Thursday, May 16, 2013

Town or Country

Yes, this is more about the house hunting project. Just a little more and then I will be over it. In fact, to some extent I am. The excitement phase has been replaced by the terrified one.

Where should we live? Why couldn't we get a job in a smaller city? Why are there so many choices? Why do so many people have such awful taste? Where are all the good deals? Why don't people build houses I like?

So we are still in the location decision making phase. Location, location, location! Location isn't universal. What is a good location for one person, isn't for another. Some locations are just too popular (read expensive) to even be considered. The location may be right, but my pocket book says it's crazy to spend that much money on a house no matter how convenient.

The difference between town and country is astounding. The price per square foot in the premier city locations are $300-350 per square foot. The price per square foot in the suburbs are $100-175. That's a big difference!

And then even between the different suburbs there is quite a difference. In one suburb the prices are nearly the same as in the heart of town! Here is a small example from our house hunting research.

A particular builder I like has the exact same floor plans available in two different communities located 30 miles apart from one another. Both communities are about the same distance from the hospital in opposite directions. However in the northern community the 1A floor plan starts at $989,000. In the southern community the 1A floor plan starts at $499,000. Is it really worth an extra $500,000 to live in the north versus the south, particularly when the distance to work is the same?

The homes I like are older homes. Older homes are only found in older areas of town. There aren't that many of them. Urban sprawl in this city hit some major milestones starting in the 80's and hasn't slowed down at all. In some suburbs it isn't even possible to find a home built before 1998. And if you can find one it is a sorry excuse for a house sitting in the middle of a field surrounded by new houses. Holding out to sell their land to some developer for top dollar. That house is doomed.

Some homes in the older neighborhoods have been vacated by their middle class families who headed to the suburbs long ago for more expansive and larger properties and the homes, streets, and neighborhoods have fallen into neglect and aren't a desirable place to live any longer.

And then the truly magnificent older homes located in the heart of the city that have been preserved and taken care of, and even updated are so expensive as to make it even impossible for a doctor to own. Where do these people get their money! Even a fixer upper is enough to cause a mild stroke.

In some areas the line between an excellent neighborhood and one you wouldn't consider living in is as fine as a single major street. One side, yes. The other side no. Pockets like this exist everywhere. One side of the major street people are fixing up their homes, and taking care of their neighborhoods, the other side - not so much. How does this happen?

All I know is there are some people with some serious money, and they aren't the doctors!

But back to the question: would you pay more (almost twice as much) to live in a central location that was close to everything and had the historic unique feel you were looking for? Or would you go for something off the rack in the suburbs knowing you could take the money you saved and invest in your retirement? That is the question of the day, and I don't like it.

Round and round it goes. My practical side says take the money saved and invest it in our retirement and live in the suburbs surrounded by houses that look just alike. But, my impulsive side says who cares how much it costs to live in the city - your kids will take care of you when you grow old:-)

What is important to one person isn't important to another, and we are still trying to figure out what is most important to us. Is there a compromise.... I don't know yet. It is a big purchase and one I want to get it right the first time because I have no intention of moving. This will be the place!


Photobucket

21 comments:

  1. I've been rolling this thought around in my mind too. When the boyfriend finally starts getting paid should we choose suburbs or city? I also like the historic older look and feel of the houses in a city. Did you try writing out a pros and cons list? Also calculate real estate taxes, city taxes, and other hidden costs that might end up weighing heavily on the con side.

    It still sounds like a lot of fun! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our list is pretty crazy.... everything says moving to the suburbs makes the most sense financially, but oh how I love the homes near the city. I also love having money in the bank. It is so much fun I might be sick!

      Delete
  2. Hey - does this mean you guys are buying? I definitely see the issue. I like the older homes as well - the ones that have been updated but still have all the character, good bones and good construction. Those neighborhoods are also wonderful. Something to think about I think is where are the good schools for the kids? What neighborhood would have more like minded folks? Can you walk more in the older neighborhood - the kids to school, to the grocery store, to the restaurants? Where would you as a family be more happy? Regardless if you are saving a ton of money if you are all unhappy then it is worthless. I know I definitely will not be buying in the suburbs - it would drive me crazy. In regards to your previous post about big or small - count me in for small. As we have lived in our tiny homes the last few years I have really come to love it. Less square footage that is well laid out with good storage means I keep less stuff - my life is less cluttered and we focus on the important things - time with family enjoying our favorite activities and traveling. This momma does not like cleaning bathrooms haha. Sorry for the long comment - I know it is a hard decision to make when you are staying put for a long while. Good Luck
    Chey xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At some point we will be buying, but the plan right now is NO we aren't buying. I suppose that's what makes this exercise all the more futile and ridiculous. But when we do buy you better believe we will be ready for it!

      Delete
    2. Gotcha - it will be good to live (rent) for awhile - it will give you a better idea of where you want to be. Yes, we will be able to make your buying decision with much more confidence.
      Chey xo

      Delete
  3. Ah! I remember this process all to well. It makes my heart race just thinking about it. The advice I would give is two fold. 1)Location is everything. You can change a home anyway you want, but you will never be able to move that home to a new location. Pay very close attention to what your house is surrounded by, the distance between the homes, and even ask neighbors. We didn't put an offer on a house last year because each neighbor had really loud dogs that were disruptive.
    2) A home should be an investment. If it's not, you should consider waiting until you find one that is. There is a lot of value in simply having a home be yours and raising your family in it, but it shouldn't every strip you clean of finances you cannot invest in other things.
    Can't wait to see what you decide!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I almost wish we knew we were temporary residents and not looking for a permanent place. I know most people only stay in their homes 7 years, but I don't want to move every 7 years - I want a home, a home I would be happy in forever!

      Delete
  4. your needs will change as your kids get older. even though you think you will want them at x school in y district and you promise to drive z car when your debt is paid off you will change your mind. i would rent as you stated above, live in the city for at least 6-12 months and see where your needs/mood takes you. you will be surprised how quickly things will "fall into place" and seem clear about where you are supposed to be and what works best. i would venture to say building a house on a nice piece of land with decent "value" is a wise investment. especially if you own the land and house. sounds exciting and nerve racking at the same time!

    ReplyDelete
  5. If you're planning to send kids to private school then you're at least not tied to living within a particular school district - is that your plan? Our kids go to a private school & it also has a preschool so its convenient for me to have all 4 kids at the same place, but I'm pretty involved at school so for me its important to live near the school since I'm back & forth at school a couple times each day picking up preschoolers & elementary kids. Luckily for me their school is in the part of town I want to buy a home in. Good luck, we're currently going through all the same dilemmas as far as old house vs new house & the pricing differences between various subdivisions even though relatively close. It's such a big decision!

    ReplyDelete
  6. If you're planning to send kids to private school then you're at least not tied to living within a particular school district - is that your plan? Our kids go to a private school & it also has a preschool so its convenient for me to have all 4 kids at the same place, but I'm pretty involved at school so for me its important to live near the school since I'm back & forth at school a couple times each day picking up preschoolers & elementary kids. Luckily for me their school is in the part of town I want to buy a home in. Good luck, we're currently going through all the same dilemmas as far as old house vs new house & the pricing differences between various subdivisions even though relatively close. It's such a big decision!

    ReplyDelete
  7. If you're planning to send kids to private school then you're at least not tied to living within a particular school district - is that your plan? Our kids go to a private school & it also has a preschool so its convenient for me to have all 4 kids at the same place, but I'm pretty involved at school so for me its important to live near the school since I'm back & forth at school a couple times each day picking up preschoolers & elementary kids. Luckily for me their school is in the part of town I want to buy a home in. Good luck, we're currently going through all the same dilemmas as far as old house vs new house & the pricing differences between various subdivisions even though relatively close. It's such a big decision!

    ReplyDelete
  8. No question for me, location and charm! Money, money, money... Why can't you just grow on trees?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oye. I have so much to say about this. I started one reply last week and it got too long and too personal, so I meant to copy and paste it into an email but I lost it somehow. :( Bottom line? My gut tells me you'll move again, so just get a good "kid" house with room for them to grow and a location that's acceptable distance to the hospital for your DH. When he has to make 2-3 trips to the hospital in the middle of the night, you'll be so happy you are close and you don't have to worry about him falling asleep at the wheel. We don't have a great house and we don't live in a super nice neighborhood, but Doc H can ride his BIKE to work and still make it in ten minutes. It's also been helpful when he DOES have to go in during a birthday party or whatever... he can usually make it back home real quick.
    So much more to say!!! It's a difficult decision, but I am happy where we are.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You have to LOVE your home. It's worth the extra $ if you do love it that much more. I guess the question is...will you love it THAT much more or could you end up loving the one that's more practical financially and still a good home. I say go with your gut on this one...the feeling you get will tell you which is the best fit for you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wordy Wednesday
    Today we are going to let the mom post here because hers thinks some humans can commiserate with hers. And some purrs would be nice if you wants to give hers some, too.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Sangria*
    1.5 L red wine (we used real klassy cheap burgundy)
    1 cup pineapple juice
    juice from 2 lemons, 2 oranges, 2 limes
    1/4 cup sugar
    thinly sliced lemons, oranges, limes and strawberries

    ReplyDelete
  13. 2 cups club soda
    (hard alcohol can be added...most recipes called for brandy. we skipped it)
    We let it sit in the fridge for a few hours.
    It tastes like summer.

    ReplyDelete
  14. yar
    I had the alarming realization lately that I’m going to be spending nine months of every year driving to and from Finn’s (and, someday, Fred’s) elementary school until I'm 51 years old.

    ReplyDelete
  15. So far, the recipes I have found off Pinterest have been hit or miss.
    They all look amazeballs, that is for sure.
    But looks can be deceiving.
    {i almost felt heartbroken the time i clicked in a gorgeous photo of a cake and the recipe was entirely a box mix and canned frosting. um. really?}

    Anyways. Moving on.
    This recipe really really delivered.
    I made it for Mother's Day and it was so delish.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'm not sure why I have so many different fonts going on here, and it's not letting me change it! LOL

    ReplyDelete
  17. I hope you all are doing great.. I'm trying to get back into my bloggy ways as well... Here's to new forming new (renewed), healthy habits!!

    ReplyDelete

Comments are fun, don't be shy. If you are visiting this blog for the first time leave me a note to introduce yourself.