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Moving to CA - how and where?

Discussion in 'California (Southern)' started by shmark, Jan 1, 2004.

  1. shmark

    shmark F1 Rookie

    Oct 31, 2003
    2,967
    Atlanta
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    Mark
    Sorry about this easterner jumping in your sandbox, but in my former job I used to travel to CA frequently and fell in love with the place. I've been in Atlanta for a loooong time, not a big fan of it, and want to move. I've spent a lot of time in Orange County, also have friends in Santa Barbara, and in the bay area, and I like the whole state. I have two hurdles:

    1. Wife is afraid of earthquakes. We had a 4.5 here a few months ago and it was enough for her.

    2. Financially, it seems impossible unless my business starts making ridiculous money. The difference in real estate value (GA/CA) is staggering.

    Example: We have a 5 bedroom, 3 bath home on 3/4 acre in a nice area, admittedly a "pre-fab" community, worth maybe $200k. From the looks of things, that might get us a decent down-payment on a home in CA. It just looks to me like if you didn't start out in CA and work your way up the real e$tate mountain over time, that it's just too steep to climb.

    Then I see this. In the "Best place to live in SoCal" thread, wmnewland posted this:
    "But if you buy right it can be the cheapest place to live as the house appreciation is amazing and you can live for free after a few years if you sell your home right."

    Can anyone elaborate on this? I understand appreciation once you're in, but just getting started looks impossible from here. Oh and if anyone has suggestions on hurdle #1, I'd take those too! :)

    Mark
     
  2. Jet-X

    Jet-X F1 Veteran
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    Nov 2, 2003
    5,614
    Orange County
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    Brian
    $200k will get you the following 4:

    • A complete crackhouse in a gang war infested town in a major metropolitan area
    • A condo in a semi-decent area, or a down payment for a condo or maybe if you're lucky town home in a nice city
    • A decent house with decent land located so far out that......
    • A very small but nice house or a decent sized house with bigger mortgage in a not very close at all outlying area outside of LA/San Diego/Orange County

    I'm riding the real estate wave a second time (first was in Bay Area during dot.bomb era), and real estate pricing is rediculous. In regards to that quote about "living free", that's so rare it's not worth talking about. And So. California real estate is peaking, it's not going to maintain these values forever. I predict a drop in 6-9 months, because it's getting to expensive for people to afford it. We'll see.

    Hurdle #1 - deal with it. Tell her (truthfully) by the time she begins to feel the quake, it's technically already over.
     
  3. superbimmer

    superbimmer Karting

    Jan 12, 2003
    241
    So.Orange County CA
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    Bill
    Mark ...

    ["But if you buy right it can be the cheapest place to live as the house appreciation is amazing and you can live for free after a few years if you sell your home right."]

    That statement is ... well ... pretty silly. Certainly if you buy a total fixer-upper ... in just the right area ... refurbrish it (time and money) ... wait for the appreciation factor to kick in ... sell it and buy again with the profit ... this might work. But then you have far less control over where you will live (specific area and exact home), and you will definitely need to NOT mind the entire process.

    I have a client, whose husband is an expert at doing this. But her complaint is that they move more often than she'd like, so she doesn't feel the houses are her home. It also is a very consuming endeavor ... they spend much time on the "fix-up" stage, only to move. However, her husband does make it work, from a profit stand-point. But they don't live for "free".

    If my Wife & I sold our home today (14 yrs ownership) ... we would realize a $600k profit! However ... we wouldn't be able to find a comparible home to buy, without pouring it all back. Now if we were to move to a far less desireable area (many miles), or dramatically downsize to less than our current 2600sqft (condo?) ... OK. We could take advantage of this appreciation, if after retiring, we move out of the area.

    My advise ... determine how much down-payment you could put together. Then, consult with a knowledgeable realtor. If you are patient, and willing to make a fair compromise in your living standard ... OR ... don't mind a long commute ... perhaps you can "break into the market" Once you do that, the appreciation consideration WILL help you move ahead, with enough passage of time.

    As for earthquakes ... I've lived in Southern Cal for over 50 years ... through many quakes. Have never had a single house hold item broken! Believe me ... there is more loss of life and property, every year, from hurricanes and tournedos!!
     
  4. ernie

    ernie Two Time F1 World Champ
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    Nov 19, 2001
    21,823
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    The Bad Guy
    If you have friends in Santa Barbara they have been there for quite a while. The housing prices in SB are insane. I live in Ventura county and the prices have sky rocketed here because so many people are moving here from SB. The parents of a child my youngest son played t-ball with got a place in Montecito at a deal because they knew the owners. The house was about 950 sqf, not 9,500,....950 sqf. To cut to the chase they got the house for around $375,000.00. Now in Montecito that is a steal, no joke. I would wait till the housing market out here crashes, cause it will. The prices can't continue to raise at the rate they are. It has to pop. When they finally do bust then I would look into moving out here. Other wise you are gonna pay up the wazzoo.
     
  5. shmark

    shmark F1 Rookie

    Oct 31, 2003
    2,967
    Atlanta
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    Mark
    That's right, he's been in the house 25 or 30 years. It's a nice place up on the hillside with a gorgeous view of the bay. Can you say appreciation? He thinks it's hysterical that while his home is nice and very well kept, that he's surrounded by millionaires who wonder how a smog cop can afford to live there! Fun guy, likes to break and restore old cars in his driveway. His neighbors love that.

    "Breaking into the market" is right. I hope the bubble does pop out there. I'm keeping my eyes open.

    Mark
     
  6. 150shot

    150shot Formula Junior

    Jun 15, 2003
    807
    San Dimas, CA
    Sadly Jet-x is pretty much right...200k may buy you a 3 bedroom/2bath/1300sq ft house in San Bernardino county at least 50-60 miles east from downtown LA.

    Forgot anything in Orange County for that price.
     
  7. wax

    wax Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Jul 20, 2003
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    Dirty Harry
    What do you two do for a living?
    Do you prefer seeing concrete jungles over being in a city that offers a break from the rat race?

    Though the thread is in the Southern CA section - Central CA may be to your liking in many ways, given your many friends up and down the state. After all, O.C. or S.F. or S.B. are just spots on a map of CA.
     
  8. JaguarXJ6

    JaguarXJ6 F1 Veteran

    Feb 12, 2003
    5,335
    Denver, CO
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    Sunny
    The most significant jump has been between '02 and '03. I'm in the real estate industry now and the prices will start to level off again in a year but they will take time to come down after that. Buy the absolute best you can afford because it will appreciate. The best margins are in new real estate, always have been. For the short term, get into a new development and start playing the house swapping game every several years. Its a PITA, but you'll double your standard of living in 10 years swapping houses a couple times and have extra money in the bank.
     
  9. shmark

    shmark F1 Rookie

    Oct 31, 2003
    2,967
    Atlanta
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    Mark
    True, and on my one drive down Hwy1 from SF to Orange County, central CA was beautiful...and very rainy. :)

    I realize 200k won't buy squat, especially compared to where we are now. Like I said, it would make a decent down payment on a nice home in the 600k range. You should see what 600k gets you in the Atlanta 'burbs! My wife is an accountant and I'm an IT director currently selling cars while trying to get my software startup resurrected. Life is good. :)

    Mark
     
  10. wax

    wax Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Jul 20, 2003
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    Visalia, CA Data, and lots of it.
    Note location is center of a malformed X between Reno - LA, SF - Vegas. Santa Barbara is basically at the *point* just above the Channel Islands.
     
  11. ART360

    ART360 Guest

    200k down, house for 600k, with payments of about 2500 plus 600/month for taxes, etc. In some parts of California, a 600k house isn't bad. We bought our 1st house in 74 for 50k, sold it in 77 for 100k. Bought current house in 78 for 130k, now worth over 1M. House in Tahoe, bought in 94 for 180, now worth 500k. Bottom line: more people want homes in California than there is land. That means that over the long haul, you will get appreciation, in spades. You can however, wait for a downturn, buy a house, and get even more appreciation. The problem is however, that usually when the market goes down, its because the interest rates have gone up, and that will reduce the amount of house you can buy by raising the payments.

    If you like California, move, buy the house, and figure out how to pay for it, just like the rest of us did.

    Good luck,

    Art
     
  12. 720

    720 F1 Rookie

    Jul 14, 2003
    2,623
    So. Cal and No. Utah
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    Rick
    steve martin starred in a comedy years ago about life in los angeles called "LA Story". rent this and show your wife how most californians react to earthquakes :)

    earthquakes don't bother most of us out here... wild fires, mud slides, police, riots, gangs, crazy drivers, electric bills, car insurance rates, real estate prices, state income taxes and property taxes scare me a lot more! but i can't think of any other place i'd rather live. the weather here alone makes up for the occasional earthquake :)

    my son and my wife's family live in ventura (near santa barabra). prices are more reasonable, and it's a good area. but ventura may not be practical if you have to drive into LA for work daily.

    good luck :)
     
  13. jordan747_400

    jordan747_400 F1 Veteran
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    Dec 9, 2002
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    Oh LA Story is one of my favorite movies. I love Steve Martin!
     
  14. den1s

    den1s Rookie

    Nov 17, 2003
    28
    i just relocated here in March 2003 from Tokyo so have seen a few quakes although that doesnt bother me anywhere near as much as parking in a lot and praying that somebody hasnt smooched the lines of my BMW (it will one day be a Ferrari just not yet) with their cart or car door.

    i am in the Westlake, Agoura Hills area and can make it to LA in around 40 minutes in the morning and 60 in the oppositre direction. The area is great and people are just the friendliest compared to other countries that i have lived in.





     
  15. shmark

    shmark F1 Rookie

    Oct 31, 2003
    2,967
    Atlanta
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    Very nice, and real estate prices there aren't completely whacko. I've been surfing around a little and it looks like staying away from the coast and the major met. areas are the ticket for affordability.

    My wife has seen this thread now, and she doesn't know how to take it. I told her it was hypothetical because I was curious, but she keeps looking at me with one eyebrow in the air.... :)

    Mark
     
  16. shmark

    shmark F1 Rookie

    Oct 31, 2003
    2,967
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    Where do you SUMMA?
     
  17. wax

    wax Four Time F1 World Champ
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    Jul 20, 2003
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    A high percentage of people live close to the coast. Used to be the other way around. Supply and demand drove up prices, as it continues to do - along with greed, but that's another topic.

    You're wise to consider your options, though it seems the most important one right this moment is what method to use to lower your lovely bride's lovely eyebrow. At least it's just an eyebrow and not a rolling pin. In this case, as in all cases, men and women think differently - and they're prettier. Roots are important to women; they don't like roots to show in their hair, and they fear losing roots by being transplanted to other soil. That's all I'll ever know about women. Otherwise, I'd be a basket case.

    But just as transplanting is good for plants that are trapped in too small a container or the wrong soil, so it is for man and woman alike. Particularly when they've formed a bond one does not wish to be broken. The key is to make sure both (*I use the term loosely) *strains will survive the stress of transplant, together as well as individually.

    So, leave the "cuss" out of discuss with your bride and see if it's best for the both of you to look into this further. If she takes an active role in this, the wheels may start spinning sooner than you imagined. If so, you'll both be better prepared to deal with the upheaval - emotional and otherwise which comes with a move - even a block away is stressful. It's a great commitment to make, marriage moreso.

    Supposing you do - you're already on the right track by considering all the options. Most folks on the coast started in the middle, not on the edge.
     

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