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My wife and I went to a family get-together last weekend. It was a great time. We found out that my aunt and uncle are gearing up to retire and move down south. They are planning to build a gorgeous home on a piece of real estate by the beach. Needless to say, they are incredibly excited.
I tried to convince my wife that we should also move down to the beach to maximize our Vitamin D intake. That didn’t work, but I did consider an alternative. I commented to my wife, off-handedly, that we should consider buying the home that my relatives would be selling shortly. They live about 15-20 minutes west of us.
As most of you know, I recently switched jobs. The location of my new job makes it palatable to move a little further out from the city. This means that we would also be able to get a little more bang for our buck, as you’ll see below.
DC Metro Home Prices
According to the first chart below, home prices are somewhat evenly priced in the Washington DC area. Suburban home values peaked in 2006 but fell back in line with urban home values in the past couple of years. In the second chart below, you can see that the bang-for-your-buck is much better in the suburbs, compared to urban, when you consider the price you pay per square foot.
Millennial Home Buyers
According to Dowell Myers, a professor of Demography and Urban Planning at USC, demand peaked in 2015 from Millennials seeking housing in central American cities, but that demand should continue to flatline and eventually decrease over the next decade.
This is because many millennials are reaching the age of starting families, with many families seeking more space to raise children. In turn, that may mean that prices out in the suburbs may start to increase again, like they did in the mid-2000s.
I’m not trying to time the housing market, but it is somewhat comforting knowing that I shouldn’t be too hurt by moving a little further out in terms of my home’s value.
My Relative’s House
Back to my relatives’ house– it is a gorgeous home that they bought brand new when they had a growing family a little over 20 years ago. It is a really spacious, practical home with a few really nice upgrades. Plus, they have an incredible lot with a huge backyard that backs up to the woods, and they live at the end of a cul-de-sac. While it feels private in their cul-de-sac, there are lots of houses in the neighborhood. It is reminiscent of the neighborhood where my wife and I grew up in that regard.
My Neighborhood Growing Up
Quick fun fact that some of you may know– my wife and I grew up seven houses from each other. I was a couple of years older than her, so we didn’t overlap in school, but she definitely remembers selling my mom girl scout cookies (which ended up in my stomach). For the record, Thin Mints are the best. So all that to say, we have similar fond memories of growing up in a large neighborhood full of kids.
My Famous Neighbor
Although, not everyone felt that way. In the early 1990s, Hall of Famer Darrell Green of the Washington Redskins moved into our neighborhood. This was clearly before NFL players were making big money because there is no chance that any NFL player would move there today. I ran into him about a year ago at a Marriage Conference that he was part of at my church.
Since I am a diehard Redskins fan, I have always wanted to meet him. But as a little kid, I was too chicken to ever get his autograph when he lived in my neighborhood. I actually had an official NFL football in my closet, still in the packaging, that was designated for Darrell Green to sign. In the offseason, he use to run up and down the neighborhood bike trail next to my house. I always dreamed that one day, I would have the football ready to have him sign it after his workout.
Unfortunately, that never happened. Plus, Darrell Green was the fastest man in the NFL. There is no chance even during his cool-down run that I was ever going to catch up to him. Oh, the dreams of a 8-year-old boy.
So when I finally had my chance to meet him at that Marriage Conference, I summed up the courage to introduce myself to him and then mentioned in passing that we use to live in the same neighborhood.
He responded saying, “We moved from that house because there weren’t enough kids in that neighborhood.” I have to admit this took me aback because to me, there seemed to be TONS of kids in the neighborhood. Oh well, it was an interesting perspective to say the least. I guess perception is everything.
Assessing My Relatives’ House
Anyways, back to my relatives’ house. So my wife and I decided to drive through the neighborhood to get a feel for it. I hadn’t seen it in a long time, and I wanted to see if my wife and I could envision ourselves living there. We also decided to check out a couple of other homes on the market in the area so that we could get a feel for the area, the prices, and my potential commute.
Since it had been a few years since I had visited my relatives, I wasn’t sure if the house would be in the pristine condition that I remembered it. Well, it was even better than I remembered. It looked fantastic. We loved the neighborhood and all of the open space.
The One, Big Negative
Everything seemed like a positive, other than the fact that traffic gets bad in that area. There is really only one route in and out of that area, and that highway gets backed up for miles and miles during rush hour traffic.
So we continued to drive around and came across a couple of more housing developments that we had identified beforehand. Honestly, they paled in comparison to my relatives’ home, so we immediately crossed them off the list.
Another Interesting Prospect
However, we eventually did come across a neighborhood that really pulled at my wife and my heart strings. Every home in this housing development is on a five acre plot. Some of the homes in that neighborhood were massive, multi-million dollar houses, too. The house that we were looking seemed to be the smallest house there, and it was affordable for us because it had recently gone through foreclosure.
It was bank-owned since the former owners could not sell it. The yard was a mess with brush everywhere, and it was apparent that no one had tended to upkeep. But we tried our best to look past it and could see great bones and most of the needed work as cosmetic.
I’m sure the home needs a ton of upgrades and fixes. With Youtube today, I figure I can try to fix anything. If it doesn’t work out, I can always call a professional. Although, I also have an ace up my sleeve as my Dad is probably the handiest man that I know. So I figure between his brains and handiness and my strong back, that we can fix anything together.
Our biggest concerns actually didn’t even have to do with the house itself at all, though. The homes were just too spaced out for me. I didn’t think it would be good to be so isolated from neighbors. Of course the introvert in me loved it, but that doesn’t mean that is what is best for me and my family. There also weren’t any sidewalks, which was a big red flag to me.
I immediately thought of my son. I wondered who he would play with right after school. Neighborhood friends are just so convenient. As a kid, I looked forward to jumping off the bus everyday and grabbing a couple of friends. We’d ride bikes around the neighborhood or play football and basketball. It was an amazing childhood to have so many friends available. I would hate for my son to feel isolated and to solely rely on formal playdates.
So while my wife and I loved the house itself, I’m not sure that we’ll be able to pull the trigger. Eventually, we still hope to move farther out. There is no need to stay close to the city since I don’t work there. In the meantime, we’ll keep casually looking until we find the right home for us.
Readers, what do you think? Do your kids help determine your living situation as it does for us? Or do you look past those details and focus on the other things? Share your thoughts below.