Reader Mail: I’m broke. Thanks, Hoboken.
Hoboken411 reader “JP” expresses his feelings about the current state of finances in town, and what effect it’s having on residents in the same boat. Despite being conscientious and careful with his money – is on the short end of the stick.
Why can’t Hoboken be as careful as me?
“I worked two jobs for 10 years (full time and 2nd job every weekend) to save enough money for a down payment on a modest 1-bedroom in pricey Hoboken NJ, just across the river from New York City.
I spent months searching for an affordable apartment that was within my budget and after a gut renovation, hopefully would appreciate over the years.
Life was good for the first year — as a single guy with no credit card debt, it was easy making my mortgage payments each month. I lived modestly, cooked in my new kitchen instead of eating out, spent very little money on luxuries like movies or electronics. Life was good.
And then the city of Hoboken, suffering from a gigantic budget deficit after spending spending spending money they didn’t have — was taken over by the state of NJ and raised taxes 47% to cover the deficit. I saw my tax bill jump to $6500 (almost $400/month more).
The Realtor who sold me my apartment appraised it at approx. $330K. “Whoa, quite an appreciation – I did a good job on those renovations!”, I thought. I contacted my mortgage company and attempted to refinance — after paying the $400/application fee (quite an expense in these tough times), I felt pretty comfortable I could hit that $315K appraisal minimum I needed to get the amazingly low rate of 4.875.
After being appraised, I was shocked to learn my apartment was valued at $275,000. Well below the value I needed. The market is in the toilet. And apartments, even in pricey Hoboken, are not worth what they were.
No refinancing for me.
AND I’m out 400 bucks just for applying.
But I’m lucky I still have a job. Two of them, in fact. Never thought I’d feel lucky to work seven days a week.
Now when I shop – I only buy generic brands. And I do this in Jersey City where sales tax is lower. I don’t go out to eat. I don’t go out with friends if spending money is involved. I cannot support local Hoboken businesses, whose prices are usually higher. I buy in bulk. I don’t drive to see my family as much because of the cost of gas & tolls.
Today, I struggle to make my mortgage payment, now $400 more a month…even though I did everything I thought was right. I saved. I lived modestly. I bought something well within my budget.
And because my local government didn’t do the same — I’m broke.“