Affording a home in California FTHB

posted 3 years ago in Home
Post # 2
1016 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

Chocolatebox8:  what does “a 10 mile radius of where we need to live for work” mean? Cause I’ll be honest, the only shot many have is to go further out. We’re in a new far away suburb and still in a very small condo. Could have paid more to be closer in town, but there will be a lot of amenties here in good time. 

Post # 3
1465 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 2015

I bought a 3 bedroom 2.5 bath condo 1300 sq for ~$200k two years ago. It was a foreclosure, needed A LOT of work, and it’s about 45 minutes away from work with moderate traffic – which I drive at 5 am. I am about an hour away from LA.

I bought in a suburb because 1) I don’t want to live in LA, I already work in/around there and that’s enough for me and 2) for what I could afford, I’d be living in a 500 sq closet in a bad neighborhood. Location is what causes most places to be expensive so that’s really what’ll have to give in your situation. Commuting is not fun but I’d rather take an hour and a half to get home to my nice quiet place with FI than take 10 minutes to get home and live in a dump in the ghetto.

Post # 4
473 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: January 2014

Chocolatebox8:  If my husband and I tried to find a house within 10 miles of where we each work we would have never bought a home! They’re all in the $800k+ range! That being said, we purchased our home in a small California suburb for MUCH less than if we tried to stay close to work. He drives about 40 miles a day and I drive 80 (for the record – I wouldn’t drive so far if I didn’t LOVE my job so keep that in mind. It does suck). However, our mortgage is only $1100/month (much less than rent out here) so it really makes a difference. I would try looking at property in smaller towns and keep in mind which way traffic flows (I’m always driving against traffic for the most part so my commute doesn’t take insanely long).

Post # 5
3633 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

Not sure where you are living, but those prices sound about right for anywhere attractive in California! Most people I know with homes possess one of the following characteristics (or more): older (35+), parental assistance (e.g. parents paid off student loans and/or helped with signficant down payment), or have a really good job and have been on a tight budget for a long time and saving.

Quite frankly, it’s sometimes nice renting because you can just pack up and move. If your neighbors suck, pack up! If you need more room, pack up! If you change jobs, pack up! I also don’t think most people in California live within a 10 mile radius of their home. Most people I know commute more than that.

Post # 6
1648 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

Chocolatebox8:  First, look up a mortgage calculator online and play with the numbers a bit so you’re clear on what the monthly mortgage payment would be on various loan amounts. The unknown is scary; look it up and get solid numbers so you know what you’re able to afford.   

Then, expand your search area a bit. Maybe look up homes by zipcode on When looking at houses, be sure to check for any additional taxes or association fees that would increase your monthly payment. 

It’s not impossible to find a reasonably-priced house in CA, it just takes some patience, creativity, and diligence. Good luck!

p.s. Why do you need to live within a 10-mile radius of your job? If you can find an area or neighborhood that you love, the extra few minutes/miles will be insignificant. For the record, my huband drives 70 miles each day for work and I drive 40 miles each day and it’s very rarely bothersome (we LOVE our neighborhood!)

Post # 8
4650 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

Chocolatebox8:  Have you spoken to mortgage broker? When I lived in Cali that’s what we did. He told us what we needed to do (pay off one car payment). We did that and then they set us up with a 20/80 loan. It was 2 loans and the 20 was used as the down payment. NO adjustable rate mortgage ya de ya da. Anyway, it IS possible but I would talk to a mortgage person, they may have 1st time home buyers things and all, too. Oh, and when I was there, the town I lived in also had 1st home buyers assistance. The City actually paid your down payment and if you stayed in the house 10 yrs you didn’t have to pay it back. So there are all sorts of possibilities!!

Post # 9
847 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

We’re both 27, live in Burbank, and bought our 1267 sq ft townhouse last year for $377k so that price sounds about right. DH’s parents helped us out with some of the down payment. Depending on if you’re looking at a condo/townhouse or stand alone house, you have to factor HOA dues in. If we didnt have the HOA dues, we would only be paying $400 month more for our mortgage than we did for renting. If you plan on living in a purchased home for at least 5 years, you can really start to build up equity, which is the main reason we bought.

Post # 11
847 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

We put down 25%, around $95k. And our monthly payments (mortgage, HOA, etc) are pretty much what you’re paying to rent.

When we first started looking, our budget was under $350k, but it just wasn’t realistic. Our friends were able to get in on a short sale for $291k, but we started looking a couple months after that. Everything we were looking at needed major work, was too small, or didn’t meet a lot of the things on our checklist. And most of those properties in that price point were being bought up with all cash by investors. Our realtor advised us to raise our price point. So, we looked back through our stuff to see what we’d be comfortable paying and changed our search.

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