2019 Early Retirement Journey My week

A November 2019 Update: New Job, Aunty MERJ, Homeownership

How is it already November! I meant to do a post when I reached a month at Call Center #2. Then when I updated my budget spreadsheet for October. And again when I tentatively decided to get back in the housing market. But to write a quality post with figures takes so much longer than a stream of consciousness. So guess what we’re getting today?

The New Job

As you may know, I started a new job at another call center 5 weeks ago after a nationwide search to change my current circumstance. It wasn’t where I wanted to be, namely because it was in a call center; it’s in NC; and it’s a call center in NC. I kid. It’s also a little less of an hourly rate and a later shift than I would have liked. Five weeks into it, there’s nothing new to say. My secret-love gene kept thinking something is going to come out of the wood work and say they made a terrible mistake and I was their first choice after all. Spoiler alert: that didn’t happen.

In fact, because I’m apparently the red-headed step child of the employment market, one of the remaining contenders actually called me and left me a voicemail. After my heart stopped racing, I called them back only to find out she had a question about some travel reimbursement. Talk about let down. For some reason they’re stringing me a long and I’m falling for it. “You’re still being considered,” the email says. For five weeks? I mean it can only mean one thing – the person they really want is stringing them along. Knowing that and my history of a second-place life, I’d still take the offer!

Aunty MERJ

Today is my aunt’s birthday. She is turning 70! After much hemming and hawing and changes of plans, I used the 45,000 AA miles I accrued from my first attempt at travel hacking to go to Tampa. Womp, womp. Pretty much a waste, but I decided to just choose worst choices for awhile to recalibrate my mojo. I closed that card because the pressure of keeping up with it and making the best possible choice when redeeming points was too much for the single girl.

Home ownership

The numbers don’t lie. The first time I tried to buy a house was two years ago. Two things happened. First, when I ran the numbers, I realized it wasn’t so much an investment at my price point ($90-120k) as much as a possible rebate when all was said and done. Second, I knew I didn’t want to stay in NC so buying a crappy house that wasn’t saving me any money or earning me any money didn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Then my rent went up a little over 10% pushing my total housing costs to near $1100/mon (before I talked them down).

And I also found out I wasn’t nearly as employable as I believed so leaving NC for a job was officially out of the question.

So I’m back in the market. The numbers haven’t changed much. As for a mortgage, I’d still like to stay around $100k. Which means a crappy house. I’ve accepted that.

Here’s my estimated breakdown for a $100k mortgage:

Principal + Interest: $465
Property tax: $82
Home insurance: $26
Mortgage insurance: $86
Subtotal: $659

1% maintenance fund: $83/mon
Subtotal: $712

Internet: ~$60/mon
Subtotal: $772

Water: ~$20
Utilities: ~$100

Total: $912

So, estimated monthly cost of “home ownership” aka renting a house from the bank: $912/mon


Renting my studio apartment: $1090/mon
(includes rent+internet+water+util)

Difference: $178/mon less to carry a mortgage.

I don’t know, that just doesn’t seem like enough of a boon for me. It wasn’t then, and it still isn’t.  Plus who even knows if there is an HOA. If I choose a townhouse, there definitely will be.

I just see a whole lot of bills to pay. Where as right now I pay two bills for housing: rent and electricity.

Qualitative costs:

  • Unpredictably of housing expenses (vs. fixed annual renting costs)
  • Responsibility of home ownership (mentally and actual maintenance)
  • Inconvenience of moving
  • Safety factor of single family home in the middle of nowhere
  • Single story living (safety issue/ mental block)
  • My apartment is much nicer than anything I can afford to buy
  • Undesirable neighborhood of house I can afford
  • Transactional costs of home ownership (about $10.5k year 1, which will take about 2 years to recoup; plus whatever it might cost to sell it)
  • How does this figure into my FIRE plans? (Right now it’s one option to eliminate or curb housing costs without a roommate, but again so unpredictable.)
  • Ultimately, how does this benefit me?

In case you missed it...


  1. I’m glad to hear that the job search came to a close, but sorry that it’s not been ideal… Still, I hope that you find a home in NC that suits your needs AND brings in some extra on the side, whether that’s in equity or cash flow. Who knows? You may be able to pull together a great living situation, even if it’s not the one you expect now.

    Good luck with the house hunt and closing process! I look forward to reading about whatever you end up doing!

    1. Thanks for the warm wishes. You are definitely more hopeful than I am!

  2. FImommy says:

    Homeownership is expensive, always need to fix things that break down. You could easily be over $1090 when you factor in things that break.

    1. I agree! How did you decide whether to rent or own?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *