When we first moved to Ohio in 2001, we chose the Dayton region because my wife had family here – some in Kettering and some in Beavercreek. We knew little about the Dayton region so we relied on advice from family and real estate agents. There were some that said Beavercreek was the best place to be, others claimed Oakwood, and still others said Centerville. Many claimed that Springboro was where we should move to because it was growing like crazy and full of young affluent people. But there was definitely a common bit of neighborhood-searching advice that was given by ALL of our family and Realtors alike – STAY AWAY FROM THE CITY OF DAYTON! We listened to all of this advice and ended up in Washington Township (or as I called it – Centerville, since I still don’t really know the difference). Well, after realizing that suburban living wasn’t for us, we bought our downtown loft condo just 2 years later and we haven’t looked back. Unfortunately, even though we’ve lived downtown for almost 4 years and have somehow managed to avoid all of the muggings, shootings, murders, etc. that supposedly occur downtown on a daily basis (btw, that is all a myth), people still to this day ask us if we’re scared living here. And Realtors seem to still insist on pushing people further south and away from the city.
Now, this isn’t a post about how bad it is in the suburbs. Though our
tone here on MostMetro is obviously slanted toward urban living, we do
not bash the burbs (well, we try not to anyway!). Dayton has some very
nice suburbs and I don’t blame anybody for wanting to live in them even
though it wasn’t for us. I do have something to say about the
developers and politicians who continue the cycle of sprawl which does
nothing but harm our urban core and perpetuate the Wal-Martization of
America, but that is for another time.
I recently heard a story about a young affluent couple relocating here
from another part of the country who was looking for an urban
neighborhood. Yes, though the idea that urban living is actually a
desirable thing still hasn’t quite caught on here in the suburb-loving
Dayton region, it is in fact very strong elsewhere in the country.
Well, this couple apparently could not get their Realtor to show them
ANYTHING in Dayton and instead were shown houses in – you guessed it –
Springboro! In fact, the Realtor refused to show them anything in
Dayton, even though they were specifically looking for an
urban/historic neighborhood. Now this could certainly be an isolated
incident, but this story reminds me of our own experiences when we
first moved to the region.
I completely understand that Dayton’s public school system is not up to
par with the likes of Oakwood & Centerville – a reason given by
most Realtors as to why house hunters should stay clear of Dayton. But
what about empty-nesters, young professionals without kids, and
families who prefer to send their kids to private schools anyway?
Realtors seem to have an answer for that as well – property values do
not appreciate as well in the city because of the school system. Ah
yes, property value – the trump card. But in this new day and age
where houses aren’t selling or appreciating ANYWHERE in the region like
they did a few year ago, that argument is not quite as valid. Besides,
if Dayton’s up-and-coming and already-successful historic districts
were to get the same red-carpet treatment that places like Springboro
get, you’d see much higher appreciation in those urban neighborhoods
than in the suburbs. And besides, in many other cities it is actually much more expensive to live IN the city – why not Dayton?
People everywhere are getting tired of the 50’s version of the American
Dream that most housing developers continue to push on us – that idea
that we should strive to live on a big piece of land that is isolated from everywhere
else, where the automobile is king and sidewalks are simply optional, and where everybody is just like us. Yes, there will still be people that
prefer that lifestyle, and this is America where people are free to
live how they like. But there are also people like the couple I
mentioned – who prefer an urban lifestyle where they can live in a
charming and unique historic home in a walkable neighborhood where
everybody knows everybody else… who prefer to live where they can
walk to stores, parks, theaters and restaurants, and where everybody
doesn’t look and act the same (ie Diversity).
What do you think? Have you experienced the same thing when looking for a house? Are you a Realtor who would like to respond? Please join the conversation…