Is This Another Case Of NIMBY Again?



You make a lot of good points as to why owning is preferred in the long run but I get it that it is very expensive here if one didn’t buy awhile ago or literally hit the lottery. This would be my strategy if I came here now:

  1. My wife and I would both have to work in order to secure a home here. It is simple as that and probably not that unusual especially for this area. Sure, we don’t have kids so that is one big hurdle we don’t have to deal with or pay for. The fact is, we can probably make a go of it if my wife didn’t work now but since we don’t have kids, what is she going to do all day? Seriously. That dual income just allows us to retire that much sooner and allows us options. Options is what you want.

  2. Focus on a small or fixer home. Hey, we were a family of 7 living in a 3 bedroom home growing up. Too often people also think they are locked in to a property forever. You say, you like to DIY well here you go. I see fixers all the time. I stopped off at one a few months ago in the city when I found out the listing agent was the one who helped me find my primary Sunset residence in a private sale. I had to say hello. Well, the place was a dump but the price was doable and yeah would have required a lot of work. So, what? Don’t think too far ahead and just get into the market as soon as possible. Not only do you stop paying rent but you start getting some tax breaks too. The strategy is to get in, fix up the house, sell it and then move up or get closer to your “dream” house. Since you are married, the first $500k in profit on your primary house would be tax free. I know people who do this continuously and they have kids. They go in, remodel while living there, flip it and bank the profits into a nicer home. If a house is not doable, then find perhaps a townhouse. You probably won’t have as much freedom with it as a SFH but it is a start. You sound like a creative person, so this is where you can put that creativity to good use. I have seen homes that were nothing before but the buyer comes in and does amazing things with the landscape or designed the interior so well that it was literally night and day. That translates to bigger profits when you sell.

  3. Maybe consider a SFH that has inlaw potential, thus, you will have another income stream to help you out with the mortgage. Yes, more money to have to spend but I certainly have benefited from such a strategy.

  4. Save like heck. That means making the short term sacrifices in order to achieve the long term goal. No spending on anything remotely frivolous. No eating out. No cable tv. My grandparents came here with nothing and worked on the fishing piers earning very little and socked it all away to one day buy a place in SF. I didn’t grow up going to private schools or took nice family summer vacations. I have worked pretty much every summer since early teen years. I may not be the smartest person in the room, but no one will outwork me.

Good luck to you!!!


For the parents among us, there is a pretty good chance they will stay around the Bay Area, especially they are into anything tech related. It’s like New York. It’s fairly common to bump into 3rd or 4th generation New Yorker.

So if we moved away, there is good chance the kids will come back to the Bay Area for work, and we won’t see them as much had we stayed. If the kids were monsters then farther they move the better… :slight_smile:


There are many bits of Bay Area that are fairly affordable. Well, we are grading on a curve here so even our “affordable” is extreme high end to most of the country.

Pacifica and Half Moon Bay have always been cheaper, so is Daly City east of 280. In SF proper the Southeastern bit. These places are painted with very broad stroke. For example the SE part of SF many people still associate with crime. But that’s a street-by-street thing and there are many quiet and beautiful bits most people don’t know about.

When I first put my West Oakland townhouse for rent, there were two types of people who called me. One type is SF’er who seldom come over to Oakland, the other is folks already living in Oakland looking for a nicer place. The SF’er all got shitty scared when they came over. Between the freeway exit and my house the scene was very “urban” shall we say? But the immediate neighborhood of my house is the exact opposite: clean and young-professional. The SF people all either didn’t apply or even withdrew after they did. The Oakland people immediately got the street-by-street nature of Oakland. Everyone who toured my house applied.


I would LOVE to flip houses, but it’s not something my husband would support right now. Our marriage would probably not survive with major renovations happening in a house he lived in. He didn’t deal well with the last kitchen installation I did (the kitchen was always operational, and I pulled in some nice cabinets for cheap off Craigslist, but they were in the hallway for a couple of months which really bugged him). Given what we can buy here, there’s no way to just live in “the rest of the house” or even close off a room. Current prices mean less sq footage than we are renting, and all our rooms well-used every day.

The question I’ve been pondering is whether a house here would even be in reach if I went back to work full time. The answer appears to be “yes”–if it were a tech job. Apparently “no” for a teaching job now that I look at the salaries. But the kids would not be happy if I were working full time, and there is a good chance I may want to homeschool one of my kids in a couple of years. I’ve done enough programming contract work to know that there are headaches with going solo (not enough that I might not try it again, but non-paying customers and programming competition from Russia and India are both real issues that have to be dealt with).

I guess I’m at a life’s junction trying to figure out which direction to go… I was recently encouraged to apply for a teaching job at a nearby school. I don’t have a teaching certificate, but sounds like it could be arranged to be a ‘student teacher’… I might enjoy teaching, but I have no desire to take education classes. Given the salary, it is not something I’d continue after the kids were out of the house.

A friend also told me what she’d been offered recently for a full-time tech job. The amount is quite attractive allowing a peninsula house, a summer vacation trip (if you can get the time off), and a nice retirement fund… My kids will be home this summer which I will very much enjoy, though, so I’d be giving that up in the future if I took a full-time job, and it’d put us in a real bind if I decided to homeschool, and we’d bought a house assuming a second salary. It’d be a pretty serious problem, in fact, and would create serious marital stress. That is “the Two-Income trap” as outlined by Elizabeth Warren, and I totally get it.

My third option is that I have access to a machine/woodworking shop close by and a fair amount of exotic hardwood in the garage and could start a small manufacturing business selling through etsy, local art shows, maybe Amazon, but I have doubts as to the profitability (or maybe I should say I doubt it will pay nearly as well as a Tech job, but it probably would compare with a teaching job in the first year or two). The hours would be mine to make, and non-paying customers are not an issue (though missing packages might be). I wouldn’t know until I’d actually designed and made a couple of products and tried to sell them. It might only take a couple of months, but I don’t think I can do it until next Fall. I thought I was going to do it this year, but didn’t. I am not at all confident in my ability to manage people, though, if the business grew. I’m not a manager type, and I loathe such a job. On the other hand, if the business did grow and succeed, I could see it bringing in a salary that combined with the added flexibility of choosing my hours, would be competitive with a Tech job. But of course, that would take some number of years to achieve.

I also have a great idea for a business for my kids which we will definitely pursue this summer–to as you said–get them working. That is the one thing I’m confident in. We figured out a product that they’re passionate about, that is lightweight and would ship easily, that can be reliably lasercut, has a great profit margin, and takes up very little space. Even their first choice for business name had the URL available for them in the .com realm (no squatting!!!). That is by far the one endeavor I am fully confident in provided they stay motivated.

If I were to run my own business and needed to homeschool one of my kids, the two could be done together, as he could do stuff for his own business after finishing his schoolwork, and maybe come up with new products. Even a woodworking business would mesh well later with flipping houses. If I were to teach or to take on a tech job, I’d have to stop though, to homeschool, and then working a tech job could only really be about building up savings, not getting a house. If I were to teach next year, it’d be more of a temporary thing (I don’t really see doing it long-term), but would delay starting a business or getting a Tech job (which given the market right now, delaying might be a mistake), but it would mean being able to get the kids, bring them home, make dinner, help with the homework, etc. without stressing the family at all.

Sorry to spew my midlife crisis all over this forum, but it’s on my mind right now. Thoughts?


PS: One of the reasons I was thinking about leaving the area this morning is that doing essentially art or manufacturing in the Bay area is a waste. You’re selling nationwide while living in the highest COL area. There’s no added benefit to it unless you’re reaching people with higher incomes via shows locally. However, if I saved up enough and moved to a low COL area, I could buy a large enough house plus the tools to set up my own workshop and still pay way less than a BA house costs even with the difference in my husband’s income factored in.


I don’t foresee my kids staying here after college. Already they say they wish there were more snow. I think once they experience another part of the US, they’ll settle there or just try somewhere new.



If I were able to come up with an online business venture either via own website or even through eBay, I would love to do it. Who doesn’t want another income stream that could become a full time gig in your pajamas right? My wife’s family is in the Singapore/Malaysia area and I am trying to figure out something that I could do between here and there. Half the battle is having someone trustworthy at the other end, right?



Yeah…I think I’m leaning towards the business right now. If it compares income-wise with a teaching job and has more flexibility, it makes more sense… Then it’s down to business vs. Tech job. That’s the hard one. I just don’t feel ready to take the plunge on a full-time job quite yet. I really think it’s too many balls in the air, and if things drop, my professional reputation will suffer. That’s my fear.


Alamak! Don’t go there.
Wait you kana fog from Indonesia then you know ah.



Funny thing is, I haven’t been there ever. We got married here and family came over. Wife’s been back but I don’t relish long plane rides.

Why do you say that? I hear Singapore is quite nice. Malaysia has its political issues for sure but it sounds decent. I hear things are getting expensive there as well. Hey, I gotta go eventually, the wife’s family is there…


Indonesians has been burning their forests and the smoke blankets Singapore and Malaysia. PSI of haze goes up to as high as 320! Everybody talks about bad air quality in China, Singaporeans and Malaysians suffer the same fate. Indonesia gives many excuses as to why they can’t resolve the forest fires and wants Singapore and Malaysia to help pay for the effort.


Sounds like you know everything there is to know about that region. So, tell me, what kind of business venture you think could work between there and here? I would love to add another revenue stream of some sort so that I can retire like you :slight_smile:


Apparently “Forest fire management.” :slight_smile:


Sometimes there are more important things than stock options. Like time and health insurance

Teachers retirement is a pension and includes health insurance. Read that the average teacher pension in California is $48k a year. It’s based on the teacher’s income. The average teacher salary is $60k.

Sick kids and kid emergencies during school happen. Prior to kids I didn’t understand. I recall a talented staff member that had three kids. Her husband refused to share the sick kid duty with her. Her unexpected absence caused overtime for other staff members. There were resentments. So she got the bottom of the barrel assignments that were never critical if they were done on time. Sucks.

Job sharing or a better way of companies managing the reality of sick kids. I doubt that there is an easy solution. A sick one year old needs a parent or other trusted adult to be cared for. Sending to a ‘sick kid daycare’ or hiring an unknown babysitter would not have worked for me. A 12 year old or older would need less care depending on the illness.


@Terri I appreciate your candor and can somewhat relate to what you are going through. I was struggling in my engineering role just dealing with 1 toddler!
Would you be open to moving to the east bay on the ace train line like livermore or dublin/Pleasanton, where schools are good and property values around 400-500/sqft. You could own a nice townhome/sfh in livermore with good school for $600K
It means that your husband would have to commute to the south bay but you could take up a teaching gig or do your own business operating in the tri-valley area.

On an unrelated note, damn shiok to meet other singaporean kakis!


Valhalla, that’s a good question. My husband works in SF right now, I’m tied to either SF/mid-peninsula or buying a lot of equipment if I started a manufacturing business which I wouldn’t do until I had proof that it would be successful. Teaching could be done anywhere, but if house price was $600K, I’d honestly probably just stay home for a while until the kids were older and more self-sufficient.

A move to Livermore, though, would not make sense for us, but it’s thinking about it–moving even as far as Newark or Hayward or Pacifica that has me thinking about places across the country too. In Boston–a place that I really despise especially the weather–we at least had a social life and a community, and if we moved back we still would. We have probably a hundred friends we’ve known for 25 years, some of whom would gladly come over for dinner on short notice. I have relatives there too. Somewhere like Livermore where we know almost no one, nothing about schools, and nothing about the city doesn’t make sense. We’re just not that tied to the Bay Area, and my husband is hirable in many major cities.

Your question touches on the crux of the issue though, which is that I’ve thought a lot about where we could move to in the Bay Area and still maintain our current community and when I’m looking at East Bay I start asking myself if a 20 mile commute is really worth it for some of the schools we’re at, and as much as I love the community, it’s honestly not. Where we are, life is easy–two of the kids schools are 3 miles from our house, and the woodworking shop is 2 miles, and a family that we see weekly and have known for years is also 2 miles away. Aside from the house issue, a lot of other things are in place–even trying to start a business–being 2 miles away from the woodshop is great–if I have a spare hour after the kids go to bed, it’d be super easy to just head over–10 min commute, 50 minutes of work. But going across the bridge wouldn’t work–50 min commute then and 10 minutes of work. Pacifica caught my eye because while it might mean new schools for 2 kids, it could possibly be a significant improvement for my husband and the other kid–so that’s could be a even trade, plus I love the trees, more rain would make it possible to have a garden without the drought guilt, and being close to the beach could be fun. But I haven’t tried the commute into SF from there.


Agree with you 100% there. It might be necessary for some people, but I wouldn’t do it. Sick kids need emotional comfort and security more than ever.


After reading your story, I myself don’t see any strong reason for you to stay in Bay area. My husband and I are both engineers and I believe Bay Area is the best place for engineers. However, if your husband can find a job in any other big cities and you would like to start your own business while taking care of your children, I don’t see any compelling reason why you should stay here with such a big burden on housing price.

I can tell you are very caring mother. Your priority seems very clear.
I think you should follow what your heart says.


Thanks Jane. We are both Tech as well–software engineer and I"m both software/Mech E, and I agree the Bay Area is a great place to be for that. I love the weather and my oldest son’s school here, but you’re right that in my heart, my priority is the kids. That’s really what buying a house is for me–prioritizing the family. Allowing us the freedom to do anything we want from having a pet, a garden, a swingset, a tree house, chickens. Whatever fun thing we can figure out. So it’s definitely hard for me to see taking on a full-time job to buy a house if it means the kids not enjoying their evenings and vacations in it. (Maybe we need a vacation house somewhere very cheap :slight_smile:

I had an interesting talk with my oldest son yesterday. He felt it was very important for him to be home during the summers and not in camps. He was very serious about it. That time is really valuable to him–he’s not just going to watch TV all day. He is a homebody, but he also has a lot of projects he likes to work on from stop motion to legos to wanting to design a board game and learning to cook. The kid’s got goals :). And he really likes spending time as a family which isn’t always the case with kids.

He felt that the business was the best idea as it had the most flexibility with the biggest potential upside. I think he’s probably right. And if needed, it could move with us, we just might have to invest in extra equipment and space.


NIMBY alive and well in RWC…