We’re buying a house and we’re leaving DC

Honestly, I was going to write a long-ass thread about moving, how goddamn expensive DC is, and about grief, buuuuuuuut messing with the character limits was too much work. So I wrote this Twitter thread-style post instead.

I’m about to scoop myself; I am deeply aware that I have yet to even do APRIL’S spending report, let alone May or June’s, plus a Q2 update, plus anything about wedding planning, plus the update on the “will-we-won’t-we” saga of moving. Long story short: as of last week we’re buying a house and moving out of DC at the end of August. Surprise!

There will be much, much more to come in future posts about how this all happened. But moving is going to be an intense grieving process for me and I figure while I’m writing a shit ton of things that may or may not be too long for Twitter, I might as well just get posts out as they flow, even if it messes up a nice, chronological timeline of posts. It’s a pandemic after all. Everything is out the window now.

Ready? It’s story time:

Today I sold a purse I’ve been trying to get rid of since my last move a year ago. I sold it for $10 which honestly was more trouble than it was worth, but who cares—because at this point I’m aware that my time on Capitol Hill is limited, and therefore so is the number of times I’ll walk around the neighborhood as a resident.

I took an hour off work to walk the mile to meet the person who bought my purse. Then I walked a few blocks over to the grocery store to pick up a few things, waved hello to the barre studio I haven’t been to since March, and biked home. It was so normal and mundane of a commute: multiple times a week my routine had been to walk to barre from work, sometimes grab a few things from the grocery store that my partner couldn’t find at Aldi, then bike home to make dinner before my partner got home from his hellacious hourlong commute.

But it was a normal and mundane commute that I haven’t done in MONTHS (my goal was to take at least four bike rides a month to make my bikeshare membership pay for itself, but uh I gave up on that in April). And of course, like so many things lately, that realization was jarring.

I came back home to an email from our management company asking us to do a video walkthrough for any potential applicants now that our apartment has been listed—I’m annoyed but that’s better than having people come see the place in person.

I don’t see our apartment listed yet (you bet your ass I’m extremely interested to see what they’re listing it for and when the lease starts. I bet it’s the day after we move out, pandemic be damned!), but there are plenty of other listings, and my god DC rent prices are just absolutely ridiculous. It’s probably not a coincidence there are currently three times the number of available listings on the site as usual (I’ve kept an eye on it occasionally out of curiosity) because WHO THE FUCK CAN AFFORD TO LIVE IN THESE PLACES RIGHT NOW.

Look, I KNOW it’s expensive here. I get it. I deeply love my 96 walk score neighborhood, $$$ HCOL and all. It’s why I’ve lived here for six years despite the fact that I’ve never made what I could be making by working in DC if I were in a different field, and therefore have traditionally paid about half of my take-home pay for rent (less so now that my partner and I are splitting the rent more equitably than 50/50. Your girl is not the higher earner in this relationship!).

We knew when we moved in our rent was CHEAP for the location/this management company (this isn’t Craigslist, it’s a ~fancy~ company). But looking at these available listings on their site, I’m just floored. This 600 square foot one-bedroom basement apartment is nice—for a basement. But it’s a basement. And it’s costing us $1900/month ($1975 now for our last month here since we went month-to-month for the flexibility after our original year lease expires at the end of July. “Will-we-won’t-we” moving saga and all, you know) to live here. Which is “cheap.” There are crappier places/studios listed for more like $1650 or $1700 but this is a damn “affordable” place for this neighborhood and for this nice of a kitchen (which was not something we were willing to compromise on when we moved in together).

It’s just been the price we’ve paid for living here. But looking at how expensive all of these available apartments are now makes me sick to my stomach. And we haven’t been affected by the pandemic income-wise (other than the fact that I’m not working my weekend job. I miss that money but I certainly didn’t need it, as evidenced by the fact that I wanted to max out my Roth IRA this year with only money earned from my part-time job).

Is it the right or perfect time to buy a house? Honestly who fucking knows. Perhaps we’re buying at the peak of the market (especially since our lender told us he’s got a client who works for FB moving to the city we’re buying in because FB said people could live wherever now that they’re remote, so why the hell pay to live in SF when you don’t have to?). We can well afford this house and if we bought it at the peak and have to hold onto it for a while longer than expected if housing prices tank, well, that sucks but we can certainly make that work.

But TL;DR it no longer makes sense to pay this much money for a tiny place with no outdoor space and no place for even one desk, let alone two, for both of us now that we’re working remotely full-time.

This move we’re about to make/the house we’re bought? Moving out of DC doesn’t mean moving to a slightly lower COL area in the DMV area outside of the city. We’re moving to NC, where we have not quite three times the space for less than half of our current rent payment. Going on walks in the city means masking up and avoiding people, but we can hang in the yard of our house. And we can have TWO DESKS, one of which will be in a spare bedroom that will largely just be an office. The luxury!!!!!!!! (I’m not actually being sarcastic here. Working side-by-side from our couch on just our laptops has not been the ideal situation the past four months. Monitors and desks and even separate dedicated spaces for the two of us are luxuries.)

I think this acceptance that I can no longer stomach the housing costs around here is part of the grieving process I’m going through: we have six weeks left here and I’m extremely angry AND sad that I haven’t been able to live the life I love here since early March. It’s gonna be a long, long process. I am wildly excited (and terrified!) about this move, but it’s for sure going to be a radical change.

This move doesn’t represent the last time we’ll move in our lives—we’re not now staying in this new house forever. For one, we plan to do a lot of slow travel once we grind out our full-time jobs a little longer to put us on even more secure financial footing (and we haven’t decided whether we’ll sell the house or rent it out during that time). Who’s to say we never live in DC again?

But unless something drastically changes, it’s not likely. It made sense to live here when and how we did, but we live in a different world now. And five or ten or more years down the line, we’ll be different people.

So. We’re moving. Assuming we can both keep our jobs as-is (full-time remote slash coming up here once a month if necessary/if we ever get back to a world where that’s a thing) for the next few years, we’ll be making the same amount of money and paying way less for housing, which means we’ll be saving an absolutely ridiculous amount each month (we’re already saving a combined ridiculous amount even with our current rent). If something goes wrong with one or both of our jobs, we’re prepared for that. Drastically cutting our living expenses (yes, I know home-ownership is expensive. Nothing has gone wrong with the house yet and I already know that thanks to paying for inspection and appraisal and a survey etc etc). I’m excited.

But meanwhile in the next couple of weeks/months, I’m going to also be mourning leaving my neighborhood.

District of Columbia roses

4 Replies to “We’re buying a house and we’re leaving DC”

  1. Erin, I know there are all sorts of emotions about the changes, leaving your current neighborhood and city, but I am so excited for you two as you start this next chapter together!! Best wishes 🙂

    1. Thanks, Josh! I am also excited (desks! A yard! NO TODDLER AND INFANT LIVING ABOVE US!!!) but I have to go through a double-whammy of grief: first the grief of leaving at all, and then the added grief that I lost the last half year of life I thought I was going to have here/didn’t get to do the things I wanted to do before leaving. 0/10 would not recommend living through a pandemic 😂

  2. But hey, look at you go, living and processing your feelings as you go. It’s so important to recognize what you feel and allowing it to be. You have every right to grieve leaving DC even if you’ve been kinda sorta preparing yourself for the last year. When I moved away from DC, I got more space, nicer amenities and a better location in town for $700 a month LESS than I was paying for an apartment there. Y’all are going to have so much money now!! Congratulations on getting an offer accepted!

  3. Congratulations on the house purchase!

    I feel alllll of this. We live in a HCOL area, too (not as high as DC, but basically, unless you’re a doctor or an engineer, it’s very hard to live in my city), and this pandemic has made us question whether it’s worth it. On one hand, it is very pretty and the community is great, but we can’t really see anyone right now and all of our favorite outdoor spots are overrun by other people trying to find an escape. Am I really paying $2100/month to be shut up in my house?

    I just keep thinking that at this rate, we’d be better off living in a cheaper area, on our own property (something with some outdoor space). I’m just not sure I’m ready to move again.

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