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Old 05-11-2014, 11:25 PM   #21
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I left CT in 1981 and had a nice house on three acres in the country in Southbury. I left a Plant Manager's job in the non-ferrous industry to go to work for big oil in CA. At that time, the kids were very young (2 & 4) and DW was from Michigan, but I had family in CT (two sisters, parents). Also, CT had no state income tax at that time.

Last time I was back (2012) was for one sister's funeral. I brought the youngest daughter with me. We went and visited the old homestead (which I built), the plant I used to work at (which was shut down) and then visited some nephews who were out of school and trying to find jobs (of which there were few).

My how things changed back in CT! Pretty much the manufacturing base is gone, the city's (Waterbury) largest employer is the city, taxes are out of control, jobs are few, and the weather is still bad in the winter.

Could I go back? Yes...would I go back? No....

After daughter and I spent a week in CT, she said to me "gee Dad, I'm glad we don't live here anymore."
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Old 05-12-2014, 08:03 AM   #22
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Back in 2000, we had some long-time neighbors, who lived behind my grandmother, sell and move down to Southern Maryland. I'm not sure how long they had been up here, as they pre-date me. Their house was built in 1970, and the husband's mother's house, which is on the same parcel, was built around 1925.

We kept in touch and stayed good friends, but once they moved, the husband swore he would never drive down our street again. I don't know what, exactly happened to make him turn sour like that. Our county has been growing up, and going downhill at the same time, but in my opinion at least, it's not *that* bad!

I remember they sold the whole parcel, roughly 5.5 acres, with the two houses, for $270,000. Don't know what it would go for now, as the 1925 house needs a lot of work, and apparently, the newer house does as well, judging from the workers who have been back there. And even though it's a lot of land, much of it is low and swampy.

Another house is in the process of selling in our neighborhood, a 3br/2ba on 3.65 acres, built around 1930 I think. It's had a lot of work done to it, and they've done a pretty good job, but it's still an old house. I don't know what it eventually sold for, but the last time it was listed, they were asking $295K.

Adjusting for inflation, that $270k my neighbors sold their place for would be around $370K today. I'm not sure it would fetch that much in today's market.
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Old 05-12-2014, 09:09 AM   #23
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Then again, most of the places that I lived in the past are places that I wouldn't want to "go home again" because they are depressed rural areas with no cultural amenities. I could buy any house that I wanted, but there is nothing there that I would want. As you say, however, the virtue of FI is that each us can define for ourself where "pleasant" is located.
There are times when the memory of home is so strong and I long to return. I remember the days setting on Grandparent's porch swing watching the traffic and listening to them talking about how busy things have become. While the area is rural they do try to create some cultural amenities however it is not that robust.

Yesterday I saw a facebook post from a friend who is living in the same house he grew up in 40 yrs ago. His parents split up years ago, they all get along, and the house is used for whatever kid wants or needs a place to live. The place looks the same with more mature trees. Minimal updating. Not much employment opportunities there as he drives about 100 miles for work.
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Old 05-12-2014, 09:19 AM   #24
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I bought a small (under 1,200 sq ft) house in a nice neighborhood 27 years ago for under $150K. I like to garden and wanted to have a vegetable garden, hence I wanted to live in a house. The neighborhood has become even more desirable and one-by-one, the small, old houses are being razed and replaced with McMansions. Every single small old house like mine that has sold in the past 5 years has been razed, and most of the houses sold during the 10 years prior to that were razed, too. I have a stack of letters from developers who want to buy my house to tear it down.

Absurdly, my property would sell for at least $1 million today, which is a higher value than in the previous bubble, after which prices dropped about 20% but homes still sold readily. These tear-down properties currently sell for cash in less than a week, and often on the day they are listed through a pre-arranged deal. For a few years after the 2008 real estate crash, developers would buy up a property and raze the house, but not begin new construction until there was a buyer lined up. Developers are once again building on spec here, not a good sign IMO.

I know of a larger house on a huge lot in another desirable neighborhood not too far from me which sold for $1.8 million 2 years ago, and it was a tear down. A 6,000 sq. ft. McMansion went up.

The developers who build the McMansions (which seem to start at around 3,500 sq. ft.) sell them for at least $2.5 million and up. I see the people moving into these places and they're often couples in their 30s with young kids. One day when I got a phone call from a developer who wanted to buy my house to tear it down, I asked him where the money comes from for the people who buy the McMansions. He told me that he has found that the most common source of money is an inheritance, which is what I would have guessed.

I'm in the bizarre situation of knowing that anything I spend on the house to improve it will not increase its selling price at all. I joke that if a meteorite were to destroy my house, the property would sell for more because the developer would save on the destruction cost. BTW, it only takes about 4 hours to tear down one of these solidly built brick houses. The day before one house on my block was razed, the local fire department was allowed to use for practice (but they didn't actually burn it). I watched them banging down doors and searching for dummies through the fake smoke. One of the firefighters said afterwards that these houses are solidly built.

Meanwhile, as noted above, my property tax has gone through the roof, and my assessment hasn't even caught up with the market values. My property tax was over $8,000 last year. Once my taxable assessment catches up, I estimate that my property tax may be over $11,000 five years from now. It was just over $1,000 when I bought it. I think that at some point, I will be forced to sell. For the time being, I will stay put as long as my elderly parents are still alive and living on their own just 10 minutes away from me in the house where I grew up. They're in their 90s and I help them out regularly.
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Old 05-12-2014, 09:40 AM   #25
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Then again, most of the places that I lived in the past are places that I wouldn't want to "go home again" because they are depressed rural areas with no cultural amenities. I could buy any house that I wanted, but there is nothing there that I would want. No music, no restaurants, no golf, no museums. But I'll tell you what, they are cheap as hell! ......
When my sister, niece and I went home for mom's service, what a shock. Neice had never been to that area, most of her years she lived in a major city in TX. She asked at the hotel 'is there a Mexican restaurant in town you could recommend? '. To her shock, the gal responded 'yes, Taco Bell, just a few blocks down the street'!

Yes I could go back, but why.
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Old 05-12-2014, 10:09 AM   #26
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DH and I had both been raised in the Midwest (Ohio for me, MO for him) but met in northern NJ. I'd been there 25 years after I moved there for a job. After my divorce, I'd bought a nice little 3 BR place in the same tony suburb so DS could stay in the school system (I joked that we moved to the poor section of town). Despite the exorbitant property taxes for our "excellent" school system, DS fell through the cracks and I ended up sending him to NY Military Academy for HS while paying said taxes.

When my job soured in late 2001/early 2002 and nothing was to be found, I went with a company headquartered in a KC suburb. DH was 65 and retired from the small, struggling ad agency where he worked. We sold both our houses (my little 1950s tract house went for $550K) and banked most of the gains- used a little as a down payment on a McMansion for $242K. Best thing we ever did. DS, 7 years out of college, owns a nice little house in Iowa. Real people can buy houses here. My friend in NJ tells me her sons (late 20s) still live with them.

My company was eventually acquired by a company with US HQ in Westchester, NY. There were lots of cool jobs there. Umm, no, thanks. Not gong back to the traffic and the taxes and the congestion and definitely not having half my take-home pay go for housing expenses ever again.

DH's ex-wife just sold their family homestead in Westfield for, we think, about $500K as a teardown. They're putting up a McMansion and it will go for $1.4 million.
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Old 05-12-2014, 11:03 AM   #27
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Here's another "going home" story from my past. My grandparents on my Dad's side of the family used to have a cottage in North Beach, Maryland, Small, maybe 700 square foot place on a 5250 square foot lot about 3/4 mile from the bay. I think they inherited it from Grandmom's parents.

Anyway, we used to go down there all the time as kids, and always had a great time. But as we got older, it got used less and less, and then when Grandmom got sick in 1993, Granddad sold it, because it was just getting to be too much upkeep.

Well, for years afterwards, every Father's Day, the family would get together, drive down there, eat dinner at the Rod & Reel Club in adjacent Cheasapeake Beach. Drive around a bit, and then drive past the old cottage. It was fun at first, but then it started getting to the point that everyone was griping about how the place wasn't the same anymore. The Rod & Reel was slipping. The cottage had been abandoned, and was looking forlorn, and everytime Granddad saw it, you could see some pain in his expression.

So eventually, I quit joining them on these Father's Day outings that just seemed to be mourning a past that was gone forever, and I think the next year, they just quit going.

I figured that eventually, that cottage would get torn down, and a new house put up. Well, one day in 2010 I went down that way and drove past where it was, and didn't recognize the place. A bunch of new houses went up on previously wooded lots, and some old houses had been razed, so I lost my bearings. So, I figured the place had been torn down. But then a couple months later, I went through again, and found it. It had been fixed up, with a raised up roof, and the wooded lot next door had been cleared and built up, so that's why I hadn't recognized it. It gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling to know that new life had been breathed into the old place.

Then, as luck would have it, some friends decided to move out that way, and rented a house right across the street! I went out to see them two weeks ago, walked over to our old cottage, knocked on the door, introduced myself, and the new owner showed me around. So, in some ways I guess you CAN go home again!

I just wish Granddad could see the place. But, he's 99 1/2 now, barely gets out anymore, lost most of his hearing, and his mind isn't what it used to be.
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Old 05-12-2014, 11:11 AM   #28
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In reply to @Midpack - sometimes you just have to expand your target area slightly. In your example, Mystic CT may be expensive but New London, Waterford, Groton have probably gone backwards and there are some nice houses available pretty reasonably, mere miles from your original dream...
Fair point, though I've been to Mystic and the surrounding cities many times and none of them are nearly as nice as Mystic. And while real estate costs are a primary barrier, COL in CT (and CA) are both significantly higher than where I am. And the prospects for local economies in both areas don't look nearly as promising as they did when we first thought we wanted to live there...
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Old 05-12-2014, 01:27 PM   #29
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In 1959 - 1961, we lived in this house in Vineyard Haven, Martha's Vineyard. Before we could buy @ $30,000, I was transferred. We were paying $90/mo. rent. The last time it was sold, about 5 years ago, the price was $1.500,000.
The 1720 House - Home

At the time, it was owned by a niece of Willam Randolph Hearst... a very sweet lady, who allowed us to break our lease, when my work took me off the island.

It is now a B&B. We could go back and rent it for a week, in July or August, but the rental is now $8400.00 for a week.

Rumored to have been a part of the undeground railway, It had a secret room, on the second floor and a "hidey place" on both sides of the central fireplace that served the living room and the drawing room.

So yeah, we can't go back. We're godparents to two of our closest Island friends, (since passed way), so I suppose we could visit with them. It would never be the same... but great memories...

Even then, the Island was a Celebrity getaway, and it was not uncommon to have people like Katherine Hepburn, or Jimmy Cagney come into my store.

Times have changed.
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Old 05-12-2014, 03:24 PM   #30
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I bought a small (under 1,200 sq ft) house in a nice neighborhood 27 years ago for under $150K. I like to garden and wanted to have a vegetable garden, hence I wanted to live in a house. The neighborhood has become even more desirable and one-by-one, the small, old houses are being razed and replaced with McMansions. Every single small old house like mine that has sold in the past 5 years has been razed, and most of the houses sold during the 10 years prior to that were razed, too. I have a stack of letters from developers who want to buy my house to tear it down.

Absurdly, my property would sell for at least $1 million today, which is a higher value than in the previous bubble, after which prices dropped about 20% but homes still sold readily. These tear-down properties currently sell for cash in less than a week, and often on the day they are listed through a pre-arranged deal. For a few years after the 2008 real estate crash, developers would buy up a property and raze the house, but not begin new construction until there was a buyer lined up. Developers are once again building on spec here, not a good sign IMO.

I know of a larger house on a huge lot in another desirable neighborhood not too far from me which sold for $1.8 million 2 years ago, and it was a tear down. A 6,000 sq. ft. McMansion went up.

The developers who build the McMansions (which seem to start at around 3,500 sq. ft.) sell them for at least $2.5 million and up. I see the people moving into these places and they're often couples in their 30s with young kids. One day when I got a phone call from a developer who wanted to buy my house to tear it down, I asked him where the money comes from for the people who buy the McMansions. He told me that he has found that the most common source of money is an inheritance, which is what I would have guessed.

I'm in the bizarre situation of knowing that anything I spend on the house to improve it will not increase its selling price at all. I joke that if a meteorite were to destroy my house, the property would sell for more because the developer would save on the destruction cost. BTW, it only takes about 4 hours to tear down one of these solidly built brick houses. The day before one house on my block was razed, the local fire department was allowed to use for practice (but they didn't actually burn it). I watched them banging down doors and searching for dummies through the fake smoke. One of the firefighters said afterwards that these houses are solidly built.

Meanwhile, as noted above, my property tax has gone through the roof, and my assessment hasn't even caught up with the market values. My property tax was over $8,000 last year. Once my taxable assessment catches up, I estimate that my property tax may be over $11,000 five years from now. It was just over $1,000 when I bought it. I think that at some point, I will be forced to sell. For the time being, I will stay put as long as my elderly parents are still alive and living on their own just 10 minutes away from me in the house where I grew up. They're in their 90s and I help them out regularly.
We are thankful for California's Prop 13, which keeps our property taxes reasonable. We've been here 20 years, and started out paying 1500 per year, and now pay about 2100 per year. 1100 sq ft house on a quarter acre in a nice northern Calif. small town. I think we'll stay put.
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Old 05-12-2014, 03:46 PM   #31
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I deleted my first reply to this thread because I wanted to give it more thought.

Home... Where is home. In my first reply, I assumed that home was where I currently hang my hat. No. For me it's were I grew up and where my entire family and most of my good friends still live. This is where my heart is, no matter where I live. This is where I want my ashes to be scattered. Home is right outside of Geneva, Switzerland, a place that usually ranks high on "the most expensive cities in the world" lists. The barrier of entry into the local real market has become remarkably high over the past 30 years (~$600 a sqft, still a bargain compared to downtown Geneva). But my parents made sure that my sister and I could always call this place home. A couple of years ago, they gifted each one of us a piece of property in the area. Both properties were acquired decades ago, when prices were still reasonable. For me, this gift means an awful lot and I'll never sell (if you don't get why, chalk it up to cultural differences).
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Old 05-12-2014, 03:52 PM   #32
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I'm in the bizarre situation of knowing that anything I spend on the house to improve it will not increase its selling price at all. I joke that if a meteorite were to destroy my house, the property would sell for more because the developer would save on the destruction cost. BTW, it only takes about 4 hours to tear down one of these solidly built brick houses. The day before one house on my block was razed, the local fire department was allowed to use for practice (but they didn't actually burn it). I watched them banging down doors and searching for dummies through the fake smoke. One of the firefighters said afterwards that these houses are solidly built.
I can relate to that. My house was built in 1916, and was originally a general store, so it was built really close to the road. It's been added onto alot, and needs a lot of work. Most of the new houses that go up around here are 4br/2.5ba colonials, starting at around 2500 square feet, and pretentious looking things. Most of the value I have is in the land...4 1/4 acres, and the majority of it buildable, unlike a lot of my neighbors, where a good portion is swampier.

So chances are, no matter what I put into the house, when it comes time to sell, one of two types would buy it. 1) A developer, who would tear everything down and subdivide, and sprout up McMansions or 2) Someone with money who wants a large lot for privacy, and would tear down the house, build what they want and, at best, perhaps salvage the 4 car garage. Either way, the house is most likely toast.
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Old 05-12-2014, 04:32 PM   #33
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I can relate to that. My house was built in 1916, and was originally a general store, so it was built really close to the road. It's been added onto alot, and needs a lot of work. Most of the new houses that go up around here are 4br/2.5ba colonials, starting at around 2500 square feet, and pretentious looking things. Most of the value I have is in the land...4 1/4 acres, and the majority of it buildable, unlike a lot of my neighbors, where a good portion is swampier.

So chances are, no matter what I put into the house, when it comes time to sell, one of two types would buy it. 1) A developer, who would tear everything down and subdivide, and sprout up McMansions or 2) Someone with money who wants a large lot for privacy, and would tear down the house, build what they want and, at best, perhaps salvage the 4 car garage. Either way, the house is most likely toast.
Most houses end up like toast...eventually. Over time, they try to go back into the earth where the materials originally came from. Where I grew up, it was fashionable to have a 300 year old house and keep it from its death. I imagine that is still going on as towns like Litchfield, CT are full of the old places. Even near my old home in Southbury, there were neighborhoods full of old (really old) colonials.

But the McMansion spread..I can't see that happening.
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Old 05-12-2014, 04:57 PM   #34
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Scores of people here in California buy investment properties; they either flip them for a quick profit, rent them out as a way to get someone else to pay the mortgage and bring in some cash flow, or buy and hold for appreciation until retirement then move to a lower cost area paying for the house there in cash. I work with someone who paid $340k for his house new in the early 1990s, that house is now worth $1.1M - in Irvine. His plan is to sell it when he retires and buy a $400k house 'somewhere else'.
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Old 05-12-2014, 05:05 PM   #35
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I went back home.
I moved out of San Diego. in my 20's. I owned homes in the 2 states I settled in after California- but finally negotiated a job transfer back to San Diego. Knew we'd have a tough time affording a home, despite the fact we were selling two homes and had a hefty down payment. (Both DH and I owned homes on our own before getting married.)

We rented for the first year and were on the fence as to whether we could afford the area. Then my sister stepped in and told my dad it was time to downsize and he should sell the family home to us. He sold it to us at market rate - BUT we were able to transfer his Prop 13 rate to us. That made it *just* within affordability for us.

So... I'm living in the house I grew up in. My kids went to the primary school I went to.
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Old 05-12-2014, 06:04 PM   #36
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My parents still live in the house they bought when they moved back from overseas. However, I can't go back since they turned my bedroom into a study 30 years ago.
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Old 05-12-2014, 06:41 PM   #37
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The San Francisco real estate market is crazy right now and while always on the more expensive side was more reasonable 5 yrs ago. I think you just have to be willing to wait for the right time. There is more consideration of the East Bay for more affordable housing and rents for business startups. As someone, said just expand your range a bit. I'm saying you should also bide your time.

Also, CA has Prop 13 controls on property taxes. Once you are in your house your taxes can only go up 1% per year. You won't get priced out by future real estate bubbles.
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Old 05-12-2014, 06:50 PM   #38
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I deleted my first reply to this thread because I wanted to give it more thought.

Home... Where is home. In my first reply, I assumed that home was where I currently hang my hat. No. For me it's were I grew up and where my entire family and most of my good friends still live. This is where my heart is, no matter where I live. This is where I want my ashes to be scattered. Home is right outside of Geneva, Switzerland, a place that usually ranks high on "the most expensive cities in the world" lists. The barrier of entry into the local real market has become remarkably high over the past 30 years (~$600 a sqft, still a bargain compared to downtown Geneva). But my parents made sure that my sister and I could always call this place home. A couple of years ago, they gifted each one of us a piece of property in the area. Both properties were acquired decades ago, when prices were still reasonable. For me, this gift means an awful lot and I'll never sell (if you don't get why, chalk it up to cultural differences).
This is what I was referring to, not literally to any random place where one was born. It so happens that your birthplace is a city that has been a great city for hundreds of years, and situated beautifully in an international playground and banking and business center.

I would not literally like to go home to where I was born. Although overall it has had good business success over the years. It is not a great world or great US city, or have other signs of distinction. It's cold in winter, hot as Hades in summer, lots of racial conflict, etc.

Only some locales are worth hanging onto if you have any desire to get back. Of course if you think San Francisco is a hellhole, congratulate yourself on being a contrarian, and do yourself a favor and stay away. I think that San Francisco does not equate to "the Bay Area", anymore than the Hollywood Hills equates to LA.

And I don't think it is at all hard to differentiate the Milwaukees and Detroits from the class that has London at its apex, but includes San Francisco, New York, Santa Barbara, Newport Beach and of course great Asian and European cities like Singapore. Paris, Amsterdam, Geneva, Zurich, etc. I have been living for awhile, but I have never in my life met anyone who actually lived in the city of Detroit. People with good incomes and a desire to stay alive long ago get into the upscale suburbs.

Seacoast, nice large lakes, mountains, vibrant cities are what you have to worry about being priced out of. And city neighborhoods can be compared to stocks- some are blue chips, and rarely decrease in desirability. Some are speculative, and depend a lot of things like crime rate increase or decreases, political changes, etc.

In Seattle the Link Rapid Transit is being built out. Already the stations have become nodes for increasing real estate prices. Places like Northgate with good shopping and only moderate crime or social problems will very likely hold the gains brought by its coming transit station. It remains to be seen how that goes in the large flat area between downtown and the airport. So far, it is helping.

Ha
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Old 05-12-2014, 06:53 PM   #39
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You can't go home again

I went back to work but not to live (I lived in Manhattan) at a clinic in my childhood neighborhood in the Bronx from 2007-2010. I felt some nostalgia but no real desire to even drive down the block where I grew up. My patients loved that I had gone to the same elementary school as they or their children did, unbelievably different now from the 1950's. At age 13, I moved with my parents to Northern NJ. My mother lived there after my father died and sold the house, bought for $22,000 in 1965 for $270,000 in 2000 to a family who immediately tore it down & built a $1 million+ McMansion.

We sold our apartment in NY when my husband retired in 2010 for a nice profit and moved to Austin TX, buying a house for cash and investing the rest in post-tax mutual funds. Austin is currently "home" but I'm so neutral about it that if I left tomorrow there's nothing I would miss. As much as I love NYC it was way too expensive to stay and pay almost $4000 a month in mortgage, taxes and common charges on my income alone and DH's SS. Plus I'm done with snow and cold.

So, no more going home for me. But a nice place to visit. Haven't been back though since moving.

Don't have any idea where I'll land if/when DH predeceases (is that a word?) me. He's 9 years older than me but his mother lived til 94 and he's a young 71 so he's hopefully got a lot of good years left in him.
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Old 05-12-2014, 06:56 PM   #40
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You can't go home again

I did go visit my old home a few months ago and posted about it in the "What did you do today?" topic.......

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Originally Posted by Sue J View Post

.......This was an opportunity to spend some time in the old neighborhood. I lived there from 1961 until I left for college in 1973. Still hung out there frequently until we got married in 1976 and my parents stayed there until they sold the house in 1995 and moved to a condo in another neighborhood.

In 2012 I had been browsing around on Zillow and noticed that our old house was for sale. This was not the owner that bought it from my parents, but one owner after that. It was fun to look at the pics and see how some things were the same, some things had changed. Periodically I'd check up on it and in the fall of 2013 it was still for sale with the price reduced a few times.

I checked on it again and was sad to see that it had been foreclosed in Dec 2013. Now it's owned by Federal National Mortgage Assoc. Strange to feel a twinge of sadness as it hadn't been my house for 19 years.

DH and I took a tour of the old neighborhood, his old family home, our schools, parks, shopping areas, etc. The area had some ups and downs but was looking pretty good!

We went to see my old home. It is a brick 3 BR, 1.5 bath colonial from 1933. I always thought it was one of the nicer ones because it was all brick and had a lovely full height bay window in the living room. The neighborhood looked good but there were a lot of For Sale signs. My old house was empty so I pulled into the driveway. There was a foreclosure notice in the front window. There were no window coverings so I could look inside. When I lived there we had carpet but now the original wood floors looked good. The entrance doors had stickers announcing that "This structure has been found to be vacant or abandoned....etc".

I peeked in the side door, which was our everyday entrance, we'd go up a couple steps and make a left into the kitchen. Wow, looked smaller than I remember. I went to the back corner and looked in the window to the breakfast room. We always ate there unless it was a major holiday when we'd use the dining room. Gee, how many birthdays did I have right there? The kitchen cabinets had been updated and looked nice, but what a small space!

I walked around to the back and looked into the family room. My parents had added that on in 1967 when my Dad started making more money. There's the spot where he put our first color tv, and there is where he had his desk.

I checked out the very small back yard with the huge oak tree. That's where we had our first gas grill. My Mom didn't like to use it so I became the grill cook on weekdays. Good training as I am still the grill cook.

Sometime after I left for college my parents upgraded to whole house air conditioning. The concrete pad for the outside unit was there but the unit was gone and the connectors were laying on the ground. Was the AC unit stolen for it's copper? Or is someone putting a new one in to get it ready for sale? That's optimistic.

One last look in the small window by the staircase. There's the railing that I held onto every time I turned to go up those stairs.

It was a great house to grow up in. My parents bought it in 1961 for $22,500 and sold it in 1995 for $104,000. Then it sold in 2006 for $185,000 and that's the owner who just lost it to foreclosure. Zillow says it's worth $110,000 now.

I'm hoping a young family gets a great deal on this house and makes it a family home again.
To update, I saw that the house sold through the HomePath program for $78,000 to a couple a few weeks ago. Good for them. I hope they stay a long time and enjoy life there.
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Married, both 62. DH retired June, 2010. I have a pleasant little part time job.
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