(Closed) Bees in expensive cities: How do/did you save for a downpayment!?!?

posted 6 years ago in Home
Post # 3
Member
13010 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

I saw one of your old posts talks about DC — is this where you decided on settling?  If so, I’ve started looking into the housing market around here in the past few months, so I may have some area suggestions for you!

We started cutting back a lot – one night out a week, bringing lunch, shopping at costco.  We both metro to work so there isn’t the cost of gas or as much car maintenence to worry about (our employers pay metro costs, too).  We sell stuff on craigslist that we don’t need or want anymore.  I have a savings account set up where $X much money is transferred automatically when I get paid.  Any extra money we get (tax refunds, gifts, etc) gets thrown into that account as well. 

Post # 4
Member
1137 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

My parents forced me into saving as a teenager, so half of everything I made working my low end jobs then went into savings. I just continued this trend into college, so we had a good down payment by the time we graduated, but decided to do an FHA loan (3.5% down I think?).

Just start budgeting and seeing what you can set aside each much, then slowly increase it. Do your grocery shopping with coupons if you can, and just keep your purchases to a minimum. Try cooking meals that last more than one meal, and if your Darling Husband goes out to eat every lunch, try to get him to change this. I gave up on my Darling Husband changing that – wasn’t worth my sanity to argue with him 😉

While we live outside the city, it’s still ridiculously expensive (hello 400k townhouse). If you do go with a townhouse, opt to meet your neighbors first. Seriously, take it into consideration. We have the most horrible neighbors. While we are the end unit, the ones attached to us threatened to sue us if we put a property line fence in (it’s a townhouse – that’s how it’s done). The HOA didn’t want to argue since they threatened to sue them, so we don’t have a fence. We have another that refuses to maintain her lawn and the HOA won’t even say anything to her, we assume due to all the trouble she’s been through (while I understand, she has a teenage son who is more than capable). So do yourself a HUGE favor and meet those neighbors before buying a place, especially a townhouse.

Darling Husband and I are saving now for another down payment for a single family home. We are almost out of our 3 year requirement for the tax credit thankfully. I coupon shop for all my groceries, buy most of my clothes from Ross/TJ Maxx/Target/etc, and I was cooking regularly, but now that I’m pregnant I have no interest in cooking and only want french fries, so we go out almost daily. It’s bad, but it’s the only thing I can keep down.

Just keep your chin up and you’ll do fine. I hate watching house hunters and seeing these beautiful houses for 300k, which are around 800k+ here, and that’s still 40 minutes outside the city..

 

Post # 6
Member
13010 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

@Mrs.Elivs:  Well, I’m in Court House – so you know I can feel your pain!  My dream rowhouse went on sale a few weeks ago, for a measly $950k…FOR A 3 BED TOWNHOUSE (and no yard!).  Ugh. 

My best advice is to look in Alexandria.  There are townhouses below 400k that are really nice, and most of them have been remodeled.  It’s a great time to buy near Fort Belvoir – BRAC relocation is going to make that a major location in the coming years, plus the renovation of the Springfield Mall and a bunch of new commerical interests there, is going to make property values increase dramatically. 

You can also find some good deals in Shirlington, but those are harder to come by since it’s a much smaller area.

Obviously you get more bang for your buck if you move further out.  I have friends who just bought a stunning 4 bedroom, 4.5 bath house in Sterling for a really good deal.  Reston and Herndon are also going to be good places to buy in because of the Silver line, as will Tyson’s Corner area.  The new stop in Tysons is going to be by the mall/123 and Old Courthouse Road (I think). 

Post # 7
Member
1137 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

@Mrs.Elivs:  Harris Teeter here does “super doubles” and “triples” every month or so. I go to this every time and stock up. It’s basically for one week and you can only use 20 coupons a day. There are tons of coupon forums out there (afullcup is what I use), so you can find tons of info.

Just go meet some of the neighbors before you buy a place. Either knock on a door or if you see someone out, go say hi, ask about the people living nearby, and just see what they say. You’ll get tons of info for neighbors.

With FHA we were able to put a lower amount down, but have PMI to pay monthly. We plan to do 20-30% next time though, but for a first place, it was the way to go.

Don’t hesitate to look a little further west if you don’t mind the commute into DC. My Dad used to take the bus to DC daily from Leesburg, and I’ve got a friend that does that now too from Ashburn. There are tons of ways to get around and the metro is going west in the next few years.

Darling Husband and I are lucky to both work in Northern VA, so we don’t have to live close to the city, but things are definitely expensive out here. I remember looking at our same townhouse closer to Fairfax and it was 150k more…

Post # 8
Member
52 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

I can sympathize!!! My Fiance and I are actually moving to Chicago to get AWAY from super expensive DC because getting ahead is so hard here!! Personally, I have found that setting up an automatic transfer to your savings account on pay day is the easiest way to start establishing savings. And then once you have a savings account with money in it- don’t touch it! Pretend it’s not there! It accumulates faster than you realize.

 

On a side note, however, the DC legal market is very, very competitive lately. There are a LOT of law schools in the area- good, highly ranked ones- and thus there is a lot of tough competition for entry-level legal jobs. I dont know about where you went to school/grades, etc, but be forewarned that all of that will be very important to employers because the competition is fierce. I went to a THIRD tier law school in Maryland and my Fiance attended a top 50 school in the area and both of us had decent grades. My Fiance, however, has had a terrible time finding employment and currently, he is grossly underemployed although he is luckly enough to have a real law job. My job search was a little easier, but I credit that totally to having done a judicial clerkship while I waited for my bar results.

 

That being said, just remember to stay positive during your search and don’t give up. Don’t be disappointed if it takes a while. The market is rough, but I feel it is improving every day. Craigslist is a great resource around here, as is the Daily Record. Spend time crafting your cover letters, etc, to really make yourself stand out . Keep your eye out for clerkships that open up, too- a lot of clerks leave once they pass the bar and judges end up hiring in the middle of the year.  Good luck to you in the job search, and of course, my very best wishes to you during the bar exam! Walking out of day 2 of that test will be the BEST feeling you’ve had in a while!

Post # 11
Member
2695 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: February 2008

all I can say is good luck! We live in NYC, and 1800 a month for what you have would be a STEAL 🙂  We saved a lot, for a long time and just bought our first home this year – and we are in our mid-30s.  I think its a balance between still enjoying your li

Post # 12
Member
1659 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

We will likely never be able to afford any of the neighborhoods in Seattle proper that we’d like to live in (700k+) so we settled ourselves in an immediate suburb for about $300k, which got us 3br/2ba 1550 sqft in a house built in 1949. We are completely middle class (our income is by no means low but would go a lot further in another area) and got an FHA loan and put 5% down. If we wanted to this place could be our forever home so I’m not too upset. The only thing that makes me upset is getting shade from our friends who rent in trendy neighborhoods who give us crap about living in the suburbs 😉

Post # 13
Member
13010 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

@Mrs.Elivs:  This places would probably be a hike getting in from Virginia to Bethesda.  It’s 30-40 minutes to get to Herndon and Reston from Arlington, and that’s depending on the traffic.  There’s probably an easier route to get in to MD though.  Also make sure you know the HOV restrictions if you’re living out there and commuting in!  If you can work non-core hours, the traffic isn’t bad (my workday starts at 6 am, and the few times I’ve driven in, it’s an easy ride… traffic will pick up 7:15-7:30 though).  I took a mortgage class a while ago and the broker said it’s easier for first-time buyers in Maryland because of their real estate laws or something, but I have no plans to move there, so I didn’t pay attention to that part.

I agree with the PPs about fierce competition for law jobs too.  Fiance went to GW Law, so a really good school, and he struggled finding a job here.  The market is overloaded with some really top notch law schools, and then everyone who wants to come here from other states. If you have trouble finding stuff, it may be worth sitting for the VA or MD bar in February so you can expand your search area!

Post # 14
Member
5670 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2010

I lived home during our 2yr engagement. My DH’s parents wanted to charge him rent for living at home so we both ended up staying with my parents. Of course he stayed in the guest room lol. Thie really helped us save for 2 yrs and are grateful that we had that luxury.

Hopefully once you pass tha bar and start working your financial situation will really change for the better. Hang in there and be smart about money and I’m sure in a few years you will have a place of your own.

The topic ‘Bees in expensive cities: How do/did you save for a downpayment!?!?’ is closed to new replies.

Find Amazing Vendors