I need help deciding what my next move is. This involves some questions that are not strictly financial, but financial factors are a huge component of this and I couldn’t think of anywhere else to ask.
I feel torn between two paths:
1. Buy a house in my hometown
2. Move to Seattle
I am from a small city in the Southeast that has so far been fairly insulated from the housing market craziness, i.e., I could actually afford to buy a decent house here. The problem is that I don’t really want to live here. I might want to move back when I’m older, ready to settle down, and start a family, but it is not a good place for a young professional. But I am experiencing FOMO. I’m worried that if I wait until I’m ready to settle down, the housing market will be even worse and I won’t be able to buy.
Why move to Seattle? I work in tech and I like the culture of the PNW. I’m thinking being out there could help my career, though I’m not really sure it would make a difference with remote work becoming a thing. But the main reason I want to move somewhere else is because I might like to get married and have kids within the next 5 years. I think my chances of meeting someone with whom I want to do that will be much greater somewhere outside of the Southeast (due to some values I have that are pretty rare in this area). I’m not dead set on Seattle. I would definitely be open to other suggestions. I was also considering SF, Portland, (I know those two are also pretty expensive) or maybe somewhere in CO like Bolder, Fort Collins, or Colorado Springs.
Third option: Could I possibly do both? Buy a house here and rent it out, that way when I decide to move back I’ll already have a house. One problem with this scenario is that I’m a first time home buyer and would be doing an FHA loan meaning it has to be my primary residence (but for how long?).
I work remotely. My salary is roughly $120,000. I have been pre-approved for a mortgage of around $400,000. To keep housing costs (including taxes, PMI, etc) under 30% of income I would aim to buy something around $300,000. Here in my hometown that would get me a 3/4-BR house in a desirable part of town. In Seattle I would expect to pay $2,000 a month in rent for an apartment and I could swing that. When I was making $85,000 I moved to a larger city and paid $1785 in rent and it was doable. I am very frugal, single, no kids, no debt.
I would really appreciate any insight anyone could offer to help me make this decision.
Edit 1: Added primary reason for wanting to move.