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a familiar place

A few days ago David asked "do you love where you live," and I answered in the affirmative.

The real question today is, do I love where I live enough to sacrifice my dream of home-ownership?

A Newsday article today reveals that the median price for a home in Nassau County, Long Island is $400,000.

For those of you in smaller markets, I'll give you a few minutes to wrap your mind around that figure. $400,000.

We live in my late grandmother's house, which is now owned by my father and aunt. Another aunt and uncle also live in this house, upstairs from us.

We've wanted to move for a quite a while and set a goal for ourselves that we would be out of here once DJ finishes elementary school, a little less than a year from now. Our reasoning is that once he hits middle school, he will get a bus and I will no longer have to depend on my mother, who lives across the street, to take him to and from school.

The problem is, we do not want to leave this town. I've lived here my whole life, all almost-41 years of it, starting in the house I'm in now, then across the street, then to a house on the other side of town and, completing the full circle, back in grandma's house where I lived in my infancy.

I love where I live but it's getting hard to afford the cost of living here. The taxes are high, the home prices are high, the cost of car insurance, utilities and property taxes keep skyrocketing.

You probably think that $400,000 would buy a nice piece of property and a beautiful home. Think again. A home down the block from us sold last month for $320k. One level. Two bedrooms. The house is basically a box sitting on some grass. Everything in the home, from the walls to the floors to the plumbing is at least 40 years old. Yet the owners asked for, and received, over $300k for their home.

What could that kind of money buy you in upstate New York or Pennsylvania or South Carolina? Something larger, roomier and more modern, I'm sure.

So now we have to weigh the benefits of buying a home against the benefits of living here. Because, if we were to really, honestly think about becoming homeowners, it would have to be elsewhere. Even the most worn-down, crime-ridden neighborhoods of Long Island have become financially out of reach for us.

What keeps me here then? First, there's my family. My parents, my sisters, aunts and uncles and cousins that live so close we share a yard. I grew up with my cousins as my best friends, my kids now have the same. They walk out the door and there are ten kids, all related, ready to play baseball or go swimming or just hang out and play video games. It's a benefit that cannot be outweighed by anything, not even rural night skies or wide country lanes or peaceful nights without the honking of horns and the sounds of sirens disturbing the sleep.

It's the four distinct seasons with blizzard-like snowstorms and thunderous summer rains and autumn trees that light the sky on fire. It's the snow days when everyone in town gathers in the same spot and we watch our kids slide down the same hill that we tumbled down as children. It's the familiar faces at school, the music teacher that has been there since time began, the way the cashier at Burger King remarks on how much your son has grown, the way your neighbors and the local deli clerk and the postman all show up at the funeral of your grandfather.

We are in the middle of nowhere if we want to be, but in the middle of everything should we desire it. We can ensconce ourselves in the compound we created by running paths and walkways from one family house to another, and it is just us, laughing, drinking, enjoying the closeness that so few families get to share these days. Even my ex-husband, the father of my kids, lives in this town. We work down the block from each other. Our mothers work in the same library. It's not just this town itself, but the whole of this county, this township that weaves all of us together like a blended family.

We are a pleasant drive from the tip of Long Island, where we can whale watch or see beautiful sunsets and wave to passing boats. We are ten minutes from the beach, where we can swim in the Atlantic ocean until sunset and watch as the sky turns a hundred shades of beautiful.

40 minutes by car or train and we are in New York City, attending concerts, going to museums or just walking the streets and acting like tourists.

Long Island has its own museums, its own places of beauty and reverence, a whole history to explore and nature trails to walk. Aquariums, arboretums, bird sanctuaries and miles and miles of beaches, parks and woods all lay before us.

People stay here. My kids go to school with children of the people I went to school with. This is not a town that people pack up and leave in a hurry when they get married and start families. We are grounded here. We are settlers.

So I have to make a choice. Do I give up the dream of owning a home and stay here where we are happy, where my kids are thriving, where my extended family reaches beyond the boundaries of my own walls, where the entire town is my home?

Or do we pack up and leave all this and move to a less expensive place where property tax costs don't require you to have a second job and a four bedroom palace costs the same as a Long Island bungalow in deteriorating condition?

We could rent here, probably for the cost of what a mortgage would be but without the property taxes and utilities weighing us down. We could take second jobs each and buy a home but not have any time to enjoy it or to watch the children enjoy it.

We could leave Long Island, leave my hometown of East Meadow and spend the rest of my life being homesick.

I love it here. I hate the traffic, I hate the cost of living, I hate the way strip malls have permeated the highways and left not a tree standing.

But I love everything else so much - the family, the friends, the small-town feel in a rather large town - that I would spend the rest of my life cursing the crowded parkways rather than leave everything that comes with Long Island Expressway behind.

I don't have $400,000 to spend on a home that has no more room than where we live now. I have kids who are fast approaching college days. My money is earmarked for that now. So I'll defer the dream of owning my own house and live here, renting away, in the knowledge that my children will head off to college having had the best possible life - one filled with family and the comfort of a town that is honestly their own.

[If you liked this post, check back later, as I'm going to transform it into a photo essay]

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference a familiar place:

» Home Sweet What? from Third Kind
michele has a post today about the rising cost of living on Long Island, and how the desire to live somewhere more cost-effective conflicts with the fact that she's lived in the same neighborhood all her life. I can sympathize... [Read More]

» photo essay: to live and die on Long Island: from Retrovertigo: A collection of words and pictures
[Condensed from here] What keeps me here on Long Island, a place I cannot afford to live? First, there's my family. My parents, my sisters, aunts and uncles and cousins that live so close we share a yard. I grew... [Read More]

» Home Sweet Home from ModularParrot
Michele taps into a genuine American quality-of-life issue. And it’s an issue that every individual and family in America grapples with at one time or another; “where do I want to live” - or more accurately – “can I live... [Read More]

» Home Sweet Home from ModularParrot
Michele taps into a genuine American quality-of-life issue. And it’s an issue that every individual and family in America grapples with at one time or another; “where do I want to live” - or more accurately – “can I live... [Read More]

» And The Nets Might Move Back, Too from Late Final
The bad news: the median price for a home in Nassau County on Long Island, N.Y., is up to $400,000. The good news: flipping the bird to bad drivers here is still free. More good news: Michele from A Small... [Read More]

» Home, home, I'm deranged... from metrocake
Michelle writes about the costs of homes on Long Island -- and all I can say is, "hear hear." Luny's heading off to Oregon, with the high cost of living as part of her reasons. Meantime, M and I need to decide, once and for all, where we're going to [Read More]

Comments

I think you answered your own question. If it feels like home, it is home. Actually owning a house is just words on some paper down at the courthouse. Being at home is a state of mind. Your children are happy, you're happy, and I'm assuming Justin is happy as well. Why mess with that?

This is speaking as someone who lives in the D.C. area, which is about as unheimlich a place as you dream up. Sometimes I miss Charlottesville.

Having never lived in the same place for more than five or six years at a time, I think it's really great that you - and now your kids - have such roots in your hometown.

My parents are around the corner from 50 and they still rent. My grandparents rented their whole lives, too. Now, at 24, they're telling me to save my money and buy a house.

I can't save money. I rent and I live in Bergen County, NJ, where I pay $4500 a year for car insurance on top of all my other bills.

This comment is quickly starting to have nothing to do with what you wrote, which means I might have to come back to it in my own blog later today.

But anyway - original point - great to have roots. Sometimes I wonder what that would feel like.

To echo Daria, I have a friend who grew up here and on any given Sunday his mother can get 50+ people at ehr house to watch a Bucs game. I've always been jealous of that as I have moved around so much that I have no really longstanding friendships. My family is scattered and my favorite cousins are thousands of miles away. My sister and I are close, but it's a two hour drive to see her.

BUT, for $400,000 I could buy a great house I drive by all the time on Pass-a-Grill beach here and have my feet in the Gulf of Mexico every night at sunset.

Then get yo ass on down to Disneyworld!!

That is a great post. =)

I don't think I've ever lived in one place for more than a year or two. The concept of home is foreign to me.

You make sound like such a wonderful way of life. (Living in one place, I mean...)

I know just what you mean, michele. I don't have the same attachments to a particular town or house, but I do value the idea of being a homeowner. But where I am now, it's never going to happen.

When we lived in Cleveland, we rented half of a duplex. It had three bedrooms, two floors plus a finished attic (which we used as a master bedroom) and basement. Large fenced backyard and a front yard, plus a front porch. We paid $635 a month, and could have probably bought the house for around $150,000.

Here in Fairfax Cty., VA, we pay nearly $1400 a month for a two-bedroom, fourth-floor walkup. Three bedroom townhomes in rows of 5 or 6 go for more than $300,000 here. Single-family homes? Forget it! They start in the low-to-mid $500s. And that's 15-20 miles out of DC. Even farther out -- Chantilly, Centreville, Dulles -- new homes can be anywhere from $350,000 to $1 million. It's insane.

"Actually owning a house is just words on some paper down at the courthouse."

It's a little more than that, actually. It's probably the best investment you can make.

If one buys a $400K house now, in 30 years it will probably be worth about $1.5 million, if not more. Of course, 30 years from now, $1.5 million will be the rough equivalent of $800K now. If one pays rent over the same period, she'll have nothing. Not only that, she'll be in her 70's, on limited income, and still owe somebody rent for a place to stay. Probably not a situation onewants to be in.

The above is a bit of an oversimplification, as there are taxes, insurance and maintenance costs to be considered when you own vs. rent, bit the point is still valid. If you can buy a house, you definitely should. Renting is throwing money away. If you can live somewhere for free, and you have the discipline to invest the money you would otherwise pay in rent, that may be just as good, although as market trends over the last few years show, there are few investments as safe as a house.

The differences in the costs of housing in different areas of the country are staggering. It's one of the reasons that, despite all its drawbacks (stupid people, mostly), I stay in the south. $400K where I live would buy you 5 or 6 bedrooms on a half-acre lake lot in a very exclusive neighborhood. Property taxes are relatively low here, too. The big cost down here is private schooling, because the public schools here are the worst in the nation- they're just daycare centers for big kids, really.

I really think you & Lisa should buy the house on my block, and mother/daughter it. There’s plenty of room for both of you! Three miles East of East Meadow was as far as I would go, and its done wonder for the mother/daughter relationship! Close enough to see each other all the time, but still a phone call away!!

That's a tough choice but just to give you some idea, we just bought a 4 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath, 2600 square foot home in Virginia Beach with an inground pool and hot tub for $190,000. That's a lot of house for cheap.

My aunt is a retired schoolteacher living in Great Neck, and she's going to die never having owned her own home due to the prices on Long Island. She lives alone and is getting too old to seriously consider living in the worst neighborhoods even if she could afford a hovel there, which she couldn't. She won't move where housing is cheaper (oh, what you could buy with half that $400K in Texas) for much the same reasons you don't.

I find that horribly sad, but you give as convincing arguments as any that home is where the heart is.

this is probably not a good solution, but would building an addition to the house help at all? (please keep in mind that this incredibly naive idea comes from an okie with fading memories of when she lived in port chester). good luck, michele....amazing post.

Three words:
Brooklyn, New York.

HoBiscuit and I are looking to buy an apartment after we're married and have somehow managed to convince ourselves that $400K is a good price for a 1+ or SMALL 2 bedroom. That's no land, no backyard, and absolutely no roof deck with views.

If we wanted an actual house in Brooklyn, we'd be talking $750K for a fixer-upper in an 'up-and-coming' neighborhood.

But you know what? I still wouldn't leave NY for anything.

I love NY.

I don't know how people do it in markets like that. They must be slaves to their house payment. My sister in law just moved back to WI from silicon valley and they made 300K on their house out there. I feel like I'm pileing on but we just bought a new place and for $300K we got 2800 SF 4 BR 2 1/2 B 7.5 acre horse property w 6 horse barn. That would probably be what, 2MM on Long Island?

I live in DC. The new condos going up next to my building are priced starting at $300,000. FOR A STUDIO! Who is that crazy?

Stay where you are. What you look back on so fondly, your kids will, too. Nothing is better than the extended family neighborhood. Just think what your kids won't get away with when you and Justin aren't around! That was what kept me from having bashes on those weekends when I was home alone...

Michele-That's almost the price they are going for here in Seattle. To get a starter home, one level, 2-3 bedroom, 1bath house or condo, in an okay neighborhood, you're looking at $300,000 - $325,000. It's ridiculous. I started pricing out homes in various parts of the country and realized some places, you can get a palace for that price and other places, like NY and CA, you will have a hard time owning.

If you have a home, stay where you are. You'll be glad you did.

Great stuff...

I'm in a different situation, living in rural California. Housing is cheap - $180,000 is buying us a 2 story, 2500 sq ft with a huge pool on a half acre. Of course, you have to drive a minimum of three hours for "civilization". All my college friends from San Francisco ask how I can live out here. We're third generation, our friends are the cowboys and ranchers, the farmers and field workers that make this an agricultural center...I can walk out my back door and literally be standing in "tall cotton"...

Guess it all boils down to "home is where the heart is", eh?

Looking forward to the addition of photos. :-)

$400,000 would get you a very nice 5 bedroom house on about 5 to 10 acres of rolling hills to graze your horses within a 30 minutes drive of two large urban markets (25th and 26th largest), excellent public school systems, low taxes, low crime, and about $100,000 in the bank.

Welcome to Kentucky?

Ratherworried, KY rocks. We go to the Rolex 3dcci in lexington every year. Beautiful country. Your right to reccomend it.

Sounds like you've answered your own question. Life's full of trade-offs. But the kind of upbringing you're giving your kids is priceless and growing rarer by the day.

I lived in New York City for a couple of years and loved it, but in the end I came back home to N.C. I'm 2.5 hrs from mountains, where my mother has a house; 3.5 hrs. from beach, where my father has one. (And my mother has season tix to the Panthers.) Schools in the larger systems are decent, and except for the ozone-laden air, the greedheads haven't totally trashed the place yet. And we're within a day's drive of 90 percent of my relatives and the place where my ancestors first settled here 300+ years ago. You'd have to offer me a lot to get me to give that up.

Sounds like you feel exactly the same way about Hempstead. Good for you.

It's the same deal in Northern New Jersey. A 2 bedroom cape goes for 400k+. Townhouses down the street from me are in the 700s. I don't think people in most of the country can comprehend this.

Hondo wrote:

>A 2 bedroom cape goes for 400k+.
> Townhouses down the street from
> me are in the 700s. I don't think
> people in most of the country can
> comprehend this.

I live in Orange County, CA. Not usre I comprehend it, but I certainly believe it. Same thing here.

M-

Herein, I feel you have put your finger on one of the main problems facing the people of the United States. We can't afford to live like our parents did. It has simply become cost prohibitive. There is a widening chasm between what you can make a year and what you need to get by.

All day and night we can sing about the glories of capitalism (and I do believe in capitalism). Nonetheless, our republic, with its creaking infrastructure, increasingly circus-like political arena, and its mushrooming numbers of poor and underemployed citizens is beginning to look a lot more third world than first.

What's the answer? I wish I knew.

D

I totally love San Francisco--and yet, when Lee (my bf) was offered a job in North Carolina, which would take him away from SF (a place I've been trying to move to for the last seven years) we totally considered it, and eventually he took it. The cost of living here in Cali is Insane ™. There is a house down the street from where I currently live and it's $600,000 for a postage stamp.

Then again, I'm one of those people who adapts pretty well to most places, as long as they have something remotely interesting about them. The legacy of growing up in Utah and being bored out of my skull. :)

I know the dilemma well. I want to own my own home. I've lived in rentals all my life. But I'm never going to be able to afford a house here (Central coast, CA) The house we rent -- and it takes 5 adults to do that -- is on the highway, no yard, small, and it would sell for over 700,000. Even if I could afford that, I don't want to spend that much for something so cruddy. Especially after looking at real estate in Tulsa, NC, TN.

I know I need to leave, bit it's hard. I've lived most of my life here and I'm going to miss it.

I'll tell you what $320K buys in Central NY. A mansion. Every year the parade of homes here in CNY does about 10 houses. All in the 3200-3500 square foot range. All can be bought for $300-350K.

Connecticut is the same way as LI, although probably not as severe all over. My family and my wife's family all live there. My brother had to move all the way into the NE boonies of CT to get a house that was semi affordable. And he is also a veteran so he has that on his side. He still paid $130K for 1100 square feet in the middle of nowhere.

A word of warning about moving where things are cheaper: wages and salaries tend to be proportionately lower, too, while other expenses (such as food, clothing, utilities) remain the same.

If you moved to Saskatchewan you could use your $400k ($560k once you got it converted) and probably buy yourself a village or a small town. Of course I doubt anyone in history has ever wanted to move from New York to Saskatchewan, but just so you know.

>>I love it here. I hate the traffic, I hate the cost of living, I hate the way strip malls have permeated the highways and left not a tree standing.<<

Aye, I love my small town too. I've watched it grow up along with me, but I'm not quite sure that its growth is that great. I've seen the nice woods lining the main road into town get turned into random things like shopping malls, more car dealerships than we would ever need, and large superstores that aren't necessary. Traffic that used to only be insane during summer months is turning into a year-long problem; the one-lane-each-side, two-way road is now being expanded to accomodate the immense amount of traffic. But it's Home, you see, and even though parts of it are going to hell in a handbasket, it's still Home.

Home is where the heart is, and especially if you're happy with where your family is at, don't worry about it. Having your extended family (as well as the other extended family of good neighbors) all around you is hard to come by; not too many people can say they grew up with their family close at hand in a close-knit community. :)

Michele,

Having grown up in Merrick, I known what you're talking about. However, I left to go to school back in '73 (anyone comments on my age, they die) and haven't been back except to visit once or twice. I've still got a brother and sister on LI as well as assorted in-laws and nieces and nephews and we meet up every now and then at my parents house in FL (so cliche', for a NY'er to retire to FL). I've lived where there's one season (FL). I've lived where there are two (Minot, ND; winter and summer, the latter of which lasts about 3 days). I've lived in CA, TX, LA, and VA and I can tell you without a doubt, home is where you make it. It's not always easy, and it's not always fun, but it's always a learning experience, and it's always cheaper than NY, and when you've got the ones you love with you, it's always home. For your own sanity...step away from the Island. Trust me, it'll seem really strange for a while, but you can't imagine how it changes your perspective. I worked in DC for 5 years and I didn't realize until after I'd moved away how much I had started to think like all those loons trapped inside the beltway. I live in VA now, on 5 acres in the middle of pretty much nowhere (I won't tell you what it cost, you'll get depressed) and work in Richmond. My grandkids are a 45 minute drive away (that's 45 minutes on an I-95 that's not bumper to bumper). One of my daughters is 2 hours away on I-64 (the other one is in FL, she liked it, who knew). Anyway, the point is, we've got phones and computers and cars that can actually go 80mph on an interstate, you don't have to be a stranger to your family. Try it, you'll like it. Cheers,

Dragon

Leaving NYC was a big change in my life but I had lived in an apartment my entire life and wanted a house for my daughter to grow up in.
For a little more than the price we sold our 2 bedroom apartment on 14st (125k),we bought a 4 bedroom house on 2 acres about 35 miles from downtown Houston.
Life is about making your priorities and if yours is to stay where you are I guess you have to figure out how to deal with it.

Kids and family. You have to stay. I'll never move from my little "town" that's too close to downtown and seems to be going downhill in so many ways. Why? Because it's home. Mom and Dad are here, my sister and brother are here. My brother's beautiful kids are here. I'm never leaving.

I did like this post a lot. I agree wholeheartedly. I'm going through a similar problem and decided to (1) continue renting but (2) buy a weekend home that's in a beautiful place a few hours away where I got a couple of acres cheap.

I've been pushed west, repeatedly, by the real estate prices. You're lucky to have stayed in your home town.

Michele,

I feel your pain. I live in the Five Towns. I won't even say how much we paid for our house. But it was a lot.

Stay.

Your post reminds me of conversations with my wife. I come from Memphis, and have no real times to NY. I could leave anytime, and, if I found a job somewhere where houses were cheaper, I wouldn't mind at all.

But my wife grew up five minutes from our house. She loves it. And she would hate to leave. It's expensive, sure. But there's always a choice of what to spend money on. Money gets used. Put a price tag on your desire to stay. If you can get a place $1,000 a month cheaper in, say, Louisville, or Boise, is it worth it to you? The opportunity cost of staying here is the price tag on your love of the area. For my wife (and, because I want her to be happy, for me), the answer is that it's definitely worth it. She's happy here, and I can get that for $12,000 a year? Cheap at twice the price.

As a young man, approaching the days when I'd start to think about home ownership and a family, I have just begun to ponder my abilities to furnish myself and future wife with what I imagine as being the quintessential Minnesotan life: A house, a yard (with trees), a pair of cars and maybe some carpet critters some day. I just thought of this yesterday in fact, mostly due to the trials my father is going through now: middle aged, middle management, who just lost his job.

Perhaps I'm looking at the opening of some grand tunnel of life and shouting, "hello", but I shudder to think how inexcusably expensive the world is and how I feel absolutely inadequate to support a potential family in it.

Of course you could also call me a worry-wart-twenty-something, but who cares. Atleast I'm a twenty-something male, thinking of the future and not how many cases of beer can I squeek out of the remainder of my paycheck...

=P

Absolutely exactly why I left LI. But quite honestly, I didn't have the great family situation that you do. If I had, it certainly would have made a difference.

I don't own a house now as I can't commit to a particular area, but it's nice to know it's not an impossibility. On Long Island it wasn't ever going to happen. Ever.

I was born in Oklahoma and I've never lived outside the state. To me, even if there wasn't the factor of my family being here, it would be hard to justify moving away unless I got some sort of miraculous offer that would triple or quadruple my salary. Only making twice what I earn now and having a $1200/mo. payment for a comparable house doesn't sound like any bargain to me. There certainly are negative aspects to living here, but I guess being a native makes it a little easier for me to accept them.

I think my advice would be to stay where you are for now, but keep an eye on the possibility of moving after the kids are ensconced in college. Obviously, there's no shortage of places you could go and find a much more favorable salary to expenses ratio, if you decide that having your own place is really important to you.

Another very well-written post, btw.

I'm originally from the San Franciso bay area. My parents are still living in the same home they bought 42 years ago for 9,000. It was appraised last year at 375,000. It's a little 2 bedroom, 1 bath house on a corner lot.

My brother lives in Silicon Valley..bought his house 28 years ago for 20 something..it appraised last year at 499,000. It's an old tract house, 3 bdrm 2 bath, corner lot..nothing special.Just a nice little house.

I still know the entire neighborhood I grew up in. . My children attended the same elementry school I did. My closest friends mom lives across the street from my folks..we still ran back and forth between houses on holidays, swapping deserts (my mom makes awesome apple turnover, her mom makes the best blueberry pie) I never planned on leaving.

I was Suzy corporate with a great job, a great hubby, 2 great kids and a nice home..nothing spectacular, but nice.. Then I got sick, and even with a paid disability policy, we just about lost everything.

I was also getting more than a bit disillusioned with Cali politics, being taxed to death, and laws that made me roll my eyes.

So..we moved to Iowa...on purpose ..It's where my hubby was from, where most of his family is. We took the proceeds from our house there. Bought a huge old farmhouse with a barn and acreage...for 85,000. Then we built a second house for his mom on the property. Our total property taxes for 2 houses, acreage, a barn, and green rollling hills as far as the eye can see? 623 bux a year. The first year was major culture shock. But we survived..

Yes, wages here are lower for some positions, and yes, it's Leave it to Beaver land. But it's the best move we ever made. I miss some things about the Bay Area...the theater, sour dough bread, mountains and the ocean. But we visit cali often..and..all it does it make me want to head back to Iowa.

Traffic here is about 5 cars in an hour. The movies cost 4.50 a person, with free refills on popcorn and soda (yes..I STILL call it soda). The tags on my truck cost me 65 dollars a year.

It's a trade off. I will always be a Cali girl who lives in Iowa. My youngest graduated from HS two years ago, I honestly expected her to head back to Cali right away..but now she's house hunting on her own. You can actually buy a small house in town here for 20-25 grand.

Yes..it's a trade off.I DO miss being able to see my family on a daily basis. But as I look out the window at my horses grazing, and get ready to head to my neighbors for a birthday bbq and bonfire...I can't imagine being anywhere else.

Having recently moved to the DC area, I can echo what Phil and others said. Five years ago, I bought a 3-bedroom, 2 bath, 2 car garage home with a large large in south Alabama. It cost me $79,000. I'm now in the process of trying to find a townhome 30 miles outside DC and hoping to stay under $260,000. It's not looking promising.

Prices are about like that in Miami (well, maybe a little less), but in the rest of Florida there are plenty of places where real estate is still cheap. One of the women at the place where I work is getting a new 4-bedroom, 3-bath house built out in Clermont, which is a few miles west of Orlando, for about $150,000. And even in Orlando itself, where prices are higher, 400K buys you a lot of house. (I should know, I get to deal with architectural plans and home buyer contracts all day).

Live from Rochester, NY-so my 1658 sf, 2-full-bath, 2-car garage house cost me $21k. And they rehabbed the kitchen as a condition of the sale to me. PITI=$218.35/mo. Still, if you buy a duplex, I'd be happy to rent the other half. My bro' lives in White Plains and my career (computer security) opportunities are better in the Metro area. I'll teach DJ to play my piano. Or bass. Or acoustic. Or flute. Or twelve-string. You DO like music, don't you?

Seriously. Landlording can be a pain, but that's what you hire a management company for. See if you can dig up a Realtor (I used to be one) who can come up with some realistic options for you to consider. I envy the family and community you have, but you should have other choices that work with that. Think about it.

I just happened upon your site. I found it like a novel. You are so right about the cost of property. I live in Fla. east coast gold coast and have properity in Fl and N.Carolina. I had the sitution you have as a kid in Ohio. I know the feeling. But maybe there is an angle you have not considerd. You are only here for a short time. This is for sure. What about when it is time to leave this place. Where will you go then. Time is going so fast and soon you will have to leave your little group.What then ? It's about time you thought about that. I am a tither and that means I give 10 percent to God on every money that comes to me. I have found out that this honors God but also causes the blessings of God to come upon you. I have been given in 1991 a condo totally pd for. I have been given a new Olds. pd. for three apartment houses one the best one totally pd. for the other two I gave away as the first fruits and the second as an offering./God caused me to get the most beautifulChalet cabin in No., Carolina as a rental and one I can also enjoy. God is a giver and you need to seek Him with your whole heart and you will find Him. I saw Him as a chld in a vision. My Love for God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit is all consuming and wonderful. There is an continuious life called eternity. Oh , it is going to be glorious and the homes or mansions won't cost you a dime. Come and go with me. Jean

Great website and blog. Far better than my crappy sites.