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    2006 - 07.26

    This is my rant on communities.  When purchasing a house one of the biggest questions (or at least the first big question) you will have to answer is where do you want to move.  Unlike a bunch of other purchases, it is not easy to undo the purchase of a house.  Well, that isn’t 100% true, but that can be an expensive proposition.  

    When we (Yacha and myself) started looking for a house we had many questions about where to look.  Issues we had included:

    1. Strong local community
    2. Good local shul
    3. Local resources
    4. Proximity to family
    5. Proximity to work
    6. Proximity to job market
    7. Value for our money

    To us the hardest thing to find was a community we felt comfortable with.  We wanted to make sure there would be good neighbors for our daughter, that we would feel comfortable in the synagogue, that it was a place where we could get involved in the community to the extent of our desire.We also don’t like having to get into a car to get everywhere.  We wanted to make sure that we could walk or take a bus to run simple errands should we need/want to.  We also wanted to make sure that we could go for a walk at night and not feel that we were in a ghetto.  

    Quality of life is a major issue.  When we started looking I was working in NYC and Yacha was looking for work.  Therefore, I wanted to ensure that I would not have a painful commute to work and that we would be centrally located for whatever job Yacha found.

    Lastly, I wanted to move somewhere where I felt we would have a lasting value on our investment.  Therefore I was a little nervous with some start up towns or some towns where a few people made all the decisions (and not necessarily the correct ones).

    We talked to our friends who moved and asked them about the communities they moved to.  While most seemed happy, many admitted they moved to be near other people they knew, but were really outsiders in their new neighborhoods.  A couple (although a vast minority) had gotten really involved in their new shuls/communities but that seemed to be the exception not the rule.  It also seemed like they knew of the community leadership prior to moving in to their new homes. The most important thing we did was visiting towns.  This was done in a number of ways.

    1. Visiting relatives
    2. Visiting friends
    3. Going to community events
    4. NCSY

    Now most of those seem obvious, but let me explain #4 – NCSY.  NCSY is a youth group that my wife and I have been involved with for nearly a decade.  One of the major group of events that NCSY runs are youth weekends in different local communities.  I have been to over 100 of them (over 150 [not all with NCSY, some with other organizations] actually, but who is counting).  While I was working on these weekends I was always thinking in the back of my head would I like to live here?  For some towns the answer was sure, for some it was never and for a few it was not sure.  For that third group we would do more events in that town to help us decide whether it would be a possible town to move to or not.That last thing I want to say about communities is it has to be right for you (or you and your spouse /child(ren).  Just because it is right for your friends does not make it right for you.  You have to come first in this decision or you won’t ultimately be happy.  If your friends are happy in a town, great!!  Check it out.  Just remember, you will be paying for your house, not your friends.  Therefore it has to be the town for you, not your friends.