estate downtown is generally more expensive than the burbs. I haven’t really looked at renting a house close to downtown, but I don’t think it would be much different. Although many economists are saying the economic conditions makes it risky to depend on our homes to be a “sound investment”, I just can’t wrap my head around the thousands of dollars spent on rent with nothing to show for it in the end. If we had found a way to save more than a few hundred a month and were able to invest the savings in a high yield investment … maybe it would make sense. But, neither is true. However, I DO LOVE living downtown. It is just renting downtown is not financially affordable for us. However, our downtown experience has made us want to plan our next step as close to downtown as possible!

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