Ask E. Jean - Tormented? Driven Witless? Whipsawed by confusion?

Advice Vixens

Dear Vixens,
I got divorced about 3 years ago. I have full custody of my kids, and I have kept the house (even though I will owe my ex another large sum after I sell). I have a great job and my ex is paying generous child support. I live in a, let's say, gentrified neighborhood so my house valuation creeps steadily up. I love the house and the neighborhood.

The problem is that I am very slowly slipping into debt with no real way to make ends meet. It's a slow slip. Probably I can refinance the house in 2023 and clear the debt, but take on an even bigger mortgage.

I need to renovate to sell well. I could do this, but I haven't been able to make myself start the process. I also have a super nice boyfriend who proposed a major renovation, which would basically double the size of the house. It would include a 2 bedroom rental apartment (for his 2 young adult children now, and later as income). I'm sure we can come to a fair arrangement, but I would loose the part of my backyard that I love.

So I'm stuck with 2 choices. 1. Renovate and sell then buy something maybe smaller and alone or bigger with my partner (and his nearly grown offspring) or 2. Renovate and loose the backyard.

It's quite a fickle dilemma, but both options are slightly heartbreaking. Does anyone have any novel ideas?

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    Comment deleted .. will post a more thorough response later.

    reply to Kal
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    I changed cities about five years ago. I moved east to another major city. There were few international buyers when we bought five years ago, but now it's definitely a very hot market.

    reply to anonymous
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    Got it!

    Okay, what I'm thinking is this:

    There doesn't seem to be a scenario that doesn't involve renovation. But have you consulted with your bank or credit union about refinancing NOW instead of in 2023? A good credit union may be able to find you a new financing plan/mortgage that may alleviate the 'slow slide into debt' situation to begin with. Personally, I'm with a very good credit union -- the best ones are WAY better than banks, because they're a co-operative. This means you are a co-owner of the business, and they're not out to sell you products/services you don't need. If there's a credit union near you, I would urge you to check it out....

    If it has to be renovation in the end, a few thoughts:

    - Building an addition to rent out is a tempting idea in theory, but it can turn into a nightmare. Not just in terms of cost, but in terms of the having to find the right tenant -- who will also be your neighbour. It's a big, big risk. (I know his nearly adult kids might be in the apartment for a while, but probably not for THAT long. And having family as tenants can also lead to a special set of problems.) Unless you are 100% absolutely, completely and provably comfortable with his kids AND have knowledge about how to find a good tenant once they leave, I'd be very wary of this option.

    - I'd do a little research in terms of houses in the neighbourhood you like. Are there any affordable houses for sale that would have the features you want? (Smaller, with a nice backyard?). In other words, if you're looking at moving, is there anywhere to move *to*?

    I hope it goes well, whatever the final decision is!

    reply to Kal
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