So Friday, after the JB show, we hooked up with an old High School Buddy of Hubs. Ted and his wife, Sue. They live in Chandler, AZ. They live in a simply Drop-Dead-Gorgeous, Straight-Out-Of-HGTV Custom Home that *they* designed. Their home is in a gated community and... Well... As soon as we walked up to their front door I was feeling like we are TOTAL "White Trash!"
But... AZ real estate and CA real estate are completely different animals! And the AZ real estate market has totally "tanked" whereas *our* market is still (mostly) hanging in there. I'm sure that "in it's day," Ted's house was probably worth $1M+. Now? Less than half of that! Our house? During the heyday, it was worth appx $650K. Now, it's closer to $400K. :::sigh:::
Nevertheless.... We are not "under water" (and I'm not sure Ted can say the same thing, to be honest). We never have been and never will be (DH bought *before* the boom!).
Anyhoooooo.... We spent a most pleasant afternoon with Ted and Sue. Just kickin' it by their pool (with integrated spa, waterfall, fountain, yada-yada) and built-in outdoor kitchen. During the heat of the afternoon, we hung-out under their covered patio. It was freaking AWESOME!
And that got me to thinking: I freaking HATE California Winters. And yes, I know, California winters don't hold a candle to East-Coast and/or Northern Climes. But I am a professed "Wimpy California Native" who believes that "Snow is for VISITING!" If the mercury dips below 60*, I start whining!
So anyway... I ended up finding myself surfing the AZ MLS listings to see what housing was like. I'm sure it's no Big Secret, but the housing market has pretty-well tanked in AZ (as well as Las Vegas, NV - where my sister lives, currently).
It just kills me to hear my sister say she "can't find anything" - housing-wise. Seriously! I mean, the Vegas Market is probably damn-near identical to the Greater-Phoenix Market. And it's no huge secret that we both "made out" pretty "OK" with mom's estate. There is absolutely NO reason why *she* couldn't afford to buy herself a house - for CASH - and live quite comfortably. Particularly since (in Vegas, anyway) she's already got someone who wants to rent a room (which would certainly cover her utility expenses).
But the thing is: *She* would want to live in a house like Ted's (actually - come to think of it - at 3200 SF, Ted's house is probably "too small" for her liking!). But if one dials-back one's expectations, there are *definitely* some very nice houses to be had in the $100-150K range (actually, there's stuff for *under* $100K! But - to be fair - I don't know that I'd want a house in an under $100K neighborhood).
But Sis wants something in the 3500-4000 SF range (5+ bedrooms, 4+ baths, with a pool, granite countertops, 3+ car garage, in a gated community, yada-yada) for under $200K.
Not gonna happen!
And, interestingly enough, as we were chatting with Ted and Sue - who built their "Dream Home" from the ground-up, right?! - they are already talking about wanting to down-size because the house is just "too much to maintain!"
Soooooo... Oops - I've wandered off-track again! ANNNNYWAAAAAYYYYY.... My "expectations" are not all that lofty, to be perfectly honest. The whole idea of having a place where winter isn't so damned WET and GRAY and COLD (okay, maybe still cold - but not WET!), well, that seems kind of "appealing" to me, right?!
Added Bonus: Since I telecommute fulltime ("Oh Gawd PLEASE don't let me lose my job!!!!"), I don't really have to concern myself, too much, over the economy and job-situation, right? And since houses CAN BE HAD for $100K... Well, Hell!!! *I* could live here!!! Or - at the very least - keep it as a Second/Winter Home, right?!
So... I surfed the MLS and am looking at a couple-three different communities: Casa Grande (appx 40 miles south of Phoenix), Apache Junction (30 miles-ish? East of Phoenix), Chandler, and maybe others... I want to be far enough "off the beaten path" to avoid gridlock at Rush-Hour (and ohhhhh yes - they *do* get traffic! Nothing compared to the Bay Area, but still!), but I still want access to Life's Conveniences.
I'm only "dreaming" right now. But it's scary to think how EASY it would be to "pull the trigger" and make it happen! I could, very easily, write a check for a $100K 3BR/2BA 1800-2000 SF home; hit the local IKEA and buy a couple thousand dollars' worth of furniture; fix my car's A/C and drive her out there, park her in the garage (on a battery-tender, of course!), and Bada-Bing, Bada-Boom! "Second Home!"
We could maintain "Dual-Citizenship!" CA in Summer and AZ in Winter. Not quite "Snowbirds" - but maybe "Rainbirds!"
Of course, I think "Gardening" would be out of the question. Summers would be waaaaaayyyy too hot and winters - surprisingly - get COLDER than we get here! (Chandler is Zone 8. San Jose is 9B - Who knew?!!).
Anyway, it's just another one of my "Wild Hairs" that I am chewing on, at the moment... No clue if it will turn into Reality, but it's kinda fun to Dream, right???