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Movin' on... up? down? left?


58 replies to this topic

#1
Tank

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As I have said in a couple other threads, my partner of the last almost decade and I split up over the summer. It was mostly amicable and friendly, and we're helping each other transition. While she's off Eat, Pray, Loving in Bali, I have been living in our house still. I have painted and gotten new furniture and put all her personal stuff in the attic to make it more my place. It has been a mutually beneficial to both of us. She has a place to keep her stuff while she is a nomad, and we still split the mortgage.

 

There's no way what I pay a month would get me a 3 bedroom house and detached office in LA. Not even close. With a potential writer's strike coming this summer, it worked out that she left and I could stay.

 

But then we remembered it is an election year, and Trump-crap is a mess, and the housing market it LA is swelling to the point of bursting-- and all the experts say late spring is the time to sell in this market. So my ex has decided to do exactly that. I'm kind of annoyed, but I get it.

 

What I don't love, is that she originally bought this place for her work office, and took it over when she sold her company. I have been splitting the mortgage, but my name is not on the paperwork, and I didn't put up anything for the down payment, so I am not going to get anything out of the sale. She's nice enough and we're friendly enough that she'll give me a little, but nothing huge.

 

I know the wise thing to do would be to buy a place of my own-- because that's what responsible adults do-- but I have never been super into the idea of owning a home. I don't know why, I get why I should, especially in LA where rent prices are basically the same as a mortgage payment... I just don't really want to. Plus, if I did it with the money I have now, I have no room for anything to go wrong. If the strike happens and it goes for awhile, I'd be screwed. If I end up needing any major repairs-- also screwed. 

 

So that means I am renting. I don't have much of a choice, and I need to find a place by March. I am stressing out about where to go. The usual factors like what amenities my money gets me are of course a thing, but I am finding it is coming down to location more than anything else. I spend half my year working on TV shows, which means office hours in a writer's room. I have been in rooms all over town, their location is usually based on proximity to the studio or production company. The other half of the year I am working on movie stuff, which I do from home. Finally, I have my kid a few days a week and his mother lives in the suburbs, which is about 45min away. I generally have to go and pick him up and bring him back.

 

So my choices are:

 

1. My current neighborhood. 

Pros: Easily my favorite part of LA

Cons: 45 min to kid, 1 hr to the west side where a lot of my meetings and studios are; not a lot of affordable rentals

 

2. Studio City / Sherman Oaks

Pros: centrally located, still 45min to kid, but only 20-30 to anywhere else in LA I'd need to go.

Cons: over-populated, so more random crime and traffic-- which is why I left that part of town a fifteen years ago

 

3. The burbs

Pros: would be closer to the kid, easier to see him, could actually rent a house for what I can afford, quieter

cons: minimum 45 to anywhere in town, which would make for a heavy commute when I am staffed on a TV show; just don't want to

 

My problem is, I logically and emotionally go right to the burbs-- a house and more kid access seems like a win.... but I really don't want to live out there away from everything. That commute would be brutal, and my social life would suffer. I might even have to actively turn down work if it were in a writer's room were in say Santa Monica. That would be a nightmare.

 

So then I feel guilty. My kid should be my priority right? And I don't even know if/when the next TV job would be. I basically hate that I am saying I would sacrifice time with my kid because I just don't want to live in the suburbs.

 

...but then again, being a parent isn't just TIME. And let's face it, he's 14, "time" with him is when he comes out of his room to eat meals... and if I am turning down jobs, that is less money to support him, and he is getting expensive. College is only a few years away. Also, if I move to the burbs and sacrifice my own happiness is that really a good way to parent? Depressed and defeated?

 

I am STRESSED about this.


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#2
Destiny Skywalker

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So, as someone with 2 kids who used to have a brutal commute and has an ok commute that is getting worse...

Commutes suck, man. Can I be real? 90% of the reason my oldest is in private school right by work is because the commute back home to get her was killing us. We had to go back to that with my youngest because he needed special education and we are burnt the heck out from running all over town to pick up kids and get them to soccer practice. Bad commutes burn you out and make you frazzled. My husband loves So Cal since he is a native but said he can't go back because the traffic will kill him.

How often do you see O? Weekends mostly, with some special occasions midweek? I would be close to work as comfortable so you can be available on weekends for him.

I would rent for now, especially with Oliver being close to college age. If he goes off to school, you can pick wherever you want to live and park it.
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#3
Darth Ender

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I say 3.  You are driving 30 minutes anyways, what's another 15?

 

My current commute is 45 min to an hour for 12 miles each way.  It sucks, but I have always had longer commutes so I guess I am just used to it.  Yay for podcasts and Audible.  

 

Also, buying sucks.  I hate all the bs with home ownership.  With that said, the best financial decision I ever made was buying a 700 sf,100 year-old condo near downtown Denver for 250k with no money down.  The radiator only had one temperature...Satan's butthole.  It would be a blizzard and I had to sleep with the windows open.  I lived in my bedroom in the summer bc the insulation was so bad I could only keep one room cool with my window AC.  I parked on the street so if I was out late I would have to walk blocks sometimes and walk home and I ALWAYS got a monthly ticket for forgetting to move my car for street sweeping.  Denver real estate boomed and I made enough for a decent down payment on a house in a trendy suburb (Littleton...famous for Columbine HS and Jon-Benet Ramsey).  What caused the boom was influx from people from the coasts (mainly CA) paying in cash.  After a few years of mortgage you could buy a decent house with cash almost anywhere in America.  



#4
Odine

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Can you not go somewhere that's closer to the burbs but not the burbs proper? When you say the burbs, do you mean the valley?

It'll work out ok man, the stress sucks balls but it's more than likely worse in your head right now.

When my wife was 6 months preggers I lost my job (place closed down) and our landlords wanted to sell our home from under us. I got a new job which isn't as cool, but it's closer and we SOMEHOW bought the house from the landlord while my wife was heavily pregnant. I was cold-sore central with stress during that time. But it worked out in the end.

I think instinctually you know where you need to go. Just remember no matter where you land, you don't need to feel defeated. You might be leaving a fav neighborhood and a sick house but you still write TV and Movies, have good relationships with the people near and dear, and are a great example to your kid.

That probably doesn't help at all, but from one Goat to another, you got this Holmes. Just don't look down.

Edited by Odine, 23 January 2020 - 02:53 AM.


#5
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Don't forget (not that I think you actually would forget, and maybe you've done this already) to ask Oliver what he thinks. Maybe he wouldn't mind if you lived farther away. Teenagers are weird, you never really know what they're thinking.


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#6
D-Ray Kenobi

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Alright, so there's a few things I can speak to here and a few things that I can't as much.

 

As far as owning a house, we've been in our place around twelve years now.  There's a few days here and there when I'm annoyed about a repair I need to make or something like that, but it's rare.  Buying a place was one of the best calls I ever made.  I've been able to do whatever the hell we want with it and don't have to worry about noise or anything like that.  We've built on an enclosed porch in the back, have our festival hippy bus parked next to it, and have bonfires and stuff with friends outside all the time.  As a big kid myself, I imagine that things like that would be an even bigger blast for a younger kid.

 

This part is more applicable to our area, but it was a solid investment too.  I think the house has safely gained about $25K in value in the twelve years we've had it.  I don't think we're going anywhere anytime soon, but I probably stand to have a nice little payday when we do, even after all of the stupid realtor fees.

 

However, I realize that we're kind of an outlier these days because we chose to stay put for a while.  That isn't for as many people under 40 in recent times, and I realize that.  Buying kind of roots you for a good while, which isn't for everyone and I recognize that.

 

What I don't know as much about is all of the California-specific stuff.  My personal knowledge is limited to spending a week or long weekend in LA or San Francisco once a year or so.  I do know that while I love San Francisco dearly, I'd never live there because of the astronomical price of living.  My wife and I have somewhat seriously flirted with the idea of moving to LA at some undetermined point in the future, and I feel like the price of living isn't nearly as bad.  We have a very good friend who moved from Alabama, got a starter marketing job with basically no experience, and lives in a nice enough condo far away enough from the craziness of Hollywood Boulevard and close enough to the Heights to be pretty good.

 

Here's the other factor I can at least speak partially to, if not fully.  We aren't going to have kids, but my six year old niece might as well be my part time kid.  She stays with us on many weekends and I'll take any excuse I can to take the hour and a half drive to go hang with her.  While I wish I could be around for her more, that kid still loves me to death even though we just hang out a few days a month.  Even at that age.  But then again, if I could be in a situation where her mom and dad lived closer I'd probably be spoiling her to death more regularly.

It's really tough to say, I feel like it's up to each family.  But I have known you guys ever since he was born and from what I can see from a distance, he's both fiercely independent and loves you to death as well.

 

As far as the whole predicament as a whole, if it were me, I think I would personally go with option one as a first choice, or option three as a last choice.  You don't want to go back in time and go back to that old neighborhood in option two, I kind of feel like that would be a lot harder on you than you might think.  If it were me, I think I just wouldn't even consider option two at all.

Traffic is going to be a problem no matter where you're at in LA.  I kind of feel like that shouldn't even be part of the equation because of that.

Overall, I think you're overthinking it and shouldn't let yourself stress so much.  You've been killing it in your career lately, and your kid is doing great.  If those two things are going well, the rest is just gravy.



#7
Ms. Spam

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Culver City? Just throwing that out there. 



#8
Zathras

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Pasadena an option to move to?



#9
monkeygirl

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Don't buy a house only because 'it's what adults do'. I think this is your best option, tbh, but that's based on my experiences and likes and the fact that you will make money with a house. It seems dumb to me to throw money away on rent when mortgage is affordable, too, but it may not be your cup of tea. If a strike happens, you'd still have to pay rent. If you're worried about repairs-buy smart-have a good inspection and don't buy a house that needs a roof in the next 3 years. Maybe nail down your reasons a bit more before you negate the idea wholly. You're in a market like I am-you will build equity from the minute your sign the papers so it's not a huge risk.

 

Also, at Oliver's age-are things likely to change with him anytime soon? Might he be more able to commute to stay with you, on his own? Will he start driving right away at 16? Mayeb even ask him to help you figure it out, beyond getting his opinion. he may 'see' things you're missing?

 

If you're truly STRESSED, find something to rent temporarily, put some things in storage and take your time with the decision.

 

Write down your absolutes-regardless of guilt and honor them, silly or not. Me? I will NOT live without a fireplace or a private place to go directly outside from my living quarters ever again. That and allowing cats-none of those are negotiable to me. No matter how guilty they make you feel, the drag on your psyche when you ignore your absolutes is not worth it.


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#10
Tank

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How often do you see O? Weekends mostly, with some special occasions midweek? I would be close to work as comfortable so you can be available on weekends for him.

I would rent for now, especially with Oliver being close to college age. If he goes off to school, you can pick wherever you want to live and park it.

 

We were always 50/50 week on, week off until his mom moved to the burbs. The schools there we so much better, it was a no-brainer that he should attend there. That made me a weekend dad, which I don't love. But, again, at his current age that's not as much of a huge deal. I was there all the time when he was little and it mattered most.

 

So now, he stays with me on the weekends, but I am up there at least one other day a week to take him to a TKD class or out to dinner if his mom is working later. Really, I can see him any time. his mom and I are cool, I have a key to their place, any time i WANT to see him, I can. I could have dinner with them every night if I wanted.

 

My thoughts are more on the time he is actually staying with me.

 

Which, let's be honest, is fleeting. In another year or so he will be driving, have a job, have a GF, a social life-- he's going to want his weekends.

 

I say 3.  You are driving 30 minutes anyways, what's another 15?

  

Difference is making that longer driver twice a day all week, or once on either side of the weekend.

 

Can you not go somewhere that's closer to the burbs but not the burbs proper? When you say the burbs, do you mean the valley?

Studio City/Sherman Oaks are indeed the valley-- but the south side of it, which puts it one quick trip over the hill to most anywhere I'd need to go in LA proper. The problem is, everything between that and the burbs adds time to going into town, and most of the valley is depressing and kind of crime-ridden and dirty. 

 

Don't forget (not that I think you actually would forget, and maybe you've done this already) to ask Oliver what he thinks. Maybe he wouldn't mind if you lived farther away. Teenagers are weird, you never really know what they're thinking.

Oliver likes me living in the city, because he likes being the kid that gets to leave the burbs on the weekends. But I also don't know if he is being fully honest and not just making the trip because he feels bad if he doesn't see me.

 

As far as owning a house, we've been in our place around twelve years now.  There's a few days here and there when I'm annoyed about a repair I need to make or something like that, but it's rare.  Buying a place was one of the best calls I ever made.  

Like I said, I know it's the smart thing to do money wise-- but I just don't care. I'm not the dude who is going to remodel or add on to his house. I might paint, or update fixtures or knock down a wall-- but I am far more likely to find what I want and move to it. If anything, I would rather build my dream house than adapt an existing one.

Culver City? Just throwing that out there. 

Pasadena?

LOL, guys-- if you don't know where I live or what I can afford, or where my kid is, why throw out rando parts of LA? HAHah-- those are both great parts of town, but Culver is a million miles from anything in my life, and Pasadena is that PLUS you need at least 5 million to live there.

 

Don't buy a house only because 'it's what adults do'. I think this is your best option, tbh, but that's based on my experiences and likes and the fact that you will make money with a house. It seems dumb to me to throw money away on rent when mortgage is affordable, too, but it may not be your cup of tea. If a strike happens, you'd still have to pay rent.

You're leaving out one major factor-- the down payment. Putting the kind of money down that the locations I am looking at would require, would pretty much take all my savings. Those savings are what I have to live on in case there is a strike. If I buy. and there is a strike, I would run out of money really fast. Renting, I'd still be throwing money out every month, but the pool it comes from could last me for a long time. Don't forget, that you're not getting into a house in LA that's decent and meets my minimum needs for less than a million. $650 in the burbs.

 

People always like to say IT'S AN INVESTMENT! YOU'RE THROWING MOMNEY AWAY IF YOU RENT! But unless you want to get screwed by mortgage insurance, you have to put a good chunk down, and if I do that, I am basically giving myself zero margin of error. I already have to deal with the potential of not making money given that my industry is freelance. Add in a potential strike? Terrifying. If I want to buy, comfortably, I should have enough for a down payment AND enough for at least a year's worth of mortgage payments to ensure if I have a down year and don't book anything, I don't default.

 

My situation is pretty unique to being a divorced hands-on dad in a city where it is insanely expensive to live.



#11
Ms. Spam

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I know exactly where Culver City is. It was a super dumb joke because you were talking about commutes. I have a friend who works in comics who lived in Culver City for a long while. He basically bought a warehouse and made it a home because he was priced out of LA. But it would be a heckin' big change!



#12
Ms. Spam

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Also, oddly, Tami's stuff is super helpful. I would follow Tami's advice. She knows.  

 

PS. Pasedena. UGH. At least a little archipeligo of Culver City reaches Marina Del Rey.



#13
Zathras

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LOL, guys-- if you don't know where I live or what I can afford, or where my kid is, why throw out rando parts of LA? HAHah-- those are both great parts of town, but Culver is a million miles from anything in my life, and Pasadena is that PLUS you need at least 5 million to live there.

 

Sorry.



#14
Tank

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LOL, guys-- if you don't know where I live or what I can afford, or where my kid is, why throw out rando parts of LA? HAHah-- those are both great parts of town, but Culver is a million miles from anything in my life, and Pasadena is that PLUS you need at least 5 million to live there.
 

Sorry.

No need to apologize! I'd love to live in Pasadena if it weren't out of the way and so expensive.

Also, oddly, Tami's stuff is super helpful. I would follow Tami's advice. She knows.


Except for the down payment part... ;P

I know exactly where Culver City is. It was a super dumb joke because you were talking about commutes. I have a friend who works in comics who lived in Culver City for a long while. He basically bought a warehouse and made it a home because he was priced out of LA. But it would be a heckin' big change!


Culver is no longer really removed from LA, thanks to Silicon Beach and Sony's expansion of the MGM studio, it's a hot and not cheap part of town.

#15
monkeygirl

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...the down payment. Putting the kind of money down that the locations I am looking at would require, would pretty much take all my savings.

Have you owned before? There are government programs for first-time owners that require 0 down. They're fairly easy to get

 

 

 

 

Don't forget, that you're not getting into a house in LA that's decent and meets my minimum needs for less than a million. $650 in the burbs.

 

Yeah, that's about 20% more than it is here right now. But you can also get creative financing, like a 30/pay in 7.

 

 

 

People always like to say IT'S AN INVESTMENT! YOU'RE THROWING MOMNEY AWAY IF YOU RENT! But unless you want to get screwed by mortgage insurance, you have to put a good chunk down, and if I do that, I am basically giving myself zero margin of error. I already have to deal with the potential of not making money given that my industry is freelance. Add in a potential strike? Terrifying. If I want to buy, comfortably, I should have enough for a down payment AND enough for at least a year's worth of mortgage payments to ensure if I have a down year and don't book anything, I don't default.

 

Well, you're just crazy of you think anyone has THAT level of comfort anymore-a YEARS' worth? If mortgage = rent in your area-you still have to face this with rent! Mortgage insurance doesn't cost THAT much and you can usually request relief and get out of it after a year. Seriously, once you sign all the terrifying documents and look at the amount you'll eventually pay for the property, it's just like renting-you won't know or feel the difference. And the mortgage rates are so stinking low right now. I paid close to 12% on my first home. I didn't understand that 'throwing away money' thing until I owned-and SOLD. Last time I moved, I got $55K. Nobody gives you that kind of money for moving out of an apartment.

 

 

 

My situation is pretty unique to being a divorced hands-on dad in a city where it is insanely expensive to live.

 

? I don't think it is but I'm unclear on how this makes a difference in buying a home, anyway? All they look at is your income and credit history.

 

You sound terrified at the prospect of owning. I suggest you rent in a new area, just to check it out and see how it goes, give you some more hands-on info to go with. Do some research, shore up any snags in your credit report and explore the idea of homeownership at your leisure while you wait out the looming strike possibilities. If you were in an area that was more flat in terms of home sales, it may be an iffy prospect. But you could make some money if you buy in your area. You'd have a permanent place with no landlord and you'd build equity immediately. It's a very smart time to buy-especially since Trump tanked the Dodd Frank regulations. You may even be able to get a REALLY sketchy loan and overturn it to something more reasonable once Trump is out of office.

 

 

Also, oddly, Tami's stuff is super helpful.

 

THA **** ODDLY???



#16
Tank

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I make too much to qualify for most of the first-time buyer loan arrangements. I'm going to be facing the same issue when Oliver heads to college, on paper, he'll never get financial aid when they see how much I make. 

 

Problem is, while what I make on paper looks great, again, it is so costly to live here and my income can fluctuate, I need to have a pretty big savings to make sure I don't bankrupt myself.



#17
Zathras

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LOL, guys-- if you don't know where I live or what I can afford, or where my kid is, why throw out rando parts of LA? HAHah-- those are both great parts of town, but Culver is a million miles from anything in my life, and Pasadena is that PLUS you need at least 5 million to live there.
 

Sorry.

No need to apologize! I'd love to live in Pasadena if it weren't out of the way and so expensive.

 

 

Cool.  I hadn't realized it's become THAT expensive.  It's been a while, but I used to have family there and I always thought it was nice in Pasadena.  

 

In that case, my vote, if you are still are looking for suggestions, would be option #3 and ask your son for input. 



#18
Tank

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I think I have decided to go for the central location for a year. I really don't know which direction my career is going to go, I have some potential big things, which would make buying much easier next year, but if they don't come together I should be in the same place I am now.

 

Being central will keep things status quo with the kid, but will make sure I can take any job that comes my way without sweating 3 hours in a car every day. I did it on Season 1of my show, and it seriously effected my quality of life.

 

That said, once the kid turns 16 next year, at that point a custody schedule is going to be moot. He'll be driving, and have a job, and school, and if we're lucky, a social life. He's going to want his weekends. THAT is when it makes more sense for me to go to the burbs, when I won't haven scheduled time. He'll just come and go, and to ensure he CAN come and go to me without driving into LA (which a new driver shouldn't do) I'll be around. Plus, if all goes to plan, I'll be ready to comfortably buy then. and buying up there will be better for what I can get for my money.

 

If I really hate it, I'll leave after a couple years when the kid goes to college.


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#19
Ms. Spam

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I make too much to qualify for most of the first-time buyer loan arrangements. I'm going to be facing the same issue when Oliver heads to college, on paper, he'll never get financial aid when they see how much I make. 

 

Problem is, while what I make on paper looks great, again, it is so costly to live here and my income can fluctuate, I need to have a pretty big savings to make sure I don't bankrupt myself.

sorta off topic but I feel like this is the reason that those hollywood couples were paying recruiters to get their kids into colleges. College is a scam.



#20
Ms. Spam

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Tami! Not odd for me but maybe for Tank. I mean you went through the worst break up ever and all you got was a crappy apartment with a terrible upstairs neighbor.



#21
monkeygirl

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tank, I think that’s a perfect decision!
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#22
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I'm about this****ingclose to moving my whole family to live in the wilderness somewhere. Wanna come?

That's all I have. Our finances and house situation have been pretty ****ty since Trevor was laid off back in 2015. I'm actually considering returning to school to get some BS 4 year degree because not having one at this point is getting painful.

#23
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Aw. Sorry that's happening. Sometimes you have to make a move that changes everything and it is super scary. I've been saving now for a while for a down payment on a house. Hopefully I will have more room for lazy cats soon.



#24
Destiny Skywalker

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Cerina, what degree are you thinking?

#25
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Probably like Business Administration or Marketing or something like that. Something I can do mostly online from home.



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