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Impressionable me has allowed myself to be talked into moving into the house I’m currently fixing up. When I was in the process of buying it just a few months ago the plan was to rent it out for a year, and then move into it, using the intermediate time to setup another couple of rentals while I stayed in my rather nice-for-the-price, $325/month apartment.

I’ve been tempted to move in since I first saw it. The large yard with room for gardens, privacy, cellar with ample room to age some homemade wine, the ability to use wood heat and install passive solar modifications to lower energy needs, garage space, proximity to beautiful hiking/biking are all draws. The distance to Boston is a bit too much for a regular commute, but with graduation coming in just a couple of months, that won’t matter anyway.

Family and friends have all colluded to try to talk me into just moving right in. One reason for waiting was that all my available funds for the next year or so are going to have to go towards purchasing and rehabbing other rental properties, so even if I did move into the house, I wouldn’t feel free to spend any time or money on the stuff that would make it really comfortable, like furniture, landscaping, energy retrofits, nice tile work, or tools to outfit a workshop. I’d prefer to build a fair amount of the furniture and do lots of custom work around the place, but I won’t have the tools or time for that for a while. So I’d have to live in a sparsely-furnished place with unfinished projects staring me in the face everyday.

But is that really so bad? I suppose it’s the status-quo for lots of people.

“You should just move in yourself,” has been the constant refrain of the people who have visited the place. Eventually, I decided they were right.

With the cost of having to pay rent on my own apartment factored in, my total net profit from renting the house was probably going to be somewhere around $5k-$6k for the year. Nothing to sneeze at, but I can afford to forgoe it. Other factors start to pile on too. One being, it might be hard to find someone who wants to rent a whole house for just a year knowing they are going to have to move after twelve months, even if they don’t want to. Another being that I am running the risk of having a nightmare tenant who needs to be formally evicted and damages the property in the process, if so, the whole year’s profits could be wiped out. By moving in myself I don’t run any of that risk since I would be my own tenant.

My next couple of properties will probably be in closer proximity to where the house is than where my apartment is. This is actually kind of a big deal since rehabbing requires physically being at the property several days per week and, if it’s a long drive, the time and costs of travel start to add up.

By living at the house I can start to do other things that save money, that I can’t do in the apartment, like buy in bulk, store large amounts of homemade wine/beer/liquor, and grow my own tobacco. Plus, with a garage space, it’ll be easier to do my own maintenance on my car, fix things, and build my own stuff in general, rather than buy it.

So if you throw in all those savings, my profit from renting the place starts to look closer to $3k-$4k for the year. That’s an amount I feel quite easy about passing up in exchange for moving in right away.

So now I’m shooting for a move in date of somewhere between mid May and mid July. I find it’s easier to keep a loose schedule than stressing out over trying to hit some target goal date.

Anyway, see how easy it is to rationalize just about anything?

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7 Comments

  1. JohnnyH
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    Sounds like a nice place, Mike! How much work do you have to do?

    I’m in similar situation, getting ready to move into a house… Only problem is it’s basically a down to the studs restore.

    People more experienced than I have cautioned against living in something you are doing major work on.

    Storing everything in 1 room, moving it, moving it again… I might just end up buying a travel trailer (I like those Avions :).

  2. Posted March 22, 2012 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I wouldn’t want to live in it while I’m still fixing it. Carpet-installing day alone would be a nightmare. Though if I had no other choice, I’d make it work.

    Sounds like you have your work cut out for you just hanging up drywall.

    Most the walls and ceilings are fine in my place, though I’ve got a fair amount of work still. There is some wood rot from water damage that’s not as bad as it could be, but still a pain. It means cutting out chunks of rot, replacing it, and fixing the roof/siding areas that let the water in in the first place.

    A thief made off with all the copper plumbing before I bought the place, so I had to re-plumb the whole thing with pex. I still have a bit of work to do with the drain pipes.

    The furnace needs cleaning, some windows need to be replaced (they’re arriving tomorrow), lots of plaster and paint work to do in a few bedrooms. And there’s about a million little things to be done; replace all the door locks (I don’t have all the keys and they’re all loose anyway), put a back splash up in the kitchen, fix the loose staircase railing, trim several doors that are too big to close properly, put up a mailbox, pressure wash the siding, fix a couple non-working electrical outlets, install kitchen flooring, install carpets (though I pay someone else to do that for me), re-grout the shower…

  3. Posted March 23, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

    at least you know you are rationalizing. :)

    I liked your original plan. Living in this house now is, as you point out, going to start sucking up a lot of your extra cash flow as you make it yours. That will push off further investment opportunities.

    But it sounds like a nice place and, as they say, the heart wants what the heart wants. Good luck.

    BTW, what town is it in?

  4. Posted March 24, 2012 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    @jc

    Yeah, I’ll put all the fun projects on hold until the next couple of rentals are all squared away. – Won’t really have time for them anyway with all the construction projects on my plate.

    I was going to send you an email with the town name, but I can’t seem to find an email address for you. So email me through my contact page, tell me about what you saw in Equador, and I’ll email you the town ;-)

  5. Posted March 24, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    sent.

    don’t my blog offer a contact option? Mmm. I’ll have to look into that….

  6. bnl
    Posted March 25, 2012 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    One other benefit (long term) of moving in is that you can make this your primary residence for 2 years and avoid paying taxes on any profit you make when selling it.

    By the way, do you keep close track of all your expenses, depreciation, etc to reduce income taxes on your real estate ventures?

  7. bigato
    Posted May 21, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like LOTS of fun.