A $14,000 raise.

As you are already aware, Girl Ninja and I made the move to Seattle this last summer (We miss all you beautiful peeps in San Diego). We found a great little mother-in-law apartment above a beautiful home in a suburb north of Seattle. It’s the perfect place for us right now; clean, cute, and cheap.

A few months ago, I got a phone call from my aunt who recently bought an incredible four bedroom house. only fifteen minutes away from where Girl Ninja and I currently live.

Here are a few pictures of her new place (click any one to make larger)…

As you can see the house is freakin’ sick and has insane views of the Puget Sound.

Now here comes the interesting part…

My aunt lives in Southern California and bought this house for when she retires…in a few years. Since the 2,600 sqft abode will be pretty much vacant until that time, she proposed an incredibly generous offer to us. She said Girl Ninja and I could move in to her house and live there for free (of course we’d pay utilities).

Our current rent runs $1,1175/month, or for the math-nerds $14,100 a year. Wow never really thought about my rent as an annual expense. It’s kinda depressing. If we moved in to my aunt’s place we’d essentially be saving most, if not all, of that $14,000. We’d be stupid to not accept such an amazing gift right?

Well, Girl Ninja and I apparently hate saving money because we did just that. Yup, we turned down the beautiful waterfront home and decided to stay in our small little apartment.

Why you ask? Well, hopefully my “pros and cons” list will help make that clear…

Pros of Aunts Place: 

Almost 2,000 square feet bigger than our current place.

We’d have a garage for our cars, and plenty of room for storage.

Three extra bedrooms.

Super sick panoramic water views.

We’d be living in a house and, for the first time in our marriage, wouldn’t have any shared walls with neighbors

It’s an 80,000sqft lot.

We save almost $14,000 each year we live there.

We get a good idea of the maintenance and upkeep of a house before we actually buy one.

Did you see those views from the Master bedroom?!

Cons of Aunt’s Place:

Although it’s LITERALLY only four miles away from our current place, it can take two hours (or longer) to get there.

Bet ya didn’t see that one coming, did ya? My aunt’s new house is located on one of the many islands in the Puget Sound. The only way to get from our place to hers is by taking a short 15 minute ferry ride (you can walk or drive on). No big deal right? Hop on the ferry, and fifteen minutes later you are on the mainland. Not so fast.

If it were really that simple, we’d be fools not to accept my aunt’s offer. In reality, we would both have to commute via the ferry to get to and from work each day and, although the ferry rides last no longer than 15 minutes, it is not uncommon to have to wait one or two hours to actually get on the ferry. The backups are insane during normal commuting hours and are impossible on holiday weekends. I would never accept a job that’s two hours away from where I currently live, and living on the island could be asking me to do just that.

Lastly, ferry rides aren’t necessarily cheap ($7/vehicle plus $4.50/passenger). We knew this would severely limit the number of visits we got from friends. We didn’t really like the idea of asking our friends to fork out $15 each time they wanted to come visit us. We just couldn’t get over the idea of isolating ourselves on the island (no malls, friends, family, large grocery stores, etc over there).

You know me. I LOVE SAVING MONEY. It was really generous of my aunt to offer up her place, and it absolutely kills me to turn it down. I’d love living rent free, but at the end of the day, an easy/predictable commute and proximity to friends, family, and entertainment is more important to us than an extra $14,000 in our bank account.

AHHHH, grown up decisions suck!

24 thoughts on “A $14,000 raise.

  1. Wow! I’m impressed. To be honest, I didn’t think you’d turn down an offer like like. But like you said, the novelty of saving your rent money would probably wear a little thin after you’ve been stuck either on or off the island a couple of times.

  2. You made the right call. Its not the ferry ride itself that is bad but the cost. Looking at that view, I would probably spend the weekends at that house…. ya know, to check up on things. 🙂

  3. I would’ve turned it down, too; adding a 1-2 hr. commute every day would s-u-c-k! Mine and Hubby’s commutes are literally 10 minutes; 7 if we get green lights. I agree with Lutus; you should offer your Aunt your services to check up on the place, especially in the summer during holidays 😉

    What an AWESOME place to retire!

  4. Man, you’re crazy. That short term “sacrifice” (if you could even call it that) would not only help you get to your monetary goal for purchasing your own home quicker, but could also be ended at any time. It’s not like you would have to stay there for a contractually agreed upon period of a few years. You could leave whenever you want!

    Put that extra $14k in your pipe and smoke it.

  5. Talk about so close but so far away! That house is such a tease too. Gorgeous! Too bad work gets in the way way too often. Just goes to prove how important money is 🙁

  6. Wow, that is a tough choice. Your aunt should def airbnb.com that bad boy and make some money off of it.

    Truthfully, you might even end up spending a good chunk of that saved rent on utilities. My friends’ parents moved to a similar home in Northern Michigan, and the utilities alone are $800/mo because it’s so big to heat/cool. Windows are great for looking outside, but awful for keeping in the warm/cold air.

  7. i dont think i could turn that deal down, that place is awesome and the rent savings are big even after you account for the ferry cost. But this coming form the guy who would gladly drive an hour plus to live in the mountians and commute to denver

  8. By my math if you both have to cross in vehicles that is $28 per day or $7000 per year for 250 days just to commute back and forth to work. Although Girl Ninja is a teacher and may not work 250 days in a year, there are still many days that teachers work when kids stay home. So the savings aren’t really all that. Assume that you might save $10,000 per year then instead of 14K. Add 1 hour each way to work or 500 hours per year. Net cost for staying is $20 per hour. What is your time worth? Obviously more than $20 per hour tax-free.

  9. Ninja wouldn’t be paying ferry expenses himself, as his Uncle Sam would fork it over (work-related anyway). Perhaps you could hand out ferry passes to your close friends, or purchase a monthly pass and loan it out to groups you want to visit (Young Life)

    Speaking as a a person with friends on the opposite side of the water, I’m happy to pay the associated transit costs for the change of perspective. And if this is the Island I believe you’re referring to, its community is unique enough to justify the move. It’s just a question of that what lifestyle you two want.

  10. My thought is that she offered it so the place was being looked after (for upkeep/safety/crime reasons). Have you thought about it as a cheap getaway for weekends/vacations? She may let you crash there on weekends just to make sure the house doesn’t have a tree through the roof and local kids aren’t using it as a hangout.

  11. Well, the costs of commuting, paying for the higher utilities that comes with a larger place, and the temptation of lifestyle inflation (what are you going to do with all that room?!) definitely add up. So it’s not really as cheap a deal when you think of a free place.

    However, it seems like it would be a pretty great place to stay when you want a quick getaway. It’s gorgeous!

  12. Plus all those extra empty rooms to clean!

    I’m always amazed at how many people choose to live on Waiheke (an island in the harbour that lots of Aucklanders commute from). Ferries are PRICEY, infrequent and can’t run during a storm. And I don’t believe rents on the island are that much cheaper. If you want bush and seclusion, there are plenty of areas on the mainland…

  13. You would have saved even more $$ in hosting social events at your home! You could just go to where your friends are if $15 is that big of a deal for them …

    We would have jumped on this in a heart beat.

  14. The hassle just doesn’t seem worth it. How much would you really save after calculating ferry costs + additional cost of utilities + and maintenance you’re asked to do such as mowing the lawn. And imagine the stress of wondering if you’ll make it to work on time (or hours early) with the unpredictable ferry.

  15. That is an awesome house. Super sweet views. On it’s own island….. It is the perfect retirement home. For everyday living, I can see why you turned it down.

  16. From my own experience with the Seattle-area ferries, there is rarely if ever a wait for the passenger-only folks. Could you walk and/or bicycle to the ferry and commute as a passenger, without a vehicle? Then take public transportation or bicycle to your destination?

    Honestly I would have said I’d stay at the island house every weekend to make sure it is looked after.

    • Following up on my earlier comment…

      I have family who have lived in the Seattle area for years. I had them read your blog article. They said that they have known a number of people who employed some variation of the following strategy:

      1. Buy a cheap, cheap vehicle which you could easily replace if it was damaged or stolen. This will be your “mainland” car. Make arrangements to park it somewhere in the area of the ferry lot on the mainland side. (This requires a bit of creativity but a possible option would be in the parking lot of a nearby store, or on some quiet side street without any parking restrictions).
      2. Drive your own car to the ferry on the island each morning, then park it for the day and walk onto the ferry. There will be no wait for you since you are a pedestrian rider.
      3. When arriving on the mainland, walk to your vehicle and drive to your destination.
      4. Repeat in the opposite direction after work.

      They also said that bicycles can be brought on for the pedestrian rider fare, so if your commute is short enough, you could use that as an alternative to a vehicle.

      Considering the potential saving (not to mention the stunning house on the island), I’m surprised you haven’t tried to find a more creative way to make this work. Think outside the box!

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