It was three years ago this month that I bought my condo. I was pretty staunchly single then and life has definitely changed quite a bit, but the two bedroom condo that I bought has been able to evolve with my life, which is really great. We’re still working on the furniture tetris game from my boyfriend moving in. We at last know exactly what we’re doing with all the furniture, even if it hasn’t happened yet, and we’re planning on re-painting a room and have mostly picked a color. By the end of 2015, it should definitely feel like a shared living space rather than just my place. We both feel like we’ve finally found the right way to balance sharing living costs! I pay for all of the costs related to the condo, we both have separate insurance policies, and he covers a similar dollar amount in other costs, which right now works out to the internet and electricity bills, groceries, music services, small appliances and furniture, and eating out together.
I’ve stopped comparing whether renting vs buying is better because as of February, assuming I could sell my condo for the exact same amount I bought it for 3 years ago, buying was cheaper by $1,500. A realtor from the brokerage I used to buy my place contacted me in February and he mentioned that he would list my place at about 25% more than what I paid for it. Based on the emails I get about similar units near me, I think it’s up about 30% from purchase price now, but I’m going to leave it at 25% up in my net worth calculations. I am so, so glad I bought when I did! It has been such a slam dunk in terms of being cheaper than renting and the market is so much crazier than when I bought.
In 2015, I expect this condo to cost a total of $13,700 in housing expenses (mortgage interest, HOA dues, property taxes, condo insurance, electricity, repairs, interest lost from having the equity locked up, and tax savings. If we wanted to rent a similar place, we would be paying about $36,000 to $40,000 per year in rent between the two of us, so somehow I have a feeling we would have moved to a cheaper part of town if I hadn’t bought this condo.
In the last year, the mortgage hasn’t moved nearly as much as it was in the past. Last June, it sat at $152,167.66. Now? It’s at $138,600.73. Meaning I’ve paid it down by $13,566.93 in the last 12 months, about 2/3 of which came from the regular payments. I have 13.25 years left on the mortgage and have paid off 51.5% of it. Why has the mortgage paydown slowed down so much? I’ve been prioritizing other things like changing jobs, taking a couple months off unpaid, setting aside money for tuition, textbooks, and a larger emergency fund in planning for grad school, and contributing even more money to retirement accounts. It’s still on my radar, but I doubt I’ll make any substantial progress on it until 2016.
I don’t care that much about how much my condo has appreciated (that’s just icing on the cake) because our housing costs are pretty much dirt cheap for how much money we make. My housing costs are approximately 9% of my expected gross income this year, which ignores the fact that my boyfriend also makes a decent income and he also has pretty minimal fixed expenses, which means that we have pretty decent savings power between the two of us.
As much as I like to run the numbers on buying vs renting, homeownership is also a lifestyle choice and I’m so glad I chose it. It is a really good fit for my personality and my boyfriend’s and I could see us staying in this condo for many more years. Neither of us are big on moving and keeping fixed expenses low is pretty sweet for being able to spend more money in other areas of your life, like travel and/or putting more into savings and investments.