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Dodge
Premium
join:2002-11-27

Picking location to buy a house

Last year we almost bought a house, but decided against it based on various factors. This was a stroke of luck as the house was destroyed by Sandy.

Back then we were basically picking a location based on friend's recommendation and what seemed like a good idea, no hard facts, but rather all hearsay and whatever we knew of the area.

After a year has passed, we are in the process of deciding where to move and it hit us that we have no solid idea on how to pick a location. To make matters worse, we are thinking of moving to a different state (still commutable distance to work), but that takes away all knowledge of the area.

What resources are available to figure out demographics, crime rates, etc.. about any specific area? What else should we be thinking about with a move like this? For example I already factored in a second "commuter" car, as the lease on my car won't have the milage allowance to cover the extended commute.



Pacrat
Old and Cranky
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-10
Cortland, OH
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

In the past, I have Googled particular towns/cities and found the demographic information. There's usually one site that contains most of the information you're seeking. Look particularly at .org or .gov sites.
--
Keep your eye on the ball, your shoulder to the wheel, your nose to the grindstone, and your ear to the ground. Now, try to work in that position!!!



cableties
Premium
join:2005-01-27
reply to Dodge

Can you get broadband (Fios/Cable) ?

(My mantra is "Location, Location, Location, Fios/Broadband")

Sad, but true.
--
Splat



cowboyro
Premium
join:2000-10-11
Shelton, CT
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse
reply to Dodge

Make your criteria for selecting location based on proximity to highways/grocery stores/malls etc.
Do you want to drive 30min to a Walmart or Target? If not draw desired distance circles around them. Do you want to drive 20min to the closest convenience store? Include in criteria...
Do you care about schools? Include that in list. Do you care about taxes? Include that in list. You'll end up with well defined areas in which you'll look.
Once you have the list of locations narrowed down get in your car and make a trip in the area. Seeing how the area looks like, how the houses are, what cars people have in the driveway, state of the lawn etc... will give you an immediate idea of the demographics, crime rates, etc.
Numbers are generally averaged on city or zip, you can have significantly different reality in a range of few blocks.


bkjohnson
Premium
join:2002-05-22
Birmingham, AL
Reviews:
·Charter
reply to Dodge

In addition to things mentioned - how is fire protection, garbage pickup etc. handled. Sewer or septic? Floodplain or sinkhole area? Aluminum or copper wiring? Are you absolutely sure you can get dependable high speed internet? Is there more than one entrance to subdivision? Also, if there is a HOA investigate it in depth to find out about dues and if you can live with it in general.



mityfowl
Premium
join:2000-11-06
Dallas, TX
reply to Dodge

Its all about location.

Here in Dallas there are some great public schools. (not in Dallas DISD).

Or there are private schools that are even better. $$

If you are going to start a family it should be your 1st priority.

If you are loaded it won;t be hard,

Location

Location


Dodge
Premium
join:2002-11-27
reply to bkjohnson

said by bkjohnson:

In addition to things mentioned - how is fire protection, garbage pickup etc. handled. Sewer or septic? Floodplain or sinkhole area? Aluminum or copper wiring? Are you absolutely sure you can get dependable high speed internet? Is there more than one entrance to subdivision? Also, if there is a HOA investigate it in depth to find out about dues and if you can live with it in general.

What's a subdivision and why does it matter how many entrances? HOA is out of the question, so if there is an HOA I'm walking away from the house no matter how much I like it.

This maybe a stupid question, but aluminum v copper wiring is inside the house question, or is this something I need to investigate on the outside also?

What am I looking for as far as Fire protection? I've always lived in NYC, where fire / ambulance / police response is stellar, so I am not even sure what to investigate here.


John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:6
reply to Dodge

Try this for general information:

»www.city-data.com/

This should answer most of your immediate questions about an area you are considering.

I'd also suggest that you use Google Earth and Streetview to fly over your prospective areas...very helpful.
--
Don't ask questions -- just do as you're told.


Dodge
Premium
join:2002-11-27
reply to mityfowl

said by mityfowl:

Its all about location.

Here in Dallas there are some great public schools. (not in Dallas DISD).

Or there are private schools that are even better. $$

If you are going to start a family it should be your 1st priority.

If you are loaded it won;t be hard,

Location

Location

That's what I am trying to figure out, the location Here is an example that scares me. My friends bought a house several years ago. It's in an up and coming area, and their immediate neighborhood is great. However 3 blocks over is a let's call it a not so nice area. There are 3 options, status quo, nice area expands, bad area expands. I am trying to avoid having to deal with scenario 3 as much as not buying in a bad area initially.


AVD
Respice, Adspice, Prospice
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Onion, NJ
kudos:1
reply to Dodge

my dad always said, buy a brick house on a hill.



mityfowl
Premium
join:2000-11-06
Dallas, TX
reply to Dodge

said by Dodge:

said by mityfowl:

Its all about location.

Here in Dallas there are some great public schools. (not in Dallas DISD).

Or there are private schools that are even better. $$

If you are going to start a family it should be your 1st priority.

If you are loaded it won;t be hard,

Location

Location

That's what I am trying to figure out, the location Here is an example that scares me. My friends bought a house several years ago. It's in an up and coming area, and their immediate neighborhood is great. However 3 blocks over is a let's call it a not so nice area. There are 3 options, status quo, nice area expands, bad area expands. I am trying to avoid having to deal with scenario 3 as much as not buying in a bad area initially.

You pay for history.

History is your guarantee.

I don't know the east.

Aranarth

join:2011-11-04
Stanwood, MI
Reviews:
·Frontier Communi..
reply to Dodge

Here is one people often forget you want a house north or east or north-east of where you work.

This will allow you to drive south or west away from the sun in the AM and away from the sun in the afternoon.

Makes for much safer less hassle driving.

Whats the point buying a nice house then have to gripe about driving into the sun all the time in the spring and fall?

And yes double check the house or where you are building is not on the flood plain, that you have a relatively low water table, etc. you do not want to have to worry about flooding or mold.



mityfowl
Premium
join:2000-11-06
Dallas, TX
reply to Dodge

You haven't talked about children. That's the big deal for me.



Archivis
Your Daddy
Premium
join:2001-11-26
Earth
kudos:19
reply to Dodge

You could use a reputable realtor to help you go over your criteria. Don't even know what your criteria is? The realtor can ask some probing questions to see what you think is important.
--
A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. -MLK


Dodge
Premium
join:2002-11-27

said by Archivis:

You could use a reputable realtor to help you go over your criteria. Don't even know what your criteria is? The realtor can ask some probing questions to see what you think is important.

I need to narrow down the search a bit before going the realtor route as most of them are local to specific areas and can't go into speculating about the entire state.

Dodge
Premium
join:2002-11-27
reply to mityfowl

said by mityfowl:

You haven't talked about children. That's the big deal for me.

This falls into don't have / don't want category for me Things may change down the road, but currently its a non issue.


Archivis
Your Daddy
Premium
join:2001-11-26
Earth
kudos:19
reply to Dodge

Let me ask you a few questions then.

How far down are you willing to narrow it down. You said "state". Which state are you in and do you require living in that state?

Do you have children?

Many states are rather large, so unless you live in Rhode Island, travel distance to your job is a rather big deal. I live in Pennsylvania, where it takes a solid 7-8 hours to drive from one side to the other and that's if you're taking the turnpike.
--
A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have. -MLK


boaterbob
Premium
join:2005-08-01
Moncks Corner, SC

Then, consider 'city' or 'county', railroads or airports nearby (noise level), weather considerations - hurricanes or floods, or tornadoes, or earthquakes, or high summer temps or freezing winter temps. Price of gas - some locations can be as low and others high depending partly on how close to fuel facilities. Type of heating/cooling options. Natural gas available to the house? Fishing and/or hunting allowed nearby? Does the state/city allow you to own guns w/o all kinds of restrictions. Good hospitals and docs close by?

And the list goes on -

Just don't try to find a perfect place as chances you'll end up a year later saying "I wish I had picked that other house instead" and that could eat your stomach up or give you headaches.



alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1
reply to Dodge

I'd move into an apartment with a 1 year lease, in which time you can do local shopping for a house and get to know the area.

Of course, I can imagine difficulties regarding this plan, such as too many things and kids.



fifty nine

join:2002-09-25
Sussex, NJ
kudos:2
reply to Dodge

There's no "one size fits all."

I wanted something on high elevation, quiet and I didn't mind being far from grocery stores etc.

But some people won't like if they are more than 5 minutes away from a grocery store. Me, not so much. I hate crowds and I hate having really close neighbors.


Mr Matt

join:2008-01-29
Eustis, FL
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Millenicom
·Embarq Now Centu..
·Comcast
·CenturyLink
reply to Dodge

On of the most useful evaluation techniques is driving by the neighborhood you are considering purchasing a home in at key times. Find out when the children are picked up by the school bus in the area you are contemplating buying. Check out how the children are dressed and their behavior. The Realtor is prohibited by law in discussing the racial makeup of the neighborhood. Drive by on the weekend mid morning and early evening to see what type of vehicles are parked in the driveways. If you can find someone you know that lives in the neighborhood ask them if there are any problems. Unless you are looking in an older city where there is no land for new homes make sure that the homes in the area you are looking in are not functionally obsolete or very old.



IIIBradIII
Comm M-E-L Instr

join:2000-09-28
Greer, SC
reply to alkizmo

said by alkizmo:

I'd move into an apartment with a 1 year lease, in which time you can do local shopping for a house and get to know the area.

Of course, I can imagine difficulties regarding this plan, such as too many things and kids.

This, but just get a short-term lease if you don't want to wait a year. You'll pay slightly more per month to get a 3 or 6 month lease, but isn't something this important worth it? It would be to me.

This is how we did it when we moved out of state years ago. Rented a townhouse for a yr then we knew exactly where we wanted to buy. And we didn't buy where we would have bought a year earlier - that year renting gave us the information we needed to be informed.
--
»www.FlightSimWorld.com
Remember, there are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots.
Flight Simulator

Dodge
Premium
join:2002-11-27
reply to Archivis

said by Archivis:

Let me ask you a few questions then.

How far down are you willing to narrow it down. You said "state". Which state are you in and do you require living in that state?

Do you have children?

Many states are rather large, so unless you live in Rhode Island, travel distance to your job is a rather big deal. I live in Pennsylvania, where it takes a solid 7-8 hours to drive from one side to the other and that's if you're taking the turnpike.

Right now we are in NY, but the housing market around here is priced beyond any rhyme or reason. From quick research online I can get twice the house and 10x land in NJ vs anywhere in NYC (counting all boroughs). Higher upstate in NY would still be a good option for us, but like I said I need no more than 1-1.5 hours to downtown Manhattan.

Here is the list of wants that mostly cannot be had in any of the 5 boroughs of NYC unless you are going into over a mil territory:
- decent back yard, enough to play around with a large breed dog
- enough space in the garage to keep at least one car indoors and still have a work area
- peaceful
- not be right on top of the neighbors
- safe

Obviously this is not the whole list of wants, but these are the items that I can't see getting by staying in NY


Archivis
Your Daddy
Premium
join:2001-11-26
Earth
kudos:19

What attaches you to the area? Just your job?



Acc708

join:2008-06-28
reply to Dodge

A lot of New Yorkers also look towards Pennsylvania due to exactly what you are looking for and dealing with. A lot of good deals can be had there and they aren't all that far. Some counties also have a free website research option where you can do comps of what the houses sell for and when they were built, etc...


Dodge
Premium
join:2002-11-27
reply to Archivis

said by Archivis:

What attaches you to the area? Just your job?

Mostly, yes.

Dodge
Premium
join:2002-11-27
reply to Acc708

said by Acc708:

A lot of New Yorkers also look towards Pennsylvania due to exactly what you are looking for and dealing with. A lot of good deals can be had there and they aren't all that far. Some counties also have a free website research option where you can do comps of what the houses sell for and when they were built, etc...

I really don't see how PA is 1-1.5 hours away from NYC.


Acc708

join:2008-06-28

Takes about 1hr 45 mins from Philly to East Rutherford. Further north is closer.


Mr Matt

join:2008-01-29
Eustis, FL
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Millenicom
·Embarq Now Centu..
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·CenturyLink

1 edit
reply to Dodge

I grew up in the New York Metropolitan Area and spent my summers as a child between Port Jervis and Middletown in Orange County, New York. If you are going to work in Metropolitan Manhattan consider property along the Erie, Lakawana railroad, the name may have been changed to Conrail. I have a friend I visit that lives in Middletown, N.Y. and takes the train to NYC to attend various sporting events. You can take a train from Port Jervis or Middletown (Silver Lake) N.Y. and other cities further South, East directly into Penn Central. Housing prices in Orange County have not escalated as much as they have on the East side of the Hudson River.

You failed to mention where you work in the New York Metropolitan area. If you work in downtown Manhattan around wall street you can take the Erie Lakawana into Hoboken, New Jersey and then via the Port Authority Trans Hudson Tubes into Chambers Street Station, Manhattan.



fifty nine

join:2002-09-25
Sussex, NJ
kudos:2
reply to Dodge

The NYC area is pretty much a clusterfuck when it comes to housing. If I had the choice I'd live somewhere like Tennessee or Texas. But if we move, my wife loses her really good health insurance and pension which she worked hard for many years for. Plus I have a decent, stable gig.

New Jersey isn't terrible but it isn't ideal either. You get more land but you get high property taxes and nanny state laws. You can't even pump your own gas here. Owning guns (if you're into that) is an ordeal. Strictest gun control laws in the nation.

If you want a lot of land you have to move far out and deal with the commute. 2 hours to Pennsylvania is not uncommon but you either get used to it or it gets old. It's not really the sheer distance but the fact that there are so many traffic bottlenecks along the way.

Many areas of NJ are served by reliable mass transit. Problem is, everyone wants to live there. So housing gets expensive in those areas. I have coworkers living in Princeton who commute to NYC by train. A train ticket is $400+ per month.

I have an old friend who lives upstate, in woodstock (yes, the music festival town). He commutes like 3 hours each way on amtrak.

There's also Long Island.