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Home stuff 🏡 The Planners Housing Paradox... (Where should I live).

Real estate, home improvement, DIY, gardening, appliances, tools, moving, and so on.

What housing direction would you go?

  • 1) Renovate the existing house/ regrade the yard (Little to no Debt)

    Votes: 6 42.9%
  • 2) Build a new house in same neighborhood (Medium Debt)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 3) Build a new house on 3 to 5 acres (High Debt)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 4) Renovate a house on 1 to 3 acres (Medium Debt)

    Votes: 1 7.1%
  • 5) Nothing and wait it out for the next 11 years until the youngest graduates HS.

    Votes: 6 42.9%
  • 6) Other, something I haven't thought of yet.

    Votes: 1 7.1%

  • Total voters
    14

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,738
Points
56
I have bit of a housing dilemma and would love feedback.

Currently, I live in a 2400 square foot 4 bedroom 2 1/2 bath house that was built 5 years ago at the end of a cul-de-sac in a mixed-product, mixed-use master planned community. At a 1/4 acre, we have one of the largest lots in the community, and are walking distance to the amenity center with a decent size pool, recreation room (limited equipment) and higher end café/ pub. There are also pocket parks throughout the neighborhood, nature trails, a natural stream with falls, fishing pond, quick access to the freeway, and we are 15 to 20 minutes into a top 50 City with great food, culture, arts, and an international airport. A national chain grocery store and "downtown" area that will have restaurants and retail is currently under construction, within walking distance as well. The kids attend school within the neighborhood, live near all their friends, and it is exactly halfway between my work and the wife's work with each of us having about a 10 minute commute. We were one of the very very early people in and house house apprises for almost 40% more than what we paid for it, and there are at least 18 others that are AICP or AIA that live in the neighborhood that I know of.

But it is not located in the City I work for. Additionally, the wife feels that there are too many people in the neighborhood (and it isn't fully built out yet, an somehow 25% of the households on our cul-de-sac are occupied by extremist liberals. (One called the cops on me because she heard that I own guns, another told me that he was offended because I have an American flag flying on my front porch.) However the neighbors on each side of us are wonderful people despite being a Buffalo fan on one side and an OSU fan on the other side. The HOA is a little too aggressive with things (I needed permission to put up my flag and to plant annuals in my front garden). The house mostly works for us as each kid has their own bedroom, but the garage is a full-time woodshop and there is a bit of a lack of space at times. The lot has a funny slope to it so the back property line where it meets the alley is so low, (We don't have alley access BTW, but that is a different conversation) that if we put up a privacy fence on our back line, the top of the fence would be lower than the grade of the land where it meets the house, and the 1st floor elevation is 5-feet higher than that. We have a crawl space, but no basement. The wife would like to move out some where on 3 to 5 acres, on a wooded lot and build a farmhouse style home with a basement. She is even willing to move to the Town that I work for and double her commute time, up to 30 minutes. It would also be going out further from the big city.

So, I think we have a few options...
1) We could regrade our yard and install some type of retaining wall feature to establish at least some of a flat & level yard, make renovations to the house within reason, plant fast growing landscaping to establish privacy, and do what we can to make the best of our current house. (Wife also wants a pool in our backyard)

2) We could sell our house and build within the neighborhood on a more expensive lot that backs up to a preserve area and get a house with a basement and the features we want.

3) We could sell our house and build on 3 to 5 acres, but it realistically would not be within my planning juristiction due to available land.

4) We would sell our house, and buy a house on 1 to 3 acres of wooded land and renovate it to meet our housing wants. This has the potential to being in my planning juristiction.

5) We could do nothing until the kids move out, and then sell the house for ridiculous profit and decide what our wants and needs are at that point in time.
 

Planit

Cyburbian
Messages
14,065
Points
57
If wifey already thinks the neighborhood is to crowded & it's not built out, that's a bad sign.

Neighbors will be neighbors no matter where you live. Some will be good while others will not. It's society. (that tosu fan next door is something that's a deal breaker though :cool: ).

Aggressive HOAs suck and leaders are on power trips.

That double commute time for her would get old quick.

Did you ever give her that big deck?

I think you know your answer & it may or may not be the same as mine.
 

MD Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
2,955
Points
47
You're never guaranteed what your neighbors will be like and they can and will change. For me if there are no outward signs of bad neighbors; i.e. a bunch of crap laying around, not raking leaves, dog chained outside etc. I just make sure that the house and landscaping is designed in such a way that I have some privacy in certain areas of the yard/deck/patio. Having neighbors relatively close by in a subdivision is a crapshoot, you never know what you're going to get.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
15,254
Points
59
I say either renovate where you are (though Planit's right about your wife's opinion on the neighborhood's density)

Or do the medium debt project on the 1-3 wooded acres.

Given the housing demand pressures on your region (before COVID and likely long after COVID) you should be financially safe with the 'country estate' project for the forseeable future.

Plus, a 30 minute commute is easy in my experience, especially if it's a constant movement commute.

I would have at least a 1 hour (on average) one way commute across Chicagoland to simply go 30 miles. I hated it, but it wasn't unbearable and it afforded the pre-children lifestyle we wanted at the time.
 

MD Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
2,955
Points
47
I don't think an HOA can tell you that you can or can't fly an American Flag. If I recall it was about 15 years ago there was some law passed that dealt with that. I'm too lazy to look it up but I'd assume they can regulate how it's installed or lit or something like that but they'd have to allow the display of the flag in some manner.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,738
Points
56
If wifey already thinks the neighborhood is to crowded & it's not built out, that's a bad sign.

Neighbors will be neighbors no matter where you live. Some will be good while others will not. It's society. (that tosu fan next door is something that's a deal breaker though :cool: ).

Aggressive HOAs suck and leaders are on power trips.

That double commute time for her would get old quick.

Did you ever give her that big deck?

I think you know your answer & it may or may not be the same as mine.
As I noted the couples on either side are great people despite their sports teams. The OSU fans are an older couple and my kids will hang out on their front porch and have conversations with them. They are the opposite of the "get off my lawn you damn kids" style curmudgeons. The other couple is younger than us, and their oldest and my youngest are in class together and are always out running around the cul-de-sac together. The extremist households are causing issues for a lot of other people as well. I learned yesterday that they called the HOA on the OSU fans for having an OSU garden flag out, as of this morning, they still have the BLM garden flag in their front lawn.

In terms of the big deck, yes it was erected a couple of years ago, but does not get as much use as I would have anticipated. However if we stay, she says it needs to be covered since it gets too hot.

I asked last night about the neighbors concern and it sounds like it has a lot to do with a lack of privacy in the back yard than the number of people.

I don't think an HOA can tell you that you can or can't fly an American Flag. If I recall it was about 15 years ago there was some law passed that dealt with that. I'm too lazy to look it up but I'd assume they can regulate how it's installed or lit or something like that but they'd have to allow the display of the flag in some manner.
They can't.... but they tried until I challenged it.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
15,254
Points
59
They can't.... but they tried until I challenged it.
That's funny.

HOA: [Let's tell this seasoned sign code enforcement professional he can't exhibit political free speech]

mskis: Actually, Case XxX and Case xxXxx from the state supreme court and SCOTUS says the opposite.

HOA: Well...whatever... [/ghosts you on the issue, but also never brings it up again]
 

HomerJ

Cyburbian
Messages
1,144
Points
18
I went with the wait it out option. This is a situation where I wonder if procrastination can be a good thing. From the way you describe it, it sounds like you have a nice place where things are pretty functional albeit there are some headaches.

As Mr. Burns would say, I think I would be happier with the money.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,738
Points
56
That's funny.

HOA: Let's tell this seasoned sign code enforcement professional he can't exhibit political free speech.

mskis: Actually, Case XxX and Case xxXxx from the state supreme court and SCOTUS says the opposite.

HOA: Well...whatever... [/ghosts you on the issue, but also never brings it up again]
That's funny because was a lot like that.

When I challenged it, they said that they are a private organization and not a governmental function and that it did not apply to the HOA bylaws that I agreed upon when I moved in. I referenced a bunch of stuff and legal cases. I also asked if they cleared this with their legal council.

That was 4 1/2 years ago... flag still up (and I have up lighting of it for nigh time)
 

arcplans

As Featured in "High Times"
Messages
6,730
Points
35
Wait it out. Don't know how your housing market is, but mine is strait bananas and houses don't stay on the market longer than a few days, and properties that are out there to build on are the crappiest of the crap out there. After so many years of doing permits, I finally pulled off a renovation / ADU permit, and let me tell you, I was not happy with most of the services I received from my resident municipality. Ultimately you need to do what is best for your family. Commutes get old quick, but if the trade offs are worth it, go for it. You are in the biz so you know what it takes to build a house, and the pain it creates.
 

dw914er

Cyburbian
Messages
1,543
Points
21
Your neighborhood sounds nice, with great amenities, and the house itself appears to suits your needs. I'm surprised that it feels like it's getting crowded; your home is in a nice little enclave.

A few thoughts:
1 - You can't control your neighbors, and there is no guarantee that you'll like the ones in a new spot.
2 - Don't engage in politics with neighbors. I know you mentioned you have some wacky ones, but you also do like to provoke (based on the political discussion thread) and I think it's just easier to leave that alone.
3 - As you know, an under developed area today doesn't mean it won't be developed tomorrow. That whole region is seeing a rapid transformation, and unless you have some conservation areas where your new home would be, your home 'away in the woods' may not that way in the future, nor would the country commute be as easy.
4 - If you have an issue with the HOA actions, you can always attend the meetings or run to be on it.

Part of it is going to be your needs and timeline. Waiting until the kids are out of the house is going to almost a decade, and that may not be the best strategy for your family and you may likely move sooner anyways. As Arcplans also said, the market is wacky. In addition, the materials supply chain is also wacky, so the cost of construction and the associated timelines may also impact your approach.
 

terraplnr

Cyburbian
Messages
2,427
Points
30
One more thought on your current location . . . After having kids mostly stuck at home for the past year due to COVID, the fact that your kids attend your neighborhood school and have friends in the neighborhood is a big bonus as things "return to normal." Last year my sixth grader LOVED being able to walk/bike over to his friends' houses (before the lockdowns). While having more privacy in the woods would be relaxing at times, it's also a hassle to have to drive your children to play dates and force them to play outside by themselves since there are no friends easily accessible. Just my two cents. :)
 

WSU MUP Student

Cyburbian
Messages
11,104
Points
52
I voted for option #1.

It sounds like a lot of the privacy issues can be remedied by regarding the lot, adding a fence, etc. Combine that with the fact that it sounds like you already have pretty nice amenities in your 'hood, short commute times, kids going to school and having friends right nearby, makes this the logical 1st choice for me.

It's been mentioned a bunch of times in the thread already, but there can be crappy neighbors anywhere. My parents live on about 60 acres and have crap neighbors on one side. 800' of road between the two houses isn't enough space to make you forget that there are turd people next door.
 

Gedunker

Moderating
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
11,790
Points
46
Living in the community where I work is awesome when someone tries the "I pay your salary" card, but sucks when I'm recognized and button-holed at the grocery. YMMV.
 

MacheteJames

Cyburbian
Messages
1,008
Points
23
Is there a residency requirement in the city you plan for? I'm not understanding that piece of the equation - are they requiring you to move to that jurisdiction, or do you have the freedom to live anywhere?
 

Whose Yur Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
11,863
Points
44
Living in the community where I work is awesome when someone tries the "I pay your salary" card, but sucks when I'm recognized and button-holed at the grocery. YMMV.
I grew up in a police home, so I am used to it. The only break I had was when I was an underling in a mid sized city. The only privacy you have is in your own home and when you go away on vacation.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,738
Points
56
Living in the community where I work is awesome when someone tries the "I pay your salary" card, but sucks when I'm recognized and button-holed at the grocery. YMMV.

I get that anyways as I live in the adjacent community, but we attend church and do quite a bit of the shopping in the community that I work for.

Is there a residency requirement in the city you plan for? I'm not understanding that piece of the equation - are they requiring you to move to that jurisdiction, or do you have the freedom to live anywhere?
There is no residency requirement and the majority of the staff does not live within the Town. However, I am putting all this effort into making it the greatest place on the planet to live, I feel it is a bit disingenuous for me not to live here. On the flip side of that coin, there is NOTHING that compares to the quality of life features that my current neighborhood provides, within the town that I work for. I am trying to boost the level of development here. It would be like going from a new Lincoln Navigator with all the features to 2000 F-150 with rubber floormats and an AM-FM radio. (but we are an Up and Coming Small Town)
 

MacheteJames

Cyburbian
Messages
1,008
Points
23
Yeah. I know exactly where it is. :) That's an awesome location, and if we had moved down there, that's exactly where we would have gone. I get that you're going for the "I'm not only the Hair Club president, I'm also a client" approach, but dude, you kind of already have it made where you are. I've known many a director who does not live in the community, and there's actually some rationale that supports doing so, i.e. being able to plan a little more objectively when one's personal interests are detached from the jurisdiction.
 

Hink

OH....IO
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
16,315
Points
59
I've known many a director who does not live in the community, and there's actually some rationale that supports doing so, i.e. being able to plan a little more objectively when one's personal interests are detached from the jurisdiction.
I subscribe to this philosophy, as I really enjoy the people in my community, but I have a much easier time making arguments for change when they aren't affected by my relationships with Bill the guy two doors down.

To each their own. :shrug:
 

Whose Yur Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
11,863
Points
44
I subscribe to this philosophy, as I really enjoy the people in my community, but I have a much easier time making arguments for change when they aren't affected by my relationships with Bill the guy two doors down.

To each their own. :shrug:
I've only once lived in the jurisdiction I worked in. That was because it was joint city/county. That being said, I still get questions when I go to church, the gym, etc. When you become a director, you're never really off the clock.
 

kjel

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
12,600
Points
44
1. Fences make better neighbors.
2. Neighbors change.
3. Don't talk politics with neighbors.
4. The housing market is insane right now.
5. The cost of construction and materials is also insane right now.

#1 for now. Regrade the yard and build a fence, you can also cover & screen in your deck which would give a little additional privacy.
 
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