How to choose a new home. Or, how NOT to choose a new home.

I’ve moved. A lot. My neighbors now call me “New Every Two.” And I’m planning to move again. Why? Two reasons:

  1. Because I can.
  2. Location is a choice, and life is way too short to stay in a crappy situation.
For sale by owner. Quick.
For sale by owner. Quick.

Here’s the thing. Neighborhoods change. Sometimes for the better, but more often for the worse. If you’re gifted with psychic abilities, the power of foresight, or even better, a smidgen of common sense, you’ll know when it’s time to pop that FOR SALE sign in your front yard.

Take my neighborhood for example. When we built our new home, it was wonderful. There’s nothing like the smell of builder foliage. Everything is neatly manicured, things are clean, and people are orderly because they care. When you spend ten times your annual salary on a bunch of concrete blocks and two by fours, you tend to care. For a little while. Until the luster fades. Then the bushes get bushy. The trees begin to look unkempt. The lawn weeds up and goes without mowing for a week or two here and there. The unused pool now has an interesting 50 shades of jade. We’re about four years into this neighborhood, and the signs of neglect are finally starting to show.  A few homes have already changed hands. We’re typically new every two, but the school thing had us locked in a little longer this time.

The other thing to watch for is the youngsters. Our hood was crawling with toddlers and pre-adolescents four years ago. It was cute seeing the little monsters run around and giggle in the cul-de-sac. Now, many of them are migrating into pre-adolescence and full-blown teens. Basketball hoops are beginning to show up in driveways. The playground is showing signs of wear and neglect. Mailboxes are mysteriously becoming damaged by children illegally driving golf carts in the wee hours of the morning. There are occasional high school parties which require police intervention when a certain family’s “professional” parents happen to travel simultaneously. Kids are great when they’re young, but as we all know, they typically become not-so-great shortly thereafter. And especially in a society that has removed any sense of teeth from discipline. Shoot, a woman called DCS yesterday because her neighbor was yelling at her children in the driveway. And she bragged about it on Facebook.

In some upscale neighborhoods, I’ve witnessed something I call neighborhood attrition set in. The original, older, more conscientious owners pass away, leaving their homes to their spoiled narcissistic children rather than the close friend or neighbor who routinely helped with chores, provided free meals, and wiped their ass for a decade. Man, I sure as hell won’t do that again. Sorry, world. The old-school guys were great. Many of them were directly responsible for defending our nation against Japan or Korea, and others did a fabulous job staging our nation’s first pioneers on the moon. They lived sparingly and saved every penny they could for a rainy day. But their children were neglected, perhaps due to the long hours and parental absenteeism. It’s uncanny how many of those boomers are complete disasters. It’s probably a Florida thing, as I stare at the unemployed shirtless pot-smoking fifty-something next door who just traded his dead dad’s Cadillac in for a Corvette. That SOB just hit the lottery.

When looking for a new home, in addition to property values, good schools, and this, that, and whatever other thing your overzealous real estate professional is lying about, it’s not the color of skin or last year’s adjusted gross income you should be worried about. That’s not what really matters, not to mention that it’s technically illegal for a real estate professional to share that sort of information. These are the easy to spot identifiers that are sure-fire indicatorsrs of trouble to come. Avoid any and all at all costs.

  1. Basketball hoops in driveways. A sign of adolescent males who spend an inordinate amount of time outside, most likely unsupervised. Expect loud noise, screaming, and rampant profanity especially late in the evening.
  2. Playground atrophy. The kids are too old to use it, and the homeowners don’t seem to care. Guess what else they don’t care about? Your property value.
  3. Landscape putrefaction. If parents don’t have time to tend to the landscaping, how are they going to have time to raise responsible adults? This may also indicate a disproportionate amount of foreclosures.
  4. Automotive malfeasance. Look for older cars parked on the street or in driveways with windows that are a little too dark, wheels that are a little too big, stereos that are a little too loud, and engines that sound a little too much like lawnmowers. Someone’s parent probably purchased that POS, so you can assume there’s bad judgment all around that household.
  5. Teens in golf carts. In our neighborhood, you supposedly have to be 14 to drive a six thousand dollar golf cart. Since there’s no golf course in our hood, I fail to see the necessity for golf carts. We’ve seen two-seater golf carts filled with at least six teens throwing beer bottles off the back after a party one night. Nothing but entitled trouble, which is in many cases, worse than ghetto trouble. I’ve lived both troubles, so you gotta trust me on this one.

There’s my advice. Hopefully, you’ll find a home in a neighborhood that will alleviate your stress and foster happiness for years to come. Me? We’re looking for an apartment for the next two to three years, and then we’re retiring in an RV. How cool would it be to be able to move your home at will? I’m sure there are downsides to that too. But at this point, anything beats those assmunch teenagers.

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