I've started to think more about owning a house lately. I'm kind of starting to itch for a space that is "ours", and weighing the relative merits of buying a house in the city versus moving out to the county. The pros and cons seem pretty obvious: the pros are that city living is awesome, and the cons are that the school system leaves something to be desired once you get past elementary school.
There are other pros and cons of staying in the city. Pros include being within walking distance of our jobs, only needing to own one car, tons of local dining options, a mall, and easy biking distance to an amazing farmer's market and a couple grocery stores. Cons include that we could lose a ton of money, houses in Baltimore are sorta weird, we could end up with a mortgage we can't afford, our neighborhood could go downhill, parking is sometimes a pain, property taxes are outrageous, and we would have to move. It's easier to stay put. (Yes, we will probably move eventually.)
Essentially, it comes down to a few key questions:
- Are we ever going to move out to the county?
- Is that going to be before our children go to middle school?
If we want to stay in the city for another ten years, then buying a house seems like a no-brainer. If we want to move out of the city before we have children in two or three years, then continuing to rent is a no-brainer. But the in-between, where we might stay in the city for another 2-5 years is where it gets sticky. I do not feel "ready" to leave the city yet, but I don't know whether I will feel ready in a year, or three years, or never. I know that my walking commute has made my life absolutely fantastic, and I don't want to give that up, but there is a strong possibility that I will outgrow my job in a few years - which means that it might be good to continue renting and being flexible. But, since I have a job I like, I could hold out for a job that is at one of my preferred places of employment, all of which are in the city. Not to mention, my husband works in the city and will for the foreseeable future.
I think the biggest problem here is that I'm scared of the unknown. All of the things on my "cons" list are things that could happen. All of the things on my pros list are things that we know are advantages of living in the city. I am a big believer that I don't know how I will feel about doing certain things with children until I have children, but I am terrified by then that it will be too late. I talk to a lot of parents who bought a house in a crappy school district and say, "if only we had known". The long-term commitment horrifies me. What if we get stuck, absolutely stuck, with a house that has major issues and our neighborhood starts to go downhill?
Can anyone see anything I haven't considered about staying versus going? Did you make this decision as well? How did you make it? What can you tell me to help me get over my long-term fears?