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I'm 23 and living at home, I want to move out but am worried I'm overlooking something or am overestimating my financial abilities. I have a full time job as a developer and have been in the job for 6 months and am in a program that gives me good job security for at least 3 years.

Some more relevant information about me:

  • Graduated last year debt free
  • Going for my master's at a state university starting next semester (employer paying 80%)
  • I can get about 45% of the price as a down payment (of course depending on the amount)
  • Looking at houses in the range of $130k-$240k
  • My car is paid off
  • Live in US (citizen)
  • I pay $100/month for car insurance, and $110/month for cell phone/service
  • My monthly income is about $3000 after tax and deductions (401k, health insurance,etc.)
  • I'm in a relationship but plan on the house being completely in my name and she only helping out with the bills
  • I have a decent credit score (not sure exactly but the few times I've had someone check it, I've been approved for everything I've applied to)

My questions are:

  • Does it sound like a good idea for me to get a mortgage of about $600/month?
  • What is an average cost for bills, utilities, and insurance in the US?
  • Is it smart to get a house while going for a degree?
  • What are some of the risks of having someone help with bills who isn't my spouse (yet)?

One of the biggest motivators I have for wanting to buy a house at this time in my life is because I'll be gone from 6:45AM until about 10:45 PM if I drive home every night after my night classes and that sounds awful compared to coming to a home close to the area that I'd work/go to school at. Also the housing market has improved and I would like to get a house during a more favorable market.

If I have left off any important information, please let me know!

Thanks for any and all advice.

  • "What are some of the risks of having someone help with bills who isn't my spouse" If she doesn't become your spouse and stops helping with the bills, will you be able to afford them? Risk is the product of likelihood (how likely is it she'll leave) and impact (how much will it harm you if it happens). – Beanluc Jun 5 '17 at 22:46
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You are in really good shape to buy a home, like really good. I'd prefer you go for a 15 year mortgage so your payment will be on the order of 800 or so.

The only caveat I could thing of raising is your master's education. Will you be able to afford the mortgage and the 20% of the tuition? After you have your degree are you intending to geographically "stay put"? If you can answer "Yes" to both of those, then buy a home.

Good work! I really like your analysis and the conciseness of your question.

Does it sound like a good idea for me to get a mortgage of about $600/month?

See above, yes.

What is an average cost for bills, utilities, and insurance in the US?

Very location, home and personal dependent. Here in Orlando I pay less than $160 (average) for electric per month, and less than $50 for water. That is it. However I have an energy efficient home and we keep it kind of warm. Unlike northern climates, we rarely have to heat our home. The electric is almost all air conditioning.

Is it smart to get a house while going for a degree?

See above. Don't get a fixer upper. You won't have time to fix anything.

What are some of the risks of having someone help with bills who isn't my spouse (yet)?

None really for you.

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There's never the "perfect" time to buy a house. What you could do is look at your peers who perhaps are not living at home and pay rent, with the same or similar expenses. Are they able to pay rent and not live month to month? More importantly, could you pay rent of $600 a month (or perhaps even $1000 just to go to the extreme) and not have to live paycheck to paycheck.

Conservatively, a person/household shouldn't spend more than 25% of their after-tax monthly pay on housing. So your take home pay being $3000 a month, you shouldn't spend more than $750 a month on your mortgage. Home insurance is dependent on the level of coverage you want, as well as the value of your home. Bills and utilities vary depending on what you spend/want. Obviously if you get the most inclusive cable/internet package, it'll cost more. If you take 4 showers a day and leave your AC on all day during the summer, your utility bills are going to be high.

I do know people who have bought houses while going for a degree. As long as you know to prioritize your bills. As for if it's smart or not, that's dependent on the person's situation.

As long as the the house belongs to you and only you, and you can afford the bills as if you were single, then I don't see any risks of having someone help with bills who isn't your spouse yet - it'll be like having a roommate. And having an extra person helping you out will be financially beneficial to you - since its less money out of your pockets for bills.

If you are able to prioritize your bills and still have spending money left over, then it might make sense for you to start building equity. A house is arguably the biggest purchase of anyone's life and the decision shouldn't be made lightly. You could talk to your parents about this and perhaps can offer you better opinions than strangers on the internet. Best of luck!

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I'll second Michael's excellent answer and just add a couple of points. If you want to know if you can afford it, put together a monthly budget. Once you understand where your money goes it's pretty easy to see. Financial calculators can help you figure out what a mortgage might cost you, or I like using Excel. Utilities can vary quite a lot by location so I'd suggest you find some local data points. Call your local utilities to see rates, though lots depends on a specific building and how it is heated and cooled but you can get a range and calculate a worst case.

I'd also suggest talking with a broker, one who is willing to talk to you without signing a requirement to use them exclusively. A great agent is worth their weight in gold, but finding one can be difficult. I'd look for someone with at least 10-15 years experience in your area.

I bought my first house at 22, and I think I looked a lot like what you describe though I wasn't heading off to grad school. It was a great investment and I feel a lot better having spent many years building equity instead of paying for someone else's.

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