Amazon employee Matthew Holmes and nonprofit worker Jessica Dickinson Goodman are a young, married couple planning on buying a house. But not anytime soon.
The 24-year-old high-school sweethearts from California’s Silicon Valley rent a 520-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment in one of Capitol Hill’s newer developments, Citizen Apartments, for $1,405 a month. Their bedroom doesn’t allow much more than a foot of space on either side of their queen-size bed.
The apartment seemed a little out of their price range at first, but the analytically minded couple created a detailed chart comparison of their options. The chart, on a dry-erase board, weighed several things including neighborhood, walkability to stores and work, usability and price. They decided to go with the most expensive option because they’re more interested in investing in their careers and lifestyle at this point in their lives.
At the moment, the two don’t even live on the same coast. Dickinson Goodman has a job in Washington, D.C., with the Polaris Project, a nonprofit working to stop human trafficking. Both fly to visit each other once a month and video-chat via Skype every day in between. Their unpacked boxes and unorganized possessions against the walls make it look like they moved in last month, not last year.
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They’re waiting until next year to decide where they’ll likely settle for a longer period.
Dickinson Goodman says that after living in Pittsburgh to attend Carnegie Mellon University and experiencing the impact of the dot-com bust on her own family as a child, she’s leery of buying a house in an area that’s heavily reliant on a handful of industries. Here, the future of Microsoft and Boeing worries her slightly.
“Pittsburgh — that’s a city that chose to be represented by one industry, and it didn’t work out. It still hasn’t recovered,” Dickinson Goodman said.
But no matter where they settle down, they’re cautious about entering the housing market.
“The recent housing bust and all of the stock-market turmoil that accompanied it has really been an ‘Ah!’,” Holmes said. “You should really make sure you aren’t relying on just the income you have now. You need to basically have the reserves, if you get laid off for a year, so you can actually hold on to the place.”