As I sit by the small plastic table in my living room corner, I hear shouting as my two kids jump on each other. The baby starts crying, and I hear my husband whispering, “shhh… mommy is working”. This is the reality of living in a small 2-bedroom apartment in 2021.
I have worked from home for the past eight years in a situation that worked well for me. My kids would go to daycare and school. My husband would go to work, and I would sit in the lovely peace and quiet and work. I loved it. I had some flexibility. I could watch things on the stove or quickly throw in a load of laundry. The electrician said he would come at 9 am to fix the bathroom outlet and didn’t show up till the next day at 2 pm? No problem! I didn’t have to take off work- I just listened out for the knock on the door. Working from home has its pros and cons, but the pros overwhelmingly outweighed the cons for seven years.
We love where we live. We love our neighbors. We love the opportunities living in this city gives us. however, housing prices are enormous, and our tiny apartment was affordable even if it is a little cramped.; it didn’t really matter. My “office” is in my living room, but no one was home regularly, and if there were some hiccups, then it was a price we were all willing to pay until, that is Corona. A year later, I am still working from home, yet childcare is not to be seen. My kids are doing virtual school more often than in-person school and my work hours usually take place in the dead of night.
The biggest problem is that although my husband can watch the kids so I can work, there is nowhere for me to work in peace and quiet. I don’t need absolute silence to get my work done, but I need a small measure of silence to be able to focus. In other words, I can’t be helping with kid’s tech issues, breaking up fights, or opening the glue that is too sticky to use.
On beautiful warm days, kids can go outside. My husband takes them on long, rambling walks so that I can get work done, but on cold, wintery days, that is not entirely possible or practical. My charming (aka meager budget) living room is the only suitable place for my office. I don’t have room in my bedroom, and there is no other space to be found.
Should we move?
The sentiment that I have been feeling, and that I have heard from many others, is that the housing situation that they have used to be great in the before-times but is not great in the after-times. Unfortunately, unlike so many NYT stories that will have you believe, most people don’t just have the wherewithal to pick and move. Not everyone conveniently has a second home in the country or the cash to buy, rent or move to the suburbs– even if their companies now allow remote work.
Remote work is opening new frontiers for those who are thrilled to move out of big cities and move to places with space, large basements, a backyard with room for an office shed, or cities where family help is available. Yet, even with all these enticements- this type of move is just simply not practical for many people, myself included.
If you are one of the people struggling with your current living arrangements and are considering a change, you need to run the numbers and make sure that your decision makes sense financially. Many suburbs have cheaper housing, and you can get more real estate for the price you pay. However, you need to make sure that one of the most significant decisions you are creating does not end up being a financial catastrophe. You don’t want the world to slowly return to normal while you are stuck with an albatross of debt or a mortgage around your neck.
Making a quick and sudden decision out of fear is not that uncommon. in fact, Freddie Mac’s research indicates that borrowers could save an average of $1,500 over the life of the loan by getting one additional rate quote and an average of about $3,000 for five quotes. Yet nearly half of consumers don’t shop for better rates before taking out a mortgage to buy or refinance a home. Worse, many consumers do not seem to realize that the rates offered by lending institutions vary widely. (source)
Run the Numbers
One easy way to make sure that you are making the appropriate decision is to use a Mortgage Calculator, like the ones found at Mortgage Calculator. You can calculate the amount of mortgage you can afford to take, the cost of monthly payments, and various other calculations, such as estimating mortgage affordability based on income and printable amortization schedules.
Above is just one example of the calculators that they have, and it is a nifty tool. I would suggest you go check it out now if you are thinking of making a move.
You can play around with it a bit more to get a better idea of your options.
As for me, we have decided to stay put for now. We have run some numbers, and we cannot justify moving at this point, even for our sanity. We know how much money we are able to spend, so if anything comes up (stranger things have happened!), we will know what we can do.
Meanwhile, I am doing my best to stay positive and enjoy this family time. I could be worse- we are healthy and safe while so many aren’t.
What about you, dear readers? Have you given any thought to moving? Can you afford to? Will you run the numbers to see what your options are? As always, I would love to hear from you!