To commute or not to commute ...

Illumina tech lead
May 27 14 Comments

Looking to buy a home.
TC 310K, SoCal. Two children in daycare.

A) 12 miles, 55min peak traffic, 4bed/3bath, 2100sqft, nice views, no noise, med fees, up-and-coming location, 7/10 schools, 7/10 community, new construction
$625K + $13,000/yr tax/hoa/fees

B) 12 miles, 30 min peak traffic, 4bed/3bath, 2200sqft, no view, faint road noise, med fees, established/desirable location, 10/10 schools, 9/10 community, 5-8 years old
$1.050M + $17,000/yr tax/hoa/fees

C) 20 miles, 45 min peak traffic, 4bed/3bath, 2200sqft, no view, no noise, high fees, semi-desirable location, 9/10 schools, 10/10 community, 3-5 years old
$850K + $18,500/yr tax/hoa/fees

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TC still growing, could make this a 5-10 year home and then move/upgrade later if financials make sense, or could buy with a longer runway.

Currently rent a 2 bed (with extra room used as 3rd bedroom). $2650, very good commuting location.

Trying to be semi-frugal, esp. during daycare years. Tempted to go with cheapest via A) and start working unique hours to avoid congestion (or WFH some days), with a plan to move away sooner. Cheapest option is also doable on 1 salary.

Ideal home/location is 1.4MM+ (out of reach for now). Short list is all newer / open homes. Obv opening up to older 1960s homes would change things, but have chosen to avoid for now.

Schools/community scored out of possible 10. 1 being worst. 10 being best.

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TOP 14 Comments
  • New house?
    Find a cheaper rental by adding a little more to your commute. Do you see yourself spending the rest of your life at this location? If not, save as much as you can, leave SoCal and build your dream home somewhere cheap. Don’t settle for a job, settle where you want to spend the rest of your life.
    May 27 1
    • Illumina tech lead
      OP
      We like SoCal quite a bit. Could certainly see ourselves staying here long term, hence the decision to buy into the RE market.

      Dream location would be more coastal, where prices move closer to 2mil. Or further north etc once we are not working. While working, would not move from current rental/location to save the 500-1000.

      Only potential downside with SoCal is the limited high paying tech here. But Apple is coming soon and hiring 1200, and there are small google/AWS offices.
      May 27
  • Oracle Flatlinerz
    Number of schools is irrelevant, they will only go to 1. Avoiding commuting is also overrated given how many hours people waste on random crap in their free time. Strange that new build is cheapest though. In the UK a new build loses 10-20% 1 year after buying as it's no longer a new build...same with new car
    May 27 5
    • Illumina tech lead
      OP
      Number is rank/score of schools. Not # available. Don’t think new build would lose $ in CA. It’s the cheapest option here because it is more inland in a worse community with worse traffic. But could be the wildcard in terms of upward potential.
      May 27
    • Microsoft Vbsm66
      What does rank mean? Is higher or lower better? What's it out of?
      May 27
    • Illumina tech lead
      OP
      Out of 10. Higher is better. (This is the way more schools are scored by existing websites). https://www.greatschools.org
      May 27
    • Microsoft Vbsm66
      Usually, being ranked #1 is considered the best
      May 27
    • Illumina tech lead
      OP
      Yes yes, sorry. Removed the word rank :). It’s a score.
      May 27
  • Facebook qx
    I personally would optimize for commute. The kids are in daycare, rent is cheap, and commute is good. Your other options are stress yourself out with a mortgage, lose liquidity with a down payment, make every day or many days annoying with traffic, etc.

    $1.4m is not that far from $1m. Just keep saving. Closing costs and the stress of selling and buying within a 5 year span seems silly.

    If you want to be frugal, the cheapest option on your list actually looks like renting. Buying a home would technically just be forced savings via appreciation and principal pay down. The first five years of a mortgage is all interest payment anyway.

    Wait imo.
    May 27 1
    • Illumina tech lead
      OP
      Ha. You sounds like the ‘me of reason’. Agree with all of your points.

      The forced savings via principal / CA appreciation is very attractive to me, hence the desire to buy. The frugality aspect is something I’d like to improve upon not something I already have in the bag :) Forced savings is the (albeit risky) jump start in my view. Wife and I are still young-ish, 600k NW, so have some reserves to fall back upon. But also totally see how ‘frugality’ and 1mm homes are at odds.

      Only risk here is waiting to buy in 3-5 years and then having that 1.4mm turn into 1.8mm.
      May 27
  • New fzlpop
    Where in SoCal? The market has cooled a little bit. I recommend waiting.
    May 27 1
    • Illumina tech lead
      OP
      San Diego. Discovered by the Germans in 1904, they named it San Diego, which of course in German means a whale's v$&ina
      May 27
  • Amazon / Eng DeepObsess
    B is good except for the noise problem. I can't tolerate it but maybe you could. Otherwise find something else.
    May 27 1
    • Illumina tech lead
      OP
      Agreed. Looking a bit more, a home w/ road noise would be closer to 1mm. So the 1.05mm homes are actually far enough away from the highway that it won’t be an issue. (Worth the extra $$). Will update.

      Can’t imagine backing right up to a highway ....
      May 27

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