Author Topic: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?  (Read 8087 times)

Jon Bon

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Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« on: October 10, 2016, 11:47:14 AM »
So a little background: We purchased into the “good neighborhoods” with good schools and safe streets and all that about seven years ago. We have moved a few times within the “good neighborhoods” and made a little bit of money doing this.

Recently market conditions have changed to the point where selling my current home looks extremely profitable. Unfortunately, it would not really be worth our time to buy in the same neighborhood because everything is so expensive and bid up. Even a fixer puts us against investors with deep pockets.

My wife and I have been looking at some alternative neighborhoods. Think along the lines of more working class roots, smaller houses and less luxury cars picking the kids up from school every day. We have a few reasons we want to move #1 being we could buy a house for cash and just bank our currently mortgage payment. I know there are lots of negatives associated with this: schools, crime, community, parks, etc etc. Another note: We also are well aware of the costs of selling our home and have taken those into account.

Has anyone sold their fancy home with the grade A+ schools to try something different? What was your experience? Was it a big mistake or a great success? I realize society says you should never go backwards when it comes to your home. We would be pretty happy to be debt free and have our kids grow up outside of a privileged bubble.

PS. Of course I am not trying to downgrade anyone's experience or where they can afford to live. I am just looking for advice and experiences. Thanks all!

tarheeldan

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2016, 12:01:32 PM »
The 1500 family moved to a smaller, cheaper home and then fixed it up (http://www.1500days.com/)

I rent and I'm single, so it's a bit different, but I did "downgrade" from a relatively nice apartment complex to an apartment in a two-family home in a much less desirable part of town. So far, so good - it's closer to work, and I'm saving a ton. I definitely don't feel any pressure to "keep up with the Joneses" here either, which is nice :-)

I think Stanley's books about the "Millionaire Next Door" talked about many living in working-class or lower middle class neighborhoods as well. (http://www.thomasjstanley.com/2009/12/the-low-profile-millionaire-next-door/)

Mother Fussbudget

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2016, 12:03:15 PM »
I did exactly this 2 years ago - sold my 4/3 $900K 3000sq.ft. lake-view home in the best school district (one of the top 100 high schools in the country) for a 3/1-3/4 $400K 1800sq.ft. rambler in a more 'working class' area, BUT within the same high school district.  No regrets.  I'm divorced, with my youngest son living with me full-time (and the older boys living on-their-own), so our situations are a little different.  But now that my youngest son is in college, it makes more sense than ever - we're within walking distance of the local community college, and my workplace, and shopping, etc.  No regrets.

caracarn

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2016, 12:09:05 PM »
I transitioned from one suburb to another where I live about five years ago.  It was as I was going through a divorce so the impetus to move was a bit different than yours, but went from a $400K to a $230K home relatively close.  It was a different city so the school district changed too, but it was about five miles away from each other.  The first community was the "upper class" place to be in the area and so there was a lot of comparison the neighbors would have.  I hated it.  When I had no reason to live there anymore I got out and have not regretted at all.

Sibley

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2016, 12:13:05 PM »
Realistically, I would rather live in a solid working class neighborhood than a rich one. The kind where people pull the weeds regularly, pick up the trash, etc but don't have extra money for frills. In fact, I'm planning on buying a  house next year, and that's what I'm looking for.

ketchup

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2016, 12:14:39 PM »
I kind of did this last year (no kids though).  Moved from a rental house in a "nicer" (median household income $100k+) area with roommates (two couples) to our own place (bought) in a "not quite as nice" area.  It helped that housing was about cheaper (we paid $99k and comparable in previous area would have been at least 150k), and closer to work for me and the highways (GF travels out of state a lot for work).  It's by no means a bad area, but there aren't any Lexuses parked on my street, and I know the local schools are pretty middle-of-the-road.

I'd definitely do it again, but it would depend on external factors (commute, schools/kids if I had them).  In a vacuum, it's hard to say if it'd be a good idea or not.

Jon Bon

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2016, 12:52:07 PM »
Thanks all for your input I really appreciate it!

I actually am also thinking about a multifamily in the same type of neighborhood. We already have a couple rentals so it would not be a shock managing it.

My thought on this is it would be a better hedge if it did not end up working out. If we move into this place for a year and hate it we would be in a great position to get back into a different neighborhood if we so chose. We would still pay cash, so we would save a mortgage payment every month. We would also get some rental income from the other side of the house. Enough to at least cover taxes and some maintenance. If we did want to leave we would have an attractive rental producing property, that I could hold if needed. Rather than a single family home that I need to sell.

Again I am loving this feedback, all of my friends and family look at me like I have two heads when I talk about this.




WyomingGuy

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2016, 01:02:15 PM »
Caveat: Answering questions about real estate are typically based upon anecdotal experience and general rules of thumb. Everybody's situation is different. Your mileage may vary.

With that caveat, we did what you are considering -- i.e., moved from a HCOL area/house to a low LCOL area/house. We did not sell the former, however, but instead rented it. We also only pulled that trigger after our children graduated from high school, thereby prioritizing their education over all other variables.

Following are some considerations:

(1) If you have children, keeping them in the best schools is imperative, in my view. I would not trade a few bucks on living expenses at the cost of your children going to lower-quality schools. If your children fail to launch, or launch poorly, you and they will suffer those consequences down the road.

(2) There are rules of thumb about only buying a house based upon how long you intend to live in the property. Going from HCOL house A to LCOL house B when you only intend to live in the latter for two years, for example, still may not make sense.

(3) A house is not an investment.

(4) Despite (3), the most money we have ever made was buying real estate under the following formula: (a) buy the cheapest house in the best neighborhood; (b) fix it up largely ourselves; then (c) live in it for a very long time. That is generally a recipe for nice equity appreciation.

(5) Read Stanley, T., "The Millionaire Next Door"; pictures of Buffett's house should also be consulted.

(6) A house in a poor neighborhood may never appreciate, even on decade-scales. Indeed, its value may decrease.

ZiziPB

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2016, 02:38:14 PM »
Some good points already made.  I would like to second the comment about the lack of appreciation or even losing value (this has been my experience).  The other thing to keep in mind is real estate taxes - where I live, the poorest towns and cities with the worst schools have the highest taxes.  And taxes are going up, because of the increased need for services (I assume). 

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2016, 02:40:11 PM »
Good schools are crucial, but there's working-class neighborhoods in nearly every school district. I moved into one for a $135,000 delta into investments and an actually superior school system.

hoodedfalcon

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2016, 02:48:28 PM »
I live in a unicorn type of neighborhood. Solid working class to downright poor (former mill village in a Southern town), but just so happens to be zoned for the good schools AND is zoned for the county instead of the city and my taxes are ridiculously low (less than $700/year). I have lived here for 14 years and my home value has not appreciated at all. For a few years it depreciated and is just now getting back around what I paid for it (according to Zillow, so grain of salt).

As far as safety goes, it has one of the lowest crime rates in the area. I have never had anything stolen. My windows are always open. Downside is it's near enough to a University to have more college students than I would prefer.

mm1970

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2016, 03:43:40 PM »
Quote
(1) If you have children, keeping them in the best schools is imperative, in my view. I would not trade a few bucks on living expenses at the cost of your children going to lower-quality schools. If your children fail to launch, or launch poorly, you and they will suffer those consequences down the road.

YMMV but this depends a LOT.

What is "good schools"?

The difference between a "10" and a "1"?  Yeah, that's probably a difference.

Between a "9" and a "7"?  Not much of a difference.

The "good" schools in my town are simply "rich".  Many of the parents are "rich".  There are enough rich parents (and upper middle class) that the schools raise hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for "extras" ($600k+).

I live in the worst elementary district in the entire area.  Out of 25-30 elementary schools.
We transferred our kid into a "slightly better" school.  It gets a 5 out of 10.  It's more than 50% poor, free lunch, almost 50% English learner.

It's fine.
My son is doing fine. He's smart, hard working, in GATE.  He's got friends (yes, most of his friends are also middle class kids).  But most of his class is Hispanic (>70%).  Why is that good?  Because that's reality.
It's going to be an awful big shock to the kids in that rich school, if they end up going to public school for junior high.
He *also* realizes that not everyone is "rich".

"Failure to launch" could be a school without "peers" (which is not an issue, if it was, we'd transfer somewhere else), or it could be a school where all the rich kids go shopping and do drugs (which is a thing here too).

Best bet is to talk to others.  "Good schools" is subjective.  It's going to vary a LOT on location.

mountains_o_mustaches

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2016, 04:18:59 PM »
I agree with mm1970 about the "bad school" thing and agree with many posters here about not completely buying into the whole "bad neighborhood" thing.  Seriously, it's typically code for a neighborhood or school where non-white, lower SES, working class folks live.  I live in one of these "bad" neighborhoods - been here for 3 years without any problems.  I love it - cheaper real estate, down-to-earth and friendly neighbors, no "keeping up with the Joneses," and no more crime here than in other neighborhoods (this is based on actual police #s, not rumors).  I also get to live super close to work.  Plus I get the bonus of interacting with a diverse group of neighbors which is definitely worth something!

Jon Bon

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2016, 10:39:06 AM »
A little update:

So on buying in the "declining neighborhood" topic I completely agree. I would not be going into this buying the nicest house on the block just because I can. I would probably find something pretty dated then update with materials that fit the neighborhood. So worst case if we did decide to move hopefully we could at least break even.

So I did call about a few houses.

One I did call at totally had a robbery homicide at it! According to the local news I believe it was because they were already into nefarious activities anyways so it was not like it was a random home invasion gone bad.

So maybe no so much that part of the neighborhood!


little_brown_dog

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2016, 10:50:24 AM »
We live in the type of neighborhood you describe – middle-middle class, but our neighbors range from engineers and lawyers to electricians, contractors, teachers, etc. About half of us seem to have a stay at home parent, or a parent that only works part time. Almost no luxury cars on our street, all homes modest and older (built in the 1940s-50s), and parents walk their kids to the school bus in the mornings. Everyone is really chill, friendly, and relaxed. Think, no one glaring at you because you leave your kids toys out on your lawn, or people freaking out if your dog runs off leash every now and then. I think “downgrading” to a place like this will be very beneficial for you for many reasons, not just financially.

RFAAOATB

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #15 on: October 11, 2016, 12:17:59 PM »
I would consider this if you plan on gentrifying the neighborhood.  Something like buying a duplex or triplex to live and rent out of for the price of a single family home in the suburbs and seeing how far I can push up the rent.  I currently live in a condo that's about one or two steps above low income housing surrounded by petty thieves and domestic violence.  If I had more money I would definitely live in a more affluent area but the rather high price of real estate would mean going from medium income high savings rate to medium income high debt rate and I can't justify it now.  As soon as my (future, hopefully soon) kids enter the picture I would be willing to spend some money to make sure they get an above average start.  This city is small enough that there is little variation in public schools so we will have to calculate the benefits of private vs public combined with our financial profile.

I don't understand some of you all.  If you're living on less than you can afford because you tolerate it well and can save more, that makes sense but if you think having your kids around the more modest set is a benefit compared to the networking advantage of affluence and dreaming of Phillips Exeter and Harvard or Phillips Andover and Yale I don't understand why.  Yes there is some discipline needed to avoid too much competitive spending when your neighbors have more rather than less but I'll take that instead of being in close proximity to low class people.

I'm probably keeping some poor apartment dweller out of this condo by not moving up to a house more in line with whatever 30 year mortgage my paycheck can handle but whatever.  I'll have my McMansion and BMW soon enough.

MudDuck

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #16 on: October 11, 2016, 12:43:28 PM »
Yes there is some discipline needed to avoid too much competitive spending when your neighbors have more rather than less but I'll take that instead of being in close proximity to low class people.

Ewww. That, "...I'll take that instead of being in close proximity to low class people." bullshit attitude is basically what I'm avoiding by living in the part of town with lower-income people. I think people who talk about other people that way are, by definition, low class, and I don't want that rubbing off on my children.

mm1970

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #17 on: October 11, 2016, 01:11:33 PM »
Yes there is some discipline needed to avoid too much competitive spending when your neighbors have more rather than less but I'll take that instead of being in close proximity to low class people.

Ewww. That, "...I'll take that instead of being in close proximity to low class people." bullshit attitude is basically what I'm avoiding by living in the part of town with lower-income people. I think people who talk about other people that way are, by definition, low class, and I don't want that rubbing off on my children.
+1

zephyr911

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #18 on: October 11, 2016, 01:48:46 PM »
Rented out our ~$175K town house in an HOA community with security patrols and tons of amenities, and most homes in the $3-600K range, up to $800K+. Bought literally the nicest house on the block in a predominantly blue-collar area with a fair share of rentals, for $122K (typical is $80-120K). Never been happier with a decision. No more driving 5+ miles from the isolated community for anything and everything of value, no more worrying about HOA compliance, way less bullshit in general, feel just as safe, and neighbors are actually nicer on average.

Yes there is some discipline needed to avoid too much competitive spending when your neighbors have more rather than less but I'll take that instead of being in close proximity to low class people.
Ewww. That, "...I'll take that instead of being in close proximity to low class people." bullshit attitude is basically what I'm avoiding by living in the part of town with lower-income people. I think people who talk about other people that way are, by definition, low class, and I don't want that rubbing off on my children.

Damn right. You don't buy access to a better class of humanity just by living in a more expensive neighborhood. In fact, the opposite is just as often true. People who think their zip code makes them superior can be the lowest and most tiresome class of all.

I've lived and worked in some pretty shitty, genuinely scary neighborhoods in my life and I do realize that dirt cheap is usually shitty. And in most areas, you get more desirable neighbors as you move up toward the middle socioeconomically. But the secret is, diminishing returns aren't that high up the scale, and once you pass the sweet spot - which may even be below median price - you're mostly just paying extra for snobbery. YMMV, as always....

Cranky

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #19 on: October 11, 2016, 03:42:35 PM »
Even really bad neighborhoods, most of your neighbors are perfectly nice, hard-working people.

We live in a pretty working class neighborhood, not the "nice" areas - and this is a place with localized school districts, not county wide districts. We bought the house we could afford 21 years ago, and we've stayed. Our neighbors are nice and quiet and the location is really convenient.

The schools are *fine*. My only complaint has always been that everybody knows everybody but this area is weird like that. Kids get out of school what they take to school, and my kids did well, went to the colleges of their choice, and have marched off into the real world with an appreciation for how easy they had it.

I'd be reluctant to move into an area with a lot of shooting, though I've lived in that kind of neighborhood in the past, but I'm too old for that now!

mountains_o_mustaches

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #20 on: October 11, 2016, 08:25:29 PM »
I would consider this if you plan on gentrifying the neighborhood.  Something like buying a duplex or triplex to live and rent out of for the price of a single family home in the suburbs and seeing how far I can push up the rent.  I currently live in a condo that's about one or two steps above low income housing surrounded by petty thieves and domestic violence.  If I had more money I would definitely live in a more affluent area but the rather high price of real estate would mean going from medium income high savings rate to medium income high debt rate and I can't justify it now.  As soon as my (future, hopefully soon) kids enter the picture I would be willing to spend some money to make sure they get an above average start.  This city is small enough that there is little variation in public schools so we will have to calculate the benefits of private vs public combined with our financial profile.

I don't understand some of you all.  If you're living on less than you can afford because you tolerate it well and can save more, that makes sense but if you think having your kids around the more modest set is a benefit compared to the networking advantage of affluence and dreaming of Phillips Exeter and Harvard or Phillips Andover and Yale I don't understand why.  Yes there is some discipline needed to avoid too much competitive spending when your neighbors have more rather than less but I'll take that instead of being in close proximity to low class people.

I'm probably keeping some poor apartment dweller out of this condo by not moving up to a house more in line with whatever 30 year mortgage my paycheck can handle but whatever.  I'll have my McMansion and BMW soon enough.

I think this is just a fundamental difference of values.  I don't want to be a part of gentrifying neighborhoods so that low-income folks can no longer afford to live there.  I also don't know where you live in the US, but I doubt that you de facto get amazing connections by living in the rich part of town.  This might be true in a few big cities, but I doubt it's true for the majority of the US.  I grew up in a "rough" neighborhood - went to college, got a graduate degree, and am doing pretty darn well if I say so myself.  I also learned a lot about humility, working with people of all different backgrounds, and the importance of staying "down to earth" for my own well-being.  I now live in a lower-income neighborhood by choice - it's not something I "tolerate."

little_brown_dog

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #21 on: October 12, 2016, 10:27:32 AM »
Yes there is some discipline needed to avoid too much competitive spending when your neighbors have more rather than less but I'll take that instead of being in close proximity to low class people.

Ewww. That, "...I'll take that instead of being in close proximity to low class people." bullshit attitude is basically what I'm avoiding by living in the part of town with lower-income people. I think people who talk about other people that way are, by definition, low class, and I don't want that rubbing off on my children.

+1.

There are major downsides to living in Mercedes Benz and McMansion land, and ironically, social isolation is one of them. We have friends who live in places like that, and once the luster of the huge homes wore off, they were stuck with high property taxes and insane and pretentious “community” rules like how long their grass must be, where they can place veggie gardens, strict pet policies, etc. They essentially pay an arm and a leg to be told exactly how to live on their own property – surprisingly little freedom despite all that luxury. One couple is now seriously considering moving because after only 2 years they really can't stand it anymore.
Around me, these types of upper-class neighborhoods are often ghost towns – the streets are gorgeous but almost completely absent of people, kids, and pets, even in the afternoons after school lets out. No one is ever home or playing with their kids on those perfect lawns because everyone is always dashing around in their escalades or beamers to their big, important jobs, or the stay at home parents are holed up in their mini mansions or out of the neighborhood 90% of the time. Meanwhile, just a mile or two away in the same district, there are more affordable neighborhoods that we drive through all the time which seem to be much more active and vibrant (kids playing together, people out walking and interacting, etc). The homes are still very nice and well kept, but not nearly as expensive. I’ll take my “lower class” neighborhood any day over looking rich but being isolated and shackled by classist standards of property management.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #22 on: October 12, 2016, 10:59:30 AM »
My experience has been completely different from little_brown_dog.
Moving to McMansion Mercedes land has greatly increased neighborhood interaction to me.
 
When I lived in a low-income, working class neighborhood (for 8 years), I had two neighbors who would wave to me.
I knew my next door neighbor's name, and we chatted when our dogs were in the yard, but otherwise, no interaction at all. If I died, I don't think anyone would care.  I brought banana bread to anyone who moved in, most people chatted for a few minutes then I never heard from them again. Some were downright rude about it (which is just bizarre to me.)  I never saw kids playing in the street.  It wasn't just us, as I never saw anyone else getting together either.

My new neighborhood we have neighborhood wide parties 3-4 times a year. Kids are constantly out riding bikes, running as a herd.  I know the names of almost all my neighbors. I know who owns which dogs.  When something happened to my family my neighbors brought meals to us for a month. When my husband was hit by a car biking to work a neighbor volunteered to mow our lawn for the summer.  I've done the same for others too.

My old neighborhood was way more isolated.

mamagoose

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #23 on: October 12, 2016, 11:40:37 AM »
Rented out our ~$175K town house in an HOA community with security patrols and tons of amenities, and most homes in the $3-600K range, up to $800K+. Bought literally the nicest house on the block in a predominantly blue-collar area with a fair share of rentals, for $122K (typical is $80-120K). Never been happier with a decision. No more driving 5+ miles from the isolated community for anything and everything of value, no more worrying about HOA compliance, way less bullshit in general, feel just as safe, and neighbors are actually nicer on average.

Yes there is some discipline needed to avoid too much competitive spending when your neighbors have more rather than less but I'll take that instead of being in close proximity to low class people.
Ewww. That, "...I'll take that instead of being in close proximity to low class people." bullshit attitude is basically what I'm avoiding by living in the part of town with lower-income people. I think people who talk about other people that way are, by definition, low class, and I don't want that rubbing off on my children.

Damn right. You don't buy access to a better class of humanity just by living in a more expensive neighborhood. In fact, the opposite is just as often true. People who think their zip code makes them superior can be the lowest and most tiresome class of all.

I've lived and worked in some pretty shitty, genuinely scary neighborhoods in my life and I do realize that dirt cheap is usually shitty. And in most areas, you get more desirable neighbors as you move up toward the middle socioeconomically. But the secret is, diminishing returns aren't that high up the scale, and once you pass the sweet spot - which may even be below median price - you're mostly just paying extra for snobbery. YMMV, as always....

The shops in my neighborhood actually sell bumper stickers with our zip code on them (note: we are not a vacation destination). I see them on the back of all the white Lexus SUVs in the carpool line. Now it's not even enough to be in this zip code, you have to be on the "right" side of the main street (i.e. the white-dominated elementary school vs. the black-dominated elementary school). It's ironic because we bought into this neighborhood thinking we'd be avoiding the cliques of the suburbs, but this is just a snobby closer-to-downtown neighborhood, and if someone offered to build a fence to keep the riff-raff out it would probably happen. We are moving in 2017.

Goldielocks

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #24 on: October 12, 2016, 11:55:28 AM »
Yep.  It was the result of moving into a HCOL, so not identical choice.   We rented in the new area for a year first, to check it out, check out the schools, etc.

The area we are in is filled with "Warehouse supervisors, firemen, teachers, police officers, retail store managers, production manufacturing technologists, bus drivers" etc.   A few of us are accountants or engineers or business owners, but minority, for certain, maybe because the downtown commute is long.


Differences:

1) I get to know the neighbors quite quickly.  Everyone does their own lawns, and helps seniors out, etc.  Crime is low, because people lookout for what is happening.

2)  I have not lived in such a white neighborhood since I moved away from the prairies.   It is a little discomforting, actually, especially as most of the zipcodes around us (half mile) are 40% visible (mixed) minorities.

3)  Very few students drive to school (high school).  They walk or bike or take public transit (which is poor service in our area). Why?  I think that parents can't afford the extra car.

4)  Quite a few foster parents (to make a second income, one person takes the foster parent training), or grandparents living with the family.   

5) My kids have no pressure to spend more than they can afford.

newelljack

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #25 on: October 12, 2016, 11:55:54 AM »
Yes there is some discipline needed to avoid too much competitive spending when your neighbors have more rather than less but I'll take that instead of being in close proximity to low class people.

Ewww. That, "...I'll take that instead of being in close proximity to low class people." bullshit attitude is basically what I'm avoiding by living in the part of town with lower-income people. I think people who talk about other people that way are, by definition, low class, and I don't want that rubbing off on my children.

I *kinda* get what RF is saying here. We're talking the multi-generational poor who think it's their right to live off food stamps. I've taught in a school where a kid said they don't need to get a job because they will get a check from the state. That sends the wrong message to my children. In my area in California, those neighborhoods include gang activity and schools go on lock-downs monthly. I don't think that not wanting to live there makes me a snob.

Giro

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #26 on: October 12, 2016, 11:58:15 AM »
I live in a fairly nice neighborhood and most folks send their kids to private school.  I was at a band meeting at the private school sitting next to one of my neighbors.  She drove to the meeting in her big SUV Mercedes and had her LV handbag.  Her daughter wanted to play the clarinet and my daughter was signing up for clarinet as well.  When the papers came out to buy the clarinet, her mother had to step out and call dad to see if there was enough room on one of the credit cards for the $100 down payment for the clarinet rental.  She literally had 5 cards in her hand to check with him.

And she was probably the snobbiest woman I had ever met.  I was at the meeting in my jeans and tshirt and she tried to make a joke about my clothes but I didn't really think it was funny.  She was a stay at home mom and told me she thought women should take pride in their appearance.

I take pride in the fact that I don't have to worry about $100 for my child's music education. 

A downgrade for me would be an upgrade on certain factors.


hoodedfalcon

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #27 on: October 12, 2016, 12:39:26 PM »
Yes there is some discipline needed to avoid too much competitive spending when your neighbors have more rather than less but I'll take that instead of being in close proximity to low class people.

Ewww. That, "...I'll take that instead of being in close proximity to low class people." bullshit attitude is basically what I'm avoiding by living in the part of town with lower-income people. I think people who talk about other people that way are, by definition, low class, and I don't want that rubbing off on my children.

I *kinda* get what RF is saying here. We're talking the multi-generational poor who think it's their right to live off food stamps.

I don't think anyone is "living" off of food stamps. The maximum benefit for a family of 4 in 2017 is set at $649, with the majority of families receiving less than the maximum amount. Also, the majority of food stamp recipients are children, the disabled, and the elderly. Obviously bad people to be around.

RFAAOATB

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #28 on: October 12, 2016, 01:10:07 PM »
Halloween is coming up which reminds me of one slight downside to living in an expansive neighborhood.  With properties 1 minute walk apart there is not much Trick or Treat traffic.  Even in my condo where I'm sure some children do exist we had little to no traffic.  The condo centers are far enough apart splintering off the main road that walking to more than three complexes is awkward.  The custom is being replaced by mall or community events to gather all the children in one place.  A couple years ago when no kids showed up I took a bucket of candy to the bar for karaoke night.

I'm springing for full size bars this year.  Any kids that show up will be duly rewarded.

Jon Bon

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #29 on: October 12, 2016, 04:35:02 PM »
Thanks for all the feedback everyone. Just a little more information about our thought process.

We have 3 kids. An almost 4 year old daughter and almost 2 year old twins. Currently I am mostly fired, the SO is still putting in about 35 hours a week. The idea to downgrade our neighborhood is that this would allow us to both be finished working before we turn 40.

Our oldest would not be in school until August of 2018, and I could see us buying back into our target neighborhood by then. But we would also be content to stay put wherever we land if it went borrowing a huge amount of money. 

Some folks commented on schools being the #1 thing. I agree they are a big deal for any number of reasons. However, Is it wrong to believe a kid in a "5" school with two parents at home who are completely on top of their child's studies, and volunteer at the school weekly is going to be just as well off as a kid in a "10" school with both parents working 60 hour soul crushing jobs?

Any teachers on here could weigh in on that?




mm1970

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #30 on: October 12, 2016, 04:56:39 PM »
Thanks for all the feedback everyone. Just a little more information about our thought process.

We have 3 kids. An almost 4 year old daughter and almost 2 year old twins. Currently I am mostly fired, the SO is still putting in about 35 hours a week. The idea to downgrade our neighborhood is that this would allow us to both be finished working before we turn 40.

Our oldest would not be in school until August of 2018, and I could see us buying back into our target neighborhood by then. But we would also be content to stay put wherever we land if it went borrowing a huge amount of money. 

Some folks commented on schools being the #1 thing. I agree they are a big deal for any number of reasons. However, Is it wrong to believe a kid in a "5" school with two parents at home who are completely on top of their child's studies, and volunteer at the school weekly is going to be just as well off as a kid in a "10" school with both parents working 60 hour soul crushing jobs?

Any teachers on here could weigh in on that?

Not a teacher.

My 5th grader attends a "5" school with two full-time working parents (engineers) who are engaged.  We both volunteer at the school.  I spent 2 years as fundraising VP and am on year 2 as a fundraising committee leader/ member.  Spouse is the volunteer math club teacher for 5th grade (he did 4th grade too).

Judging by test scores and outcomes...the middle/ upper middle class English Origin kids at our "5" school score AS WELL as the same students at the "9" or "10" schools in town.  I know this because they break down the damn test scores by demographic, assuming you have ENOUGH of a demographic to do so.  I've tracked this for 6 years now.

Also an aside, my son's two good buddies in his school - parents are a doctor and a junior high math teacher.  She (the teacher) *chose* to keep her sons in this school.  She has taught students from almost all of the elementary schools, and has a ranking.  (I'd never send my kid to school X, for example.)

The school is a "5" because we have a high % of English learners and poor kids.  This does not affect my child's everyday education - they do grouping, tracking, and pull-outs.

In my town, I'd avoid the 2's and 3's because of gang activity.

YMMV.

mountains_o_mustaches

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #31 on: October 12, 2016, 06:15:56 PM »
Thanks for all the feedback everyone. Just a little more information about our thought process.

We have 3 kids. An almost 4 year old daughter and almost 2 year old twins. Currently I am mostly fired, the SO is still putting in about 35 hours a week. The idea to downgrade our neighborhood is that this would allow us to both be finished working before we turn 40.

Our oldest would not be in school until August of 2018, and I could see us buying back into our target neighborhood by then. But we would also be content to stay put wherever we land if it went borrowing a huge amount of money. 

Some folks commented on schools being the #1 thing. I agree they are a big deal for any number of reasons. However, Is it wrong to believe a kid in a "5" school with two parents at home who are completely on top of their child's studies, and volunteer at the school weekly is going to be just as well off as a kid in a "10" school with both parents working 60 hour soul crushing jobs?

Any teachers on here could weigh in on that?

I'm not a teacher, but my partner is in education. 

I don't think a "5" school is necessarily worse than a "7" or a "10" school.  Being involved in your kid's lives, having a good stable school environment, and realizing that there's more to learning than just textbooks goes a long way.  My partner works at a "4" school in our city.  This is mostly due to lower test scores because of English learner students and a higher proportion of kids getting free lunches.  My partner loves working at that school - great community, lots of school events, involved parents, etc.  In larger cities I'd definitely look into very low ranking schools "1" or "2" as there may be something going on there (underfunded / understaffed, high turn over); however, I wouldn't say that the bottom ranked school is automatically bad - I went to the lowest ranked middle school in the county I grew up in - there were only 5 middle schools, all of them were fine, we just had slightly lower test scores than the others.  Use common sense - if you're really concerned about it check out the school and see what's going on there.

AutoZealot

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #32 on: October 12, 2016, 06:34:07 PM »
Jon Bon - thanks for this thread and thanks to all those who have chimed in.

I have been recently driving toward the same thing the OP is looking at.  We bought the home we wanted (in budget) and the neighborhood we wanted, but I can't ignore how much appreciation that's happened.

The house is really too big for us, 2200 sqft w/ basement, 1600 otherwise and we would prefer to drop down in house size and drop her commute.  I travel a lot for work, so it definitely makes sense to optimize her commute.

I don't consider it downgrading the neighborhood, as much as right-sizing our mortgage outlay, house size, commute while maintaining a good neighborhood - just somewhere else

WyomingGuy

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #33 on: October 12, 2016, 09:07:43 PM »
The OP has now revealed the presence of young children.

Again, balloting here on local-specific and entirely anecdotal issues such as schools in neighborhood A vice neighborhood B is entirely hopeless and impossible to generalize, per my prior post. Talking about 5 versus 2 versus 10 is also hopeless. There are no general rules. A 2 could be better than a 10. Or not. Debating these issues here is ludicrous at some level.

But we all know what a good school is. We also know what our children need. We also know what a good school environment is. A HCOL school with drugs is terrible. A LCOL school with honor and character is the opposite. It has nothing to do with rich or poor, as some commenters have tried to suggest.

But schools are good and bad. We know that.

I'd never buy a house in a bad school district, regardless the demographics. I wouldn't do so if I had kids, for obvious reasons, as parents love their children. And if I didn't have children (but I do), I still wouldn't buy a house in a bad school district as property values are positively correlated with the values provided by the local schools.

But again, your mileage may vary.

Metric Mouse

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #34 on: October 13, 2016, 12:46:13 AM »
Realistically, I would rather live in a solid working class neighborhood than a rich one. The kind where people pull the weeds regularly, pick up the trash, etc but don't have extra money for frills. In fact, I'm planning on buying a  house next year, and that's what I'm looking for.

This. However, if I were in a nicer neighborhood, I might ride it out until the kids finish school, and then downgrade. My $.02.

AMandM

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #35 on: October 13, 2016, 12:59:16 PM »
A couple of thoughts on schools:  My sisters and I went to nondescript public schools in a heavily immigrant area.  We were the equivalent of ELLs in US public schools: our schools were francophone but our home language was English. My parents were both well-educated and gave us all kinds of enrichment (though at the time it wasn't called that!).  We had tons of books, excursions, etc, and we came out better-educated in English history and literature than in French.  So I'm a big believer that home influence can compensate for school deficits.

Also, if you and your wife will both be retired from work, you could easily homeschool, which would make the whole "good schools" question moot.

ETA: We downgraded, from a 1/4 acre perfect-lawns suburb to a closer-in, more working class, more immigrant neighbourhood.  We love it! We homeschool so schools were not an issue for us.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2016, 01:04:39 PM by AMandM »

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #36 on: October 13, 2016, 01:48:23 PM »
I think people sometimes look only at scores and not other factors when choosing districts, which I think is a mistake. Pennsylvania publishes a school safety report, and we skipped one district because of its high arrest rate. That could indicate two bad things: lack of safety, or a tendency to bring the cops into too many disciplinary issues.

TrulyStashin

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #37 on: October 13, 2016, 02:32:50 PM »
Thanks for all the feedback everyone. Just a little more information about our thought process.

We have 3 kids. An almost 4 year old daughter and almost 2 year old twins. Currently I am mostly fired, the SO is still putting in about 35 hours a week. The idea to downgrade our neighborhood is that this would allow us to both be finished working before we turn 40.

Our oldest would not be in school until August of 2018, and I could see us buying back into our target neighborhood by then. But we would also be content to stay put wherever we land if it went borrowing a huge amount of money. 

Some folks commented on schools being the #1 thing. I agree they are a big deal for any number of reasons. However, Is it wrong to believe a kid in a "5" school with two parents at home who are completely on top of their child's studies, and volunteer at the school weekly is going to be just as well off as a kid in a "10" school with both parents working 60 hour soul crushing jobs?

Any teachers on here could weigh in on that?

Not a teacher anymore but I was for 12 years.  I taught at a big, public high school (2,500 + students) in the less affluent side of our county.  I think of our economic demographic as "teacher-fire fighter-cop middle class."  In other words, people with steady, solid jobs and a strong sense of community but generally modest income.  The student body was also very racially diverse (black, Indian, Asian), though still majority white.  The high school, middle school, and elementary school are together in the center of the community (originally built in 1964; renovated in 2000) and surrounded by local shops and neighborhoods of nicely kept mid-century era homes.  Sidewalks are pretty much everywhere -- or the streets are residential and safe for walking.  My kids could walk or bike to the YMCA, the library, all 3 schools, the grocery store, Chik Fil A, and more.  Several of the teachers I worked with were alumni of the high school.  They were Knights in the 70's or 80's, went off to college, and returned to teach as a Knight and now their kids are Knights too.  Many of the faculty have been there for their entire career and have a deep commitment to the school and community.  The current Principal was a science teacher there for over a decade, then an AP, and is now Principal.  Her two kids are alums (her son went to the Naval Academy).  I haven't seen her in 6 years and ran into her recently and she gave me a big hug.

Among the Knight alums, just off the top of my head, are kids who went on to:  West Point, the Naval Academy or the Air Force Academy (in 2006 - a banner year - we sent FOUR graduates to the Naval Academy and one to Air Force); the University of Virginia, William & Mary, Virginia Tech, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, NYU, Georgetown, St. John's, and Duke.  The county also has an awesome vo-tech school (students split their time) so many kids graduated as journeymen electricians, computer coders, nursing assistants, etc.  The school offers dual-enrollment classes (HS and college credit simultaneously) in cooperation with the local community college, and AP classes in many subjects.  Some alums graduate just shy of sophomore-year-in-college status. 

Here's the kicker.....

In our region, that school and community is considered....... undesirable.  "Working class."  On the Great Schools website, that school gets a "5" ranking. 

I taught AP U.S. Government, AP Psychology and regular levels of other social studies topics.  Almost universally, the students in my AP classes had married parents who were engaged and interested in their success.  Parents who took them abroad, to the theater, to museums, or paid for music lessons.  Parents who came to Back to School night, called, emailed, and asked for updates.  Though I hate to say this because I was a single mother, in 12 years of teaching, I could probably count AP kids from single parent households on one hand.  Ok, maybe both hands, but barely.  Kids who struggled almost universally came from families that struggled -- for whatever reason.  Not always but the correlation was high enough that I'd bet real money on it.

YMMV. 

FWIW, both of my kids are Knights.  They are now 25 and 19.  From age 15, they had summer jobs (at the Chik Fil A or the YMCA -- they could walk).  They are normal kids -- not superstar athletes or brainiacs.  My 25-year old rejected college and started her own business.  She's been self-supporting since she was 19 and is thriving.  My 19 year old meandered through his teen years and 3 semesters of community college.  He just found his passion and put together a package of scholarships that will pay for the rest of his college.  I think being in a modest community of hard-working people helped them learn to be self-starters and hard workers.  I provided the basics and they worked to provide the rest of what they wanted.  That was "normal" and expected in our community. 

infogoon

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #38 on: October 13, 2016, 02:40:46 PM »
Around me, these types of upper-class neighborhoods are often ghost towns – the streets are gorgeous but almost completely absent of people, kids, and pets, even in the afternoons after school lets out. No one is ever home or playing with their kids on those perfect lawns because everyone is always dashing around in their escalades or beamers to their big, important jobs, or the stay at home parents are holed up in their mini mansions or out of the neighborhood 90% of the time.

Some friends of ours live in a neighborhood like this. New construction, giant houses with decks and those elaborate wooden playsets. I've never seen anyone outside enjoying any of it. I told my wife it reminds me of those empty towns the government built out west for testing nuclear weapons.

crispy

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Re: Has anyone downgraded their neighborhood?
« Reply #39 on: October 13, 2016, 04:25:12 PM »
I would consider this if you plan on gentrifying the neighborhood.  Something like buying a duplex or triplex to live and rent out of for the price of a single family home in the suburbs and seeing how far I can push up the rent.  I currently live in a condo that's about one or two steps above low income housing surrounded by petty thieves and domestic violence.  If I had more money I would definitely live in a more affluent area but the rather high price of real estate would mean going from medium income high savings rate to medium income high debt rate and I can't justify it now.  As soon as my (future, hopefully soon) kids enter the picture I would be willing to spend some money to make sure they get an above average start.  This city is small enough that there is little variation in public schools so we will have to calculate the benefits of private vs public combined with our financial profile.

I don't understand some of you all.  If you're living on less than you can afford because you tolerate it well and can save more, that makes sense but if you think having your kids around the more modest set is a benefit compared to the networking advantage of affluence and dreaming of Phillips Exeter and Harvard or Phillips Andover and Yale I don't understand why.  Yes there is some discipline needed to avoid too much competitive spending when your neighbors have more rather than less but I'll take that instead of being in close proximity to low class people.

I'm probably keeping some poor apartment dweller out of this condo by not moving up to a house more in line with whatever 30 year mortgage my paycheck can handle but whatever.  I'll have my McMansion and BMW soon enough.

Our old neighborhood wasn't old money...it was a bunch of McMansions and a lot of wannabes who were in debt up to their eyeballs (and many absolutely lovely people, too. Unfortunately, most of them were moving out so it made moving a lot easier).  When we moved to a "lesser" neighborhood,  we chose one that was older, had big yards, and neighbors from a variety of backgrounds. All of the neighbors we know are hardworking, nice, and normal...kind of like us.  One is the very definition of Mustachian, and I am pretty sure he has a lot more money than most of the people in our old neighborhood. He told us he was disappointed when we bought our current house because he wanted to buy it for a rental. Our neighborhood was fairly normal for the first ten years we lived there, but we have had a big real estate boom and prices and houses sizes have gone through the roof. It seemed like a good time to cash in our equity and move to a neighborhood more in line with our values.

We "downgraded" for a lot of reasons, but one thing I worried about was the influence of kids who have everything handed to them. Many of the parents value appearance over education, kindness, and ethics.  It made me uncomfortable because I  don't want my girls to think that money grows on trees. Struggle can be good.

We solved the school issue by staying in the same town so my kids go didn't have to switch schools.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2016, 04:47:29 PM by crispy »