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House or Location
Old 08-14-2017, 12:54 AM   #1
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House or Location

What is more important to you: the house itself or its location?

I saw this question asked elsewhere and my first thought was house is most important. Then I realized we are probably going to eventually sell our current house due to location.

First, to be clear, I know that for most people it isn't 100% either/or. That is, even if one factor is more important, the other factor has to meet some minimal threshold. While location is really important to me, the house has to meet some minimum. It can't be a falling down shack. And, even if house was more important, I wouldn't want to live in an unsafe neighborhood with a lot of crime or whatever.

I also know that some things can't be easily characterized as house or location. They may have elements of both. Nords in his thread mentioned loving the views from his current house and enjoying the wildlife. Is that house or location?

In our case, we actually mostly love our actual physical house. It overall has a nice layout and I like how it looks. The master bath needs to be remodeled but everything I would want to do could be done at not huge cost. There is some other work that would take this house interior from being really really good to almost perfect. These are things that good feasibly be done.

And, we have a beautiful neighborhood. We live in an acreage subdivision. It is very quiet (gated) and every house is different. There is an HOA but very laid back with sensible restrictions that we don't mind (and I don't like HOAs). We can have all of our pets (the main reason we bought here). We have lovely gentle hills that are great for walking.

We have deer in subdivision and bunnies. I even saw a bald eagle one day. I love all of this. I consider all of those things to be primarily "house" even though it could be argued that the beauty of the subdivision and the wildlife are location.

So that makes it great. The only thing that really bothers me about the house is that without kids living here it is bigger than we need. We have unused rooms. So, I hate basically paying for maintaining a house that has space we don't need. And, I hate paying taxes for the value of a house when we don't use all the value.

Yet, I would probably tolerate that except for the location. I hate the location. We are about 18 minutes from the closest grocery store. About 5 minutes more than that to the closest grocery store I want to shop at. The nearest convenience store is 12 minutes away. In fact, it takes 5 minutes of driving to even get to the front of the subdivision. It is highly unlikely there will ever be any stores any closer to us.

And, the stores (other than grocery stores) that are within 20 minutes are mostly not stores I want to go to. The best of them is Target. The nicer stores are near a mall about 40 minutes away. And, we go shopping there. But, even that mall is relatively limited.

When we moved here, we were about 25 minutes (during good traffic) from a major shopping/amenities area in a very large city. Now, we are about an hour and 15 minutes away. So, we rarely go there unless it is urgent.

Nothing delivers to us in terms of stores (well, Pizza Hut delivers). We have no public transportation anywhere in this area. Right now, DH and I are fine with having to drive so far to everywhere. We are in good health and enjoy driving. But, what about when DH is 80 and I'm 73? Well we want to have to drive 45 minutes away 2 or 3 times a week (or alternatively circumscribe our life to places 25 minutes away and just not go to stores we want to go to)?

So, as much as I love the house itself and love the subdivision and the wildlife, I find myself resenting our far it is to go everywhere and the lack of choice we have for places to go within reasonable distance. While I don't really want to live right in the middle of the city, I would like to live within 10 minutes of a grocery store and have more options for deliveries and transportation. And, make major shopping no more than 20 or 25 minutes away.

So, I think in the end for us location will probably trump house. The question is when to have that occur. On the one hand, we could wait until we had to move. Wait until driving these places is really onerous and just stay where we are. That would be staying here for another 10 or 15 years.

The other possibility is to move in 2 or 3 years. Right now, we need to be where we are because of our dogs. But, our dogs are aging and won't be with us all that many years longer. Our cats can go with us of course.

The argument to move sooner is that even though we can drive now and it isn't onerous it would sure be nice to not have to drive so much and to have more amenities closer to us. And, if we moved we could buy a smaller house and not pay for what we don't use. That said, there is I think not much chance we could find a house as nice as this one in terms of layout and amenities within our budget. And, even if we did it certainly wouldn't be in as beautiful a neighborhood and we would give up the wildlife. Of course, the wildlife and being closer to amenities are opposing consideration. That is, any place that is closer to stores, etc. isn't going to have deer in the front yard by and large....

But, then it comes back to location v. house. Yes, house here is no doubt better than any house we would buy. Any house we would buy with a location we would like would be more expensive per square foot most likely due to being closer in. So, the better location definitely requires a compromise on house. And, I think we make that tradeoff but it is hard to decide for sure.

Anyway, for you, house or location?
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Old 08-14-2017, 04:14 AM   #2
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Well, I can only say that it is the combination. In your situation, you could start looking for something else, and only move if you found just the right place that would be worth doing it.
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Old 08-14-2017, 04:48 AM   #3
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It's a combination for me as well. I prefer location more whereas DW prefers the house. Probably because I spend more time outside. I have to have good hiking & biking trails nearby. I can remodel a house to my liking, but I can't change location.
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House or Location
Old 08-14-2017, 04:55 AM   #4
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House or Location

We enjoy a very nice home but things have changed:
- At 63 with 2 bionic knees the stairs have become my nemesis. I can do them just fine but In truth I avoid any trips up and down.
- Over the last few years the neighborhood with its blue ribbon school district has gotten too crowded. We live near 2 of the busiest roads in Pennsylvania.
- I'd like to winter in the south and a smaller turn key operation up north works for us.

I can buy a smaller 3 bedroom home with a first floor master on 25 minutes south of here for about 1/2 what my home is worth. The taxes are also nearly half what I pay here. Further I can easily get reasonable lawn care there. Here at sleepy hollow I'm told it would be $60 a cut.

So for me it is clearly both location and home design.
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Old 08-14-2017, 05:58 AM   #5
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I could dell my modest townhouse and buy a mansion elsewhere so I guess location is the big motivator.
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Old 08-14-2017, 06:07 AM   #6
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75% location/25% house. The first cut will be meeting transportation 'wants' such as being able to bicycle/walk to daily activities like shopping, restaurants, fitness facilities, etc. I am willing to reach out 5 miles or so for biking to some places. I feel Active Transportation makes such a big difference in quality of life that I have changed my approach to driving. When I decide to go somewhere, I always ask myself if I can bike or walk before taking the car. Changing our town for improving transportation alternatives has been a big volunteer effort for me.

As for the house, I have lived in many homes and they all work in some way. There are better alternatives but if the community is right, I know I can find a house that will be just fine. So, I will compromise my ideal house for the ideal neighborhood.

Right now, we live with our DD/SIL. DD must drive to work. As we are considering our next move, the distance to her job might require a compromise. Having said that, the starting point is what I have outlined above.
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Old 08-14-2017, 06:23 AM   #7
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As long as you stay in a higher-end neighborhood, it is essentially a gated community even though it has no gates.

Moving to a great physical location in a higher density neighborhood and close to all the stores you want to live near, would probably test your personal biases and you would want to move out.
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Old 08-14-2017, 06:28 AM   #8
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Definitely location but more importantly a location with an elevated view.
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Old 08-14-2017, 07:12 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katsmeow View Post
We have deer in subdivision and bunnies. I even saw a bald eagle one day. I love all of this. I consider all of those things to be primarily "house" even though it could be argued that the beauty of the subdivision and the wildlife are location.
That sounds like "location" to me. If you dropped a totally different house in there, or even an apartment building which you lived in a unit of, you'd still see most or all of those things. But if you dropped your house into the middle of the city or in a desert, you wouldn't.

Quote:
So that makes it great. The only thing that really bothers me about the house is that without kids living here it is bigger than we need. We have unused rooms. So, I hate basically paying for maintaining a house that has space we don't need. And, I hate paying taxes for the value of a house when we don't use all the value.

Yet, I would probably tolerate that except for the location. I hate the location. We are about 18 minutes from the closest grocery store. About 5 minutes more than that to the closest grocery store I want to shop at. The nearest convenience store is 12 minutes away. In fact, it takes 5 minutes of driving to even get to the front of the subdivision. It is highly unlikely there will ever be any stores any closer to us.
Sounds like you are deciding on one location (with nature, neighborhood amenities, etc) for another (with more convenience). I'm not hearing that much about the house itself. It's more like surroundings vs. location, or suburban/rural vs. urban.
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Anyway, for you, house or location?
For me personally, I'm more remote than you, and I'm sticking with it for the foreseeable future. I don't like having to drive 30 minutes for groceries, Target, and Lowe's, but I don't hate it. I just consolidate trips so I don't have to go so often. People ask what it's like to live here, and I say it's not for everyone, but I like it.

But it doesn't matter what I choose. It seems to me that you are ready to move into the city, if the convenience will never improve and you desire that. I can't see how that would change as you get older, do you? You can always take drives out to the country to see wildlife when you want it. Maybe it's time to start patiently looking for the right new place for you?
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Old 08-14-2017, 07:18 AM   #10
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For me: location
For DW: 80% house, 20% location
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Old 08-14-2017, 07:25 AM   #11
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For me it's location. When we bought our house 22 years ago, it was for the location. I really didn't particularly care for the house, but it was OK. The subdivision and the property were GREAT. Over the years we have remodeled and updated and turned our house into our home and now I love it too.
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Old 08-14-2017, 07:36 AM   #12
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Location, location, location.
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Old 08-14-2017, 08:25 AM   #13
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Start looking now

Sounds like OP is in the catbird seat. Where you live today is satisfactory for today, but you expect in the future to want a smaller house with easier access to attractions.

I can't speak for your particular town, but in all the towns I've lived you could find urban houses which backed up to park-like areas featuring abundant wildlife. Deer, rabbits, raptors (OTOH, possums, skunks and snakes as well. )

Now, a lot of these were older houses, which means two things:

  1. They are comparatively close-in to town, and more likely to have sidewalks and bus stops. Their actual backyards were small, but the adjacent public parkland would be very large. You could conceivably bowhunt as long as you waited until the deer stepped onto your property.
  2. They were built before the days when people needed 5000 square feet, central vacuums, whirlpool bathtubs and 3-car garages. It sounds like a smaller house is what you want anyway.

Eventually these houses come on the market; since you don't have to make the move immediately, you have the ability to wait for the right one to become available. Time is on your side. Good luck!

In my own analog to your search, DW and I spent the weekend scouting some retirement houses in the area we want to move to. Nothing we saw met all our requirements, so we will keep looking. No hurry; we have a couple more years until we FIRE.
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Old 08-14-2017, 08:33 AM   #14
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Friends who bought for the remote location a couple of decades ago are appalled at how close retail, with traffic and congestion, has now come. Just wait a few more years--you might find your location becomes more convenient:
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Old 08-14-2017, 08:49 AM   #15
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Both but I guess I'd put location over house. You can remodel a house or landscaping, but you can't change location. However I'd put COL and climate ahead of location and house.
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Old 08-14-2017, 08:58 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Katsmeow View Post
What is more important to you: the house itself or its location?
I got BOTH, when I bought my dream house in 2015.

Because I was retired and already had a nice house in a good (but deteriorating) neighborhood, I was able to wait. I am so glad I did. I have never had this kind of luck in my life.

If you have lots of time and patience, maybe you can find your dream house in a perfect location, too.
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Old 08-14-2017, 09:05 AM   #17
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It seems to me that Katsmeow has competing priorities. To get the convenience she wants, she will have to give up the wildlife. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the city to encroach, unless there are definite plans. Currently, she is ambiguous. But priorities change over time. Transportation may become more of an issue. Delivery services may improve. Grandchildren may make an appearance. Etc, etc. Time will make the choice clearer.

For me, location is key.
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Old 08-14-2017, 09:14 AM   #18
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If I could only pick one it would definitely be location. We did the big house in the suburbs, with land, wildlife etc and wanted to slice our throats with a spoon (lol, we're city folk). The house was gorgeous (and it should be, it was semi custom) and as soon as my kids got out of the school systems we slapped a "for sale" sign on it.

I love my location now. Center city Philadelphia. walk everywhere. beautiful neighborhood with a ton of architectural diversity (not the cookie cutter suburb houses they slap up everywhere here) and cultural diversity. lol rooftop deck so I can see Beyonce and Jay Z when they come a knocking on the parkway.

unfortunately like Rayinpenn I'm battling the stairs. one bionic knee and osteoarthritis do not go well with a 4 story home. so I'll probably sell in a year or two but I'm staying put in the area.
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Old 08-14-2017, 09:53 AM   #19
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Both are on a bit of a sliding scale.
In our case, we were lucky enough to get both.
Going forward, location would play a much larger role for me.
When we moved to our current house, we found that we are driving about 14,000 fewer miles a year between us.
That works out to about 300 fewer hours in traffic, or about eight work weeks.
Who says you can't buy time?
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Old 08-14-2017, 10:02 AM   #20
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House is great; location is great (for this area); weather is hot and humid most of the time.

When we moved here we could look at the maps and see all future roads shown, so no real surprises with additional development. We benefited from additional schools and retail space. Both were closer than before which was a benefit, but not so close as to create congestion and noise where we live.

We can walk to the grocery store, restaurants, bank where our dog has become a celebrity. Of course, the weather is so hot we cannot do that walk after 8:30 am most of the year.

We also learned what we like and want, so the next place we move will likely be scoped out for similar features and location, but with better weather.
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