Fans of Coastal San Diego

This site is for the many fans of coastal San Diego, those who have lived here for years, as well as those new to the area. Here you can learn more about the different communities, the many things to do and places to visit in and around San Diego, share your experiences, and ask for advice and recommendations for restaurants, shopping, visitor activities, places to live, and more! Buyers thinking about moving here will find lots of information to help, too!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

More Thoughts on Housing in San Diego - Part 2

Well, here are more of my observations on the housing in the San Diego area. Would be interested in hearing what others think.

1. Closets - People here in California don't have a clue about the luxury they have (well, most do) in their closets. I've seen bigger walk-in closets here than entire $400K condos in Boston. Yep, some "bedrooms" don't have them (so it's a den or office) but most are pretty reasonable in size, if not spacious, and in the newer homes they are downright huge. Now, every New Englander knows that the Victorians, who built a large number of the homes before and after the turn of the century, didn't like closets, or didn't have clothes to put in them, which is why you are hard pressed to find any closet in the older homes where you can hang enough clothing on hangers to last you a week, and THAT'S in the master bedroom. A closet that is 30" wide and 12" deep is a pleasure in Boston. Guess that's why there were so many armoires made back then, or maybe everyone just threw their clothes on the floor. And these mirrored doors on every closet, in every room (I'm exaggerating, just a bit) here in Souther California. Yep, it gives you more light, a feeling of more space, yada yada, but back in New England it's a dead giveaway that the resident is still living in the 60s and 70s and loving it, and a definite negative for buyers.

2. Furnaces and heat - what I love about the weather here is that I only HAVE to turn on my heat a few times a year, and then only to take the chill off the air, and most people have forced hot air. No matter that the furnace is in the ceiling somewhere (I know because the HVAC guy who came to repair it said so). And gas is the typical source of fuel, although there are some unusual electric devices on walls or baseboards occasionally. And furnaces are pretty new here. In Boston, we have something called a "snowman" in many old homes and buildings. Yes, it is kinda rounded and bulgy like a snowman and rather an ugly dirty dusty gray...and it is COVERED with asbestos. Plus it is almost as old as the house. They are gradually disappearing, fortunately, due to the health hazards associated with asbestos, and it costs a boodle to have them removed, and you have to have a certified professional do it. Not everyone has a snowman, but lots of furnaces are 30 - 50 years old, or more. Some are great because, due to how they were made, they will probably never fall apart. But at least you have a furnace...and with the cold Boston winters that last for 6 months this is a priority for any condo or homeowner. And you pay dearly for the fuel (often oil, but more and more so gas). And the steam and hotwater radiators in many old homes are a sight to see - they work great, by the way, and stay warm forever once heated up, and can get hot enough to fry an egg and dry your clothes (instead of going to the basement for the dryer). And in some fun old homes people do not have a source of heat in some rooms, like the kitchen, and you have an ancient stove that also provides the heat. Haven't run across that here in San Diego yet.

3. Parking - I have to say that, despite the number of cars (rumor has it there are more cars than people in LA, for example) in Southern California, we are pretty car friendly overall. You can park at the beach, often for free. There is free parking everywhere (and parking meters, too). And these interesting Self-Pay parking lots - these would never survive in Boston because Bostonians would simply refuse to pay the machine. They ignore pedestrians, red lights and stop signs, don't they?! I didn't have a clue about what to do the first time I encountered a self-pay lot (what do you mean there is no nasty attendant waiting to take your car and squeeze it into a space only 1 mm larger than your car, and have the nerve to charge you $10 for the first 15 minutes for the pleasure - or worse, expect YOU to park your own car). Parking is cheap here, overall. There are some more expensive places, true, but it is typical in Boston to pay $10-$15 per hour to park, and more. But the worse thing is even finding a place to park in Boston, on the street OR in a lot. One commonality - the people who staff the meter-ticket dispensing workforce here (at least downtown) and in Boston are equally rude, abusive and have the ticket on your window only a nanosecond after the time expires. It's like a cult. The other nice thing about parking here is that resident parking is rather unusual. You can park in a neighborhood (well, not the gated ones) and walk to the beach, go shopping, enjoy a restaurant, or go to school, and no one knows who don't live there, and IT'S FREE...and you won't get towed. Most areas, at least in Boston proper and nearby communities, have parking by resident permit ONLY on the streets - no sticker, no parking. The other hassle is the monthly street cleaning, when you can't park in the area where you live at all, or you WILL get fined and you WILL get towed, as it makes money for the city.

Another difference - lots more valet parking here, and it's either free (except for the tip, perhaps) or inexpensive. Boston has caught on to this finally, and some places offer valet parking (otherwise NO ONE would ever come to the restaurant because there is NO PARKING anywhere), the difference being that valet usually costs $10 - $15. Where the valets find room to park the cars, no one knows.

Are you house hunting and want a home with a view? Check out my website, or let me know what you want - I'll watch the market and screen in those view properties for you and send regular emails.


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