Fans of Coastal San Diego

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Housing in coastal San Diego County

I thought I would share my observations on the housing in coastal San Diego (North County) where I live, especially as it compares to my former home in Boston. I'm not going to chat about the pricing - we all know it's high, and that's a topic for later discussion. As I started writing I realized that there are lots of observations, so rather than be too tedious, here is Part 1.

1. Housing in general - Well, there's lots of it, with San Diego being one of the 10 largest cities in the country. There is much diversity in styles of housing - condos, multiunit properties, rental apartments, time shares (Aviara Four Seasons in Carlsbad, at the high end), fractional ownership condos (e.g., at La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, for example), 55+ communities, mobile and manufactured homes, high rise apartments and condos (plenty of new ones and under-construction downtown in the Petco Park and Gaslamp Quarter areas, for example), beach bungalows, attached and detached homes, twin homes, Spanish, Tuscan, Mediterranean, California Ranch, Cape Cod, Italianate, Old World, contemporary, Craftsman, tract homes, mansions, estates, homes with guest houses...the list goes on and on.

2. Age - seems that the preponderance of the housing has been built since the 60s, and in some areas most is post-1980 (with a large number of new subdivisions springing up since 2000, such as Encinitas Ranch, La Costa Greens/Ridge/Oaks, and a zillion more, and that's just near the coast). Sure there are homes built in the 20s, but that is more the exception. When people say they have an old house it refers more to the 1970s and 1980s. Back in Boston and Cambridge much of the housing was built between 1880 and 1920, and an "old" house there means early 1800s or before.

3. Basements - well, they are kinda hard to find here except in older homes. Everyone here sits on a slab!! So where are you supposed to store all that junk?? Sure, due to some zoning restrictions in some areas we are seeing homes remodeled or built with basements added to increase overall space but keep the above-ground size within the limits set by the town for the lot size (e.g., Del Mar). Now in Boston most everyone has a basement or access to one - if you live in a condo building there is one for all to share, to do laundry, store stuff, etc. Yep, some have dirt floors, and low ceilings, and cracked or sagging beams, and they get wet and have mold and asbestos, but you have a basement!! You don't get that with a slab - just cracks and sagging and unevenness. What fun is that?

4. Lead paint - not much to say here. It is a HUGE deal in New England since most housing was built pre-1978 when lead paint was outlawed. Everyone knows they have it, although some de-lead (by choice or requirement if they are landlords). Not much of a problem here due to age of housing. It's still a disclosure, however.

5. "Laundry in the garage" - that was a new surprise. Who wants to go to the garage to do laundry? Well, it's not such a big deal, given the temperatures here. It can be a great use of space instead of in the house, among other factors, but it took some getting used to the idea (we have a laundry room, by the way, which appeals to me). Now, in Boston it is a big deal, and more expensive, if you have an in-unit washer and dryer if you are a condo owner. Many people living in condos trudge down to the basement and SHARE, heaven forbid, a washer and dryer, or maybe several in a large building...and lots are coin-operated, just like in college. It can be a treat to live on the upper floor of a 3-story building, or worse, and have to cart everything down to the basement and do your laundry with the dampness, mold and asbestos. And there are still many people, both in condos and homes, that have to trek their laundry baskets to the Laundromat, just like in college. And some people, who don't have interior access to their beloved basements, but must get to them from outdoors through a "bulkhead," have the added pleasure of taking their laundry out in the freezing cold, snow and rain. Doing laundry in the garage sounds like a good deal to me.

That's it for now. Stay tuned for Part 2.


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Jeff Dowler (RE/MAX Associates): Real Estate Agent in Carlsbad, San Diego County, California on