Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Considering Condos

Part of the "American Dream" is owning your own home, and yes, I've certainly bought into that notion to some degree. Unfortunately, I live in a part of the US where only 20% of the population can afford to be home owners, so the rest of us rent.

Now we have a worldwide energy crisis looming over us and I think it is only the beginning and the impracticalities of suburbia are quickly becoming apparent. Suburbia, developed around the auto, is not sustainable. Densely populated urban areas, where people own condominiums and flats, where you can walk to public transportation and to shops and restaurants - have all your needs met through walking or biking, is the more practical solution.

I love it that I can walk to the grocery store and to the library and to the park. I'm used to urban living from my time living in Bangkok. I never owned a car there; I used buses, taxis, boats, trains and subways. I'd like to be able to replicate that experience here in the United States. When gas hits $6 or more a gallon we won't be so affected. The Europeans have been living this way for years.

Anyway, several months ago, a midrise condo building was completed in Oakland and it is gorgeous. I mentioned to my mother how I would love living in such a place and her response was that she could not think of anything worse. She's country folk and this kind of urban living is not for everyone - but I am a city girl and I don't think I can ever change. I love it. This building is at the gateway to Chinatown, my favorite place in Oakland. The nearby schools look fine.

Take a look at it and see a presentation of the 8 Orchids at their website - at the beginning of the movie you will see the park with two green slides that I take Aidan to every week when Golf goes to the flea market. Tell me your thoughts about dense urban living and how raising a family in the city compares to suburban influence.


Carol and Chris said...

That building is stunning!! I completely agree with you....I grew up in the country but am definately a city girl at heart!!

There is an award for you over at mine :-)

C x

Melanie said...

I think it's lovely Aim, nice and central too. Close to BART. What more could one want in an urban home? :)

pook & house said...

I would suggest you not to buy condo. I will tell you why.

Yes, I do enjoy urban living as much as my Thai woman best friend when she moved from NC with her husband, baby and a dog. She stayed with us in our condo here in Boston and love the urban living life style. She decided to buy condo eventhough we persistently urge her to consider buying a house.

Future problem or frustration you may get from living in condo building.

1. Neighbor - noise, lack of privacy, lack of consideration from some neighbor, dealing with useless trustees.

2. Condo fee will be on top of monthly bills you have to pay, and insurance. It is your loss.

3. Hard to sell and value isn't great. I have a friend who bought a house and sold 1 1/2 year later with over $ 100,000 profit. Condo? you never can do that.

4. Consider buying foreclosured home, way cheaper. Fix it up yourself (such as kitchen work or painting). If having two family home, the selling value in the future is greater. You can bring rental income to help paying mortgage.

5. Read condo's owner handbook. My friend had to ask her mom in law to take care of her dog for 3 years. Her in law live 7 hours away from her. Her condo manual stated that she had to get permission from two side of her neighbor so she could have a dog. And one neighbor said no.

If have to buy a condo, consider two bed room and higher floor, it will be easier to sell.

Just sharing idea from a man who dying to move out of his condo. I have my condo for 5 years and selling now will be my loss, big loss.

BTW, my friend sold her over a year ago (after she invested over 50,000 to doll up her condo (paid $315,000 and lived there for 3 years). Sold price was $285,000. She had to move after listing condo for over 6 months at paid cost. Imagine how much money she had lost with renovation, condo fee, tax and insurance. She is now back to rent again until she can afford to buy a house.

Just FYI from another Thai.