Matt and I bought our house a year ago. Our home is 7 miles further south and 20 years newer than we would prefer. With Austin's current growth rate (welcome, Californians!) we had 2 choices in our price range: buy a newer house further away than we would like or buy the vintage fixer-uper of our dreams just east of downtown in a less than, ahem, stellar neighborhood. We chose the former. Last week The New York Times ran a profile on a few families who took option B. It was awesome and I will rehash it here, with commentary. Get out your popcorn!
Meet your neighbors. This graffiti covered storage shed / possible meth lab is neighbor to the first home we'll be visiting today. Don't get me wrong, I'm fine with a customized padlocked shed every now and then, but really, these graphics are less than sub-par.
The outside of our home on tour: once a shoe manufacturing plant, this 16,000 square foot (yes you read that right) building was built in the 1800s. Before the Ms. Griffith moved in, it was home to pigeons and a colony of bats. Ms. Griffith admits to falling asleep to the sound of gunshots every so often.
But, in trade, she gets this:
oh, and did I mention this:
Ms. Griffith has put over $400,000 into the home knowing full well that the conditions may never improve enough for her to see a return on her investment. Aside from the gunshots, this home is in San Antonio, which, according to me, is problem #1. (Sorry readers in San Antonio, I still love you, just not the Riverwalk or Eva Longoria Parker)
Next we are shown the exterior of the Hulser home, built in Connecticut (much better than San Antonio) in 1839. Apparently the train is not the worst thing about this residence as we are not shown the inside.
These lovely antique dealers saved 35% off of their home's estimated value just for agreeing to put up with this:
Who doesn't want an abandoned gas station (haunted adventures!) and a trailer park (party!) as neighbors? I say it's A-OK when you get to rock like this:
And just a little OK when you rock like this:
You'd think all that money they saved on the house would have allowed them a larger curtain budget.
That was mean. Your house is lovely, boys. Moving on
This fancy couple said I Do to the occasional transient junky in exchange for life in this renovated church. Because of it's proximity to a nearby community center they often have unexpected sleep over parties on their yard. Hey, who doesn't like a party? You? No? Well, what if I told you that the inside of the home looks like this:
Are we singing different songs, yet? The couple bought the home for just over $1,000,000 in Santa Monica where comparable homes usually sell for double the price.
This 10 room Federal style house is neighbor to boarded up buildings and empty lots. The $350,000 home in the Bronx is in one of the cities most unsafe areas according to police reports.
The Diaz's, who purchased the home in 2004, have doubled the purchase price by hauling off trash, setting up surveillance cameras and making the old joint look like this:
ho-hum, but that's not the point. Where do you all stand? Would you be willing to put up with trains, gunshots, fire stations or trailer parks if it meant that the home of your dreams was within your reach?
What if it also meant that you may never have the hope of reselling your home? Or that you could only resell at a loss? That your home is no longer an investment, just the satisfaction of your dream-home-desires?
I'm very torn on this issue and often wonder, despite how much I like my home, if I did the right thing. I'd love to hear what you all think.