House Not Home


House Not Home
Middle East Peace

Not My Idea of a Home!

A home to own has long been the American dream. I bought my first one in 1964 and selected the exterior color, the type of fence I wanted and the landscaping of my preference.

In 1973 I again bought a home, one I was to reside in 25 years (less one month). Once more I selected the colors of my choice for exterior and interior, the fence and the
landscaping. Everyone who purchased a home in those days had a right to select from a standard range of colors and landscape options.

Pal, I don't know about other parts of the country but those days are el gonzo in the Phoenix, Arizona metroplex!

We no longer have new subdivisions here. Instead, we have "planned communities" and these have the distinctiveness of an army barracks or a prison compound.

Every one of the houses within the walls of the planned community has exactly the same color roof and exterior paint. They have restrained, defined and predetermined
landscaping. They have a management association so you can pay a hefty fee for letting someone else tell you what you may or may not do with your own property!

If you like roses, keep them out of sight unless you have a document in writing from the management association saying you can plant roses. That's the American dream?

Not to me. And not to those of us who recall when we had the freedom to make our homes distinctive. If we wanted to have a fountain or a wishing well in our front yard, we could just do it. No authorization required. That was the privilege of home ownership.

Now, under the guise of keeping the integrity of the community and preserving the value of the property, we have extreme conformity. I am glad I am not in the house-buying mode in today's Phoenix metroplex, because most likely, I wouldn't get a home here.

Since I am now early retired, I live in a planned community that always was a planned community. I don't even own a home here, I own the airspace inside a condominium unit,and all the junk contained herein. When I moved in, there was a section of my front "yard" beneath the front window that had been decorated ... if I can call it that ... with rocks that
had been tossed off the moon because they were too ugly to stay. The board of directors was kind to me, and had them removed and replaced with some shrubs, but I really would
rather have had rose bushes.

There are 24 units in my condo court, and all are the same color and style. There is no way for a stranger to know where one unit ends and another begins. For me, that's fine now,because I am no longer able to tend a yard or keep up the kind of landscape I once had when I owned my own home.

But the trend toward uniformity is frightening. I don't view the new planned developments as keeping up anything other than the "uni" movement ... unisex, uniglobal, uniform ...

Yes I admit that from time to time some homeowners had less than tasteful choices of exterior paint, but for the most part, people were reasonable and prudent in the way they
cared for their homes. Just because one person chooses to paint a house mint green is no reason for all the developers to go crazy and make all the homes in a new subdivision into
a glorified compound.

Then they have the nerve to charge a management fee to ensure that no one gets any individualistic ideas.

That's when a house isn't a home and you no longer have the American dream, but a board-run nightmare.

There are two ways to avoid this: buy in an older area, which may not be the kind of neighborhood you want, or go totally custom, which may be way above your price range.

It's the middle class that has to conform. And pay to do it. The developers, of course, emphasize the benefits of keeping the integrity of the neighborhood and property value.

If you buy into that... duh!

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