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we have a sum of money enough to buy a house outright in a pretty grotty part of town - about 20 mins bike ride away from my mother in a very nice part of town. we would live mortgage free, with all the benefits that would bring us, but schools aren't great, & the environment isn't pleasant - but not awful, violent etc. think grotty, run down etc.<br><br>
or we could get a place in a nicer area of town, in which case we would probably have to get a mortgage for about half the property value. schools better. yuppies having coffee on the pavement. organic grocery store. but we'd have a mortgage.<br><br>
thoughts? we are really anti the mortgage idea but particularly worried about the schools issue.
 

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If you are planning on sending your kids to school I would go for the pne with the beter school. If you never move eventually you will be mortgage free. There are even ways to speed up paying your mortgage off. You can go for a 15 year instead of a 30 or set up your payments for every two weeks instead of monthly. We are doing the latter and will have our mortgage payed off six years sooner.
 

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I would also go for the better area/better schools and pay down the mortgage as quickly as possible.<br><br>
Also, give some serious consideration to the other, not-so-obvious costs of living in the less-nice area.<br><br>
Will property values decline? Will the neighborhood decline to a point where there will be violence? Will you be spending money to escape (for lack of a better word) on the weekends? Would you need to send you kids to a private school?
 

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We chose to do the latter and bought a better house in a nice part of town. We can walk to the library, the post office and downtown. My neighbors are fantastic, I have room for a big garden, and feel very safe and comfortable here.<br><br>
It works for us and I do not regret our decision, though we do have a higher house payment than I would like. BUT! The lifestyle is great. We homeschool and spend A LOT of time at home and I am so very, very happy to be living somewhere I am happy. The kids can run free in the neighborhood while I sip coffee on my porch -- blissful for a happy homebody like me.<br><br>
So, I guess it come down to -- what do you want? Do you spend a lot of time at home? Have small kids? Plan to use the local schools? If you buy where schools are poor, you may end up spending like crazy to get them into private schools.<br><br>
Best of luck.
 

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When we were house-shopping, we were looking at $60k houses but hated them all. We found an $85k house that we loved. It's not exactly the same as your question, but we never, ever, ever regretted spending the extra on what feels like a home rather than just a piece of property. It's not that this house is fancy, it's not, but it feels like home. It means also that we will stay here longer - maybe for a long, long time (unfortunately we can't retire in this house). If we bought one of the other houses we'd probably be itching to move. Moving, as you know, is $$$.
 

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<div style="font-style:italic;">Will property values decline? Will the neighborhood decline to a point where there will be violence? Will you be spending money to escape (for lack of a better word) on the weekends? Would you need to send you kids to a private school?</div>
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And these are all temporary measures - what happens if you lose a significant portion of your initial investment because you need to get out of this area completely because you feel it's truly unsafe or unlivable?<br><br>
When we chose to buy in the city, there were a couple of different neighborhoods we could have went with. We ended up getting into one of the lowest priced houses in our neighborhood which was at the very top of our budget. I definitely don't regret it because the specific location has really enhanced our quality of life.
 

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We just went through something similar last year. Our house was paid off but it wasn't our "forever" house and a house in the neighborhood we LOVED (coveted, pined for, lusted after....etc) came on the market at a drastically reduced price. We went for it. Even though it meant taking on a mortgage. SO glad we did. So very glad. No regrets. Living someplace you love can be worth it.
 

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To me the important things are decent schools (doesn't have to be great but at least decent) and access to the places we shop and eat at. So in your case, yes I would get a mortgage.<br><br>
The thing with bad school areas, is you are usually fine through elementary school. Then you reach middle and high school and things can go downhill fast. So you may find that you really want to moev at that point. I would save myself the trouble of moving alter and just do it now assumign the mortgage is small and affordable.
 

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What you save in mortgage, can be then spent on gas, schooling, time driving to your children's friends etc. I would rather have all that around me then have to leave all the time. Plus we choose this house for the neighborhood. DH and I both remember growing up in a kid infested, great neighborhood and we want that for our girls too.
 

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I grew up in a run down part of town. It wasn't really that bad as far as crime or other things because it was a small town. But it was really depressing living there. People just look depressed and are always looking for a better way out. One time a kid stole my brother's bike and they spray painted it and their mom would not admit that it was stolen. Probably because she could not afford to buy him one. We could never leave anything outside for fear it would be stolen. THe school was good but all the kids were low income kids and the parents were too busy trying to get by to really be involved. They did not have the type of jobs that they could take time off to go to a school play or anything like that. No one ever brought cupcakes to school on their birthday because they didn't have extra time or money.<br><br>
When we were looking for a house for DH and I to buy I insisted on buying in a "nice" neighborhood. In our price range the houses were both in nice and not that nice areas. We have so much peace of mind in this area. I rarely even lock my house door. THe neighbors all look out for each other. People take pride in their homes here and are always mowing their yard and keeping eveything up. We love it here and do not mind paying our mortgage. We were able to buy a house in a nice area but at an affordable price for us. We have no problem paying our bills.
 

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Agree w/ PPs!<br>
Go for the neighborhood and house that you really feel comfortable with, despite having a mortgage. Focus on paying that sucker down as quickly as possible.<br>
We live in a totally run down, though mostly safe, neighborhood. It's a terrible fit for us...no sidewalks or streetlights, lots of yard cars and barking yard dogs, and no sense of community. The school district is one of the worst in our state. My DH bought the house as a "flip" and that didn't quite work out. We're here for another year or two, but no matter what, we are OUTTA HERE before DS is old enough for school (although we may home school or send him to Waldorf if we can budget it, I'm still concerned about the kids in the neighborhood).<br><br>
Buy a house in a neighborhood that you would feel comfortable living in.
 

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My vote is for the mortgage for the better schools. We are living in a town with unbelieveable property taxes just for the schools. 14 years to go and then we move. While the tax bill is scary the schools are just amazing. Both my boys have some issues that require special services and the schools go above and beyond. For us it's so worth it.
 

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I would definitely choose the nicer area.
 

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We bought our first house in a rundown area, which rapidly became hip while we there. I LOVED the house and we had great neighbors. It was an idyllic hillside setting, with the houses only accessible by stairs, with lots of wildlife and great views ... but in five years we had a car stolen and never recovered, my license plate stickers were scraped off twice and the whole plate was stolen right off the car once, and the car that replaced the stolen car had the windows broken out and the contents stolen. We had a guy with a gun in hand run down the stairs right in front of the house after an armed robbery while I was sitting on the porch with the baby, and it took the 911 operator more than 10 minutes to even answer the call -- let alone dispatch anyone. The local elementary would have been fine, but we would have been ponying up for private probably from fifth grade on.<br><br>
So, even in a neighborhood that was gentrifying and was in many ways a great place for childless adults, it just wasn't a good place for kids.
 

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I am not sure what my answer it, but I chose the "nice" area and well many, many things are great about it a few drive me crazy.<br><br>
While it's great to have good police and fire protection, library, and trash and snow removal more is not necessarily better. I don't need people to come and remove the 1/4 inch of snow off my cul-du-sec by 6:00 a.m. when it's going to melt by 10:00 a.m. I don't think we need police officers with enough time on their hands to cite motorists who finger other motorists with disorderly conduct.<br><br>
I like that we have good sidewalks (lot of places around here don't) and that people take good care of their lawns and property. It drives me crazy that everyone thinks they has to pay some joker to spray toxic crap on their lawns and that landscaping is some sort of competition (and that we are freaks for actually growning veggies). I guess I'd be happily put up with a neighbor or two that actually had minor neglect of their lawn versus what I live with now.<br><br>
Anyway just another perspective since everybody was so go with the good neighborhood.
 

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I would go with the better neighborhood. Even if you don't plan to send your children to school, the next people who buy your house may be planning to. having good schools and a good neighborhood is important. I would go for the least expensive house in the better neighborhood.
 

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I'd be going the middle. Not mortgage free but not as high as we could afford. I would get the largest possible mortgage just because we can afford it.
 

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I just keep thining that everyone says the top three things about home buying are location location location.... And it is always better to buy the worst house on the best block not the best house on the worst block. Go for the nicer neighborhood.
 

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Better school... hands down. Even if you homeschool... homes increase in value around good schools... so its a better long term investment.<br><br>
Your run down neighborhood MIGHT perk up and be trendy some day... but who's to say?
 

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Since you can still afford a place in the nicer part of town, that's where I'd aim. I'm sure you've heard the real estate mantra of "Location, location, location." A house can be fixed up or repaired on the inside and out, but location (like 20 feet away from a busy railroad track or whatever) cannot be changed. Sounds like you'd be more on the side of frugality in regards to a house price anyway - like you wouldn't be out to get the pretty, shiny 6000sf house that only has 3 bedrooms on acres or something (or am I inferring incorrectly?)<br><br>
I also tend to think about resale value... I would love nothing more than to stay in my house until I die, but alas, hubby got laid off and just started another job today in a town 7 hours away. That's a bit much of a commute, so we're having to sell our house, whether we want to or not (well, we don't want to deal with rental issues and such - just sell and be done).<br><br>
Not to mention, if you are planning to go the public school route, you must take that into consideration. Switching to a different school in town could be a ton of trouble, not to mention driving all around to get kids to and from schools...
 
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