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 The excitement phase has been replaced by the terrified one.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!