2014 in Reflection – the Move

A lot has happened in 2014. Much chaos and drama, both work and personal related.

Actually, before the beginning of 2014, we were informed of the decision to close the plant where we worked in Chandler Arizona, and the offer to relocate from the Phoenix area to the San Jose area was offered.

Gulp.

Not really a great choice to have to make. Sell our house in Chandler that we owned for less than 2 years, and move back to the Santa Clara Valley, or stay, get a 2 months severance, and have to find a job.

As I am getting dangerously close to 50, that magic age that often means you are un-employable (i.e. you can’t find meaningful, career related employment), the decision to relocate was correct.

Unlike my peers, I had moved to Arizona from the San Jose area 11 years before, so I had been tempered to the shock of the cost of living there.

But the timing couldn’t have been worse. The housing market in Phoenix in late 2013 was on fire. Phoenix, unlike many localities, had worked through the distressed and foreclosed properties quickly, and while the values dropped significantly in the crash, the recovery was also speedy.

However, an inflection point was reached, and a lot of underwater and investor owned properties became above water in early 2014. When we started talking to our real estate agent, there was a less than 3 week supply of available units on the market. A “sellers” market. A good time to list.

But three weeks later when all the preparations were complete, the market had shifted. The market became glutted, and suddenly there was almost 6 months of inventory.

Shit.

This wasn’t going to become easy, and alas we got a lot less than we thought for our house. Clearly that put a crimp on the other end.

Moving (back) to the Bay Area

At least there was a generous relocation package, including a month of temporary housing, and a pretty complete moving allowance. That made the move, not quite painless, but tolerable (the move from Tucson to Chandler was a lot more painful). We made the move in June, taking the plunge (had to be in Santa Clara for the job no later than July 31st), and hoping our house sold quickly without us being there. Not so much luck though.

The Chandler house finally sold in September. With the temporary housing coming to an end in mid July, we knew we needed a plan B. So we signed a 1 year lease on an apartment in South San Jose. Needing a place where we could live with our greyhounds, we were limited in options. $2,350 a month in rent (plus $50 for the dogs, and an extra $35 for a second parking space), we are lucky in costs here. But this is merely buying time until we go house hunting again.

But the market here. Hoo-boy, it is insane. It has always been a bit nutty, but watching the prices over the last 6 months has been depressing to say the least.

We knew that we weren’t going to be able to afford a great neighborhood. Nothing on the peninsula (even E. Palo Alto is out of our grasp) even remotely in our price range. The family and friends who keep suggesting places like Redwood City (snort, that is just Woodside-lite) are not helpful. Clearly they haven’t been watching the prices lately.

What is more discouraging is that south San Jose (i.e. near our mediocre apartment) is equally silly. You can’t touch a house for less than $650K here.

Oh there are some bargains that are $500K or so, but they often need $150K of work to be livable. And they sell for $600K.

We have made the stark realization that we can’t keep our Tucson home as a rental property. Even though the market in Tucson sucks, we will be putting it up for sale after the lease expires in January. Very sad to see it go, very edge of town, great privacy, large lot, photovoltaic panels, but we need the money to afford a house here.

Sigh.

We have until July to buy a house and to get the mortgage assistance as part of our relocation package (a very generous benefit)

In summary, the move has sucked. We will be lucky to buy a tiny house, in a crappy neighborhood, with a crappy commute for $650K. Yes it is good to be back where the summers aren’t hot enough to melt lead, but oy vey, the cost…

Next up: the Job

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