Need advice: play it safe with a longer commute, or go for the gold?

I’m curious to hear people’s thoughts on this:

We live in one of the few cities where the real estate market is heating up again. We’re looking to buy, but have a fairly limited budget.

Both houses in question are priced about the same.

The place on the outskirts of town is a 1950’s ranch and is 900 sq ft, with a huge front and back yard. 2 bedroom. Just needs some cosmetic updating, but definitely move-in ready. Priced slightly lower than the fixer and is probably overpriced due to the hot market, but we may be able to bid down.

The fixer-upper is in a really popular neighborhood, has a smaller yard, and is 112 years old. 1200 sq ft, 3 bedroom. It has been a rental and so definitely needs some sprucing up, but is certainly livable. Priced slightly higher than the ranch, but could also possibly be negotiated down.

Both our jobs are closer to the nicer neighborhood, so it’d be an easier commute for us both. His job is equal distance to the outskirts house, whereas I’d have a much longer commute living there. We don’t have a ton of money for remodeling right now. I’d love to take on that kind of project, but my husband isn’t and we’re having a kid in 4.5 months, so anything we live in will have to be "good enough" for at least a year minus planting some shrubs or minor fixes/updates.

In this market, does it make sense to buy the TLC house in a neighborhood with more potential for a faster turnaround and return on investment, or is it better to buy the nicer but less convenient (for me) place and just live there for a few years to see where the market goes before pouring any money into the place?

Any insight is appreciated.


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