This week we have a writer and photographer duo with two boys, ages 5 and 2.5, who long to escape their 1,500-square-foot Flatbush 2-bedroom, but don't want to up their monthly expenses, about $2,000. Their preference: a small, diverse city with good schools, real culture, and a less onerous winter than New York City has.
Nancy loves the community and choices of activities in Brooklyn, but she wants the boys to be able to make noise and run around and have their own rooms. And she wants a home office. She's had enough of the New York frenzy (it can be hard to get a slot in kindergarten, for crying out loud), the density, and the expense.
Her dream house: "A rambling Victorian, probably, but in pristine condition, with views and a garden. A big garden, even though I don't know anything about gardening," she says. An energy-efficient home would be icing on the cake. Or maybe even a modern prefab? But here's the potential deal breaker: bad schools.
Nancy, we're sending you to Chapel Hill, NC, population 51,857! (Oh, sorry, we're not really sending you. You have to get a job and buy your own house.)
Why? Less winter, as you requested, with over 200 days of sunshine a year. It's a liberal community, with jobs in the education sector. Crime is well below the national and state average, and it has excellent school ratings. The catch: It's pricier than most of North Carolina, with an average home price of $461,321. But that doesn't mean you can't get your four-bedroom Victorian. You just might have to give up a bit on the land.
You can tell by the address that this five-bedroom, three-bathroom home isn't on some quaint country road. Yeah, it's on one of the main highways out of town, but it's got some promise, plus the adorability factor. The 1,800-square-foot home, built in 1928, has been tastefully updated. Though the lot is pretty darn small -- less than a half-acre -- it manages to fit a deck and volleyball court. Perhaps the biggest draw: the separate garage that's been converted into an office or guest quarters.
The good thing about this Craftsman, besides its charm, is its potential for income generation. It's divided into two rental apartments, each with a separate entrance. It's easily restorable, they say, to its original layout. In total it has four bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, and a lovely porch. The lot is modest, at just over a quarter-acre, but your monthly is crazy low.
No, you never mentioned a ranch house. But this four-bedroom, three-bathroom home looks like such a wonderful place to grow up. Though it's just under an acre of land, it seems woodsy and private, with a lovely screened-in porch, skylights, and a "walk-out lower level family room." Whatever that is, I'm betting any New Yorker with a family has suddenly decided they need it.
Contemporary did not top your dream list, but the amount of light in this place might change your mind. The lot size is still not full-on frolicky, at just over a half-acre, but it's got plenty of room inside: five bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, and 3,463 square feet. Plus, it's walking distance to the botanical garden.