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2018 Housing Expenses

Homeownership isn’t for everyone. For those of us who brave it, a condo can have some lower ongoing expenses. My Portland, Oregon condo cost me $5,175 for all of 2018.

Every year I write a post to monitor my housing expenses. Today’s post covers my 2018 housing expenses. You can read my 2016 and 2017 posts here. Even though my condo is paid off, a primary residence has a lot of expenses which I’ll review below.


2018 housing expenses – $5,176

It’s hard to say which has a lower long-term ownership expense, a single family home or a condo. I think a frugal household could come out ahead in a SFH, but not the average person.

Condos uniquely have monthly HOA dues. They also require the approval of the HOA before you can make certain repairs and upgrades. That said, my HOA dues started out at $150/month and then went up to $175/month and now are at $290/month.

Besides that, a condo is a rather low-maintenance possession. I’ve owned this unit since end of 2015.

My spending categories for my condo are as follows:

  • HOA dues ($290/month)
  • Annual property taxes ($2,200/year)
  • Annual condo insurance ($285/year)
  • Repairs ($22)
  • Cosmetics ($0)

For half of the year I paid $175/month and then the HOA dues jumped to $290/month. At least I didn’t have a special assessment which HOA’s impose from time to time.

My HOA dues aren’t a loss – in return for these payments I get:

  • sewer
  • trash
  • water
  • common area repairs (roof, foundation, siding)
  • landscaping
  • a building engineer
  • building insurance

My repairs were simple and I handled them myself. $22 was for the parts I needed. I need to be careful with any plumbing and electrical work because if something goes wrong then I could be on the hook for a lot or even be sued.


$430/month to live in Portland

Looking back on 2018, I spent on average $430/month to live in Portland. The current rent here for something equivalent would be $1,250/month. The lowest rent in a comparable neighborhood here would be $950/month.

It’s worth mentioning that I get to deduct some of these expenses on taxes since I have a home office as well. Still, $430 is a very fair price to pay to live in a large city with solid infrastructure.

If I continue to live here when I’m 70 years old, I suspect I would be able to continue to afford it just fine. However, I suspect that by that age I will get the opportunity to get in on another piece of real estate for a much better price and maybe pay even less.

Regardless of where and how, home ownership has its costs. At the very least there will be property taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintenance. The bigger the house, the larger these costs.

However, the ideal home could allow for some off-grid style living. If once grows some food on there and uses renewable resources for their energy, a lot of the ongoing costs could be decreased.

2 replies on “2018 Housing Expenses”

I do wonder if condos are a good investment and I don’t mean an investment in that you’re living in it and not truly earning you anything while living in it.

After buying my townhouse, and in the process of renting it out. I learned that my HOA of $150/month is required to stay in the homeowners name so that’s probabaly the same with a condo as well. Now, I can probably cover that expense by adjusting the rent to cover $150/month that I’m paying for the townhouse HOA yet not living in it but can the same be said for a condo. I’m not so sure. Eventually your condo HOA will continue to climb and may outprice what you can rent it out for.

With this thought process, I’m not sure if buying a $600,000+ condo in DC will merit me any rental return especially since the condos fees are in the neighbor of $800-$1000/month. Utilizing the famous 1% rule for rental return, it’s hard to see any return value on a condo in this area.

Hopefully the 1% rule favors you better in Portland if you did intend to rent out your condo and make a favorable return for your investment.

Your compa from the east coast,

Special F

I don’t see how an HOA could go up without the rent correspondingly increasing. If HOA’s increase out of sync to inflation and rent then new systems of property management would likely come into place. Looking at it historically, I suspect that there will be the same correlation as has been in the past few decades.
There are a few real estate investors who focus on condos and townhomes only – the HOA is actually a way for them to protect their downside. In my case, I would never have roof repair or a septic tank replacement or have to service a central air system. But boy, $600k for a condo with those high HOA dues – that’s a tough margin. Then again, a buddy of mine buys $1.5M SFH’s in Manhattan beach and rents them for $6k/month. I think if the market demands a luxury apartment segment then it might be worth catering to. Good luck, keep up posted.

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