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Thanks for the many responses and suggestions. The responses thus far illuminate a few points I should make with respect to our current and future situation. Although our current apartment is wonderful for the two of us, it will not be ideal in a few years once we have kids. So inevitably, we imagine that we will need more space in two to three years whether we decide to buy or continue to rent. This fact may impact people's impression of what's the right thing for us to do. Some of the small places we've looked at that need work do have expansion potential-- such as a convertible garage or a large enough lot to add an addition to the back of the house.

Also, although we are saving roughly $4000 a month at this point, we will not be able to continue doing so once we do have kids (plan to sometime in the next 2-3 years). While we haven't worked out the numbers on the expense of children, we're certain that we'll have less money to save than we do now. Also, although my current job provides a high income, it also requires a lot of hours. So at some point I may want to transition into something that gives me more time for less pay. I don't want to end up with the "golden handcuffs" and feel forced to continue to work as hard to support our lifestyle. So the option of continuing to save $40K a year and retiring around 50 sounds great, but probably isn't going to happen for us.

That being said, the recommendation regarding trying to see if our landlord would be willing to sell to us on a lease option basis is a good one. I doubt he'd go for it (I get the impression he has no desire to sell), but it's worth asking. In terms of working out a deal regarding the improvements we'd like, we'd have to figure out the cost and whether it makes sense given the relatively short timeframe we're likely to stay in the apartment.
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