Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Our Housing Stuff

Our housing situation has recently become unfortunately complicated!

4 years ago we moved into this house right next to campus.  Cornell University actually owns this house (166 Pleasant Grove Rd.)  and we rent it via a third part management company.  

 We love being close to campus for a lot of reasons.  The whole endeavor of our ministry here at Cornell is to make the good news of Jesus Christ as accessible as possible.  

Ever since my first international mission trip in the summer of 1997, I have been convinced that the best way to connect  people with God's gracious love is to go and live among them. God originated this idea; walking with Adam in the garden, dwelling with the Israelite's in the tabernacle and then sending Jesus to earth as the ultimate missionary. Jesus lived as a man, with men in order to reconcile men to himself. He came to earth and gave his life so that we could have a personal relationship with him forever. And he has invited us to participate with him in this same mission.

This house has served us very well in our ministry here; it has enabled us to live very close to the students we minister to and with.   But it seems now we must live somewhere else!  Please pray for us as we look for another house that will serve our family and our ministry like this one has.  

If this stuff is interesting to you, you can read on.  

Financial Facts.

Just over a year ago, Cornell decided they were going to sell this house rather than retro-fit it with the expensive fire prevention sprinkler system that they are putting in all of their properties.  Sprinkler systems cost about $100,000 and so in an effort to make money instead of spend it Cornell decided this would be a good house to sell. 

We deliberated a lot about whether or not we should try and buy this house.  There are obviously some good reasons to live here!  But in the end, we decided not to pursue the option of trying to buy this place.  Quite frankly, the price is too high for us!    The house is currently listed at $299,000.  Cornell is selling this house, but they are actually not selling the land.  They will keep the land and the owner of the house will pay $350 per month to lease the land from Cornell.  The taxes in this part of Ithaca are quite high, and so even if a person were to buy the house with cash, they would still need to pay somewhere between $1,450 and $1,550 in taxes and lease fees every month just to live here.  On top of that the house itself is old, and in the time we've lived here there has been a pretty steady stream of repairs needed.  So with utilities and yearly upkeep it would probably cost at least $2,000 per month even without a mortgage.   Add a mortgage on top of that and you'll be pushing $3,000 a month.  

Things we've factored in to our decision. 

Making our decision was and continues to be hard. I'm even writing this now, probably, in an effort to process and re-think what we should be doing.   It's not just about the money!  It never is right?   Money is simply a tool.  

In the end, we can't control the going rate of housing in an area and taxes are a whole other complicating factor that although I have a lot of opinions about -I have no power to dictate!  When friends outside of New York State and even friends who live outside of town hear about how much real estate costs here in Ithaca they can be pretty shocked!  People often ask why we don't simply move out of town a ways where everything is cheaper.  We could essentially save a lot of money if we were to live in a neighboring township.  And maybe we will.

But we believe it is valuable -in a way that's not able to be calculated monetarily to be close to campus.  It's good for our family, it's good for outreach, it's good for our staff team, it's good for discipleship and evangelism.

Everything has a cost.  If we lived farther away it would mean that we would spend more time driving.  It would mean that the praise band wouldn't be able to practice at our house.  It would mean that we'd have to spend money on storage somewhere closer to campus to store all of our ministry supplies and weekly meeting sound equipment.  It would mean that the students would interact less with our family and my kids would see our students less.  It would mean not having small groups wouldn't be coming over and using our yard.

Additionally, we like our kids' school!  There are other good schools in the area of course, but we would rather not move our kids.  The relationships that they have with friends and the ones we have with parents, teachers and the community are valuable.  


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