So around the start of the year, like many people, Chris and I found ourselves reevaluating our lives. We decided we wanted to move out of an apartment and into a house. We had a look at a few housing communities and these brought us to the conclusion than many houses were built in ways that may not be geared toward what we want. For instance, many houses that we looked at had three car garages. We even saw a neighborhood in Gilbert where the minimum they would build was 4 four car and they went all the way up to six. We only have one car and don’t have need of more, so two car is really the most space on a lot we’d want to use on a garage.
More than this, many recently built houses would have, at best, the option of quite a tiny pool that was about as useful as one of these:
This was due to not having especially big backyards, but rather huge front yards that didn’t interest us much. Basically, if we are going to buy a house and get out of an apartment community with an ace pool, we want our own and we want to be able to actually swim in it.
Another issue was number of enclosed rooms. It seems very fashionable to live in a house that is basically a giant hall with a few closed doors for bedrooms. We have kittens who think desk chairs are very yummy and cannot be left with them alone overnight. They also think a table full of Lego is great fun. Basically, closed doors are a way of preserving our stuff and protecting our kittens from the ill effects of digesting said stuff.
All this initially made us think maybe we should build a house in the sense of hiring an architect and designing one, not in the sense of picking from a short list of options that a particular developer makes available. Unsurprisingly, this is also very expensive. Given we only moved country just a fairly short time ago, also quite an expensive endeavor, we realized this would not be on the cards for at least a few years. After looking at a few lots and pricing it out, we came up with a second plan.
We realized we definitely didn’t want to stay in apartments until we could save up for an ideal house, but that even a less than ideal house would still be an upgrade from an apartment. We decided to use the fact that we don’t actually have to live anywhere in particular since we both work from home to get into a solid house sooner.
We moved to Chandler in particular due to a tech job Chris no longer has, so we thought it was time to properly check out the rest of the vast Phoenix Valley. Basically, the same thing that brought us to this neck of the woods also makes it more expensive than other parts of the Valley. Tech tends to equal higher housing prices, as the residents of the San Francisco Bay area are well aware of. Although Chandler is a lot cheaper than much of California, it’s more expensive than many other parts of the Phoenix metro area. Getting those extra rooms with closed doors with space for a decent pool costs a lot more in Chandler than in Surprise or Maricopa, for instance.
We started off on Easter. We traveled to the city of Maricopa. We’d been told by many people it was great, especially if you lived there and didn’t commute, so we thought it might be ideal for us.
That said, it wasn’t. It was the first and only place we 100% eliminated. It does have lovely, affordable housing that is modern. That said, it is more rural rather than desert, so it also has a bit of a farm smell and far fewer cool cactuses than we’d prefer.
More than that, there is only one road going to it from Phoenix proper and that road was pretty jammed. I think we would feel quite stuck there. None of the shops were among our favorites, so I’d see us wanting to leave pretty frequently.
We even tried one of the few non-chain, local restaurants. They managed to run out of chicken, not a particular kind of chicken, but all chicken, and didn’t tell us for about 20 minutes. This resulted in us just ordering some fries that still managed to not be very good even though we’d been on a very strict diet during Lent and not eaten any fries in over a month:
All and all, it just didn’t pop. Have a look for yourself:
We had intended on spending the whole day in Maricopa, but given it was obviously not for us after about 2 hours, we decided to also check out the city of San Tan Valley.
San Tan Valley is quite a lot further out than we are now, but seemed much less isolated than Maricopa. It is next to Queen Creek, which is next to Gilbert, which in turn, is next to Chandler. Gilbert is not as developed as Chandler, but is supposed to be getting a Trader Joe’s soon and is a popular, up and coming place. Queen Creek also seemed up and coming and has many of the amenities we are used to. Basically, San Tan Valley looked like a much more viable option than Maricopa for a couple interested in getting more house for the price of driving a bit further to shops and things of that nature. It’s not to say Maricopa had zero shops, but there was a suspicious amount of people at Fry’s and their Fry’s sold things like bedding and clothes even being a grocery store. It was also bounded by two reservations, meaning its expansion is limited. What it is now is likely to be what it will remain, more or less, whereas Queen Creek appeared ripe for expansion and has more room to do so.
One minor downside to both is confusing names. Many things in this part of Arizona are called San Tan, so that could get confusing. Maricopa is also the name of the county we currently live in, but Maricopa city is not in Maricopa county, but rather Pinal. If you Google Maricopa, you have to specify you want Maricopa city, not county, since a lot more people live in Maricopa county than city being one of the biggest counties in the country.
Due to having jobs, we had to wait until the next week to continue our search. Stay tuned. 🙂