We are renting an old Victorian-style house for $1,400/month. The only reason we're getting it for "cheap" is because we are friends with the owners. We know that this deal isn't going to last long, plus I'm not really keen on spending more than $1,500/month+ on a rental.
Though we've paid more for our house in NZ, I can't use that as a comparison because lifestyle in the US is different. After looking at available rentals recently, we can definitely get something for less with some trade offs, e.g. farther from work, smaller (which is fine by me, less to clean), or maybe in a not-so-great neighborhood.
What has been tricky is having a child who's about to enter kindergarten. We pay $800/month at his preschool now and we've always planned on sending him to public school so that we can save up for his college education. Sure, we can keep sending him to private schools but that's not the most practical solution. I want to give public schooling a chance. I mean, we've managed to teach him literacy and math before he got to school age so I think with proper guidance, public schooling isn't bad regardless of ranking. Right???
Having this dilemma made me miss New Zealand in a way. I wouldn't have had to deal with this if we still lived there. I honestly had not heard of school closures until I paid attention to American education. I don't know enough about the problem to make an opinion, but it's such a pain in the ass to deal with and I don't have a schooling kid yet!
Despite having a bit of down payment and steady income, we are trying to be smart about our choices. I know the expenses of owning a home and I can tell that there's a variance between owning a home in NZ and in the US. I'm not sure if our month's rent of $1,400 could cover the mortgage, property tax, insurance and other government fees.
We had a 3-bedroom house but we mainly used 1 bedroom aside from our kid's room that turned into his play room. Other than that, we have no dreams of a McMansion or a big yard. We just want a decent house with decent space and a small yard for $200k. Obviously, it's not a great time for us yet.