Sunday Conversation #6 with Frugal Dad

Welcome to Sunday Conversation #6! If you would like to participate in next week’s Sunday Conversation, simply ask your question in the comments section of today’s post and I will respond next Sunday. Remember, any subject is on the table (but keep it family-friendly).

Luke asks, “My wife and I are considering a move away from our current area. What would you say are the most important things to look for in our future area (We hope to have kids before or around the time so you can factor that in)?”

Luke, I have some recent experience in this as my wife and I relocated (in-state) to a new city just four years ago. With one child and one on the way at the time it made for a stressful time, but a careful analysis made the decision a little easier. Here are the factors we considered:

  • School System – We left an average system and moved to one of the top systems in the state. Since paying private school tuition is difficult on one income, we wanted to find a place with a good public education system.
  • A Diverse Economy – What I mean by diverse is that there are plenty of opportunities within a short commute that cover a number of different markets. It’s risky to put all your career eggs in one basket based on a particular industry – especially in today’s market.
  • Housing – A great measuring stick to use when comparing housing options in different cities is price per square foot. We moved into an area with a lower price per square foot, so we were able to buy a little more house with the same money than the place we left.
  • Safety – Crime can hit anywhere, but some places seem to have more of it than others. Check out the local newspaper’s police blotter for a couple weeks to find out what types of crimes are being committed, and in what areas of town. This will give you some idea of where to avoid when looking for a place to live.
  • Something to See and Do – It is generally not advisable to be situated too close to main attractions, but it is nice to be within reasonable driving distance to cultural hubs, outdoor parks and recreation, etc.

For more on finding a quality place to live, check out My Two Dollar’s post on the ten best cities to live and work.

Along those same lines, Dawn asks, ” I was wondering if you had an entry about the actual costs of buying your first home. I’d be interested in hearing about your experiences, if you got any surprises a few months after you signed (unknown expenses) like appliances breaking, etc?

Our situation was a little bit unique when we moved into our first home. At the time, my grandfather lived with us, so we scouted around the area we planned to relocate looking for a house with two master bedrooms – so he wouldn’t have to share a bathroom with two kids! It was difficult to find one on the market with this setup, so we looked at new construction. We found a house that was nearly complete, but we had input on colors, flooring, and fixtures.

We were fortunate nothing broke early on, and our builder’s warranty would have covered anything major. I do remember a few expenses like planting trees around the property (the builder planted two over-sized shrubs in the yard to satisfy the neighborhood covenant, but they were pathetic), and converting the lousy pine straw job to a nicer mulch product. One of my biggest expenses at the time was for my kids. I bought one of those “backyard play sets” and a trampoline for them, probably as a way to ease the transition of relocating. Looking back, I should have looked for a cheaper alternative, built it myself, and saved up for it. Live and learn!

Do you have a question you would like to see answered here next week? Simply post a comment to this article below and I’ll include your question in next week’s Sunday Conversation.

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  1. Hi Frugal Dad,

    Thanks for addressing this topic. You say WHAT to look for in a new place to live, but I think the hard part is HOW to find out about those things in a realistic way. For example, when checking out schools, the information on the web is usually insufficient or lopsided. I think talking with live people who are there – prospective bankers, realtors, etc. – is more helpful. Who would you recommend to talk to, and what other avenues of gathering information would you use?

  2. Great tips on finding your “place” – there are so many options that deciding on the important factors has to be the hardest step!

  3. I would add a couple more things to look for when relocating with gas prices going up.

    1. Public transportation availability
    2. Are there stores or recreational activities within walking or biking distance.
    3. Is there room in the back yard for a garden

    I am currently looking for a different home and these are some of the things that I am considering when I go looking.

  4. Do you think that psychotherapy is a good personal and financial investment? I have a severe anxiety problem and my pastor at church thinks that I need to address it through counseling before I get married in the next six months. I have checked with several behavioral health facilities and many charge 100 dollars or more an hour. I have good health insurance but it is a shame that even some of the best insurance (like mine) barely covers any of the cost of behavioral health visits.

    I have plenty of money saved up and I have a very well paying job. But I could potentially spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on these sessions and it might be a rip off and/or not even work at all!

    Would I be better off getting free books at the library or trying Yoga or something and saving the money? My fiance is very supportive but I don’t want this to be an issue in our marriage. Any ideas?

  5. Hello-
    I was wondering where is a good place to put the 3-6 month savings cushion? My bank suggests a moneymarket fund so it’s liquid but I worry that I could lose part of my principle by doing this. I could stagger it in Cd’s that come due in different months & just take a risk I might have to crack it earlier to get a better rate or put it in savings? Just curious how others handle this type of an issue.