Thursday, July 1, 2004

As I mentioned in an earlier journal entry, I’m condo-hunting.

I’m perfectly happy with my current basement apartment. It’s spacious, the rent’s only USD $700 a month, and I can decorate it however I want. If I move, I’ll need to get at least one roommate to cover the mortgage, taxes, and condo and homeowner’s association fees.

But right now, I’m tossing $700 out the car window every month. If I buy a place, I’ll have hundreds of thousands of dollars in equity (over time). My monthly mortgage payment is money I can get back any time I want to, simply by selling the condo. And considering how property values are increasing every day, the odds that I’ll ever lose money are very low.

The main difficulty lies in the price. I believe in buying only what I can afford, e.g., I want my expenses to be low enough that I’ll be able to afford to pay it all even without any renters (even if it’s financially straining to do so). At that rate, I can afford about $1,000 a month, which translates to roughly a $200,000 mortgage. And around here, there are very few condos or town houses that are that cheap (and are in decent neighborhoods, and aren’t falling apart). I and my agent chatted with a young woman while looking at one condo; she complained about how difficult it is for someone who’s just starting out to find a place to live. She has my sympathies; I’m lucky in that I have a relatively high-paying job.

There’s one other aspect to condo hunting that’s proving to be my central concern: Do I love the place? I’ve found condos that I like, and where I wouldn’t mind living. But I haven’t really fallen in love with any place yet.

On the other hand, I only started looking a couple of weeks ago. I have nothing pushing me to move. I can afford to take my time.

There’s a big gulf between thinking “I could live here” and thinking “I want to live here.”

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