Thursday, April 5, 2012

Why I live Downtown(and so should you!)

The title of this post should really be: Why I live(and love) Downtown and so should you.And....stop judging me for how much I payed for my condo, acting surprised if I tell the average sq ft for the neighborhood and look as though I must have lost my mind. THEN gasp again when I tell you I have a husband, child, a dog, a garden and that we are a one car family.(then you usually shake your head and tell me I will move when I come to my senses) and by the way you have to go so you don't catch traffic.

Since that title is well, impossible in SO many ways we'll just stick to the more print-worthy one above.

 I would like a chance to explain, if not defend my choice to spend more on my location and neighborhood than maybe you suburbanites may have and maybe even make a case as to how I may be out-cheaping you in the end.

For a minute lets assume that all things are equal. That you too can walk out of your front door and within minutes(and by minutes I mean 5--without a car) be walking into the doors of a children's museum, a planetarium, a library, 2 malls, dozens of restaurants, a movie theater, FREE public transit, the grocery store, an NBA game, 2 live theaters, a symphony, the farmers market, a train to the airport, YOUR JOB. And let's leave out another intangible: the TIME in your day that you travel to get to that sprawling home you payed so little for. 

Let's set all of that aside for now, because we are only going to focus on THE COST OF MY HOUSE--since that is all most people ask about and then rule out this life for them selves. I challenge you to think again! 

Consider our expenses: 
Our mortgage. Which is more than yours and it is probable that we spent double what you did per square foot--no we are not rich or crazy. 
HOA Fee 
Car Maintenance 
Gas(we fill up 2-3 times per month) 
$25/year for our yearly garden+plants(same as you spend on your garden I would assume) 
Hourly cost($5 per hour through Ucarshare) for access to a second car(or truck) whenever needed(which is usually 3-5 times per year) 

And of course food and entertainment, health insurance, etc, etc--the same as you guys in the burbs. 

Consider your expenses: 
Mortgage (yes, I know, it is less than mine)
2 Cars with all of the payments/maintenance etc 
HOA fee(since most communities now have them) 
more Gas
Upkeep of the outside of your house(we won't consider the inside because that is the same) Lawn/Yard care, supplies, water, etc 
All of those surprises over the year: new roof? siding needs to be replaced, broken window? New sod? you can fill this one in for your own home. 

The point is that many of your expenses don't come to mind when you think of what you paid for your home because it is incremental and over the year it trickles in. People often forget that these are actual expenses(that aren't going away--as your home ages they will only increase) 

Here are a few data points that I was able to find by quickly asking google: 
According to Consumer Expenditures in 2006, released in February of 2008 by the U.S. Department of Labor's U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average vehicle costs $8,003 per year to own and operate. The breakdown of the figure comes to $3,421 for purchasing the vehicle, $2,227 in gasoline and motor oil expenses, and $2,355 in other vehicle-related costs.(I found that info HERE

That is $16,000 per year just for cars! 

On to the yard: $156 per month to water a 100x100 lawn  
Gardening supplies(yearly) $532 
oh and I think it is worth note that you might spend  40 hours a year mowing. 
(I know, I know, it is your cardio!)

Now add in the time you spend going from here or there. With or without your family chances are it is a lot and if you are in your car that is time you are NOT exercising, cooking, exploring, hiking, reading. You know, the finer things in life.
 My point: as I assume you have already gathered, is that you may pay more for your lifestyle than we do. We feel that, as Urbanites, we payed a bit more for our house to pay FAR LESS for everything else with the added bonus of being able to spend 1-3 hours more a day together as a family while others sweat it out in traffic. We walk most places we go(and don't bother with the gym) we are able to have mid day visits as a family and eat lunch together, we have a garden. We ARE you, just spending our money differently. We are able to live where we work, play and love. And that, is worth a lot more than we payed for our house, as overpriced as you may think it may be. 
 Doug with Grayson--we stopped in to the Planitarium while on our way grocery shopping on a saturday.