Picking a Neighborhood

by Jenny Tue, June 19 2012 08:43

One of the hardest parts of buying a house is picking a neighborhood. You want nice neighbors, schools, amenities, short commute, and a home that will appreciate in value all within a set budget.

I've always lived in an older neighborhood, and was hard pressed to move to a new one for our condo. I wanted to move back to the trees, and established amenities, and the shorter commute. But after I changed jobs we punched the numbers, and it wasn't going to happen unless we sacrificed on size AND picked up a handyman special. We aren't against renovations, but those updating costs add up fast, and there is only so much "ugly" I can live in for so long.

So we started to look at new neighborhoods. It wasn't very serious at first. Even when we were looking at older homes we'd take notes on the neighborhoods our friends were in. I confess to frequently muttering the theme song from Weeds. It was a miracle in Christmas 2010 when delivering a gift I found a neighborhood I liked! Unfortunately it was nearly finished (which also made lots more expensive), and the location was worse than where we are now for the commute.

The next contender was the neighborhood to our south. It's a bit longer of a commute, but only a couple minutes. They have some awesome, resident-only amenities, and the school is opening this fall. It would actually make groceries more convenient (on the way home instead of requiring a bit of back-tracking), and we know all the local restaurants and bars. The mandatory community fees were a bit of a turn off, and, while pretty, there's something missing in its "Cape Cod" architecture.

As we came closer and closer to the decision to build (it took over two years to sway me, and I'm still not always in love with the decision, as practical as it may be), our list of needs became more refined:

  • architecture must be appealing; no "little boxes"
  • green space is a must, and hopefully it's already finished
  • we didn't want a crazy commute; the local drivers were also a consideration (we've realized that people drive like mad men on the west end)
  • location relative to our friends and family
  • future plans for the neighborhood
  • street width (if everyone parked on the roads we'd still like to be able to pass someone on the street in the summer at least, and bonus points if we could do it in the winter!)
  • current location of groceries relative to our commute (and future location if it's known!)
  • power lines
  • cost

A major part of our final decision came down to the community developer. Ours is putting in a lot of forethought into each phase (three have been released now) and has them well established before building begins. It gives us the warm fuzzies that the neighborhood will be cared for as it's built.

Also under major consideration was our commute. This new location will add a few minutes to it, but not much. Once future infrastructure is built it could possibly be shorter!

In the end, I confess, it was the aesthetics of the community that got me. From the view of the lake as you drive in, to the variety in front elevations and the lovely front porches, I really do love our neighborhood.

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