Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Intown. Suburb. And the dilemma of heart and mind.

Our house hunt continues in full force and though we've narrowed our lengthy housing options to two, it's not making the decision any easier since the two we heart are diametrically opposed to each other.

I love where I currently live. I love our local park and the faces now becoming familiar. I love Waleed playing with other kids, regulars like him, and I love the front porches of the charming bungalows lining the streets. I love the school system, the walkability and I want to live in this area more than anything in the world--- but:

The homes are old and small [at least in our price point, we wandered into an open house for a Tudor and had to pretend to nod straight-faced as the agent informed us the 2,200 sq ft home was approximately 900K. That's all? Hm, if it wasn't for the kitchen I'd make an offer today. Hideous darling. Get me my mink we're out of here] they also have no garages and our parents would probably pass out before they crossed the threshold.

For these reasons we expanded our search to another area, equally close to K's job, but more suburban in feel. Definitely close to highways, good schools, [and while some intown folks scoff at chains, I do admit I love me some Macaroni Grill] and most definitely we could get double the house for the exact same price--- but:

When we go to the in-town showings, neighbors stop and say hello. They coo over Waleed and tell us we'll love the neighborhood [which, is so amazing in the South. To be brown. And wanted] We see children riding trikes while mothers plant petunias and well, our eyes gloss over and the world looks rose colored and we just would rather not live anywhere in the whole world.

I like both areas. But I like them for completely different reasons. One appeals to my heart. The other to my practicality. I want Waleed to grow up amongst wonderful neighbors and culture. I also would love a spacious bathroom an open floor plan instead of a series of boxed rooms and a two car garage. But I can't have both.

Some scoff at the 'suburban' concerns saying community is earned not inherited which is probably true to a point but I've lived in suburbia [albeit that one was a true 'burb not remotely near the city] and I know sometimes you just can't make community happen. But multiple children in a 3/2 bungalow will get incredibly tight.

It's so hard to decide between community or house. I worry I'm making too much out of community since one does live in their house. Or making too much out of house since good community has intangible benefits. Our agent jokes he's providing us the buffet of options but we have to pick which dish to eat. Except unlike a meal, home buying is a semi-permanent decision involving a lot more cash than tacos and the two choices are so vastly different, K and I just sit there wondering which way to step, afraid if we pick one we'll regret the other, and if we pick the other we'll regret the former. And regret leaves a bitter aftertaste. My heart screams intown. My brain gives a stern no. And since these two halves make my whole, I'm a very confused individual indeed.

What would you do?

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

no advice but I agree tough choices!

Aisha said...

Amen :(

kmina said...

I lived in many different kinds of homes, flats and houses. I came to the concusion that more space is always worth the money. I can keep it tidier and unclutted way easier. Even the cleaning takes less time in our current house than it did in the former flat. George has enough space to run, jump and climb inside as well as outside. We have a playground nearby, and he goes to the creche in the mornings, so plenty of social activities. We are accepted and integrated here easier (but things are different in this town). And being foreigners means we will never be fully part of the community, here or anywhere else.
If I were you, I would chose the burbs. If you are worried about W's needs to socialize, I think you shouldn't be, he will start preschool soon enough and he will make friends and let's face it, children these days are living different times than we did, and they will never know the things we did when we were their age. The dynamics of these times are so different, it makes no sense to pine for what we had. "Stand by You" is a very dated movie, you cannot picture any child of today's doing that.
And God willing, you could use more space for another baby. :-) Can you remember how holding a newborn feels like? I have almost forgotten. I can remember George being small(ish), but it is so abstract... Anyway, I digress.
This would be my choice. When we decide to buy a house, and if it is in this part of the world, it will be in the burbs. but we're still not convinced it is worth to invest the sh*t load of money you need to in order to have a nice house here. But this is another matter.
I am biased, of course. Our situation is different, and the conditions are different. And it is hard to put myself in your place, because I cannot shake my own opinions. I am sure though that you will make the right decision in the end. Because, in the end, both options are valid and good for your family. Even though it is tough to chose between two good things.:-)

Mina said...

Sorry for the many typos, I DID wake up at 6, thanks to a stuffed up nose...

Sprogblogger said...

Oi. It's hard. I love NOT living in the city, but community is admittedly SO MUCH EASIER in the city. I miss some of those easy play opportunities for Hen already. But I like having a bigger house, and I like having a yard for Hen to play in. And community DOES happen in the burbs, it's just slower and smaller. (ie: we've been in our new place in the burbs for 8 months and have ONLY JUST been invited to participate in a local playgroup. And that's after attending the library functions with these moms for 3 months.) So it happens, but it's slow. And, yeah, different than the easy, instant acceptance of the city. But I love having a kitchen I can turn around in. And a full sized bathroom. And, yeah, enough room that Henry can build up speed when he's running in the house & I'm yelling at him to slow down. So no advice, but thinking of you and hoping that your choice becomes easier.

Aisha said...

Mina, I read when you were moving to where you are and how much nicer everyone ewas, I wonder if its the opposite where ou are? For me, honestly, where I live, it really is the 'ideal' of how I always wanted it to be for my son. People really do know their neighbors. They really do have potlucks at each others houses and the children scamper through the yards. It's truly that neighborly and warm and friendly and that will definitely be missed.

Susan, as of now our strategy is we'll look in both areas and if we find one that just takes our breath away we'll make an offer be it 1300 square feet or 3300. I don't know if this is the best strategy but its hard to close ourselves off to either option though I think we do need to in order to make this easier. Thanks for your own personal perspective on this though.

Stef said...

InTown All The Way!

Sarah M. said...

Hm...knowing you're in Atlanta, how are the schools intown? I'd be tempted to go with the intown house, even with it having less space, as community is awesome - but if the schools aren't great, not only are you in a smaller house, you're going to have more issues long term.

Good luck deciding!! And ha, "only" 900k. I'm impressed you guys kept straight faces ;)

katery said...

that's a hard decision. the nearest "city" from where we live is 40 minutes away, that's where all the action is, the good restaurants, etc. but... schools, not so sure about them and all the people i know in this lonely state live in the small town that we live in. it was, however, imperative for me, that we live in town in the small town we do live in. we could have had a bigger house with more land out of town, but our house is a 4 bedroom 2 bath ranch, so it's not like it's THAT small, plus we have a huge backyard and we're in town. so, i guess i am an in town kind of girl. i do miss the amenities of the city though.

Aisha said...

Thanks Stef!

Sarah, the schools are hit or miss but in town we're looking at Decatur and Morningside which both have great schools, and 'suburb' I mean Brookhaven area around the Perimeter. Know of any of these places? Which city are you in? For us the priority was 1) schools 2) Commute 3) Community. It's the last one that's tripping us up :(

Kate, for you its different though since your commute is revolving around your job where you are living so it makes sense. K's job is in town so we have to focus there for that reason and yeah, get less house for the money . . but having live out in the suburbs [where we relaly didn't know that many people] I knw for us it just isn't worht it.

mystic said...

Sburb!

I have seen above areas and you will be fine.... You can't kill yourself paying interests and our time, practically you will need more spaces...

My 2 cents

Julia Munroe Martin said...

If it really boils down to a choice of community over house size? I'd DEFINITELY go for community. Fitting in is very important to me (it sounds like to you, too), and I'll never buy another house just for the house (especially size? we're all always in the same rooms anyway!). Of course this last time I *thought* I was getting the community I wanted, and it didn't quite work out that way, so you might want to triple check if it's just the rose-colored glasses (I wear those too!).

Aisha said...

Mystic, I'm slowly leaning that way :(

Julia, you are SO right, that is the biggest fear, not getting the community we want OR the house we we want because of those dang rose colored glasses lol :0/

JEN said...

Neighbors are really important. Having a community of neighbors is important. It is such a tough choice!

Aisha said...

I know :( I have heard the area I'm looking at has some options of good neighbors so we're going to zero in on those. . I will miss this inherited community though!

awomanmyage said...

I was raised in the suburbs and I hated it. I don't need to live in the heart of downtown, but I dislike being isolated. I want to live in a community where you can get to know your neighbours but have a respectful distance from them. Yet I also like to be close enough to walk to the park and local stores. Right now I've got a Dairy Queen, liquor store, sushi restaurant, coffee shop and convenience store within 4 blocks. I'm good.

Sunny said...

There are neighborhoods in the 'burbs that have a wonderful sense of community. It is hard to find them, you can't just tell by viewing a house. Ask a realtor, ask your friends, be creative and do some research. That's my opinion. :)

Oh, and your book came the other day!!! I am so excited to read it, it sounds absolutely fascinating to me. I have almost NO time to read right now, and there is one book I must finish first. But I'll get there!

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