Many of our friends who have followed our activities since we moved from Oregon in April 2006 will now be used to us changing the plan. Well, due to the calamitous drop in our mutual funds we are not going to be able to afford to go off for a year-long vacation. We still hope to do some sort of extended traveling over the next few years, but we don't have enough dollars now to spend on an RV rig and the trip and then have enough afterwards to buy a house. Like many, we wish things had gone differently.
The sad thing is, we saw this drop coming and pulled a bunch into cash, just not enough. We thought the economy would get bad, but we were really off the mark in what kinds of assets would fall. We thought we had invested well for the coming tough economy; we didn't, nearly everything has crashed far more than we expected. Oh well.
Anyway, I guess our big adventure is now the big decision of where to settle; I guess we need to change the name of this blog. We are, of course, first looking in Oregon. We are looking at Portland, Salem, Corvallis and Eugene, for starters. We're trying to decide whether we try and find a house and then look for a job, or whether we do the opposite.
I spent yesterday looking at the houses in all four cities and found little to tempt me to buy the house first. Unfortunately, our Forest Grove "castle" has made me very picky about what houses I'm willing to buy. And there is precious little on the market right now that makes me want to run up and take a look. It's hard to decide what to do. Of the many houses supposedly "move in ready" I often don't like their cabinetry or flooring or other expensive finish. And if we buy a fixer, then we run the risk of turning it into another "money pit" like we did with Forest Grove and we overbuild the neighborhood. And we don't have anything like those resources this time around. (Gotta love tech bubbles during remodels.)
What we'd really like to do is build a house. We'd like to build a house that is VERY energy efficient and is built with some sort of alternate building technique like rammed earth or strawbale. But if we build from scratch, then we're going to pay a premium and likely go way over our budget. And land is still very expensive; the drop in demand hasn't quite registered in land prices as far as we can tell. Though, maybe prices were much higher a couple of years ago. Anyway, we'd like to build, but probably cannot afford it, not without running through all our non-retirement savings. And we cannot afford to build a house like that until we know where we'll be working because we run the risk that we'll find the job in another city too far to commute to and then we'll have to sell at a loss.
So, our current plan is to poke around the housing market in Oregon and see if any used house tempts us to just buy it. If not, then when Jeff leaves in April or so, we're going to rent some sort of temporary housing (maybe furnished corporate housing or hotel room), and stay in the different cities for a time while we look for employment. We can see if anything pops up for either of us job wise. It will be easier to interview for positions (and more likely that we'll get called for an interview) when we're in the same state. Once one of us finds a job, then we can rethink the building plan.
If Jeff manages to land a part-time teaching position at either Oregon State University or University of Oregon, then we'll probably both go back to school for some additional education. Bad economies are the perfect time to upgrade your education, in particular if you get subsidized tuition. =)