Thursday, February 11, 2016

The 40 week plan, part 2

In the first post about this, I talked about the more immediate things that will be happening. Now I'll move on to the much more challenging topic - what kind of long-term changes will we be making as a result of this plan? It's a bit of a domino effect, actually.

What happens when we move from two big incomes, to one?
It's a pretty giant & stressful topic, as going from a large second income to no second income (immediately) and a reduced second income (mid-long term) is a big lifestyle adjustment. Before I was diagnosed with lupus, I had zero plans or desires to move away from a 100%, hard core career. I'm the person that went right back to work after having both kids, and really never thought seriously about quitting my job.

But, life throws you some pretty substantial curve balls. I don't know what would have happened or how I would have felt without the lupus diagnosis, but I suspect that I would have eventually burned out . . . it would have just taken longer to reach where I'm at now.

To tie it all together, when we moved from Seattle, we had a weekend to find housing. And, we found a pretty incredible area with a very strong school & a great community feel. However, it's insanely expensive. We were reasonably confident that we'd eventually be able to buy, given both of our jobs. However, our neighborhood's property value has drastically outperformed the market (and, this is the Bay Area market, which is crazy high even on its own) since we moved. And, I'm not planning on making the same amount of money. Our lease expires in August of 2017, and our landlords don't have the option to extend - their parents plan to move in. There are no reasonable rental properties in our neighborhood that allow us to stay in the same school district.

We've evaluated all possible options - selling our Seattle house, our vacation house, living extremely frugally, living in a 2 bedroom condo. . . and, no matter how we run the numbers, we just can't make them work. A two bedroom condo in our neighborhood is in the $1.3M range, btw, and only one has gone on the market in the last year.

Either way, we are facing a move out of our current school district when our lease expires. Which, is not a good scenario to have when you have two school aged kids who've already faced (and, not terribly enjoyed) one move.

As a result of this change, we built a decision matrix, and considered all of the following

  • Moving to the Oregon coast. The cost of living is insanely cheap (we could pay off our house, keep our Seattle house as an investment, & find one low paying job & be in good shape). However, the schools aren't what we have in mind & it's really small town. I'm pretty comfortable with the small town way of life, but it would be a BIG adjustment for M. ;-) 
  • Moving to the Portland/Vancouver area. It's closer to my sister/family, but creates other logistical challenges (no existing work network, better job opportunities in Seattle, etc).
  • Buying a condo in our current area. A two bedroom condo. While we have a giant, gorgeous house that's half way to paid for in Seattle. Which, is just really pretty crazy. And, said condo would be a minimum of $1.3M, not counting HOA fees. 
  • Moving to a lower cost of living area that's still within a decent driving distance to M's work. Except, the price of living difference isn't that much (i.e. a house will be around $1.9M vs $2.5M in our neighborhood) - still out of our range. And, it would still require the kids to switch schools.
  • Moving to a lower cost of living area that's a long drive to M's work (90 minutes+ each way). In that case, we could get the price down to a more reasonable $1.2M, but the quality of life for M would be pretty terrible. And, again, the kids would need to switch schools.
  • Moving back to our house in Seattle. M would find a new job (so, the burden of transition would definitely be on him). The kids would transfer back to their previous schools. We'd be close to our families, but not *super* close. ;-) 

After running the matrix & evaluating multiple scenarios, there was a clear winner.

And, we've decided on this:
If nothing else changes (i.e. the housing market, M's job, my work situation, some fundamentally major shift of our stock portfolio, etc), we will move back to our Seattle house at the end of the next school year. We'll begin planning around January of 2017, talk to the kids, etc to give ourselves plenty of time to find jobs, set up the move, work through transition details, etc.

Our lease in our current house ends at the end of August 2017, and our renters will be out of our Seattle house at almost exactly the same time. It's kind of perfect.

Moving isn't easy
Especially when you have kids in school. The reason we landed on moving *back* to Seattle, vs finding somewhere even cheaper, etc is that moving back to our old neighborhood will be easier for the kids than starting over somewhere brand new. And, it will also be easier for us. We have a job network, a friend network, and, let's not forget - we have an actual house already. :-)

Our top choice would be to stay in our existing neighborhood. It was really, really difficult to come to the conclusion that we can't make it work. I'm going to be honest, I have a lot of guilt about the fact that my decision is triggering other life decisions for our family. But, I also believe that this is what's best for everyone in the long term.

That's all for now on the big life changes side of my 40 week plan. I'll keep you all posted on our future/potential move, as we still have a lot of thinking to do on the topic!


  1. I think moving back to Seattle is still making your kids a priority because you know it will be an easier transition for them plus you not working in your current crazy capacity means you have more time for your boys which I bet they will be happy about.

    I understand the love of California (beaches/warm weather) but the sheer amount of people means that housing costs will never go down. Every once in awhile I see job postings there for what I do and I think, nope too many people and too expensive for my blood.

    1. Oh, California has weather advantages that make it pretty hard to think of moving back to Seattle (which I adore, but just not the weather). But, I think we'll likely live somewhere sunny in our retirement, so this is not forever. :-)

  2. And don't be beating yourself up too much over the guilt thing about leaving your crazy job. After all, if I remember correctly, y'all moved to CA for M's job opportunity, thus you are in this position due to him mostly. ;-)

    I also think moving back to WA will mean less costs, not only in usual cost of living things but also in spending on travel/vacations as you will be closer to family and you seem to spend a lot of time with them.
    Sounds like the best option to move back in many ways.

    1. You are correct on all fronts! We absolutely moved for M's job. I like the way you think. ;-)

  3. i agree with Sluggy, moving back to Seattle seems the best choice. The kids know their school and it won't be too stressful. You need this change for your whole family and with the money you've saved, which is a lot, the transition should go smoothly. I don't think you're going to find a condo that's affordable in the bay area. It is hugely expensive there.
    And don't feel guilty!!

  4. I really just can't believe the real estate prices in your area (I mean, I believe it's true ... it just boggles my mind). My low cost of living brain can't even wrap itself around the type of wealth that must be prevalent in your area.

    I do hope something miraculous happens because it sounds like your life is pretty idyllic (sans the 5K monthly rent)in California.

    1. Things are great. Minus the COL. That little minor detail. ;-) We'll ride out the next year & see if anything changes.

  5. When I read your list of options, the Seattle move seemed like the obvious choice to me too. It is great for the kids; and they matter most IMHO. I also can't believe housing costs in your area, although I have a son in LA, so I kind of had an idea. Worse than NYC, that is for sure. We live in a very very inexpensive part of the country, so I can't imagine how the average family exists in that kind of housing market .

    1. I think most people live much further out, & deal with a super long commute. That's another option, but not something we're considering right now.

  6. Wow HP! Logically looking at the options, this sounds like the best choice. But it also comes down to how important career is and the options (from all your postings career is important to both you and M). I think if you guys think outside the box, you can find companies that will accommodate everything you need/want especially since you have 18 months to suss things out etc.
    ~ Pru

    1. Oh and I should add/clarify, given your age/experience level, NOW is a great time for you and M to write your "bucket list" of what you want for your career/work atmosphere etc. because with the 18 months time frame a lot can happen. I don't know what sector you guys work in since some things are easier in certain sectors...but theoretically you/M can earn a ton of money working for a company that isn't based near you and you/M could work from 3 weeks out of the month, possibly fly to the company headquarters for one week out of the month etc. so where you live doesn't necessarily matter. (Just an example but that's what I meant by thinking outside the box.) There are probably a few combinations of how to structure work/life and what's ideal for your family so don't rule anything out just yet. Come up with what would work for your family and then go find those companies! ~ Pru

    2. We've definitely thought of having M stay, rent a super cheap (that's a pretty flexible definition, given COL here) & we'd move back to Seattle. It's an option. We're both thinking about career choices & our plan. There's a lot to think about. Thanks so much for the great advice - I really like your approach! :-)