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View Poll Results: What city best suits our family for long-term living?
Boston, MA 6 17.14%
Madison, WI 21 60.00%
Vancouver, BC, Canada 7 20.00%
Albuquerque, NM 2 5.71%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 35. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 03-02-2009, 10:52 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mommyntheoc View Post
It looks like on CL your rentals are already selling out for August! Yikes. Is it a problem locating a house to rent for June usually? And do you know when the best month would be for us to go househunting for the weekend? I feel like this is a totally different world than here,people are very last minute around these parts (us not included). LOL
What you're seeing selling out for August is precisely the area you said you want to avoid: those are the close-to-campus apartments that all the students are trying to get into. Some decades ago, in a collective fit of insanity, all the campus landlords got together and decided to end ALL their leases on August 14 and start them all up again on August 15. The night of August 14, you will find about 40,000 temporarily homeless college students sleeping on lawns, porches, in cars, on friends' sofas, and anywhere else they can find. And there won't be a U-Haul truck to be had for love nor money within 250 miles of Madison.

In fact, some of the really premium buildings have likely been full for August move-ins since about last December, and that's at rental rates of around $600/bedroom, plus anywhere from $100 to $250/month parking. I used to work for a campus-area landlord that owned some of those buildings, and in mid-November on the night before they'd start taking rental applications for the high-end buildings, there'd be about 30 or 40 kids who'd literally camp overnight in sleeping bags outside the office door, waiting in line for a chance to live in one of the snob palaces!

So unless you really LIKE living in a building where your neighbors pee in the elevators, puke in the hallways and play thumpingly loud music until all hours of the night, you should not be concerned about the rapid disappearance of August move-in dates close to campus.

Now, as far as house rentals are concerned, you may find it challenging to find any house to rent, and particularly for such a short time. If you can possibly tolerate a townhouse or duplex setting, possibly even in one of the parts of town that is full of the cookie-cutter-looking new construction, you're likely to find more options. Keep in mind that 3 to 6 months is not all that long in the overall scheme of things, and I can attest to the fact that it's not so terrible to put up with a place that isn't quite your ideal home for that short a time. The time to be picky is when you're buying, because you'll be on ground and able to take your time and really look. We relocated here from across the country, and our first place was adequate but no more than that. However, within six months, we had found, purchased and moved into the home we wanted, and looking back from a decade later, those few months were no more than a blip on the radar for us.

You may want to try to connect with a realtor ahead of time, one who not only sells homes but also acts as a leasing agent for homes with absent owners. There are a few like that out there, though I do not know of any personally to recommend.

As to when to travel out here on a scouting mission, that depends to some extent on how far away from campus you want to live. If you're going to move in August and you really want to be within, say, two miles of campus, it would probably be a good thing to take a weekend pretty soon, like this month, for some scouting. If you'd prefer something a bit farther away, likely you could wait for May or so. And if you opt for the 'burbs (which I would not recommend, for the same reasons that Megan cites), you could likely wait until July. For a June move-in date, I'd try to plan something in April for rentals in Madison proper, and in May for the 'burbs.

Hope that helps? Keep coming back with good questions, and we'll do our best to answer. Good luck in planning the big move!

Last edited by 7G9C4J2; 03-02-2009 at 10:56 PM.. Reason: Greater clarity
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Old 03-02-2009, 11:15 PM
 
Location: Madison, WI
365 posts, read 808,307 times
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As always, extremely helpful and insightful! Thank you...I'm off to go look at those recommended neighborhoods and check out the flight rates for April! I'm immeasurably thankful for all of you on here!!!
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Old 03-03-2009, 11:55 AM
 
Location: Madison, WI
1,700 posts, read 3,200,868 times
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Madtown RM gave you an excellent list. Exactly the types of neighborhoods you are looking for.

One problem I see, however, which I've sort of avoided mentioning before because I didn't want to be a black cloud is your price point of under $250K. I might be wrong, but I believe most of those neighborhoods *start* at $250 - $300K.

Madison has incredibly high real estate prices for a midwestern town of its size, esp in desirable neighborhoods like the ones listed. I would think those areas a pretty much recession proof, too, because the supply is so limited.

I would love to live in those areas myself, but live in a cookie cutter neighborhood on the East side because it is all I can afford if I want to live in Madison. The good news though is that even where I am, by East Towne Mall, nothing I want to see or do is more than 30 minutes away by car and the city has a wonderful network of bike paths so you can bike anywhere as well.
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Old 03-03-2009, 12:16 PM
 
Location: Madison, WI
365 posts, read 808,307 times
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I looked at some houses in those areas and it looks like every now and then there might be a few that go below that level...we're really handy and can fix up houses that have aesthetic or minor repair issues.

Plus, in a few years, we'll be back up to two incomes since our lil' ones will be in school (hopefully the schools there are good, otherwise homeschooling will keep us on a single income permanantly - but still no biggie even so). I've noticed Madison real estate is going strong while the rest of the nation falters...why is that? It appears most of the jobs are gov't and UW...so is the economy there just recession proof altogether?

Do you have stores closing on every block right now like we do here? There are empty banks and stores all over here...you cannot go a block without runnning into a vacant building that formerly housed a bank or major store.

What does your annual income need to be to live comfortably there? Or just basic needs met? Dirt poor in OC is $45k, comfortable with a regular size house and basic needs met is $75k. Our grad student budget we're currently making due with is $24k (gross). We figured if we can stretch a dollar to go that far here and still live comfortably, we could live just about anywhere except downtown NY...but who wants to live there. The hubby had found some jobs for him there at $200k-400k, but seriously, that is equivalent to $75k anywhere else LOL and you'd have to live in a tiny lil apt with pollution everywhere.
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Old 03-03-2009, 01:52 PM
 
Location: Madison, WI
1,700 posts, read 3,200,868 times
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The schools in Madison are excellent. The West High School District being the best in my opinion.

I could be wrong about the starting price of houses in those areas, but that has always been the case when I've "dream shopped." I'm not very handy though so I was looking at move-in ready places.

I really hope you are able to find a nice place in those neighborhoods within your price range. It isn't that 250K is anything to sneeze at. You can buy a very nice house in this city for that, but everyone wants to live in areas with interesting architecture and within walking distance of interesting places so those kinds of neighborhoods demand a premium.

There are empty retail spaces in the area, but not as bad as what you are describing. We do have a major hole in the ground by one of the area's "premium" shopping centers, Hilldale, where Whole Foods was going to open a big new store and backed out. It's really impressive, almost a landmark. I think most people are hanging in there, but by the skin of their teeth.

Boy, what is a comfortable income for the area has been the topic of much discussion. It *really* depends on your life style. I have friend who lived on 28K, but she is beyond frugal. For me, 4K a month covers my mortgage and other monthly expenses, but not any savings.
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Old 03-03-2009, 05:47 PM
 
Location: Madison, WI
10 posts, read 18,612 times
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You can search for homes by school district on lakeandcityhomes.com as well. If you want to live within walking distance of Trader Joe's and Hilldale you'll want to search by elementary schools Van Hise and Franklin/Randall. That will cover a lot of the neighborhoods I mentioned before. Prices have come down quite a bit even on the West Side especially if you're willing to make do with a two bedroom or a one-car garage. There are currently some very nice homes selling for well under $250K.
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Old 03-03-2009, 06:13 PM
 
Location: Madison, WI
365 posts, read 808,307 times
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How did you know I wanted to be able to walk to Trader Joe's? LOL

The place we lived at last we could walk there to get all of our groceries...but then we moved to this townhouse we're in now and we have to drive to TJs or walk to Safeway (Vons). We will walk miles just to go to a store to buy what we need (food, household, etc). We don't use plastic bags, instead we just load up our double stroller with the kids and things we buy, and walk back home! :-) People here think we're crazy for 1. only walking to get groceries, and 2. not using plastic bags (every time at the checkout I have to explain "we don't do plastic bags" and then I get the same speech about security questioning us at the door, yada yada yada, I tell them I'll keep my receipt out so security can do their job at the door, etc etc etc...it cracks me up each time). Oops...sorry to go off ...I'm easily distracted today.

We can do a 1 car garage, but our oldest son is demanding his own room (and for all our sanity, he should have one - the youngest is a VERY light sleeper and when the children don't sleep, neither do the parents). I'm going on 22 months now of sleepless nights (or very broken sleep). It sucks.

If you happen to be bored and looking at real estate and find anything nice in our price range in an area you'd recommend for us, please message me...I'd love to have a look! We've found a few possibilities in the past couple of days...I need to go google them and see the main roads now. One was in University Hills or something like that. Lots of trees and different looking houses. I zillowed it and they bought it for $100k more last year...strange.
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Old 03-04-2009, 04:34 PM
 
Location: Madison, WI
1,700 posts, read 3,200,868 times
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Our city assessors office lists all sales transactions online:

Property Information - City Assessor - City of Madison, Wisconsin

There's a site for the county as well:

Welcome to AccessDane
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Old 03-04-2009, 05:56 PM
 
Location: Madison, WI
365 posts, read 808,307 times
Reputation: 138
I'm having a lot of trouble locating any houses for lease online for Madison. I've looked at Craigslist, googled every property managment company in Madison and looked at their websites, and I've tried to search on the suggested websites for realtors who list rentals. There isn't much out there. Especially not for a late May-early June move-in. Would owners list their properties in a newspaper there? If so, which one would it be? Any other ideas to find a rental? I can find a lot for sale and a lot of apartments, but that is about it.
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Old 03-04-2009, 08:52 PM
 
284 posts, read 784,047 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mommyntheoc View Post
I'm having a lot of trouble locating any houses for lease online for Madison. I've looked at Craigslist, googled every property managment company in Madison and looked at their websites, and I've tried to search on the suggested websites for realtors who list rentals. There isn't much out there. Especially not for a late May-early June move-in. Would owners list their properties in a newspaper there? If so, which one would it be? Any other ideas to find a rental? I can find a lot for sale and a lot of apartments, but that is about it.
Have you looked into the Willy St neighborhood at all?
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