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Old 12-07-2018, 04:26 AM
 
1,298 posts, read 792,110 times
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Hi,

I was recently extended a job offer to Des Moines. The salary is pretty good and we'd likely sell our house in Houston & hopefully pocket 50-70k for a downpayment. My hope is to buy something near good schools for around 250k. So far of the suburbs we've looked at, I like Ankeny because the homes are newer, but those prices are too high. My wife likes Urbandale and there are several homes that would suit us there.

I do have a couple of questions:

1) Why do so many homes have the master upstairs? I've never really cared for that layout. It's a weird quirk.
2) Very few homes we've seen have fences, is there a reason?
3) Are there any other neighborhoods/suburbs you guys can suggest?

I was there for the interview and really liked what I saw. Everyone was so nice, and it seems like it could be a good move for me, careerwise. We have friends in Chicago, and google says that's a 5.5hr drive, so we could swing by over a long weekend or so.

Thanks in advance for any help.

Augie
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Old 12-07-2018, 08:16 AM
 
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I don't live in DSM any more (but lived there most of my life). I'd say with a $250K budget Urbandale, Grimes, Polk City are good options and you'll likely have to settle for an older home and/or a fixer. You will probably be priced out of areas like Waukee, West Des Moines, Ankeny or Johnston at that price point. Ten years ago it was do-able but now prices seem to have appreciated a lot in those areas. Beaverdale is another area that has nice, smaller/older homes....but schools are not the best.

I don't know the reason for the lack of fencing. Possibly because the areas you're looking at are in somewhat moderate income areas and those folks just don't want to put the money into a large fence. But that's an easy fix.

In terms of the master being upstairs, I can't say. I would actually love it if my home had a master upstairs away from the main living/dining/kitchen areas. You can always narrow your search down with your realtor to only include ranch houses. Good luck!
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Old 12-07-2018, 01:45 PM
 
Location: Des Moines Metro
5,018 posts, read 5,686,168 times
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I strongly suggest renting for your first year.

If you aren't going to do that, buy in Ankeny or West Des Moines and make sure your house was built in 1980 or later.

Dollars to donuts after one year, you may find that you really want to spring for Ankeny or West Des Moines for the school systems. If you do buy in Urbandale, carefully do your due diligence (don't skip the radon test in Urbandale) and don't depend on your realtor to protect your interests. There have been problems with flooding, as well as some "flip disasters," as some landlords put their dog houses on the market over the summer -- the market was so hot that even those were selling in 1 - 2 weeks. (My house sold the first day I listed it.)

Make sure your home inspector has a background in construction and/or get another opinion on the HVAC system, wiring, and have the sewer & main water line inspected if the house was built before 1980. Criminal flippers have covered up problems. Don't take anyone's word for anything. Practice due diligence! Where are those historical mine openings? Do you want a sink hole for a front yard? Google: sink hole on south side of Des Moines. Lastly, Urbandale has a radon problem in some areas.

Don't rush this process, or you might end up thousands of dollars in the hole.
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Old 12-07-2018, 01:50 PM
 
1,298 posts, read 792,110 times
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Thanks for the insight! I can go higher, but I like the idea of living below our means. I also just discovered that state income tax... ouch!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Florida2014 View Post
I don't live in DSM any more (but lived there most of my life). I'd say with a $250K budget Urbandale, Grimes, Polk City are good options and you'll likely have to settle for an older home and/or a fixer. You will probably be priced out of areas like Waukee, West Des Moines, Ankeny or Johnston at that price point. Ten years ago it was do-able but now prices seem to have appreciated a lot in those areas. Beaverdale is another area that has nice, smaller/older homes....but schools are not the best.

I don't know the reason for the lack of fencing. Possibly because the areas you're looking at are in somewhat moderate income areas and those folks just don't want to put the money into a large fence. But that's an easy fix.

In terms of the master being upstairs, I can't say. I would actually love it if my home had a master upstairs away from the main living/dining/kitchen areas. You can always narrow your search down with your realtor to only include ranch houses. Good luck!
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Old 12-07-2018, 01:51 PM
 
1,298 posts, read 792,110 times
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Oh wow, yeah... we were talking about doing that. Then I saw how much cheaper the homes are there vs the part of Houston we live in. I'm going to show this thread to my wife.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meemur View Post
I strongly suggest renting for your first year.

If you aren't going to do that, buy in Ankeny or West Des Moines and make sure your house was built in 1980 or later.

Dollars to donuts after one year, you may find that you really want to spring for Ankeny or West Des Moines for the school systems. If you do buy in Urbandale, carefully do your due diligence (don't skip the radon test in Urbandale) and don't depend on your realtor to protect your interests. There have been problems with flooding, as well as some "flip disasters," as some landlords put their dog houses on the market over the summer -- the market was so hot that even those were selling in 1 - 2 weeks. (My house sold the first day I listed it.)

Make sure your home inspector has a background in construction and/or get another opinion on the HVAC system, wiring, and have the sewer & main water line inspected if the house was built before 1980. Criminal flippers have covered up problems. Don't take anyone's word for anything. Practice due diligence! Where are those historical mine openings? Do you want a sink hole for a front yard? Google: sink hole on south side of Des Moines. Lastly, Urbandale has a radon problem in some areas.

Don't rush this process, or you might end up thousands of dollars in the hole.
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Old 12-07-2018, 02:25 PM
 
3,633 posts, read 2,608,004 times
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Renting vs. buying is always a good idea when relocating. I've done it twice and both times I ended up renting in an area I *thought* was good but it turned out not so great. Our last move to Florida we figured it out, rented and ended up buying the house we were renting, you never know if that option will arise.

State income taxes, yes...and I know property taxes are high there as well. But that should be offset by a much lower cost of living overall. Des Moines is not perfect but being inexpensive is a huge plus.
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Old 12-07-2018, 02:27 PM
 
447 posts, read 234,648 times
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We made a similar move from out of state last year. Renting for the first year is a great idea, if you can. It'll give you a chance to look around and see for yourself what you prefer. There are lots of homes in your price point, even if you go up or down a little bit in price. They just might not be the brand new, shiny homes in the outer areas of the metro. (Those can have their own disadvantages, unless you absolutely prefer brand new.)

You might hesitate just a little bit buying in Ankeny if you're going to be here long-term and care about commute times. I don't enjoy daily interstate travel and it's practically required from there unless you'll be working in the northern part of Des Moines. Traffic here will be *much, much* better than where you're coming from but interstate travel is what it is anywhere (sometimes a bit of zoo even if less crowded), and growth will only make that commute worse over time. We were used to long commutes in our previous location, and wanted to avoid that here (especially with the added factor of winter weather) so that's why we didn't consider Ankeny seriously.

We just went through the home buying process here this year. Radon mitigation systems are everywhere and are really not a big deal at all. Just make sure to get a radon test as part of your home inspection (they're practically standard, or maybe they are standard here). Urbandale has a lot to offer so I wouldn't discount it.

I'll send you a PM, but to get input from others, perhaps you can share whether or not you care about school systems or commute to work or anything else in particular...? Do you care if an area is high-growth or would you prefer more established homes and neighborhoods?
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Old 12-07-2018, 02:59 PM
 
Location: Des Moines Metro
5,018 posts, read 5,686,168 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlessedLife View Post
. Urbandale has a lot to offer so I wouldn't discount it.
Yes, it does!

I'm just feeling fortunate that the house I was going to buy flooded just as we went into contract. God was looking out for me! I didn't realize the sewers were that bad in that neighborhood. Lesson learned.
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Old 12-07-2018, 08:19 PM
 
73 posts, read 52,077 times
Reputation: 54
We also moved from Houston (well, Richmond) to Des Moines about a year and a half ago. It's been an interesting transition.

As for the fencing, it's just not part of the culture here, it's seems. There seem to be few HOAs in this price point unless you're looking at a condo or townhouse, so the variation on exterior things such as fencing and lawn upkeep is quite a bit more pronounced.
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Old 12-08-2018, 07:43 AM
 
1,298 posts, read 792,110 times
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Wow, thanks for the feedback guys!

Regarding taxes, I'm okay with it, just kinda stunned. I thought IA was a reddish state lol... I did notice how clean everything was, and that the park had a functional, clean bathroom, so I kinda figured taxes would be higher than here in Tx.

Freeway driving: My current commute is all freeway and about 30 minutes in the morning and 45-1.5hrs in the evening. I prepared a spreadsheet listing schools I like and their general commute times using google maps at 7:30am and 4:30pm. None of which exceeded 35 minutes, so that won't bother me one bit.

Criteria/concerns: first & foremost are schools. The ones at the top of my list are:

Webster & Walnut Hills in Urbandale
Prairie Trail, Northeast, Ashland Ridge in Ankeny

Second tier:
Henry A Wallace & Beaver Creek in Johnston
Westwood & Crocker in Ankeny
Eason in Waukee

The biggest differentials in top tier and second tier are the rankings and percentage of kids getting free lunches. Here in Houston, the free lunch program seems to bring with it other social issues such as use of profane language, so I'd like to keep my kids from being exposed to that until they're a little older. Feel free to judge me if you wish. My feelings won't be hurt

Fencing: we'll probably have to add a fence. My concern is that our current dog is old and small-ish, but I'd love to get a bigger dog when it comes time for the next one. On days when it's super cold outside, I don't know if I want to walk said dog or just let it out in the backyard...?
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