Is your job located in an expensive area? Are you faced with either a long commute or an expensive house near your work? I never thought I’d be faced with this decision since my wife and I live in a fairly low-cost area. BUT, now that we’re looking at homes with acreage, the options seem to be quite limited in our desired location near work. AND, for the few houses that ARE on the market, they’re typically in the $400,000 range…when our budget is more like $275,000-$300,000.
Just recently, we spotted a house that has 5 acres, a perfect set-up for horses, and plenty of room for our family!
The price tag? $275,000!
But…it’s located 25 minutes north of where we really want to be… What should we do??
Long Commute or an Expensive House?
So what are the true pros and cons of a decision like this? Will we jump on this house option and forever regret it because of the added drive-time to everything? Or, will we love the acreage and horses so much that we won’t mind being a little farther away?
I honestly have no idea…which is why I’m writing this article – to help weigh the pros and cons of this decision (and to of course get your opinion as well!).
Great Property, Long Commute – Pros and Cons
5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 2,800 square feet, 5 acres with a pole barn that’s already set up for horses… $275,000.
- We’d be completely debt free after the sale of our house
- We wouldn’t be much farther away from my family, but much closer to my wife’s parents and sisters
- The property is set up exactly how we’d like it
- It’s lined with trees for privacy from the road
- There’s a fenced-in pasture in the back
- The pole barn already has four new stalls set up for horses
- The house is a ranch style with the kitchen, dining, and living room all flowing together, and there’s a full basement for plenty of space for our family
- 25 minutes from my work (vs. the 5 minute commute I have today)
- 20 minutes from the school we’d like our kids to go to (vs. 5 minutes today) – our oldest daughter will start school in three years
- 20 minutes from our church (vs. 10 minutes today)
Basically, this house is exactly what we want for a price that’s within our budget. BUT, it comes at the expense of approximately 4 hours of my life each week.
Expensive House, Short Commute – Pros and Cons
This “expensive but short commute” house is currently a unicorn. Over the last three months we’ve either found acreage within our price range that was ultimately unusable, or lovely properties that are so expensive we didn’t even waste our time looking at them.
Based on our experience with the local market, if something does become available, we can only assume it’d be $350,000 or more. So, if one actually did become available in the near future, what would the pros and cons be?
- I’d be living 5-10 minutes from my work (roughly the same as today)
- Have acreage in a fantastic area that’s rapidly increasing in value
- We’d be only 10 minutes away from our kids’ future school
- We’d continue living in the area that we know and love
- The price tag would put us back into debt for another 2-3 years
- We’d still be 45 minutes to an hour away from Liz’s family (vs. 20-30 minutes)
What Should We Choose? The Long Commute or an Expensive House?
If you’re in this situation like we are, you might be wondering how to sort between the pros and cons. What I’ve found useful is actually giving weights to each major pro and con, and then reviewing how the scales tilt.
Below are our major pros and cons of the current property that’s available. Alongside them is the importance level, ranging from 0-10 (0 being unimportant, 10 being incredibly important):
- Complete debt freedom – 7
- Closer proximity to my wife’s parents and sisters – 4
- The perfection of the house and property – 7
- Added commute to work – 8
- Longer travel to school or possibly different school than we planned on – 6
- Longer commute to church, or potentially look into a new church family – 3
The pros weigh out to 18, the cons total 17…so this is basically a tie. Ugh.
Additional Suggestions to Make the Decision
At this moment, my wife and I are pretty torn about this property, but here are a few of the different things I believe we should do before making our final decision. If you find yourself in a similar situation, you might want to take these actions as well.
- Make the drive, look at the house – We haven’t stepped foot on the property yet, so in the next few days, we’ll make the drive, time it, and then check out how perfect it really is. Maybe it won’t be at all what we expect.
- Ask the advice of our realtor and family – We only have a limited knowledge of what’s been available in the past and what might come in the future. We also might want to learn something about the area that this prospective house is in. Maybe we’ll love what it has to offer, or maybe it will help us walk away with confidence. Who knows?
- Pray – If you’re religious like we are, you might want to take your difficult questions to God. We don’t often hear a definite response, but the answer typically comes our way if we listen (and observe) hard enough.
So now I’m throwing it out there to you readers. Would you sign up for the long commute or an expensive house?
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.