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Old 09-04-2011, 01:33 AM
 
Location: Great Falls, VA
30 posts, read 43,250 times
Reputation: 20

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It used to be a dream for me to live in a planned community like South Riding, so I was just wondering what people really thought about such places.

If you were into it, it seems like the amenities such as a pool and the ability to walk to places and be near friends would be great. On the other hand, if you tended not to use the facilities and weren't into walking or whatever, it could just be a hassle and expense. Planned communities also tend to be a bit isolated (not always) so you would have to be happy in that one community.

Though not so isolated any more, another example would be Reston. It is a very unique place with it's own character. On the other hand, if you didn't use the bike paths, and weren't into the community centers and unique character, you might have trouble justifying the fees and the rules.

BTW, I still think that living in a planned community would be great. It's just that I've learned to enjoy living with a weak (cheap) HOA that has a couple of social events a year. Still I have to wonder...
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Old 09-04-2011, 09:56 AM
 
Location: Fairfax, VA
1,449 posts, read 2,801,779 times
Reputation: 471
We just moved out of Reston a couple days ago. Honestly? It was a great fit for us. The access to amenities was wonderful. We walked to so many places and it really is a great place for families. Wish we could have bought a SFH there in our price range, but there really was nothing for us.

I know people love South Riding and Ashburn/Brambleton, but they don't appeal as much to me as Reston did. The SFH-with-practically-no-yard-inches-from-your-neighbor communities are not at ALL my style. I realize not all the homes in these communities are like this, but the ones I saw near the HS in South Riding were and made me want to break out in hives.

There was a planned commmunity in Austin that people kept telling us about and how fabulous it was. I'm sure it was, but it really was in the middle of nowhere with access to nothing BUT that community. Those communities do not appeal to me.

We wound up buying a house in a 40-year-old community where we are less than half a mile to all 3 levels of public schooling for our child, a 15 minute walk to the local shopping center and have access to parks and walking trails right in the community withOUT an HOA. We definitely see the plusses and minuses of an HOA - seeing neighbors with overgrown yards and random crap strewn about in their yards makes us a little unhappy, so an HOA would be helpful there. On the other hand, that was a bill we hated to pay every year, even as happy as we were in Reston.

For us, access to amenities, HOA or not, is the key to our happiness. We are pretty happy with our new location, even though it isn't as upscale as our part of Reston was. We took a walk this morning on sidewalks and then county park trails...THEN walked to the shopping center for breakfast, some shopping and a visit to the pet store. For us, THIS is the life. I hate the idea of living anywhere we are completely tied to our vehicles for anything. We need them to get to work, but most other things we need are walking distance. Plus, we have a really nice yard now
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Old 09-05-2011, 09:03 AM
 
Location: Reston, VA
2,005 posts, read 3,527,842 times
Reputation: 1147
I'm very happy in Reston and think that the $540 annual assessment is a great value providing for all the swimming pools, tennis courts, pathways, and maintaince of the open space.
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Old 09-05-2011, 10:07 AM
 
Location: Virginia
18,717 posts, read 26,834,609 times
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We're in Cascades, another planned community, and love it. We like the amenities (pools, gyms, tennis, festivals, 10Ks, etc.) and also the community feeling--much of which is a result of a well run HOA. When Snowmageddon hit, our HOA saw to it that we were dug out right away. When that tragic killing happened in Lansdowne several years ago, our HOA arranged for some officials from the police department to come and talk at a community meeting. We have community garage sales, seniors activities, etc. Currently some of the people running our HOA are really into "green" causes, so there are recycling events, beautification projects, etc. My HOA fees are only $65 month--IMO, it's worth every penny (but.... planned communities are not for everyone).

As mnost of you know I'm a big fan of walking, so I also would only live in a community with stores that are within walking distance. I'm not sure if I would enjoy living in an HOA as much if it was far removed from other communities.
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Old 09-05-2011, 03:31 PM
 
504 posts, read 651,198 times
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I think most people know what they are getting in to and either seek or avoid planned communities based on their personal preferences.

So the people that would hate it tend not to live there, while the ones who want that lifestyle are generally happy with their choice since they were specifically looking for it.
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Old 09-05-2011, 04:01 PM
 
429 posts, read 1,007,336 times
Reputation: 506
Quote:
Originally Posted by shamrock847 View Post
I think most people know what they are getting in to and either seek or avoid planned communities based on their personal preferences.

So the people that would hate it tend not to live there, while the ones who want that lifestyle are generally happy with their choice since they were specifically looking for it.

I agree 100%.

I can understand why many people find planned communities attractive, but they wouldn't work for me. For example, I would find it wildly annoying to have an HOA tell me what color to paint my mailbox or what kind of hardware to have on my door.
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Old 09-05-2011, 05:12 PM
 
Location: Virginia
18,717 posts, read 26,834,609 times
Reputation: 42860
Quote:
Originally Posted by shamrock847 View Post
I think most people know what they are getting in to and either seek or avoid planned communities based on their personal preferences.

So the people that would hate it tend not to live there, while the ones who want that lifestyle are generally happy with their choice since they were specifically looking for it.
And that's the way it should be. I've never understood why anyone would move into an HOA if they don't want to live in one. With the internet, it's so easy to read HOA rules online and also to ask in places like this to get the scoop on how "rules crazy" individual communities are. Some care about things like mailbox color or door hardware, others do not. It's easy to find out things like that, so why move into a place that doesn't feel like a comfortable fit?
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Old 09-06-2011, 12:01 PM
 
639 posts, read 1,148,352 times
Reputation: 207
I live in South Riding now and have grown to hate planned communities - which is why I'm moving to Unison, a village of population est 30.
I realize it's not for everyone but coming from Los Angeles to Fairfax to South Riding it's a welcomed change.
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Old 09-06-2011, 12:42 PM
 
Location: Loudoun County, VA
1,148 posts, read 3,362,767 times
Reputation: 402
Quote:
Originally Posted by shamrock847 View Post
I think most people know what they are getting in to and either seek or avoid planned communities based on their personal preferences.

So the people that would hate it tend not to live there, while the ones who want that lifestyle are generally happy with their choice since they were specifically looking for it.
This exactly. We rented in HOA planned community for four years and hated it. So when it came the time to buy a house, we chose a non-HOA community. I'm about to paint the mailbox.. To any color I choose.
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Old 09-06-2011, 12:48 PM
 
Location: Fairfax, VA
3,829 posts, read 2,782,584 times
Reputation: 3680
Without the "pools and schools", these bedroom communities are BORING. I just sold my home in SR and moved to Fairfax. OMG this is great!!! Everything is so close.
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