What You Get for the Money

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about homes, checking out the guides they have for free at grocery stores and occasionally perusing the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors. I’d probably do better to actually research mortgages and the home buying process, rather than just what homes are out there two years before my lease is finished.
In my searches I’ve discovered two things. First, it’s a lot cheaper to buy a home outside of the zip code in which we currently live (duh). Second, it’s still kind of expensive to buy a decent place in a decent area (double duh).

I realize I’m Captain Obvious here, but it’s surprising to me that a place so devoid of culture (the town where I went to high school) is still a place where enough people want to live that home prices have gone up as much as they have. I recall some friends from high school buying homes between $60k and $100k that were pretty big and really nice. Of course, this was back in the mid-nineties. Now, small 3 bedroom ranch homes with no personality and twenty year-old carpet with walls covered in border featuring duckies, chickens, and cows are starting out at $120,000. And that’s for the ones that need work.

There’s this show on one of the cable stations – I can’t remember which one – called “What You Get for the Money” that I found fascinating when it first aired. They compared home prices in various cities. After a couple of episodes, it started to get ridiculous and pandered to fantasy rather than reality. Instead of what you can get for $150,000 in Portland, Cleveland, Indianapolis, and Little Rock, it became what you can get for $500,000 in New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, and D.C. Including significant remodels that did not include the original home price. It pissed me off because I wanted to see something a bit more realistic. If I wanted to see incredibly wealthy people with homes I’ll never afford, I’d just watch “MTV Cribs.”

So, they always say that home prices are about location, location, location. This is clearly true. You can get two-to-three times the house in Hendricks County that you would paying the same price in my neighborhood. I wouldn’t want that much house in a place where I couldn’t walk to anything, there aren’t any cool shops or independent theatres, and “coffeeshop” literally translates to “Starbucks” in any circumstance. But there is something to be said for being able to have a big fenced in yard and a home warranty.

I know this is how it is in every city; either you’re paying through the nose to have a decent place in good shape that has very little space to move around, or you pay the same for a house in an area known more for its school district than its support of small businesses.

I honestly don’t know which I’d prefer. Charlie claims he either wants to be right in the middle of everything or far out in the country with ten acres so we can grow our own food and raise chickens for the impending fall of civilization as we know it. I refused to finish reading The Long Emergency because I didn’t want to get too paranoid.


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