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If You Had to Choose: Perfect Home or Perfect Yard/Neighborhood?
Old 07-07-2018, 08:02 AM   #1
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If You Had to Choose: Perfect Home or Perfect Yard/Neighborhood?

Nothing scientific, just for fun if you're inclined.

We're getting close to relocating, and find ourselves faced with having to choose between the house we'd like and the neighborhood we'd like, we can't afford both. We've done our homework and we're simply going to have to choose. Congrats to those here who have or can afford both.

We'd like a modern house with all the modern features, and open concept - but they're all in new suburb developments with fewer amenities (grocery, restaurants, shopping, culture, etc.).

We also love established neighborhoods with mature landscaping, tree lined streets and much closer to an abundance of city amenities. But at the same price point those homes are relatively small and out of date, with formal living and dining rooms, no garages, inevitably some latent maintenance issues, and poor energy efficiency.

We're almost certainly going to choose the former.

Just for fun, how about you?
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Old 07-07-2018, 08:11 AM   #2
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Midpack, you probably know my answer since I've participated in your other threads. I'm staying with my perfect neighborhood in the established city limits. Our house has a lot of those downsides, although there is a garage of sorts under the house in what could be a walk out basement.

The established yard isn't all it is cracked up to be in NC. Don't get me wrong, it is stunningly beautiful to live in an area with established trees. But they do require maintenance! And it is costly. Second, they tend to fall in things during hurricanes. Although inland, we still get trees down during weather events.

We have friends who moved to a new home and I am a bit jealous. But they found a weird glitch after they moved in. The garage doors were very narrow! It is a builder trick! Most of the new vehicles won't fit unless it is a compact car or little SUV. So, check with your target home that they didn't cheat on the garage.
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Old 07-07-2018, 08:15 AM   #3
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I'm handy so I'd pick the neighborhood and do my own renovations.
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Old 07-07-2018, 08:20 AM   #4
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I'd probably go with the perfect house, since you spend more time inside the house than dealing with specific things about the neighborhood. Of course it depends on how far off the neighborhood is from being perfect, and how much your needs are to be in the perfect neighborhood. If driving is an issue, a very walkable neighborhood may trump everything. If the perfect house is way out in the boonies, and you don't like isolation or have a need to go into town every day, that may be too much to overcome.

To JoeWras's point, if the perfect house is not perfect at all, maybe the perfect neighborhood will have issues too, like noise or crime. So I'm taking the question at face value, that the house or neighborhood is "perfect enough", and I'll go with the house.
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Old 07-07-2018, 08:22 AM   #5
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Neighborhood. The house is immaterial.....as Shania Twain sang "That don't impress me much".
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Old 07-07-2018, 08:22 AM   #6
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As a ER, I want less frustrations out of life. And when it comes to a home, the lack of a garage is a dealbreaker.

There will be a point when this handyman will be slowing down, and hiring outside maintenance can only get more expensive.

I cannot imagine how much my neighbor is paying 3 gentleman rebuilding bathrooms the last 2 weeks, for example.

Go new. Eventually that neighborhood will be mature and the area will build up.
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Old 07-07-2018, 08:28 AM   #7
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After having a very bad experience with a scary neighbor I would do some research on any neighborhood I was considering to make sure there is not a close neighbor who is mentally imbalanced and who will make you life miserable. i don't know exactly how to find this out--maybe talk to the local police, walk around the neighborhood and talk to the people living there, check out the local facebook/nextdoor page. Also check out the crime report for the neighborhood.

For me a good neighborhood with good neighbors means more than the house itself. You can always fix up a house that needs work. If you have a bad neighbor/neighborhood you are stuck. Location, Location, Location.
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Old 07-07-2018, 08:30 AM   #8
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Neighborhood > House.

While a lot of the infrastructure issues with an older home might be a non-starter for me, if the bones are ok I can update it. Of course that means some wiggle room in the budget if not now, then down the road. You could have a garage added on...maybe that wall for the dining room isn't load bearing and you can remove it and make a great room - that sort of thing.

What I can't do is landscape my neighborhood, or improve the outward appearance of the other homes around me, or move my house to convenient distances.

We gutted and updated our home about 12 years ago. DH thinks it's perfect and never wants to move. I don't much care for our neighborhood (i want to be on a lake, with tree lines streets, if I could transplant my house there I would). So in a few years we'll be looking.
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Old 07-07-2018, 08:31 AM   #9
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One other note, if it was a problem neighborhood, with known bad neighbors or some other big issue within the immediate vicinity, I'd avoid that. You can probably fix up a problem house to be good enough, but a neighborhood is out of your control. If I had to pick between a bad neighborhood or bad house, I'd choose neither and keep looking so I'm assuming that's not the case.
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Old 07-07-2018, 08:33 AM   #10
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Neighborhood. Since we’re not very social and cook pretty simply, we did not see the value in a new home. Sure, they’re beautiful, but just not as important as the area. More important to us was being close to family. In the process, we also realized how much we like being close to amenities such as shopping, healthcare and restaurants. We were lucky to find a ranch style home on an acre in a suburban area (very uncommon in this area and especially in this price point), but it was a complete gut job (remodel). We still managed to stay close to our price point but admittedly are probably $25K to $50K over what we could get for the house. That won’t matter if all goes to plan and we live here 10+ years but the house is functionally sound and reasonably updated. But a galley kitchen is just not the same as a big open concept layout and I wasn’t going to move/remove walls. Bedrooms are also smaller than I’d like but again, the location is close to family (<10 min) and very close to the other things we use.
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Old 07-07-2018, 08:39 AM   #11
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You can’t remodel a neighborhood, but you can a house.
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If You Had to Choose: Perfect Home or Perfect Yard/Neighborhood?
Old 07-07-2018, 09:43 AM   #12
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If You Had to Choose: Perfect Home or Perfect Yard/Neighborhood?

If I had to choose..... then I wouldn't move quite yet. I'd keep looking until I could find the perfect home with the perfect yard in the perfect neighborhood at a price that I could afford. My present house that I call my Dream Home is like that.

None of us are getting any younger. This may be your last chance to buy the home you really wanted all of your life, with the perfect yard, in the perfect neighborhood.

OK, I guess that neighborhood comes first for me; I probably would have bought my present house even if the house itself wasn't perfect because it is in my ideal neighborhood and right next door to Frank's house. Location, location, location. Also I did have to completely re-landscape my yard, but it is perfect for me now. Due to amazingly good luck, the house is perfect for me as well and needed no changes other than new locks and a garage door opener.

Are you sure you want a modern house? Sometimes you can get an older house (on the established, convenient tree lined street like mine), that has been renovated to provide it with most or all modern features and conveniences.

My advice would be to keep looking! That perfect house/yard in the perfect neighborhood has just got to be out there waiting for you. It takes time to find just the right one.
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Location, location, location
Old 07-07-2018, 09:47 AM   #13
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Location, location, location

Our actions show what's in our hearts. My actions show that my heart says "neighborhood"...

...or more specifically, "location of the neighborhood". DW and I just signed the contract on our future retirement house. It's on a lake, with a boathouse and five acres of woods.

The house itself isn't quite what we had figured. It's larger than we had planned, but it was at a good price and had everything else we wanted.

That it be on a lake, with a nice view and short walk to the dock, was mandatory. Ditto for first floor Master BR and laundry. But we also wanted a roomy kitchen; builders don't put those in houses with only 2-3 bedrooms. The bigger kitchens only come in larger houses.

So, to get all the house we wanted we ended up with twice the house we needed. I suppose we could have bought a bare lot and built everything from scratch, with custom architecture and contractors and project alterations and cost overruns... bleah! Not for me. Retirement is supposed to mean LESS work, not more!
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Old 07-07-2018, 09:50 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W2R View Post
None of us are getting any younger. This may be your last chance to buy the home you really wanted all of your life, with the perfect yard, in the perfect neighborhood.
I had that when I bought this house 30 years ago! And to my surprise, the neighborhood got even more perfect.

30 years is quite a while. The house now is not perfect. It is perfectly serviceable and comfortable. But no open floor plan, no high ceilings, no smartness, not enough baths. Existing baths are tiny. And I mean tiny. What was perfect isn't anymore.

And now the Jones's showed us theirs, and something primal inside is brewing. Maybe this is my last chance to do a huge renovation to re-perfect the house for the last third of life?
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Old 07-07-2018, 10:00 AM   #15
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Neighborhood, for me. I love the location of our house. We are about 15 minutes from most places that I would want to go.

We spent a lot of time, trying to find a better house for us many years ago, and could not find any that we liked better. Our house only had a one car garage and DH wanted a big garage. We ended up having an oversized two car garage built, so now we have three car spaces. We had a major remodel done on our house (both inside and outside) in 2014. I really enjoy our house now.

I agree with location, location, location.
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Old 07-07-2018, 10:01 AM   #16
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Neighborhood. In my case I got lucky. I got both.
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Old 07-07-2018, 10:02 AM   #17
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I could see both arguments but I think I would enjoy the house more than I would the neighborhood. Just in terms of time I spend more time in my house than I do walking around the hood.
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Old 07-07-2018, 10:05 AM   #18
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For me it would depend on how convenient the neighborhood is to shopping, restaurants, Doctors/hospital, fun activities, and the property tax rate if in different towns. Other than that, I would want a good floor plan and updated house that is energy efficient. That said, if you get a neighbor from hell, that could ruin wherever you end up.
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Old 07-07-2018, 10:06 AM   #19
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Yard and neighborhood. And by a significant margin. The perfect yard will be large enough for me to erect a cheap carport or shed as needed.

Ticky-tacky houses on small lots make me claustrophobic.
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Old 07-07-2018, 10:14 AM   #20
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Good neighborhoods are precious. Homes can be updated as needed.
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