Suburbia vs. Country

It's' happening again. Your driving home from work in the dark and your lost. The real trouble is, you're in your own neighborhood. The recently removed street sign was your only cue in finding your house. Your biggest fear now is walking in on another Model 2460 family dinner. Next on the list is the specter of another nightly visit from the "All Kinds of Sidin" salesman promising to make your house stand out from all the rest.

If you want to find a new home, the first question is where. There is a case to be made for buying in semi-rural, or, exurban areas. Peter Katz, author of The New Urbanism, sees two major housing trends emerging. One is big dream houses far removed from suburbia; the other is downtown living. If he's right, the traditional suburbs, which have enjoyed terrific price appreciation in the past several decades, could lag behind urban and exurban properties.

In the Houston market, downtown living has become chic and rural living has become mainstream. In the past folks fled to the suburbs for safer streets and better schools, but now powerful demographic and economic trends are breathing new life into cities. Crime has increased in the burbs and has come down in the cities. Crime is likely to always be down in the country. People without kids, baby boomers who are becoming empty-nesters, and Generation-Xers rebelling against their suburban upbringings are now all embracing alternatives to suburban life.

What was it that we were looking for in Suburbia anyway? The antidote to life in the city is country life! That's the whole idea behind suburbia. The trouble is that it is no longer really country life in any meaningful sense. It had become a caricature of life in the country. And this, of course, has been the great tragedy of the suburbs. It's a fake version of country living. It's so far from being the real thing that it's uneasy to be content there. Everybody senses it, but nobody knows how to describe it. Suburbia has all the spread of the country, but none of the rural amenities -- nature comes only in the form of the lawn, the juniper shrub in the bark-mulch bed, and the detention pond between the K-mart and the housing development. Suburbia is the country de-natured. Suburbia has all the congestion of the city and none of the social excitement, none of the cultural amenity. Suburbia has luxurious family rooms with wall-sized TVs and plenty of bathrooms per inhabitant. But the public space is impoverished -- nowhere for teenagers to hang out except the parking lot in front of the Starbucks. Many would consider Old Mill Lake as true country. Not only true, but well-defined and refined country, in a way that is humanly rewarding.

No MUD Tax

For you out-of-towners, a MUD (Municipal Utility District) tax is a tax that is associated with living in the suburbs or a master-planned-community. It pays for infrastructure such as sewage treatment plants, water plants, utility lines, attorneys, engineers and developer subsidies. There is no such tax in Old Mill Lake. Based on an average $1.50 MUD Tax rate, this savings equates to about $42,000 in principal that could be added to a mortgage on a $250,000 home with a comparable monthly outlay.

Sometimes you can tell what kind of neighborhood occupied a person's formative years by the way they carry their weight. Youv''e seen it in the movies, the young boy in the quintessential fishing village, somewhere in Europe or New England perhaps, whose life seems destined for balance. His future looks as bright as the stars in the country sky. Some places naturally grease the wheels for optimism when contemplating the future. We had this in mind when we created Old Mill Lake; a place for childhood dreams with even some thrown in for the adults from time to time; the Holy Grail of neighborhoods. A place from the past. Isn't it about time?

 


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