Monday, July 23, 2007

House Hunting in PA

These gorgeous sunflowers were planted at the gas station where we filled up as we were leaving home for the Lancaster area of Pennsylvania.

This was the view from I76 as we approached Lancaster.

And this lovely old building in the town of Manheim captured my attention as we drove through town to a different retirement community.

House hunting is rather exhausting - or maybe we tried to do and see too much or too many communities/homes. We had no idea there were so many options to choose from! Each community has it's own personality, of course. And we require nature as one of the most important features of any community or home site. We want what in NJ is called "mature trees." You know what I mean: the lovely, tall, old shade trees that have history and personality and roots! All the baby trees in the community will never match a stand of "mature" trees...

We're learning that each community has some definite pros and cons - one place keeps the deed to the land your home sits on... for a hefty monthly fee, of course. Yes, they pay the property tax on the land, but land tax is minimal and the owner still pays the property tax for the building. I guess this is a new money-making scheme for enterprising builders... you can buy the house for less, but you pay forever to "lease" the land it sits on. While I loved the site of this community, totally surrounded by stands of forests, we cannot imagine paying $400 land lease per month for the privledge of owning in that development.

The other two communities we explored were quite different from one another. One was a k. Hovanian community - and they offer many upgrades as standard in their community (such as ceramic tile baths & kitchens). They also have very tiny lots with very little space between the backs of the homes as well. It had a very 'crowded' feel to it, but that is something we could adapt to - if it had enough pleasant countryside to view. Alas, very few sites are left that have any kind of a "view" and they all cost too much for our budget.

That left the community I had expected to like best. On our first visit, I was greatly disappointed. While, indeed, it had the most by way of natural surroundings, it also is a very small community with a teensy tiny "lake" - known in Minnesota as a puddle. But this puddle was home to a swan, several families of geese, and some mallards. A Great Blue Heron visits, as does a red fox. But as the surrounding area develops, will they all disappear? We liked the homes in the community, although the clubhouse was minimal, at best. The builder's (Landmark Homes) biggest incentive is the willingness to adapt floor plans, use pocket doors, add basements (including walk-out, daylight basements), and the usual other amenities. We can actually afford a home in this community, so, of the three communities we visited, it still holds still our interest.

We still want to visit a few more communities, one near State College, PA. We continue to learn more as we wander through the maze of finding THE place to spend the next 30+ years of our lives.


Rhonda said...

I love your pictures, especially the sunflowers.

bopeep said...

Good for you both...going out to actually look at places is a major first step....and I'm glad you are continuing to look until you find your fated place.