This weekend we went and looked at houses. We can’t make any offers until our current one sells- SO HURRY UP SOMEONE AND BUY IT- but we can at least get a good feel for where we want to live.
We’re moving with two priorities in mind: lessen my husband’s commute, and get us into a good public school district. To that end, there are two communities we are considering.
Ticky Tacky Town is made up of little boxes on the hillside, and they’re all made of ticky tacky and they all look the same. And the schools are great and there’s lots of places like PF Chang’s and Starbucks and lots of people walking Vislas and Australian shepherds, and everyone’s yard is made of HOA compliant drought resistant sorts of materials, all master planned to blend in with the neutral stucco of the rows of homes.
Yes, it’s perhaps a tad dull in terms of character, but that is the reality of life in Southern California. The vast vanilla expanse of suburban doldrums is pretty much standard everywhere in newer homes, and with all other factors taken into consideration this is the place I was really pulling for. Boring, but pleasant. It got the job done. And then there’s Crazy Town.
Crazy Town is one I didn’t even think of considering until my husband brought it up. It’s old, it’s charming, and close to the water. The schools are great there too, but the community just couldn’t be any different. Multi-million dollar manses butt up to sprawling apartments and lots of itty bitty homes built in the 1940s, whose owners are slowly dying off and leaving the little downtown village area to the patisseries and coffee houses that are slowly popping up.
We went on Sunday, just to check it out, since I was pretty opposed to the idea. I sat on a bench at a coffee shop- excuse me, a ‘micro roaster’- and watched about 50 dogs of varying shapes and sizes wander by. On a three block stretch there was one chiropractor, two coffee stores, three groomers and two pet specialty stores. It was eclectic, low key, and the weirdest combination of pretty much everyone you would possibly run into on a Southern California beach.
Two miles up the road, crazy art museums and people with names like Biff and Muffy who do things like throw galas on a regular basis. Two miles down the road, fifty “medical herb” dispensaries and tattoo parlors and people named Stubby. And here in the middle of the two extremes, this crazy, eccentric, fifty flavors of awesome little beach village. I sat there on the bench and watched a guy load his beagle onto a Vespa. And that is when I realized maybe I didn’t want ticky tacky after all.
Now, instead of a nicely appointed standard issue tract home box, we’d be looking at a microscopic shoebox of a cottage, with four people and two dogs and a cat piled on top of one another in much less space than we were used to. We’d be struggling with old disguised as vintage, 1950’s plumbing and wiring and appliances, mold inspections, and battalions of magazine-selling shysters that never make it into suburbia since the HOA fees pay for people to chase them off. It’s a big tradeoff. Size for charm. And 99 cent fish tacos within walking distance.
So I don’t know. Since we’re still in the middle of selling our current home I don’t know exactly when the decision will have to be made, but it will soon enough. But I found it strange that despite its seeming perfection, nothing about seeing a coterie of perfectly coiffed middle aged women standing outside the Ticky Tacky Town Pilates Studio appealed to me, perhaps because I’ve talked to people like that, and none of them like puns or think putting disturbing pictures in your bedside table to toy with snoopers is a clever idea.
Of all the things that made me say, “I could fit in here,” it was the front and center presence of so many strolling dogs in Crazy Town that really did it. Though if I’m being perfectly honest with myself it probably isn’t that strange at all. You see that so infrequently these days.
And I could totally see Brody in a Vespa sidecar. Decisions, decisions.
Loved the Pete Seeger reference, thank you for a blast from the past!
Crazy Town sounds wonderful. But costs of upgrading plumbing et cetera can be daunting. It’s nothing to do with me anyway; good luck Dr. V.
Suzanne Dunphy says
Go for Crazy Town! The Ticky Tacky Town will certainly drive you crazy. Who really wants to live in ticky tacky boxes that look all the same – boring people who don’t get your sense of humor, that’s who. Blah.
Crazy town sound like Ocean Beach!
Lisa W says
Crazy Town. No question.
Michelle Spayde says
I vote for “crazy town”!
Susan Shields Montgomery says
I vote Crazy Town! Who needs a big house when you have the beach, outdoor cafe’s and lots of dog people to chat with!
Sue W. says
Yea, I hate to be the voice of reason – but I’m gonna be. When you buy nowadays, you have to think of investment. Where is this center area going? Is it being built up (yea, good investment, you are getting in on the ground floor) or is it sliding down toward the “lower” end of town? Will your “investment” keep its value or lose it? If it is near a beach, you can be fairly sure you have a good investment. And the kids…will they fit in? Will they go to a school populated by the “rich kids” (making it tough, perhaps, to fit in if they can’t compete money-wise) or to a school that might be populated by kids on the free lunch plan (not that that is bad, but will your kids fit in and what might they be led to do *to* fit in?) Maybe it would be better to rent for awhile until you get a “feel” for the neighborhood. Ticky Tacky Town might be dull, but you can always visit the cooler areas, while still coming home to predictability. Sometimes, with kids, it’s better to be dull. When they are grown, you can be wild and take more chances. Just my humble opinion!
Sue W. says
Wow, so sorry. I didn’t mean to write that much!
Dr. V says
And you bring up a lot of good points, Sue. I think all of that is something we need to think about- especially about the kids. Thank you.
Crazy town, for sure!
If you get a house that has good bones, and nice space, you can easily fit your family there comfortably. You just have to be smart about storage and space planning.
I know someone below talked about investment and the suburb town being best for your kids, but I’d argue the opposite – a funky beach town is always going to retain its value in California. And if I had kids, personally I’d want them exposed to many different types of people and cultures instead of the predominantly white upper class community they’ll see in Agrestic.
Emotionally I say Crazy Town. Logically I say Ticky Tacky town. Its time for the pro/con list.
You need to bury a St. Joseph statue in your lawn. That will sell your house quickly.
Then you move on to Crazy town. Seriously. On both counts.
Dr. V says
Oh, I forgot there was a patron saint for home buyers. There is a patron saint for everything, isn’t there. I usually stick to St. Anthony but he always pulls through! 😀
Crazy Town, FTW.
cookie cutter villages suck the soul right out of a person. i could never do it but it all comes down to what houses are in your price range and which one would work the best for you and yours. best of luck and here’s hoping you sell quickly for a good price 🙂
Wonderful post. I live in a Crazy Town (not in your crazy town of course) and we have mutts and purebreds of every shape and size parading ’round here too. However, not that you need my advice, there’s a lot to be said for NOT having to constantly be repairing and upgrading a 50yr+ old house …… it’s nice to have options, anyway!
Dr. V says
And I know I would hate that part of it, big time.
Mihaela (Dr. V) says
It sounds like you really like Crazy Town more than the other… but it is a complex decision. What helped me a lot when we bought a house was to take a walk around the house at night. I knew whether I’d feel safe there (home alone?).
It also helps to visualize yourself living in either place, pay attention to what you feel while you’re imagining yourself and your family there, and follow your gut feeling. It often is a shortcut to what all the other pros and cons would add up to.
Of course, as a blog reader, I vote for Crazy Town, because you’d have better stories for us 🙂
Dr. V says
It’s hard to say. I like Ticky Tacky town a lot too. I was just surprised at how much Crazy Town appealed to me since I wasn’t expecting it!
I imagine anti-matchbox-craft people live in ticky tacky town. You fit better in crazy town, and I mean that in the very best way 😀
Dr. V says
That’s a really good point. Those matchboxes will never die. 😀
Lisa Cronin says
Forever after, towns like Ticky Tacky town remind me of that prefab cookie-cutter development in Poltergeist and I’m convinced if I bought a house there my pool would be haunted by former inhabitants of a cemetery and I’d have a crazy demonic clown doll under my bed. But that’s just me. I bought my first house later in my life (at 41) it has a wee yard and it’s eclectic and it’s in a subdivision that is just a little off. There are ticky-tacky houses all around us but my little development is full of odd quirky features. Of course this will make it harder to resell, except to people looking for quirky odd features (and an atrocious lack of garage space – srsly, people, 1 car garages = not standard! It’s the only thing I don’t like about my house). I guess I compromised – Portland is full of areas that are quirky through and through but I am living in a quirky area in a typical suburb. I concur with the person who said to listen to what your gut says. Do you feel you would be safe walking around at various times of day? Would your kids be safe walking by themselves (if you’re going to be living there awhile)? If it turned out to be a maintenance fixer-upper, would that break the bank or your patience? Do you feel like the character of the neighborhood would be worth the smaller lots and older homes? I have to admit, the variety and number of doggies would win me over almost every time.
Well, I’m certainly not the voice of reason here, but one thing I know. There’s no reason to live in a place that’s “a good investment” if that’s the biggest reason you’re buying it. There will always be people who want to live in an interesting place that doesn’t look like anywhere else and where the people are perhaps odd, but certainly genuine. Someone will buy your place in Crazy Town when the time comes, in the mean time LIVE! Living near the beach and in a dog friendly place certainly sounds more like you. I think Crazy Town probably appeals to you because you are not a copy of any other vet or person I ever knew. I have a sneaky suspicion that you intent to live there for as long as your kids are in school and you & your husband works, 20 years is a LONG time to live in a place that doesn’t touch your heart.
PS-St. Joseph goes in the back yard, upside down. He works every time!