After a lot of thought we decided to...stay in our house!
Not only are we staying, we're staying because we refinanced! (Also: how many people do you know that put an exclamation point after the word "refinanced"? Aren't you glad we're friends?)
Thank you so much for your thoughtful feedback on my post considering our options. You guys rock! You brought up some important points and alternative situations we hadn't considered and gave us a lot to mull over.
While we decided not to do anything radical (at least right now!), for a while I seriously thought we would either sell or rent our house. The thought was that doing so would allow us to lower our living expenses, focus on debt reduction, and take serious steps towards our ideal life. Although moving out of our house would mean sacrificing space and some comforts, I liked the idea of living simply and doing something non-traditional in order to achieve the life we want to live.
But then we revisited our budget and took a hard look at our current situation and finances. We factored in considerations such as:
+ The cost of moving out of our house,
+ The hassle of being landlords if we rented our house,
+ The loss of a tax deduction if we sold our house,
+ The very affordable mortgage we have already,
+ The potential of our house to continue to gain value as the market recovers (fingers crossed); and
+ How much we do really love the location of our house, our neighbors, and the town we live in, even if our house isn't our dream house.
And so, ultimately, we decided that staying in our house and making other financial changes, such as refinancing and cutting back on our discretionary spending, will give us the most bang for our bucks.
Although we are staying in our house we're VERY committed to getting serious about living without debt. Refinancing our mortgage is one step in that direction and our debt reduction budget, to be implemented January O-N-E, is another. Details coming...