Monday, October 24, 2011

"Second Home" Wild Hair...

Okay, I'm gonna try to squeeze in another post before it gets too chilly out here (Yes, I'm attempting to enjoy our simply-lovely October weather at the Tiki Bar and *trying* not to get depressed over the fact that our "nice days" are numbered!)...

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???

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