I wasn’t planning on writing about this because I don’t think it’s all that interesting, but so many people have been surprised and asked why we moved that I guess it warrants a post!
Five years ago I bought an apartment in Vegas. It cost $50k, was in a great location, and had two bedrooms. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it, but it was just such a great deal that I figured it was impossible that I wouldn’t find some good use for it, whether it was renting it out or using it as a crash pad (at the time I visited Vegas every month).
During the renovation I spent more time in Vegas than I ever had, and lived more like a local than a poker-playing tourist. Through that process I discovered that Vegas is the best place to live in the US (unless you need a local job or good public schools), and ended up moving into the apartment full time. Eventually I even sold my RV.
My apartment here was great. I assumed I’d keep it forever, so I went crazy with renovations, doing things like putting heated black marble floors into the bathroom and building a tea room. Once my wife and I decided to move in together, though, it became clear that it wasn’t going to be enough space. Luckily the apartment next to us went up for sale, so we bought that one too.
There are some major benefits to having two separate but adjoining apartments. We each had our own space to do with what we wanted, but shared the main living room and bedroom. However, after a while it became clear that we weren’t going to live in two apartments forever. For one, it was a little bit annoying to walk between the two if you needed to grab some food or a tool or something. We were also paying two HOA fees, which felt like a waste. Having two kitchens never really made much sense.
But maybe the biggest driver of the decision was realizing that having two apartments in cash was a poor investment strategy. Both apartments had appreciated to over $100k, which meant that we had $200k in net worth earning nothing, despite having access to a wide array of really good safe returns. We realized that if we just got a mortgage on a new place we could lock up that $200k+ in a safe interest-paying account and the monthly earn would cover the mortgage of a house that cost ~$400k. I don’t think that HOAs are generally a terrible deal, but paying double meant that we were spending $400/mo, which could be better allocated if we had a house.
Before COVID we were in and out of Vegas all the time so the apartments worked really well. But being here for almost six months straight (at the time of the decision) made us realize that we wanted some outdoor space. Moving to a house got us a pretty good sized lot with a big pool and plenty of space to plant plants.
I still miss some parts of our apartments. We only moved about 5 minutes away, but the apartments’ location was so good that now most things are a few minutes further away. We finished the apartments to such a high standard that our new house is not (yet) as nice. Overall, though, it’s fun to have a bigger space with a lot of potential and a lot of projects for me work on.
Right now we’re mostly moved into the new house, though the living room is totally empty, the guest bedroom is just a couple mattresses on the floor, and every few days I realize I left some little thing at the old apartment. I’m not exactly sure what we’ll do with the apartments, but we’ll probably sell one and rent one out (if you’re looking for an awesome 2 bedroom in Vegas, let me know).
The other day my friend Todd asked me how long I thought I’d live in the new house. I am terrible at predicting these things, but I’m going to guess 8 years so that we can check later. I actually think it will be our forever house, but I think I also thought I’d never sell the RV, so I’m discounting my estimate.
Photo is the old living room and tea room. I bought the apartment sight unseen mostly because it had that little area to build a 2 tatami tea room.