Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Rent or Buy?

So this year I attacked my "living situation" by fixing an immediate problem (my landlord) and a long-term problem (lack of space).

Since April I have been living in a lovely apartment with what feels like twice the space (moving from 750 sq. ft. to 1050 sq. ft.), with more windows (only 1 more, to be honest--but better views, more light because not backed up on building), more green space (LOTS more green space, trees, grounds), a back porch/patio, and more quiet. It feels more open, more peaceful, more homelike.

I have rented since I was 21 and moved to NYC. Through grad schools--two degrees, two schools--and here in DFW. Even now, in what is really a boom market in Dallas for buying, I rent.


Every few years I yearn to buy a house. I look, I price, I think... but I don't.

1. I like the flexibility and freedom of renting. If the apartment gets too small/too expensive/too loud or the landlord gets too fussy/a crack habit/guns/too present or too absent, I can go. Moving is a pain, but the landlord who lives two doors away with a coke habit and handguns is no joke.

2. The plumbing is someone else's problem. Ditto landscaping, insurance, termites, and taxes.

3. "Fixer-Upper" is what I can afford in terms of price but not time... so there we are. I'm not buying to flip, I'm buying to nest.

4. I don't want to retire in DFW. But I'm thinking about retirement homes now, as vacation homes/rental properties, etc.

2012 will become the year of researching where I will build this house:

When I know where, I can plan when.

What the future location must have:
  • access to major airport for ease of travel
  • access to decent medical facilities (just in case!)
  • no freezing winters, no muggy/100+ summers
  • seasons: 4, not 2
  • bookstores, restaurants, museums, theatre/performance venues (or university with same) within reason (4 places I spend my time)
  • view of mountains or ocean... or both? + trees
  • no extreme weather: hurricanes. tornedos, blizzards, droughts
Ideas? Anyone?


  1. Sounds like a perfect description of San Francisco - or if you want to spend a bit more - Seattle. Actually Seattle has only one season - drizzle, so not Seattle. (And Seattle was quite unfriendly.) But maybe Portland, in the aptly named Pearl District. If I could spend every summer the rest of my life in the Pearl District of Portland, I would be very happy. Portland is a more intellectual city than Seattle, with French speaking gatherings going on all the time. But one of my sons went to law school in San Francisco, and I was surprised that living there is actually quite a bit more affordable than I thought, so I am re-examining San Francisco as a possible retirement destination.

  2. I was going to suggest Seattle because it has a larger airport than Portland but I live in and love Portland. Right now the leaves are changing, though Beryl's right - it's rainy or cloudy more often than sunny. And the airport isn't major - the only direct, non-stop to Europe is Amsterdam. The summers are wonderful here, and it rarely snows. Mountains and the coast are within an hour or so.


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