Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Location, Location, Location

How did you choose your place of residence?  My decision was easy.  I met my future husband, he owned a house in Columbia. Bingo! I knew almost nothing about the area, but I knew it had him in it.  Enough said.

Usually folks have a longer list than mine.  If you watch "House Hunters" on HGTV, you have heard a boatload of them.  Good neighborhood, good schools, big yard, architectural detail, open plan, stainless steel, granite, short commute, local amenities...  The list is seemingly endless. One woman refused to consider any properties without doggie doors. Really.

In Columbia and Howard County, location plays every bit the role that the old saying suggests.  People care about East vs West, whether a home is on CA - assessed property, neighborhood schools' test scores, incidence of crime, quality of nearby shopping, viability of the closest Village Center, walk-ability, bike-ability, and the rest.

I do not propose to interfere with the sacred rite of home selection. Although, as an aside, I offer that school test scores tell you mostly the income level of the area.  The higher the overall family income, the higher the test scores, pretty much.  So, if you want to hitch your wagon to that particular star, you will want to be living with the rich people, assuming you have very deep pockets. My suggestion would be to actually visit the schools, and, if you can, talk to families in the area. But I digress.

Recent meteorological events have brought an additional qualification to mind.  When you are looking at a house, it would be good to know some facts:  how often has this area lost power?  When it is out, how long does it generally take to fix?  What is the longest time it has ever been without power?  Does loss of power mean loss of water?

My family is extremely lucky. We don't lose power very often, and when we do, the outages are manageable, always less than 12 hours--so far--knock on wood. 

Let's make it clear--we are not smarter, more virtuous, richer, or more forward-thinking than anyone else.  We are just plain lucky.  We live in a very modest home in an
area that some Howard County pundits consider to be "sketchy", although our experiences here have been wonderful.  But if I were in the market to pick out a different home, my friends' post-derecho horror stories would be weighing heavily on my mind.

If my power goes out, I want to be in one of those big groups they always fix first. Before this storm, I didn't even know anything about that. It's pretty close to the top of my list now. It doesn't take long in record-breaking hot, humid temperatures to feel that your grip on civilization is slipping. 

One last piece of advice, if you buy a house near a golf course or a major concert venue--they're probably not going to move it at this point, so be forewarned.

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