Homeownership: could refinance to a 10/1 ARM mortgage with a $1450/mo. payment.
Renting: could rent a nice 1+1 apartment in downtown Santa Monica for the low $2000s. Say, $2300/mo. This is $800 “more.”
But at my townhouse, HOA fees are $300/mo.
Property taxes are about $600/mo.
Homeowners’ insurance, maybe less than $100/mo.
Home maintenance: hard to predict, maybe $150/mo.
Anyway, the add-ons to homeownership are at least $1000/mo. The “true” cost of homeownership, even with a refinanced mortgage with a $1450/mo. payment, would be $2500/mo. or more. I could rent a nice 1+1 apartment in downtown SM for about the same price, maybe a bit less.
* no mortgage debt, no risk of going underwater if the market continues to fall
* free up home equity, maybe $300K optimistically?
* live in a more central, walkable, fun and hip location
* live much closer to the beach and ocean
* be able to move somewhere else more easily
* with a smaller space, I would need less stuff, reducing clutter and making housecleaning easier
* more interesting neighbors, with turnover?