First, a little background. Next month will mark two years since I moved to San Diego. I was alone here for 4 months while the kids finished the school year, and then my family joined me and we moved to the Rancho Penasquitos area (which is in the northeastern portion of San Diego County). Moving from Utah, we faced a serious problem - finding affordable housing. We owned a 5 bedroom home in Salt Lake that we sold for around $150K, but a similar home in this area would have been 3-4 times that here, so even though I got a nice bump in my pay, we still had no choice but to rent here.
So fast forward to today. We're paying about $2100/mo in rent and we're in a decent home, but we feel like we're throwing away money. Not just because of the rent, but because of the fact that homes have gone up in value so much over the past couple of years that if we *could* have bought, we'd have several hundred grand in equity now.
Over the holidays, we spent some time looking for houses around here, but in order to fit our family, we're looking at $700-800K. I should mention that we're somewhat constrained in that we have 5 kids, so we require a decent sized-house. Also, all of our children are exceptionally bright, so we need to live in an area with good schools. Between my job, books, and GameDev.net, I earn a healthy income, but we just can't swing a $700K+ house.
Unfortunately, it's unlikely that things will get better. San Diego County is pretty much done building new single family houses, but the population is continuing to rise, so housing costs are going to continue to rise faster than my income. Since we can't buy now, we'll *never* be able to buy here, which from a long-term financial perspective is stupid.
This week, various factors led us to look very hard at our options, and we kept looking north. A bit up the I-15 from where we are now is the city of Temecula. Temecula is a very new city, having been incorporated in 1989, and it's pretty upscale, having been very carefully planned. Houses there are also considerably cheaper than San Diego, though they are going up in price. We looked up quite a few houses and quickly realized that all things being equal, a house in Temecula costs about half what it would here. Plus, the schools there are very good and in general it's a very family-oriented community.
On Thursday, we drove up there to just drive through some neighborhoods and drive by some houses that were on sale, and we liked it, so today, we went back with a realtor to walk through 7 houses.
That leads me to what I'm freaking out over. About six hours ago, we offered just under a half-million dollars for a house. It's a great house - built in 2002, 3100 sq ft, 5 bedrooms with big closets, several bonus rooms, great kitchen, community pool, etc. The thing that panics me is that a week ago we weren't even thinking about buying a house here, much less in a location that's going to cause me to spend at least an additional hour in the car every day.
But, logically, it seems like the right thing to do. A lot of people from San Diego are moving north for the exact reasons we are, and that trend will continue, so we'll build equity fast. And this house is a great fit for us. When we bought our house in Salt Lake, we looked at 40 houses before settling on the one we bought, and I was never completely happy with it. We both loved this one immediately - and if we don't get it, there were 2 others that we liked almost as much.
Anyway, that's it. Now we just wait and see if they accept the offer.