Thursday, February 3, 2011

To Buy or Not to Buy

When my husband decided to go back to school, we set a goal to get out of school with $0 in student loans. To do this means not only will we not be taking out any for this degree, but we'll have the remaining bit from his masters degree paid off too. And then when he is finished we will be free and clear!

Which sounds great written up there, but really it stinks. We are so tired of renting. We've been looking for a house for 5 years now and haven't found anything that we like and is in our price range. Sad, isn't it. We've been meeting with a builder for the last month and things looked like they were on track for a house we liked, in a neighborhood we liked, for the price we wanted. Only, the builder was way off his original estimate, which in turn put the final price way over our budget.

Now here's the dilemma. If we didn't care about student loans and took out more to pay for this degree, and we quit making payments on the existing loans--because hey--they're in deferment anyway, then it would free up an extra $500 a month we could add on to a mortgage payment. Which obviously means our price range for a house would go up significantly. But then when he graduates we will be looking at a pile of student loans to pay back. Which we don't want.

On the other hand, if we buy or build a house then ideally when he graduates we will have equity in a home. Which we won't have by renting.

So the question is, is student loan debt and equity a better way to go than starting at zero when he graduates?


  1. I wrote a lengthy comment explaining why I would suggest not buying a home and continuing to rent while your husband is getting his PHD. Much to my dismay, it was lost while attempting to post it. Here is a brief summary.

    My experience has taught me that in your situation renting would serve you well now and when your family is done with university life. Completing a PHD with no student loan debt is a huge accomplishment and you won't regret it.

    Home ownership is complicated and purchasing a home right now will not produce much if any equity over the next several years. Renting is not fun but at times a necessary evil.

  2. I would probably agree with Jenni, which may sounds strange considering we bought a house when we moved out here for my PhD. Butthe main reason we did so was because of the housing market in our area. It is significantly cheaper for a family to buy a small home then to rent a two-bedroom apartment.

    Also, I must admit that, while we should not gain debt during my PhD program, we are not getting any closer to being out of debt in our current circumstance either.

  3. I CANNOT tell you how good it feels to finish school debt free. It gives you SO MUCH MORE freedom than you can possibly imagine. I hated renting so very much and by that last year was SUPER twitchy about having a house. I hated being 35 and still renting. BUT. It's been so worth it and I'm glad Isaac never caved to my twitchiness! (Which is to say, I know how much you don't want to hear that!)

  4. Feeling your pain! That's is such a hard decision! We bought and then he got a WONDERFUL job offer (too good to pass up!) in another state!