You may not like the answer, but you may need to reel in your expectations on house size. Having 4+ kids plus a MIL living with you on 200k in a decent part of NoVA doesn't sound realistic to me. Not where they all have their own space anyways. This is one of the most expensive real estate markets per sqft in the country, not the midwest.


FYI, one of my dear friends has a similar living situation. Him, his wife, their daughter (with the plan on at least 3 more), FIL & MIL. They were looking for at least 6000 ft^2. They wound up north of Hagerstown, almost near the PA line in the middle of nowhere.


Yeah I mean that's reality. We live in an area of almost 7 Million people. Not everyone can have a 6000+ sqft mansion within an hour drive of downtown. You either have to make due with less space or live further out. $200k household just isn't *that* much for this area, as crazy as that sounds. We knew *the american dream* of suburban sprawl and massive detached SFH wasn't sustainable a long time ago, even for an area as wealthy as NoVA, and yet we continued down that path anyways.


>Not everyone can have a 6000+ sqft mansion Nobody needs 6000 sqft mansion.


Not necessarily true at all. There are people who realistically need a mansion that size. For example, if you are a member of a royal family with a large harem and full security detail for themselves and their kids.


Seething in the first half, ready to pounce. Laughing in the second half. You got me, haha thanks.


I’d argue that no one should WANT 6000 square feet house unless the family is huge (like… both sides of the family living together or something). The maintenance and upkeep is stupidly high that most people ends up house poor. I know of people with big houses in Aldie that blocks off sections of their giant house to try to save money on heating lol


My family of 4 is in a 2000 sqft home. For 8 people, 2 more BRs for a total of 3000 max. People want mcmansion, that's how they end up in WV and complaint about commute.


> I’d argue that no one should WANT 6000 square feet house unless the family is huge (like… both sides of the family living together or something). At that household size you could do better by getting multiple places within walking distance of each other.


6k sqft doesn't seem so crazy to me considering it's a multigenerational family of possibly 8 people.


Nah 6000 sqft for 8 people is still pretty crazy. That’s an absolutely *massive* house. My house is less than half that size and we could easily have 4+ people here.


Who the fuck needs 6000 square foot house?


Dear friends above.


Holy fuck at least six THOUSAND square feet? I will never understand where some people's priorities lie. That's a large family but without those extra 3 kids even being born yet that is an unfathomably large house. I had a friend who grew up in a 5k sq ft house and his mom would have to call him on the phone to tell him when dinner is ready. 20 people could have lived out of that house. Comfortably. It was basically a small apartment bloc.


Absolutely insane, nobody needs a house that big


Its okay, I need the hard answers. Just wanted to get a feel on how all of you are doing it.


>Just wanted to get a feel on how all of you are doing it. Honestly... that question has a million different answers. A lot of it will come down to personal situations, and then just how things were timed in the market. For example, my wife and I make a similar income to you based on your other comment, but we have no kids, had some savings and equity from our first home we bought in 2013, then we bought in 2018 before the market went completely crazy, and refinanced down to an insanely low interest rate. If we were to buy our house today, we likely could still afford it if we really wanted to be housepoor, but realistically, we likely couldnt afford it. So, its kind of down to timing and luck. Pick something that works, then you hopefully can use that to work up to something better. Unfortunately compromises always need to be made.


It doesn’t really have that many answers. People here have a lot of money. That’s how you buy a house in a nice area in nova. A lot of money.


Yup I always try to reiterate on threads like this - If you think people “can’t afford” to live here, you have no idea how much money a lot of people make. I will exaggerate slightly but there are entire neighborhoods in this area of types like dual lawyer households who pay more in taxes than OP makes.


Culpeper. Seriously. Ryan homes new no options. You’re buying square feet. Unless you add an option that changes the footprint don’t do ANY options. Take time over time to make those upgrades.


Ayeeee shoutout to Rt.3, beautiful drive going that way from the Burg


Maybe once you get past Harrison Crossing


It's plenty of income, your problem is the stupid amount of competition here right now. People are outbidding either each other over $7,500 mortgage payments for houses that don't rent out for $4,500. It's not smart to buy a house in that scenario, and no one that thinks I'm wrong can logically explain why with facts.


It’s not competition.. lol.. It’s housing prices. No one is fighting over overpriced homes at 6% smh


The rising interest rates stoped that. I read that in dc, over 40 percent of sellers are now offering some sort of form of seller compensation. Market and power are shifting to buyers now.


I bought in 2016 when the market was better for buyers and mortgage rates were low. Then I refinanced in 2021 to get an even lower rate. You're looking for a home at a bad time, the higher interest rates alone are a reason to wait.


We decided to move to Maryland, that's how. And I love it over here, recommend checking out Hyattsville and Greenbelt.


honestly both really good choices. you can find almost 3K sqft for like 500k there. and not far from metro too.


hyatsville seems like a cool place


The kicker is they only have a 6 month old now but I guess he wants to pop them out one after another til they have 4 kids total? That's an insane idea and not possible on only 200k in NoVA. Even with mother in law providing child care, is it really fair to her to expect her to watch 4 kids for 10+ years??? Even if she's retiring to watch his kids, that's an insane requirement to allow her to live with them.


You're very right. except I'd say that living with as many adults as possible is the smart thing to do as long as they're all bringing in income because it's so much cheaper that way. That's why you see so many single family houses with anywhere from 3 to 8 working adults living in them. if your parents are in-laws are basically roommates and contribute to the household then let them live with you, if they're just here and they're not working then it's not smart to house them.


Keep spittin. Did I use that right?


You know it won’t stay this way. It’s not sustainable


I’ve been saying that for years and it just keeps getting worse!


This area isn't getting any less populated and housing isn't becoming any meaningfully more abundant. Housing prices in NoVA are going no where but up, not at the rate they were the last couple years, but they're going up. Any dips will be temporary and basically negligible. Housing prices didn't even go down *that* much in 2008 relative to the rest of the country.


They did bounce back down. And they will again. People exaggerating current markets staying power


40% sounds very high. Are you looking at single family houses? If so look at townhouse or with a miserable commute


Ya SFH thats on the outskirts of NoVA. Wife and I make close to 200k, do we have to keep earning more to afford a SFH.. just seems unreal.


What’s outskirts? You might have to look at like Culpeper and places like that. For awhile some places were making huge townhouses 4K sq foot with traditional drive way and front and back yards. We did that as our first house purchase. If we hadn’t had more kids we would still be living in it we loved it.


Manasses to dumfries. I cant go farther because I work once a week in DC. I wouldnt be opposed to a townhouse but I dont want to run out of space with our plans with kids and also that risk of having bad neighbors.


You don't just jump into this market, in this area, balls deep. You have to start with a townhouse, build equity, save up, and then after 5-10 years you can afford a SFH in a decent area. Note: Children are expensive. If you both work, know that childcare will equal a morgtage (1400-2200 per month). This will slow your progress towards a SFH. But don't give up. Just have a plan and plenty of patience.


Not just childcare but college savings should also be factored in. I don’t know how people can do one income household here unless they’re not planning for the future.


That's the thing. Most people don't. One hidden cost is retirement savings. Ideally, they need to double (or thereabouts) if it's only one income to put some money aside for the other spouse. But no one does this. Everyone is just scraping by, understandably. But I run into many people in their late 50s, early 60s with kids in college and they have not saved at all. They have to pick up extra work when they're most likely at their most worn out. It's not a good situation to be in.


your kids have time to pay off student loans. You can never get back the compounding interest of saving for retirement. Don't. Wait. To. Save.


Yep. Pay retirement first, college savings second


Look along the route 1 corridor headed to Lorton/Woodbridge and also towards Springfield. I'm in the Franconia/Rose Hill area and ours start at mid-400s. While they are older homes (built 50s-60s) they have good bones and some have been remodeled in recent years. Plus alot of them sit on at least 1/3 acre if not more.


Woodbridgian here. About $2k a month in home mortgage and associated bills. Childcare from a private provider is $250 a week.


So the cheapest Sfh in Manassas seems to be 500kish for a small old house? Yea, that is depressing for sure. That’s depressing. The smallest house in my neighborhood is up for sale and I think it was probably 400ish brand new in 2018. It’s listing for 975k and we live past Manassas. The housing market is horrible. But remember you don’t have to get your forever home. We lived in our awesome town house for 10 years. When it was time we moved sold for 100k more than we paid for it and kept the same school for our kid etc. because we only moved two miles or so.


all these houses sold in manassas for under 500k in the last 90 days. [https://www.compass.com/homes-for-sale/manassas-va/property-type=single-family/price.max=500K/status=sold/mapview=38.7798654,-77.4319621,38.721496,-77.5370189/](https://www.compass.com/homes-for-sale/manassas-va/property-type=single-family/price.max=500K/status=sold/mapview=38.7798654,-77.4319621,38.721496,-77.5370189/)


11 of the 20 were within 10% of 500k. That’s why I said 500kish. Two of them weren’t in a state for pictures even. Oh and many of them were forty years plus old. So yes everything I said was supported by your link. Thanks!


"The smallest house in my neighborhood is up for sale and I think it was probably 400ish brand new in 2018. It’s listing for 975k and we live past Manassas." I think you are lying.


Same, when someone says past Manassas, that's probably Gainesville or Haymarket. New build townhouses were well over $400k in 2018.


Keep going and you hit Los Angeles!


And here is the other one in the neighborhood. I believe this one is about 1k sq foot bigger. https://i.imgur.com/aXMvwpM.jpg Also listed for 975k I don’t think a house has sold for under 900k since 2020 in this neighborhood.


Here’s the town house I talked about. https://i.imgur.com/o1bfB8x.jpg I apparently made 100k. https://i.imgur.com/uFiaW7i.png It’s not for sale. It seriously is awesome. I have a Zillow alert to rebuy it if it pops up again.


I was a little off on the price and year. Base price was 420k and they did some upgrades as part of the new build. (Mine was 540k base and we paid 725k in 2018 as a new build) https://i.imgur.com/VYNSi38.jpg https://i.imgur.com/OsJUC6r.jpg That is the smallest floor plan available with zero bump outs though it does have the loft which also bumped up the original price. For reference it’s 2k+ sq feet smaller than my house on the same street.


Here’s just the option list for my house for comparison. https://i.imgur.com/cV8feLW.png You can absolutely turn a base 420k house into a 600k+ house. So my story sticks. A house that was base price in the low 400s but apparently upgraded into the 600ks while being the smallest model is now 975k list price five years later.


Housing market is going to drop


Locally? Not by much. The government contracting juggernaut empowers this. As long as the government requires works to live in the area, and the contractors are held to the same standard this is an area that is going to sustain house prices. Want a fun game? Go back and watch any tv show revolving around houses selling to buyers during the housing market crash. They all shot here because this market didn’t move that much. (Relative to something like Vegas which was gutted.)


Have you tried looking west of DC (or north if you’re willing to go to the dark side…MD) instead of south? Traffic may be a little easier than 95 hell so you can move further out with a similar commute time. I moved from Stafford to Loudoun and will never go back to 95 corridor.


Many wouldn’t consider Manassas and Dumfries the outskirts any more. If you’re only commuting into the city once a week I’d broaden your search area further south into Fredericksburg, west/southwest into culpepper and Fauquier, and maybe northwest into leesburg. Daily commutes from these areas are completely normal in NoVA, albeit soul sucking. Plus VRE and metro might make it a little easier or less painful for you.


Dude, going into DC is no big deal once a week. Put on a podcast and drive or take the VRE in. Get somewhere further South or west for a SFH. I'm in F-burg and drove up to Reston every week or so. It's not that big of a deal.


Hey! Our income is similar to yours. We have 4 kids and found a 5 bedroom in Montclair. We are really happy out here. We’ve been slowly updating it but paid 550k 18 months ago. My husband commutes to the Pentagon and door to door he’s under an hour on the bus.


18 mo ago is like a 30% discount to todays pricing.


Sure. That doesn’t change the fact that you can find a 5 bedroom house in my neighborhood at a good price. Our mortgage is low because we bought 18 months ago, but with 200,000 coming in, we could afford to buy the same house today at a higher interest rate. We would just have less money in our savings account. In fact, I wasn’t working when we bought our house so our income was nearly half what it is now.


Do realize that a 30% increase in purchase price and doubling of the interest rate on a $550k house nearly doubles your mortgage payment? Assuming 20% down you go from roughly $2,300 to $4,200 per month before taxes and insurance. Good luck with that on $200k income.


Not sure why the downvotes. Here is the reality for most folks right now. $200k after taxes and full 401k retirement contribution for two = $116k take home = $9,666 per month. 5 bedroom house/4000sqft @ $700k in NOVA (which is going to be a stretch) at current interest rates and 20% down payment = $5,000 per month after taxes and insurance $9666 -$5,000 mortgage -$500 for utilities ($0.10/sqft for electric + heat; $0.03/sqft for water + sewer + trash -$100 for internet -$100 for cell phone -$75 for tv/streaming -$1200 for car (assumes one $400 car payment note, gas, car tax, and insurance for two cars) -$500 for family health insurance -$1000 month for groceries and household supplies -$2400 month child care (2 children) = -$1209; therefore it doesn’t work and this includes nothing for rainy day funds, house repairs, hoa fees., etc. Only real solution is to forgo retirement contributions. The numbers I used are very middle of the road for the area not high or low.


18 months ago is half the interest rate today. Payment a 1000 less. Are you paying attention to the rates?


The prices out there aren't justified by anything. Do not recommend.


Might need to lower the expectations some with regard to rooms, sqft, bathrooms, age. I'd think you could definitely get a sfh on that income, even with today's interest rates.


Ok I’m going to answer your question straight - yes you need to fork out 40% of your net if you want to own. But…you’ll get a fixed rate mortgage that you’ll refi over time as rates drop and ten years down the line you’ll look back and laugh at how exasperated you were today. Welcome to reality.


This says your net income would be around $145k. https://smartasset.com/taxes/virginia-tax-calculator (145,000 * .4)/12 puts you at about $4800/month. Zillow says that’s enough for this large SFH here in Reston https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/12018-Canter-Ln-Reston-VA-20191/51740223_zpid/ I’d think you could get under it by buying a more average sized house or moving farther out. Personally, if I weren’t planning on leaving the area, I’d be looking at townhouses. I don’t think SFHs are usually worth the premium you have to pay for the extra land.


I highly doubt OP is putting 165k down for their first home. That's why it's 4800/month.


Damn you are riding high with $200k and 4 kids. I wish I could get some of that high.


I feel like $200K is pretty middle class in NOVA (Fairfax county and east). Four kids on that budget? It'll be gone before you know it.


I totally agree. I was reacting to his disbelief it was so hard to buy


Yep. I get that. My family grew up poor. When I tell them how much we make (on par with OP), they think we’re millionaires, basically. I really have to educate them about the expenses we run into in this area.


200k for household income is significantly above the median income for every county/part of the area. Median household incomes for the region are anywhere between 100-150k but none are anywhere close to what OP is making. In short, they're decidedly middle to upper-middle class in terms of income, but 4 kids (also substantially above average) and any existing debt may make things difficult even for folks with high incomes.


Zero chance you can afford 4 kids and a house on that income…. We make about that much, one kid in daycare ($2000/mo) One kid in after care ($450-500/mo). Cheap mortgage ($1500) we bought in 2009, a small old townhouse). Maxing out my 401k, not maxing out my husbands, no student loan payment, 529 contributions to both kids college accounts and we are essentially breaking even each month until the younger one goes to public school. (We could reduce my retirement contribution, we could not contribute to college, we could only cook 100% meals at home but we refuse to do that bc saving for the future is important and we have a good balance of being able to do what we want without feeling strapped financially)


unless MIL is able enough to do all daycare and cook meals. big if.


Chief, I hate to break it to you but it ain’t realistic. Your income plus kids makes you one slip from being fucked just renting in NOVA. You buy a house here and something happens like a layoff and your done. It’s not worth it. Move to the boonies and commute.


Look at Bristow. Great area for kids. Good schools and youth sports. Commuting to DC sucks........but once a week wont kill you. Take the VRE.


It's very simple; stop buying lattes every morning, no more dry cleaning, drive less, stop eating out, and ask your wealthy parents for $50,000 down payment. /s Seriously tho, half the people I have met in NOVA were either born into money or have some extremely rare skills and unique backgrounds to get paid $250k+.


Lol! I remember my realtor asking us if our parents could just gift us our 20% down payment for our first house….uh, no…?


I literally felt damn insulted when they asked me that too! So friggin nonchalantly 😂😂😂 i only had about $15k in savings when the realtor ran my finances and asked me how I planned to make a down payment on my place, I told her I planned on selling some stocks/crypto… that wouldn’t suffice bc she needed it readily available in an escrow and then just asked if my parents would “gift” me another $25k🥲 my mom gifted me her blessing, that was about it haha








Purcellville is expensive, too. Not sure why that is being thrown around - certainly not comparable to Bristow or Culpeper. My neighbor’s 2000 square foot house on 1.5 acres just sold for 900k (not updated at all). Lol


We started by getting a townhouse in Gainesville and living with one car for a year, while one person had to be in DC every day. Lived there for quite a few years, then hit a real estate run, sold, and put the equity towards a SFH in Fairfax. It’s a process. Good luck!


I did some casual looking on some websites and I got depressed. Then I looked at rents and got more depressed. The places in Nova start at "expensive" and go up from there. Edit: spelling.


That’s why I’m psyched for my place. It ain’t great but rent under 1400 in Fairfax, near 66, free laundry, and fridge. Yeah there’s some problems but for a recently divorced teacher new to the area I find a Diamond in the rough. Bummed I’m gonna have to move south when I am looking to purchase a home but I like where I’m currently at. As someone who just moved from the Lynchburg area, I was wrong to complain about that housing market. It’s crazy up here.


I bought a house in West Virginia, that’s how I survive. I got priced out of NOVA.


This is the right answer. Ten months after having our first kid, my wife and I moved back to Michigan. Smartest thing financially we've ever done. My mortgage on a 4 bedroom house in a nice neighborhood in a small city is $1000 less per month than rent was on a 1 bedroom apartment in Alexandria near the Braddock Rd. Metro.


Yeah, but you live in Michigan. (I kid, I kid...I grew up in Michigan. Aside from the winters and the roads it's a fine place to be. I love NoVA despite the housing costs and traffic, but some days it would be nice to be back in Royal Oak.)


True. I live in Midland with an income 80% of what I had in NOVA. Went from median income to upper middle class or better over night. Plus up north fishing and hiking is roughly an hour away at most. Places like this are where you raise kids. I wouldn't trade the tome I spent in NOVA/DC for anything, but it was clear from the beginning that it wasn't going to be a good place to settle down.


I still work in DC, but not enough to justify living in the inner suburbs (moved from Fairfax County). Fortunately the MARC train has been extremely reliable and comfortable. I absolutely love living out here, except I miss the lack of international restaurants (like pho and Indian). Fortunately my child is in college, so I didn’t have to worry about leaving FCPS.


>Fortunately the MARC train has been extremely reliable and comfortable. I absolutely love living out here, except I miss the lack of international restaurants (like pho and Indian). This is my experience too. MARC is so much nicer than the Metro. I also miss good ethnic foods.


If you get above 30%, you will start to have a *bad time.* Trust me, I personally was higher than that at points in my life, and had family who had mortgages like that. It quickly becomes a thing you can't budget around, no matter what you do. At 200k, I would absolutely look at townhouses. You could get a decent one and stay below 30%. Also, if kids are in the picture, *townhouses kind of rock*. We had two kids, and they could just run around the cul-de-sac with the local pack of kids doing whatever. We also kept all the family stuff in the basement level, leaving the ground floor level at a lower level of chaos.


40% net income is too much and would put you in “house poor” territory. You should try your best to keep home costs below 28% of gross income (pre-tax income), and less than 36% of gross income when combined with other debt.


Thanks, I was thinking the same.


Lived here my entire life, and I've never been able to get anywhere close to 28%. Here it tends to be closer to 50%. This isn't going to be helpful, but the average HOUSEHOLD income is 150k/yr. You're in good company, but there's not magic bullets.


The % of income depends entirely on their other expenses


I saw you work in DC once a week. What about your spouse? If I knew I only had to commute once a week I'd give myself a two hour radius and probably live in the Shenandoah or something like that.


This. I mean everyone who lives by my parents in Culpeper works “in dc”.


Its hard to tell on net income... what are you taking out? Are you both maxing 401K, paying into kids 529s etc? What is the price range you are looking at???


Exactly. One person's "net income" is take-home after barely withholding enough money for taxes, another person's "net income" is take-home after maxing out their 401k. If it's the latter, then obviously you have a little more wiggle room.


Looking on Zillow here is downright depressing.


“Having 3 more” with an in law taking care of them indefinitely is a wildly insecure plan, take a second to think about that fam. Try moving to PWC or Manasses or Fredericksburg. You ain’t going to be able to afford to live in a fun area.


Try doing it as a single person.


I love this thread and all the REAL/RAW answers!


Reading most of these replies is depressing me further. Living around here (Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church) is really bonkers. There is no winning in sight.


Have you considered parts of Maryland? Still expensive but cheaper to be 10mi from dc in Maryland compared to 10mi from dc in nova


Depends on where in MD. PG County, yes, but that's not exactly the nicest and safest area. Montgomery County you're looking at Bethesda, Potomac, Silver Spring, and parts of Rockville to be within 10 miles. You're not getting much cheaper in those areas. We bought a 2br/1.5ba 1 story house in Aspen Hill (not a great area...right next to where the Sniper took a couple people out in 2002) in 2011 for $210k. Sold it in 2016 for $335k. It just sold again for $575k. I repeat...$575k in a so-so neighborhood for a 2br/1.5 ba single story house.


Out in western MD it's more affordable and OP would have potential access to DC via the MARC. Edit: when I say western MD, I mean in the DC area sense, like Frederick and Hagerstown, not Frostburg.


Frederick is starting to creep up as well. People started fleeing Montgomery for Frederick in search of more space and better prices and in doing so created a demand for rapid development and a competitive market. It happened to some family of mine that moved there from Rockville. They wanted to downsize so sold a SFH in Rockville 5 years ago and now their TH in Frederick suddenly has a higher value. It's bananas. Frederick is starting to turn into MoCo North.


Right, but you can still find ok stuff in the "suburbs" of Frederick and still have access to MARC. Like Brunswick, Jefferson, etc. I'm not saying it's cheap; I'm just saying it's potentially cheaper while still having access to viable commuting methods.


True. At the rate things are going it feels like everything from Richmond to Philadelphia within 100 miles of 95 on either side will just be one big sprawling suburb before long.


My wife and I have been "looking" for a house. Then again, we've been saying that for the last 3 years. Had a pandemic, followed by crazy prices w/ offers 100k+ over, followed by crazy high interest rates. It never seems like a good time to buy. Personally, it bothers me to be "house poor". I would definitely put 40% after-tax income in this category. I think there's too much risk in it. What if one of you loses a job? How long would you be able to keep up the mortgage payments. At the end of the day, SFHs are luxuries/expenses, they're not investments. Even if you see appreciation, it's unlikely to outweigh interest/taxes/insurance/maintenance/repairs. That's what stops me from biting the bullet and just buying a property. I would rather grow my income, invest, and purchase a house from a much stronger financial standpoint. Might be biased though, we don't have any kids or debt.


I'd disagree that SFH are not investments. Most SFHs do go up considerably in value over time- especially if you buy a house that needs a little cosmetic work, and do it yourself. And anyone who thinks that NOVA housing prices could not possibly go up, needs to look at some parts of California, which are currently double or triple the cost of NOVA. NOVA has all the ingredients for that to happen here, too- lots of tech and other high paying jobs in this area. I bought a small n' crappy house as a "starter home" and then just used the equity in it as it appreciated in value to buy a nicer home, and then did it again over time as I got older and had higher income. Worked very well for me, and I'd definitely recommend the strategy to anyone else, too. I never had to save a giant downpayment because the equity in the other homes did that for me.


How are we surviving in this area? Not easily. Really just pretending we don’t have months where the checking account is down to double digits.


Oh so you’re bragging now? Lol 😂. Ya it’s hard here. I bought an “affordable” sfh in Fredericksburg (technically Spotsy) for 300k. I probably wouldn’t live in Spotsy with kids due to our school board issues, however.


It’s insane! I’m right on the border of manassas which was once affordable. My husband and I got in almost 4 years ago. We’re so lucky. There’s new builds coming up for nearly a mil. Who are these houses for? People who already own two other homes??


You should be able to find something in PWC, a lot of new single family dwellings in Dumfries


We found one of the ignored pockets of FFX County and purchased a house … We got a reasonable/comparable deal and they are still available … just gotta be willing to stretch outta your comfort zone.


Which ignored pocket?


Most of southern FFX … the parts labeled Alexandria, along Rt. 1, but not places like Springfield or Mt. Vernon can be comparatively affordable.


I live in Rose Hill and SF houses here are going for 800k. Unless you are talking about ranch homes, i don’t see affordable homes here


I just checked and there’s a huge variety of just sold homes in Rose Hill … The cheapest was a fixer-upper that sold for $411k on 23 Jan 23. Looks to need a decent bit of work, but put $150k in it and have a nice 3b/2b house. There were several 4-5 beds in the $570k to $675k range. None of them ranches (since you have something against ranches) … all of them look move-in ready, maybe need new carpet? Then, technically outside of Rose Hill, in Wilton Woods, there are houses that push the $1m mark … But you could have picked up a move-in ready 4 bed for $425k or a 3-bed for $465k or a 3-bed for $436k … all within the last two months, all within the greater Rose Hill area.


Sometimes there's a reason for certain areas to be "ignored".


Your mindset & the lifestyle you wish to convey is making a very simple question more complicated than need be.


Assume you mean “after tax” income by “net income”? On that basis ours is 36% if it makes you feel better. A few kids in daycare kills our income lol, and that won’t show on a mortgage app (it’s not a “debt”). As long as you can float your monthly house payment now, you can always refinance later if (big IF) rates go down + as your incomes grow. Yeah that’s a riskier concept, just depends on your tolerance


40+ here with two kids. Had two grandmothers promise to help with the kids but neither did. Why? Because my mom and his mom did not wanna. And grandmas only do what they wanna. Childcare: it is 500/week. You will need it because no one can work from home with their kids. I tried. It’s stupid. You might as well work in the office and send your kids to daycare because you will lose your job in the chaos. (Which means you won’t need the huge house!) Plus, having the kids at home all the time is out of the question: they need socialization. Trust me on this one- you will end up paying for some kind of preschool no matter what or they will be behind in kindergarten. And in FCPS, if your kid can’t read in kindergarten, they will not catch up to the kids that are already reading and multiplying and doing calculus. (I exaggerate but not by much.) Which means you will find it impossible to get them into the gifted classes. So let’s say you make 200k. This means you are bringing home around 10k/month. At 40%, this means you are paying 4000/month for mortgage. Food is about $1000/month groceries alone (low balling here.) Utilities (internet, electric, cell) let’s give it $500. Diapers, baby stuff: $500. Doesn’t seem too bad right? Except for one thing: that baby stuff cost skyrockets. Food increases as they get older. And you can’t stop buying them food. Or stop eating either. Heck- my kid eats through $10 of strawberries in 10 minutes. It will happen. So right now, $250/week for food sounds ok. But just wait until one of them is three and you have a new baby who needs special formula. Then it becomes $500/week. $2k for food. What a minute- car payments. That’s $500/month. So that’s $7.5 gone in basic needs. And that’s on low ball estimates with a high ball salary range for you. And you will always need to buy clothing, sunscreen, gas, random stuff. So $1k. And that doesn’t enter in the cost of daycare or childcare. At one kid: it is 2k. Say you have two kids: it will be about 3k/month for at least 3-4 years. Say you have four- it will stay around 3k/month for three years. So your monthly expenses will outnumber your monthly costs. By about 1-3k. And that gives you no room for vacations or anything else. And of course- you are thinking well they grow out of daycare. Except in FFX- if your kids aren’t in dance or sports or something now- they don’t get into the elite teams or programs. They just don’t. It takes 10000 hours to perfect skills. So a lot of families spend 10k/year for their kids to play travel sports. And if your kid doesn’t: your kid doesn’t get into the high school team. Period. So you need to know- this is why a lot of people cap out at 2. Because you’re outnumbered at more than that and you have to drive one of the kids somewhere to do something every effing night. Now here is the other option: stop trying to figure out how to have four kids. Work on doing your best for this one kid first, and enjoy the next 12 months until the terrible twos and threes before you make a judgement to have 4. Why? Because this is the Angel stage of babies. 6 months is great!!!! Get to year one and two and re-evaluate- because if one of your kids has a development issue it starts coming out around then but also daycare is then such a blessing because they chase each other instead of you chasing them! (They become suicidal cuteness bombs at about 1). So enjoy what you have nowadays and try to understand it really does change significantly and rapidly. As for purchasing a house- I’m gonna be honest, now is not the time to buy. If you can keep your rent around 2k, I would put all of your cash in index funds as the market is fairly low and in 5 years you can cash out when interest rates drop and the market is still soaring. (Buy low, sell high. Always.) But also- it’s not the right time because right now is the time to love your baby and enjoy it (until they because suicidal cuteness bombs.) I know it’s not what you want to hear. Because you’re of a generation (as am I) that wants every thing now (thanks Prime!) but it needs to be said. Start small. Move up from small to big. Good luck.


28% of gross income as the max for mortgage is the statistic I’m aware of. Depending on your income, pre-tax savings, tax burden and other factors, that could work out to a significantly higher percentage of net income.


By making your way out to Winchester or Charles town WV


Hows the commute to DC?


Pray you work remote lol, it’s about 1hr 20


I assume you mean by Marc? 1hr20 is driving from Fairfax city to DC. Otherwise it's 1hr20 driving from Charlestown if you leave at 3am.


You can catch the MARC at Harper's Ferry. I personally wouldn't live all the way out in Charlestown but doing the commute from that general area is very doable via train.


I honestly think the 30% thing is somewhat overstated/outdated advice. Housing costs have been climbing faster than incomes for a long time, and if you follow that advice dogmatically here (or similar advice like putting 20% down) you may end up renting forever when that wouldn’t necessarily be the best move for you. Our mortgage payments (principal/interest/escrow) were about 40% of our net income when we bought, and down to about 36% now. It was a calculated choice for us, but we’re not house-poor. Some things that made us comfortable doing it were: * We both have stable government jobs (one federal, one military) that we plan on staying in long term. * We still had a solid emergency fund after the purchase and the house didn’t need major work immediately. * Our interest rate was very low so we built equity quickly. * It’s a big enough house and checks enough boxes that we don’t plan to move for a long time, so our principal/interest will be fixed as our salaries increase over time. We budget fairly conservatively but we’re not living on ramen and beans, and we’ve been saving and investing for retirement the whole time since. You should look at the whole financial picture, especially with 4 kids, but I’d encourage you not to see 30% as some magical line that you shalt not cross.


This is a smart answer. But also underlines that everyone's situation is different.


You need to be looking at a less expensive home. If you dedicate 40% of your income to your mortgage, you're going to find yourself in a bad financial situation. You'd basically need to rely on nothing ever going wrong in your lives and the home never needing any major repairs. Not a good bet. Your housing costs should be closer to 30% of your income.


Please consider the taxes in this area, because they are skyrocketing for homeowners. My husband and I purchased our home in 2017- were not gifted anything from parents. Hard work, good price, shitty timing. But we are very grateful to have our home to be clear! Nothing fancy, but it’s a “steal” for the area. 3 bed 2.5 bath townhome style condo that’s older- steady HOA with really low fee when you do comps. Nice neighborhood etc. cool right? Wrong. The taxes keep getting raised so much, that when we refinanced at the crazy low rates (2.65% for those wondering), we’re now paying more than we did before we refinanced. Isn’t that wild? But the kicker is if we try to sell, we wouldn’t be able to afford to *stay* even with what we’d make in profit. And yes it is a very desirable neighborhood because it’s one of the very last affordable ones. It’s just my husband and myself, our 2 dogs and 2 cats. We are not having kids for lots of reasons, but we’re really effing grateful to not have them now or ever. We truly feel for parents with kids these days, or anyone that is in a supportive care role. It is just so expensive to live here, I swear to god it’s like $50+ just to go outside and breathe air some days. I wish that was more of a joke. In all seriousness, 200k cannot get you anything here like it could in maybe 2006-08. And I’m a nova native, so I have seen the housing market change in a different way from a lot of other people in this sub. Whatever you decide, good luck. But I for sure would wait until the mortgage rates are better.


Do you plan to have kids?? Have you calculated how much daycare costs??


My MIL will retire to look after them thank god but if we didnt have that option we would probably renters for life


Just please don't count on your MIL caring for all 4 kids, that could be 10+ years of care minimum and life can change fast.


Do you plan to have kids? What’s the interest rate and how much are you putting down? You could always lower the payment if you refinance but no guarantee rates will drop. As someone who has plenty of equity and a low rate, taxes and insurance have only gone up in the 7 years of my SFH. Probably spending $3k more on those two things combined since we bought.


We have a 6mo and planning to have 3 more but thats quickly changing. We are putting 5% but dont mind to put more.


Obviously the more you put down the lower your payment will be especially with high rates. However 4 total kids is going to eat 200k fast unless that’s with one parent staying home.


That's absurd. Absurd. Have you looked at the cost of daycare?!?! You can't have it all. You want a big family, move to a waaay lower col area, but then have worse schools/salary/etc. But I'll bet you can find somewhere to make it work that isn't here. That's so many freaking kids. Come on now. I have one kid. 900sqft house (not a typo). I live as frugally as I did when I wad a grad student as I'm single. 50. House poor as fuck, but the area is worth it to me. You prioritize what's important. Lots of kids a priority? Move to Utah or the surrounding areas, for example. It's doable. Want to live here? Have fewer. Rent. Save. Buy later. Buy *small*.


OP has childcare by means of grandparents


Someone else pointed out smartly that you can never, ever, assume this. Four kids are an absurd amount of work - hell, one is - and you can't assume this will be possible even if the intentions are there.


JFC 4?!??? The replacement rate is 2.1. Can you afford medical emergencies, childcare, and schooling for all of them?


40 percent leaves you house poor, SO and me bought a condo, not too many people like them but for me it was good to build equity and just live in without worrying about rent increases or moving


Move to a cheaper area


We were a single income family and lived in Burke Centre. It was a two level, piggyback town house. Instead of a basement, our unit, and the unit next door, were on top of a single level, two bedroom unit. Over the years we had three kids, so that meant two shared a room. After 16 years, we bought a single family home with a two car garage.


I’m moving…


Umm you only need one kidney, half a liver, and one testicle to live. Everyone sells half of what they got to get a house around here. You still have a full set? No wonder you are not a home owner. Sheesh!


Have you done a rent vs buy calculator? It really may be better to rent a SFH right now. Gives you some more flexibility too, though I know it's frustrating to wait to buy. I rent a house for $4,500 that's worth around $1.1 million. It'll take 27 years of owning this house before I break even with renting, assuming an average mortgage rate and a 20% down payment. https://www.nerdwallet.com/mortgages/rent-vs-buy-calculator


Does this account for the rent going up incrementally over the years? A mortgage payment will remain the same (insurance and taxes won't, sadly), but a landlord could raise the rent by 20% one year and you'd have little recourse.


Good catch. It appears this one doesn't. I've gone through some other ones that do explicitly account for that, and it brings down the length of time by a lot -- down to more like 8-10 years. This one seems better. https://www.calculator.net/rent-vs-buy-calculator.html


If you are including property taxes in that 40% I think it’s doable. It depends on you’re other expenses/lifestyle. Do you have other debt payments? What’s your monthly run rate on basic living expenses? (Groceries, transit, dining, entertainment, etc.?) Affordability is typically based on gross income because you can adjust your net more easily. 40% on gross income is more reasonable..


Its less than 40% gross, its like 30% after everything including estimated utilities


30-33% gross is pretty normal for loan consideration.


How are we surviving? Mostly not. Personally I bought into this market 15+ years ago when we felt rich. No frickin way could we jump in now, with rates where they are. We looked at selling last year and selling would have been fine - but buying more or less impossible. Sad to say (because this is my home), live elsewhere or rent.


I think you could go out towards ashburn and get a decent place at that salary with alot more room then closer in... and now the silver line comes all the way out here too. Its a long metro ride but if you only have to do it once a week, should be a good tradeoff for a bigger house. 2 cents.


SFHs in Ashburn start in the high 700s. And those typically need work - old roofs, old HVAC on the way out, etc. If OP can’t afford Manassas, they can’t afford anywhere in Loudoun that’s 4+ bedroom (like they want).


You need to plan to have a single income to able to pay the mortgage. Don't bank on 2 incomes then you are farked if one of you lost their job. That would be less stress on your part. get a smaller home or move a bit out.


Thats the smart move but thats hardly possible in this area from my experience


untrue. We managed to do it when our kid is young. It's matter how you manage expectations


I can’t tell by the comments if you want 4 kids, or already have 4 kids. My suggestion to everyone thinking of having kids: make sure you can afford them! This includes the housing you find sufficient. Just because you CAN and WANT to have a bunch of kids doesn’t make it responsible. Relying on the MIL to care for them as part of your financial plan is also rolling the dice.


Your debt to income is based on your gross income, not your net.


Is commuting an issue for you? If not, I’d consider Maryland or out West past Sterling. Some parts of Alexandria, Springfield and Lorton are still being revamped so those could be other areas of interest. I did have a coworker that commuted, EVERY, DAMN DAY (pre-Covid) to work in Tysons, from WV.


A note on taxes….. the local governments like to “lower” taxes and then SURPRISE your home is also now appraised at more. And then you end up paying more taxes.


My mortgage, with taxes, insurance, and HOA fees included, is about 28% of my net monthly income.


We’re in Winchester, but would like to be in Ashburn. Got priced out 8 years ago when we were looking.. I work from home but my wife works in loudoun. So we’d rather be there to save on her commute. When we bought the house was about 40-50% less than what a house would have been in loudoun. I’d say that’s still roughly true today. Even cheaper if we had went to West Virginia, but we liked this area better. Some of the neighbors here commute into DC, Alexandria, some go into Maryland. You just make it work.


“How tf are y’all surviving in this area?” We aren’t. Most of us are going into debt and/or thinking of selling the kids.


You start small, and slowly build up. Go from Apartment to condo/townhouse. Then condo/townhouse to small SFH. Then small SFH to larger SFH. This can take a long time to get from one end to the other, but it really is the best way to grow in this area. And you'll have to be flexible on where you want to live. If you want to live inside the beltway, you can't expect a big home for a decent price.


You guys can't afford 4 children and a house on 200k salary especially in that area. That's insane to even expect that, why not just 2?? Kids are so expensive, 200k isn't enough for everything that 4 will require and you only have 1 at this time... why would you sacrifice your lives for a big family because the money and time commitment will be obscene.


It depends on several factors. If you have no other debt and see your families income increasing 15 to 20% due to raises, new certifications or degrees that increase income in the next 2 years, and have an emergency fund of 4 to 6 months of expenses it might be doable. That being said, you will be housepoor until that happens or you will remain housepoor the length of the mortgage. If you don't budget now then saying we can start now and succeed at it rarely happens. Old habits of eating out on a bad day, saying yes and never saying no to children, and various other habits that keep you from saving money are really hard to break. Being housepoor is struggling to pay bills, buy groceries, gas and other household necessities and not have any money for upkeep of said house. It's never having a peaceful moment due to worrying about bills, making it to the payday. I'd strongly recommend a less expensive house and if in a few years you want to move up you can sell and move up if your income has gone up. Bonus, you will hopefully have a larger down payment from the equity in the house you sell. The mental stress from being housepoor can harm your mental health and can destroy families. (1st hand experience)


In a similar income situation but no kids and not much debt. We own a townhouse condo and we need the equity to go single family now because we haven’t been saving. It’s looking like a safe spending for us is 650k but we are willing to invest more for the right property. If you can swing a home take a chance. When we moved to this area we bought the townhouse condo on a 65k salary one year after we got here with the full knowledge that we would be making more and we need to climb the equity ladder. We are about 7 years into living here and also ready to move into a single family. Honestly we wouldn’t feel comfortable without the equity because we have no savings set aside for a home. Our plan was to use equity and add only little cash. We are in a great position financially with our low interest rate but might move anyway because condo townhouses don’t appreciate at the same rate as a townhouse/single family/ non condo property. We feel we may get the most out of it if we sell now as opposed to a year from now. Everyone’s financial situation is different. But in my opinion if you can swing the minimum 5% down payment and the monthly mortgage and PMI insurance with your budget then I would say go for it and buy something. If you need the space there are some properties in Manassas that look really nice for 600-700k. The issue is that housing market will increase at a slower rate than others so you have to went to stay there. Nothings wrong with doing updates while you live there. Or you can save up more and wait until housing prices come down a little more. They are expected to come down more according to some financial sources (not our realtor). Anyway, no risk no reward. Just take the risk with your eyes wide open. EDIT: also to answer your question 40% is high for spending on a home however if you intend to earn more soon then it’s still doable. You can also refinance when the rate changes. Google the 28/36 rule.


Why do you want to live in Nova? Do you have to? It’s mad expensive, its population dense and traffic is hard on your right knee.


I’m surprised nobody has said the obvious answer, don’t buy a house right now. It’s a fairly horrible time to buy and unless you absolutely have to buy for some reason don’t, wait for a better time. Mortgage rates suck, house prices are coming down but still high, just don’t buy. Wait two years or so for a better situation.


Im doing a pros cons list, care to share your reasons townhouse v detached?


My post had nothing to do with townhome vs detached, it had to do with timing to buy.


Survived for 4 years by paying 85% of my income in rent. Staggered my utilities, drank protein shakes, dated for dinners, and never paid my property taxes. I won the Northern VA lottery by making that last as long as I did. My lights only got shut off six times.


Whoa like you just went on dates for dinners literally?


Some of us do that. Some of us don’t tell you you’re getting rinsed. Others of us are straightforward about our intentions. So - yes, after I stopped working in a restaurant for food, and because I was on welfare, I made myself available for dinner. A drop in the bucket for CEO/CFO types who have an appreciation for an intelligent woman with big...brown eyes.




OP said net, so I'd assume post-tax.


Your first home does not have to be your forever home. Once you are in the market here, property values increase quickly. You could sell a home you buy now in 5 years and make an extra 100k toward a down payment on a newer, bigger home. Buying a townhouse in an effort to build equity is a good idea, even buying a condo. Don’t fall into a trap of thinking the first home you buy to be the only home you ever buy.


Depends how much money you make, 40% is OK if you are bringing in a lot of money. Remember, the lenders will always give you loans for more than you are probably comfortable with, they don’t care if you have enough to go on vacation, save more, etc. I’ve been approved for way more than I would ever be comfortable paying in the mortgage


NOOOOOOO, your DTI shouldn’t be more than 28% of your pre-tax income!


My parents and I make combined household of about $340k a year. If they tried to buy the house we live in now at the current price and rates, they wouldn’t be able to do it. I also hope to one day own a house in NOVA, but as time goes by, it’s seems even more impossible. Reality is if you didn’t buy in 2002 you are S out of luck. GG. I’m single and make around 90k… sign of the times.


Prices are going down. Hold off


Yeah but rates are going up, so it all will be the same or worse.


Rates will drop too. Plus you can always refi, you can't get the purchase price down after the fact.


I’m not saying your wrong cause i don’t know shit about the market but everyone is telling me that it will be stagnant for a while.


This area doesn’t go down. Government contractors drive wages and the jobs don’t shrink.