So for the past few days I've been worrying about future plans - trying to decide where and how we can improve our position - and I've had to come to terms with something: My wife and I are essentially alone in this.
We've both come from extended families of people who, when the time came to own property, have had help from relatives on one side or the other, husband or wife, or even both. In some extreme scenarios that property already existed, or was even purchased outright for them out of a family trust. For La and I, whatever money may have been available has either dried up or been applied elsewhere. Whether we choose to moan about it (and we don't) is irrelevant: It's just the way things turned out, and we have to accept that we both basically start from nothing.
The problem is, we live in an area where it is completely impossible to start from nothing. On a salary that would make both of us very comfortable elsewhere, we are simply treading water here. Any meager savings we accumulate gets crushed by unforseen costs. For example: Three days ago a driver made an illegal U-turn into the Accord, smashing the front headlight assembly. The repair estimate is almost three thousand dollars, and the other driver - who was clearly at fault - is uninsured because he was lax in his payments. It will be months before we see anything from him, whether we work out a payment plan or have to take him to court, and in the meantime we can't drive the Accord. So I walk to work every day and La takes the van to school.
I see houses proudly labeled "STARTER HOME" - run-down shacks on postage-stamp lots - listed for half a million dollars. I see the median rent, whether for a house, a room, or simply a loft, going up year over year. Not even holding still. The more I think about it, the more trapped I feel, and the more I return to the same conclusion: We cannot make it here, or even anywhere around here. We have to leave.
In San Jose last year, the MEDIAN home price was over seven hundred thousand dollars.
Compare this to:
- Portland, OR, where the median was $240,000.
- Sacramento, CA, where it was $225,000. (Ten years ago it was half that.)
- Houston, TX, where it was $150,000.
In considering future moves, I've narrowed it down to those four choices. I can find a job in any of the four cities above and move there, and purchase property ASAP. The job market is the best for me in San Jose, but due to the astronomical property cost, if I were to buy there it would have to be part of some group deal with a friend or friends. Two houses or a duplex on a single lot, for example.
Or there's always Alaska, where for a half-million you can buy this house in Seward, on - yes, you read that right - a 53,000-square-foot lot. Six bedrooms, five bathrooms, nine-foot ceilings.
La finishes school here in December. If it weren't for that we would be planning to leave in a matter of months or even weeks, but it looks like we're waiting until years' end.