Houses

On Not Buying a House

Meg Keene writes a lovely essay about growing up working class, defining security on her own terms, and why not-grabbing the brass ring of home ownership is the right decision for her family, for right now.

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How To Not Ruin Your Life With Fixed Expenses

Megan McArdle writes about buying a house for BloombergView, aptly titled, “Finding a House That Won’t Destroy You” (omg). She cites good ol’ Dave Ramsey’s recommendation of spending no more than 25% of your take-home pay on your monthly mortgage bill, but explains how she and her husband decided to go even lower:

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Shopping For Homes Among The Undead

With “Are Foreclosed Homes the New Haunted Hauses?” Colin Dickey writes about zombie homes and uncanny real estate for the Paris Review Daily. It is so good.

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How a Critical Care Nurse Does Money

Linda is a 33-year-old ICU nurse who works at one of the nation’s top 10 children’s hospitals in Denver.

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Cities Cutting Property Taxes to Help Longtime Residents Affected by Gentrication

A burst of new home construction in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and other cities have caused neighborhoods in those cities to quickly gentrify, and if you are a longtime resident and homeowner in those cities, it’s possible that you’ve seen the value of your home skyrocket as much as four times in a single year. Great, right? Not exactly. Not if you can no longer afford the property taxes and don’t want to sell your house. The Times reports that cities are mobilizing to help their longtime residents affected by gentrification by giving them cuts on their property taxes—which alleviates the burden among longtime residents, but will ultimately affect each city’s annual revenue. Still, the cities believe investing in longtime residents is worth it:

The tax adjustments are part of a broader strategy by cities to aid homeowners — who continue to struggle financially since the home mortgage crisis. In Richmond, Calif., lawmakers are attempting to use eminent domain to seize underwater mortgages to try to help homeowners keep their houses.

Housing experts say the arrival of newcomers to formerly working-class areas — from the Mission District in San Francisco to the Shaw neighborhood in Washington — is distinct from previous influxes over the past 30 years because new residents are now far more likely to choose to move into new condominiums or lofts instead of into existing housing, making the changes more disruptive.

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The Cost of Building a Micro-Housing Village for the (Formerly) Homeless

Quixote Village is a community of formerly homeless adults in Olympia, Washington, who until recently lived in a self-governed tent city that rotated between church parking lots. Now these 29 adults live in 29 separate 144-square-foot tiny houses, arranged in a horseshoe shape. Each house has room for a bed, a desk, and a tiny bathroom with a sink and a toilet. There is a shared garden and a community center with showers and a kitchen shared by all the residents. If residents have income, they’re asked to pay 30% of that income towards monthly rent. Otherwise, living there is free.

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Is It Weird For a Brother and a Sister to Share a Room?

I wouldn’t have thought so but this article about families in New York sure makes it seem weird.

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Do You Have Any Mortgage Questions?

I received an email from Liz, a licensed loan originator and self-proclaimed mortgage person, who suggested that readers here may be interested in an “Ask a Mortgage Person”-type column. Perhaps! Send your mortgage questions to understand.mortgage@gmail.com and we’ll see how this goes!

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I Bought a House When I Was 21

When I tell people that I own my house, and that I bought it when I was 21, they always want to know how could she afford it? I can see in their faces that they’re wondering if I’m a trust fund baby, if my rich boyfriend bought it with me, or if I secretly make money doing something tawdry. Nobody ever asks me that question, but if they did, I think they’d be disappointed in the answer. My secret: I just saved my money.

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I Spent $3,500 on Shredded Newspapers to Insulate My Home

Still feeling the financial pinch from the house purchase 10 months earlier, I had to make my first capital improvement: attic insulation. Exciting, huh? It wasn’t exactly a homeowner’s dream project.

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The Things About Money We Hide Behind Our Doors

I had a lot of guilt growing up in the Philippines, one of the poorest countries in the world, and going home to a massive six-bedroom house with two cars in an open garage. I recently read about spite houses, and I thought about how appropriate it was to call my childhood home the “house of spite.” My neighbors constantly gawked at the sight of our house, and I was always so ashamed to be seen as that girl who lived in that house. People walked by our house and talked loudly about how great life would be if they lived in that house. It would have been great if the mistress of this house didn’t fill her long empty days with absolutely nothing.

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Here Is Your Open Thread

Drew Philp has a nice essay in BuzzFeed about buying an abandoned house in Detroit for $500 when he was 23, why he did it, and what his neighborhood and city means to him.

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