Should We Move?

May 16, 2013 by

South view from our house

A bit of the view south from our house.

The local newspaper reported some unsettling news for Ms. Money Counselor and me last week. No, I didn’t make the Court News. (Good guess though.) Developments in our neighborhood could make living in our house a lot less enjoyable for us, and could also cut the value of our house significantly. We’re interested to hear others’ thoughts on what they might do in similar circumstances.

Where We Live

First I need to help you visualize our set-up. Our house is sort of on the side of a wide valley. We’re about halfway up the valley’s side, so we’ve got a roughly 160-degree view and lots of windows and a large deck. Southward we look across the valley and beyond to a smallish mountain (1,000 meters—that’s about 3,300 feet for us Yanks). To the southeast and east we look over a large ocean bay. We really appreciate the view, by far the best feature of our otherwise fairly unremarkable house.

Just below our house and quite close is an elementary school. It’s a one-story building, and the valley is steep enough that the school doesn’t affect our view. We look over the roof of the school. The school property lies to the immediate south of our house—directly between our house and the southward view of the valley’s far side and the small mountain beyond.

The New Development

Evidently the kiddie population in our community is falling, so the school board is looking to consolidate operations. We learned last week that the school district’s new facilities plan includes closing the school just below our house and selling the property. Uh-oh. This is tentatively slated for 3-4 years from now.

Why We’re Worried

The piece of land on which the neighborhood school sits would be, in our community, very desirable to developers, we think. Ms. Money Counselor checked with city officials, and zoning would permit a multi-family development up to four stories. Anything over two stories could—depending on exactly how the buildings are situated—obliterate our view across the valley and of the mountain.

Now, some people don’t care about views, and some do. We do. That’s one reason we moved to our community. Gorgeous water, mountain, and big tree views are abundant, but they come at a price. My personal rule of thumb is that a good view can add a 20% premium to a house’s value. In the worst-case scenario of our valley and mountain view being largely blocked by a four-story condominium monstrosity, the value of our house would take a 15-20% hit, I feel sure. More importantly, we’d find so aggravating the daily reminder of what we’d lost—I mean the view, not the money—we’d have to move.

What Should We Do?

We’ve been mulling over what to do, if anything. We could:

  • Encourage everyone we know to reproduce so the demand for school space goes up. Me at our next dinner party: “Hey, Karl, how about if you and the missus do us a kindness and make a baby? Or two.”
  • Move now and be done with it. We like our situation otherwise and have no desire to move. And is the damage to the value of our house already done now that the school district’s plans are public?
  • Organize the neighborhood to work on preserving the school and/or lobbying the city to change the zoning of the school property to allow no more than a two-story building. This sounds like a lot of irritating work to me. I don’t like irritation.
  • Sit tight and see what happens. Plans change, after all. Also, other schools in the community that have been closed have not sold (though none are in quite as desirable a spot as the school adjacent to our house).
  • Make lemonade: If and when we find ourselves looking into the windows of a condo complex instead of across the valley and at the mountain, rent our house and move. Heck, maybe we’d move into one of the new condominiums where we could keep a close eye on our tenants! Because our house has an 800 square foot mother-in-law’s apartment, we could probably rent the two units combined for something like $2,000 per month.

We welcome your thoughts!

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