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View Poll Results: Pricey home in the flashy town or safe college town?
Whoopie! This is the one time I can buy the pricey house in the flashy town on the cheap. Caution to the winds! 5 15.63%
I feel safer with the college town with stable prices, employment if I want to work and low crime. Safe and secure for me. 27 84.38%
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Purchase in a pricey area or college town?
Old 03-24-2009, 02:28 PM   #1
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Purchase in a pricey area or college town?

Assuming finding employment is no longer a factor (you no longer work, you work from home for yourself or any variety of scenarios)--except for the fact that high unemployment often brings on high crime--which situation would you say is the better option:

1. Purchase a home in an affluent area where the real estate prices have fallen tremendously--with a high unemployment rate now--on the assumption that the price will again go up and the employment rate will eventually turn, also; however, you've gotten a heck-of-a-deal on your property if all goes well. Think Scottsdale, Hilton Head, any city in California or Florida practically, etc.
OR
2. Purchase a home in a university town where unemployment is still strong and real estate prices have held their value, and, even if unemployment rates do fall, that college town will still be healthier there than most cities by far? Granted, this means your property value won't skyrocket either later, but no high crime either, most likely. Think Ann Arbor, Gainesville or any of the fiscally healthy college towns.

Alot depends on how long this recession lasts, but, all things being more-or-less equal, which move do you think is the smart one?
I'm curious as to what the board members think about this as I just hashed this over last night with a friend. Thought it was an interesting dilemma to pass on, but we were assuming the recession would last 5 years max.
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Old 03-24-2009, 02:51 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Orchidflower View Post
Granted, this means your property value won't skyrocket either later, but no high crime either, most likely. Think Ann Arbor, Gainesville or any of the fiscally healthy college towns.
Despite being a college town, Gainesville is a very high crime area. Higher than the national average in almost every crime sector. Serial killers and rapists also come to mind. Still a cool town, just saying.
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Old 03-24-2009, 02:56 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orchidflower View Post
Assuming finding employment is no longer a factor (you no longer work, you work from home for yourself or any variety of scenarios)--except for the fact that high unemployment often brings on high crime--which situation would you say is the better option:

1. Purchase a home in an affluent area where the real estate prices have fallen tremendously--with a high unemployment rate now--on the assumption that the price will again go up and the employment rate will eventually turn, also; however, you've gotten a heck-of-a-deal on your property if all goes well. Think Scottsdale, Hilton Head, any city in California or Florida practically, etc.
OR
2. Purchase a home in a university town where unemployment is still strong and real estate prices have held their value, and, even if unemployment rates do fall, that college town will still be healthier there than most cities by far? Granted, this means your property value won't skyrocket either later, but no high crime either, most likely. Think Ann Arbor, Gainesville or any of the fiscally healthy college towns.

Alot depends on how long this recession lasts, but, all things being more-or-less equal, which move do you think is the smart one?
I'm curious as to what the board members think about this as I just hashed this over last night with a friend. Thought it was an interesting dilemma to pass on, but we were assuming the recession would last 5 years max.
I would say the better option is whatever appeals to you on a gut level. We won't live forever, and at least once we are in our late 50s I think it's time to please yourself. Try to do your speculating at arm's length from your life.

Ha
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Old 03-24-2009, 02:57 PM   #4
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I live in a college town and there are pros and cons. I rather like it, but I didn't buy here because it was such.
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Old 03-24-2009, 03:04 PM   #5
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College towns are all the hype rage in a lot of the retirement planning and "retirement cities rated" guides. I guess if you put a high value on a recession-resistant economy, educational and cultural opportunities it's good -- and sometimes good medical facilities, too. But if those aren't that important to someone, they are way overpriced relative to the typical wages and salaries found in the area. There's definitely a "college town" premium priced into many of them, and sometimes it's rather steep.
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Old 03-24-2009, 03:50 PM   #6
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If I currently had safety concerns where I live, the option of a nicer community with permanent population would be more appealing.

College towns are kind of bipolar - split between the well paid college professor type and the highly mobile minimum wage type. Better cultural lifestyle but a large mobile population as well, which usually brings some problems with crime and safety.

Real estate crashes seem to me to be opportunities to acquire high quality real estate for low prices.
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Old 03-24-2009, 04:16 PM   #7
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I don't think there's much point in choosing a retirement town based on how well a house there might appreciate. Along the lines of what Ha said, it makes more sense to choose based on what makes you happiest.

I liked living in a college town. There were a lot of free or cheap activities and even major cultural events, out of proportion to the size of the town. The university library was a wonderful resource and provided many pleasant afternoons. Many universities allow senior citizens to audit classes for free or at a discount, too. Disadvantages were traffic during home games, limited shopping, and high property/school taxes because it was in Texas. Faculty types, grad students, those in support/service occupations, and undergrad students tended to segregate themselves in different parts of town at least to some extent so it's not like you'll have an Animal House frat party going on next door or anything. Our neighborhood was inexpensive (mostly younger faculty), quiet and there was almost no crime.

I don't think I would like living in Yuppieville, even if I could get a McMansion for a bargain. I really don't have any desire for a McMansion and a Beemer, and a community like that just isn't for me.
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Old 03-24-2009, 04:16 PM   #8
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Ahh...this poll just started, but I was waiting to see who would state the obvious that high quality real estate can be had for no moola if you are willing to wait and speculate. Thanks, MichaelB.
Well, let's see if anyone thinks speculation is the "smart" move here...hmmmm...
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Old 03-24-2009, 06:05 PM   #9
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There are only a few areas of Florida that would be considered affluent and they are all on the coast . The rest of Florida varies from upper middle to middle class to downright scary . So I would never move to Florida or anyplace just to make a few bucks on a house . I'd rather move to an area that had what I wanted no matter what the housing situation was.
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Old 03-24-2009, 06:11 PM   #10
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I said 1. All I have to say is head to any California coastal town 365 days a year. Then you can drive 2 to 3 hours and be skiing in the mountains or dune bugging in the desert. That is why people want to live here.

Now im moving out in retirement. Its expensive to do those kind of things. But if you are looking for housing appreciation there you go.

Oh Ill add I am confident 5 years from now the real estate boom will be blossoming again.
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Old 03-24-2009, 06:25 PM   #11
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I tend to agree with you, Notmuchlonger, and I've heard on tv that those that pay with cash in Phoenix, Vegas and other bust areas that were pricey are getting fabulous deals now, too.
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Old 03-24-2009, 06:43 PM   #12
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What, exactly, is a McMansion? It seems some people use that term for any house larger than their own.

Not a naive question... I have heard the term used very often. I have my own definition in mind, but it may not match others'.
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Old 03-24-2009, 06:47 PM   #13
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What, exactly, is a McMansion? It seems some people use that term for any house larger than their own.

Not a naive question... I have heard the term used very often. I have my own definition in mind, but it may not match others'.
You're right - - that is a vague description! When I say "McMansion", I envision a brand new home (often on a postage stamp sized lot) that is several stories high and at least 3000 square feet, in a brand new subdivision full of other huge houses. More than size, it has to have all the possible amenities and luxuries. Probably anything built by Toll Brothers would qualify, like this one.

Edited to add: Ah!! Here's a definition in Wikipedia, that more or less agrees with mine.
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Old 03-24-2009, 07:26 PM   #14
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I picked college town, but I would add the condition of being close to a college town, not inside the city limits. College towns can be pretty rascally. And sometimes they attract a lot of undesirables (predator types) because of the coed population.
The proximity of colleges is wonderful for the local economy, but living in town when the population surges, along with the "ameteur nights and weekends" would be a bit much for me.
I've evolved into too much of a country mouse. I love my peace and quiet out here.
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What's a McMansion?
Old 03-24-2009, 07:54 PM   #15
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What's a McMansion?

Gee, the name McMansion sounds so tacky and ugly, but the listing you posted is of a very pretty house IMHO. (Maybe the tacky part is only that so many people bought new homes without being able to pay for them).

Houses in developments do tend to look alike...builders can't take chances on turning off buyers, so they build the house styles that they know will sell. I always dreamed of being able to have a custom home built, but now I've settled for paying off the one we have...picture attached. It is 18 years old and sits on 3.5 acres...is it still a McM?
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Old 03-24-2009, 09:18 PM   #16
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Well, I'll say it definitely looks like a McMansion to me. And a very beautiful one.
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Old 03-24-2009, 09:19 PM   #17
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Damn i want one or two of those myself.
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Old 03-24-2009, 10:00 PM   #18
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Ann Arbor, eh? Why not Fort Collins or Boulder? I have lived in two and visited the other frequently enough to know it. Ann Arbor has better classical music concerts and two lively downtown areas, one near the campus on State Street, and the other one on Main about 1/2 mile away. The concerts are so good that you can see world class musicians from 3rd row orchestra seats for $7 if you're shameless enough in your intermission upgrade.

The two Colorado cities have better outdoor sporting opportunities. The concert series are not as great but still decent. The winter in Colorado is nowhere as brutal as those in the East and Midwest.
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Old 03-24-2009, 10:37 PM   #19
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Your photo looks like a regular mansion to me, Amethyst--no "mc" about it.
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Old 03-24-2009, 11:12 PM   #20
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Your photo looks like a regular mansion to me, Amethyst--no "mc" about it.
Yah. Out here in the stranger parts of California, McMansions are noteworthy for being both ugly and built right to the (very small) lot limits.

Here is a very beautiful example from the greater Los Angeles area, Chatsworth CA, starting at $899,900.


Note the front, designed to look like an urban car park. In general, McMansion architecture calls for as much garage door visibility as possible. The design should look like a place where cars live, and keep their drivers in the servants quarters.

Here's another gem from Northridge, a bit north and east of central Los Angeles, only 1,790,000 in 2006, such a deal, resold in 2007 for 1,192,000, current Zillow estimate 883,500. Probably not a honobob investment.)


The images are all courtesy of la.curbed.com
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