Leave Brookside for suburbia? That is the question.

It happened again this week. 

 I met with a couple who wants to sell their Brookside area home next year.  They are getting married in the fall, thinking about future plans, finances, location, neighborhoods.  They absolutely love living in Brookside:  the location, the walkability, the Trolley Track Trail, the locally owned shops, little traffic, the character of the homes.  But they want a bigger home, a larger yard, maybe kids at some point.  To get the space they want and stay in the area, this couple would have to spend over $400,000 for a home. That’s out of their price range.  They know if they make the jump to Overland Park or Lees Summit, they can get a spacious 4 bedroom, 3 bath home with a two car garage, large yard, finished basement, large kitchen–for much less than that hefty price and the house payment that goes with it. 

What to do?

I’ve heard this same lament from clients,  neighbors and friends over and over.  It’s stressful enough deciding to make a move, but to feel you have to  move out of the neighborhood you love to ‘sterile suburbia’ to get what you want?  Knowing you must  fight traffic while commuting  on I-70  every day or  wait endlessly at the intersection of 119th and Metcalf on a regular basis?  To have to get in the car every time you need something from the grocery store?  And the larger question:  what about school options for  my children? 

Residents of Brookside struggle with this issue constantly.  I think it happens even more so now with the recession and massive job loss.  Staying in Brookside may mean an inferior public school education for the kids or expensive private schools. (Charter schools are an option-if you can get in). Staying in an 80-year-old home can mean a smaller cramped kitchen and backyard.  Older homes can require more maintenance than a newer home.  Less space, more character and close – by amenities vs suburbia with a life lived in the car, better public schools, larger home and easy highway access.  What to do?

One young  family I helped recently decided to move into Brookside–two kids, a third on the way.  They wanted the urban living lifestyle of walking to restaurants  and a grocery, schools within walking/biking distance, the experience of diverse neighbors and kids walking to the  nearby park.  Their new home is not large but as a family, they know they will feel closer to each other in smaller quarters, the neighbors have already welcomed them to a block party  and their utility bills will be less than a 3000 SF home.  Another family decided to move to Lees Summit–a difficult decision to leave Waldo but I think the main reasons for the move were more house  for the money and a better public school system.  That seemed right for them.

As for me, when we decided to move a few years ago (from one Brookside house to another ), we did talk about moving to Kansas specifically for the public school system.  I’m sure we would have found a nice home with good neighbors, more new friends and a similar lifestyle. Actually, a more lavish lifestyle , saving tuition money.   But we decided to stay in Brookside and keep the kids in private schools. Yes, it’s a financial sacrifice.  Sometimes I think, should we have moved?  The money we spend on education could be spent on twice a year  vacations, new cars, nicer home furnishings and more entertainment and meals out like many other families.We could have sent our kids to KCMO public schools.   But my husband and I both feel like Brookside is home.  Our children are getting a different  education,with  experiences that shape their morals and behavior while  having to do without some material things.  They are creating friendships in their smaller school community that are priceless–and we as parents are as well.  All of this can happen in the suburbs as well, but we chose to stay here. We have the basic necessities and some frills, and are grateful for the middle class lifestyle. My kids are learning that ‘you can’t always get what you want’ and appreciate what you have, work for what you want.

As an real estate agent, I am often asked about the various neighborhoods in the metro KC area.  I strive to be factual and frank, without too much personal opinion.  I always tell buyers that the basic search criteria is important, but overall be open to a gut feeling about the neighborhood–your gut feelings are often right.  And for our family, the right neighborhood is Brookside.

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