Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Where should you go, if your home won't have you?

I've come, again, to the conclusion that I cannot afford to live here.

On a day-to-day basis it's all fine, but I know that it can only be day-to-day. Yes, including living in the same apartment, now 11 years, and having to stay here for another 11 or 22, or maybe more like 55?

Rents are too high to move; homeownership is a joke. I have no meaningful gains in earnings in sight.

Staying here means just living day-to-day.

Last year I made a goal and laid groundwork to clean up my financial house. And then I did. But I can see that things being as they are, I can't make any real progress.

About a year ago I started thinking about buying a place. Everyone seemed to be doing it. I guess I figured I was around that age or stage in my life...

But a little research showed something much weirder going on. The majority of these people took out toxic loans, or are living in buildings they bought with strangers... I'm too financially conservative to consider either of these options.

But it will take a long time to correct itself, and I do think prices will remain sticky on the downside, for a long time. I don't know enough for this to matter, but my uneducated guess would be winter of 2008 would be a nice time to buy. Maybe even later.

In case you don't know, wages have been stagnant for several years.
The US savings rate dipped below 0% recently.
Millions of dollars of ARMs are set to adjust next year.
Trillions the year after that.

So it has to come down.

But this is life, not investing. If the best time to buy is in 2011, shall I put my life on hold until then? What if it isn't until 2015? I'll be 38 before I can move out of this apartment?

I don't see any future of much better salaries in my current career path. I don't have a clue what else I can do. I assume I'd have to go back to school, but I don't even know for what? Could I afford to go back to school? Would it be another mistake?

I know there are a few manufacturers in the Seattle and Portland areas I could pursue, but I don't know how the salaries stack up there. I really couldn't see myself living in LA. New York would probably be a similar problem, although I know the salaries there for my position would be nearly double.

The vision I have for my ideal is working in downtown SF, living in the downtown or Potrero Hill or possibly Hayes Valley/Duboce areas... Mainly, specifically, walking to work or taking a bus down Market St. if needed.

But it's meaningless if wages and housing can't line up. I really can't stay.

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