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I'm finding this a really interesting thread. We haven't yet bought a house, so I can't speak about our experience putting together a down payment and moving, triumphant, into our humble abode. How I wish I could! So I'll just talk about how we didn't do that.

Our student loan debt (originally over $100k) will be at $37k by the end of this year. From that point, we'll be sitting on it for a year because the interest is subsidized for that time. I feel a little guilty about that, since we could reasonably afford to make payments during that time, but honestly, our lenders make it such an enormous hassle to pay from overseas while subsidized loans are in deferment that I still can't figure out how making payments would even be possible. And I'm getting tired of waiting on hold trying to figure it out. Right now, we live in the Bay Area. So, similar debt, nearby locale.

We decided not to buy a house about two years ago, when house lust began to rear its head, right after we got married. That was the right decision for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was the opportunity to move to France, which we learned about less than a year ago (we're leaving six weeks from today -- uh oh). I imagine this particular scenario is unlikely for others, however. We couldn't have arranged to move overseas, though, without paying off all our credit card debt, the car loan, and the student loans in repayment, however. When we gave up the dream of getting a house within a year lo those many months ago, the money that we had talked about turning into a down payment became the goodbye wave to all those loans.

What was surprising to me was realizing we were okay without having our own place for a few years yet. We don't need a lot of space for ourselves really, and we don't want kids for a while. I still want a house very badly, but when I look at our lives, I can see that we're better off paying off all the debt before we buy. We'll keep putting the maximum into our retirement plans while we're saving our down payment even though I know that will take longer. If we wait to buy a house until we want to have kids, which seems likely, I doubt we'll be able to increase our retirement contributions then. Now seems like a better time. And everyone we know has had babies within two years of buying a house. Apparently mortgages impregnate.

The hardest part for both of us, actually, has been the pressure we're now getting from our families to buy. We've had such a horrendous time with apartments in this area (losing them regularly as landlords kick us out to sell) that I swore I would never have children in a rental. I never want to be like the people I know who lost their apartments a month away from delivery, or with a newborn baby in arms (or two!) This means, of course, that our relatives all want us to buy right now, so we can set about the business of procreating. We've postponed some of this discussion by deciding to move to Paris for a year or so, but I'm getting a little tired of explaining that whatever savings we accumulate there will be used to pay off the last of the student loans, not to buy a house upon our return. This is the dark side, I suppose, of having a family that's open about money.

Looking back, I don't really remember why we decided not to buy when we wanted to so much. I think I just looked at the numbers and realized it wouldn't be prudent to buy in the next year when we'd really be better off paying the debt. And then the next year came and it was completely different than anything I'd planned.

So here we are. Oh, and age-wise, today is my 30th birthday, and my husband will be 31 on Saturday. Anyway, I'm interested to hear what you decide to do.

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