There Goes the Neighborhood
When your only debt is your mortgage is it normal to question selling on a daily or weekly basis?
It used to be such a quiet neighborhood.
Mr. Cabbage and I are now greeted every single time we leave or arrive home – by our townhouse’s neighborhood watch made up of four large, ridiculously LOUD and obnoxious dogs who all live next door. They awaken us every weekday and weekend morning and we used to LOVE sleeping in. The dog’s owners leave their bags of poop in their front yard next to their stoop at times for the entire week until trash day. It looks so classy. The same lovely neighbors own both a piano and a drum set and some sort of speaker system that literally shakes our walls occasionally like an earthquake or a helicopter.
I know that if we did choose to sell our townhouse, that this neighbor would dissuede buyers. Do people ask neighbors to clean up their mess and quiet their animals so we can sell and escape them? As you might have guessed, we’re not friendly.
Our community shut down our Airbnb that we were running very successfully after six months. According to the Home Owners Association, temporary leases have to be a minimum of a month-to-month basis. Our Airbnb was lovely and we were consecutively Superhosts AND we earned enough from it to throw a chunk at the mountain of mortgage debt. The effort to flip the basement apartment myself between guests (especially when there were multiple guests in the course of a week) could be draining, but it was such a great pride to write that money off of the mortgage at the end of the month.
Currently we are living with two toilet paper holders that have fallen off the wall, two bathroom fans that don’t work, a shower that is leaking water into our dining room ceiling, a dryer that makes some painful cries of pain every time it is turned on, berber carpet with pulls, dinged up paint, a few walls that have been cut open to find cabling and bathroom grout that needs some repairing. It is the amount of the mortgage though that makes this feel like a Money Pit rather than our haven where we can escape the DC madness. In the past six months, we have had a repair on our water line which was only noticeable because the water and waste water bills more than tripled, which made the purchase of a new oven look like nothing.
As you know we live in DC. Cost of Living in DC is ridiculously high. According to Nerd Wallet, the average cost of buying a house in DC is the fifth in the nation behind New York City, Honolulu, San Francisco and San Diego averaging $786,415.
Now to be fair, the average household income in DC is fourth highest in the nation averaging $61,835 and just falling behind San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle. Now if you make $62k and buy a $786k house before you have taken any opportunity to include interest, taxes, insurance, Home Owners Association Fees, Utilities, Transportation, Childcare costs, savings, retirement, food, and every other thing that you need or want… it would take you over 13 years to pay off that mortgage.
I bought a townhouse on a VA loan. I put no money down because who has 20% of a mortgage costing $786k ($157k) or even half that ($79k) to use for a down payment? Now I know much more now that maybe that means I should have just kept renting and maybe I couldn’t afford to buy a home. But at the time, because of my years of military service and no other real financial experience it was decided I could have a VA home loan with zero money down. I hadn’t had even an apartment rental in over six years, no utility payments, my car payment and very little in the bank.
For me, it is working out as I have paid off 20% of my 30 year mortgage. However, the payment is very painful when I feel like I am living above my means and I am literally living next to the neighbor’s pile of dog shit. I would rather move away from DC, take a huge hit in my salary and have a much cheaper housing and cost of living expenses. Right now Mr. Cabbage and I are still weighing options but for now, I will continue to chip away at the expense of the mountain of debt.
Here are a Few Links to Learn More About Cost of Living in DC or VA Loans: