Here's exactly what it costs to own my 3-bedroom home in the Minneapolis suburbs, a place we never thought we'd live
- My husband and I loved living in Minneapolis and felt sure we could afford a home in the city.
- Even though we were approved for a $275,000 mortgage - above the average home price in the city - the market was too hot for our budget.
- After losing out on several homes to other bidders, we bought our three-bedroom, one-bathroom home in Arden Hills, a suburb of Minneapolis.
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We had lived in Minneapolis since we got married in 2011 and enjoyed the convenience of walking to our favorite restaurants and coffee shops.We didn't envision those routines changing when we had kids - I pictured walking my kids to and from school and dropping by our local cafe for a late-afternoon treat on the way home.
Turns out, dreams aren't always practical!
Our second son was born in 2017, and we lived in a small, two-bedroom apartment in downtown Minneapolis. It became apparent quickly that apartment living wasn't all that conducive to raising two little boys. We wanted a yard, an extra bedroom and, of course, more space - but still in the city.
When the time came to get pre-approved, I assumed we would have no problem affording a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in the heart of Minneapolis. We had been pre-approved for $275,000, and according to Zillow, the median home value there is $265,000.
The problem wasn't that we couldn't afford these homes - it was that they were in such high demand. We'd make offers on $275,000 houses (our max price) and lose to bidders offering north of $300,000.
Moving to the suburbs
We decided, for the sake of our finances and sanity, to expand our search to Roseville, New Brighton, and Arden Hills, three suburbs right outside Minneapolis and St. Paul. Not only were the property taxes lower in these areas, we could also get more for our money - more yard, more space, and potentially more bedrooms.We ended up choosing a house in Arden Hills, a suburb about 10 miles northeast of downtown Minneapolis. Today, the median home value is around $350,000, but we purchased our home in 2017 for considerably less.
The house, which has three bedrooms and one bathroom, was listed for $250,000 (less than other homes in our neighborhood because of the one-bathroom situation) and we paid $265,000. That makes our monthly mortgage payment $1,760, which is around $400 less than our apartment rent (with twice as much space).
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Because we're in the suburbs, we do have more space outside for our kids to roam - our fenced-in yard is a quarter acre - but that also comes with some maintenance, which we honestly don't have tons of extra time for. We probably dish out $1,000/year for lawn and garden services, but we save money by paying a local college student to do the work.
The perks of an updated home
Home ownership does come with costs that renting doesn't, especially if you buy an older home. Our house was built in 1946, and it's only had three owners since - the original owner, the family who bought it in 2012 and renovated it, and us.
Thanks to the previous owners' renovations - they totally flipped the house and replaced the roof and siding - we haven't had to deal with too much maintenance.
Since we purchased the house, we've paid an HVAC person $300, and a chimney sweep $200 to clean our two chimneys. I anticipate we'll be dishing out another $200 soon, since it's getting colder.
Living with kids
On top of these occasional expenses, we also pay a bit more on utilities than some families because we have two little kids (lots of laundry, dishes, and baths) and I work from home (so the lights and heat or A/C are almost always running).We pay around $160/month for our electricity, $20/month for our weekly garbage pickup, and $67/month for recycling and water, both of which are paid in a bundle to the City of Arden Hills.
While there are some things we would have done differently for the sake of our finances (like putting down more on the house), we're really happy with our decision to move to the Minneapolis suburbs.
The house isn't perfect - the layout of the main floor is kind of weird, and we'd really like to add another bathroom once we can afford it - but those minor inconveniences are worth the stability of living in a home and neighborhood we generally enjoy.
My husband and I talk regularly about how glad we are we moved to Arden Hills: Sure, it's cheaper to live outside the city, but we don't totally feel like we've lost the convenience aspect. We have a great park and beach within walking distance, and downtown is just a quick jaunt away. We get the best of both worlds.
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