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Old 04-26-2014, 08:31 PM
85 posts, read 262,533 times
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My incredibly long search for permanent housing is Cincinnati is finally coming to a close. After many months of research, trolling these boards, and asking questions of all of you, I am down to Wyoming, Madeira, Mariemont/Terrace Park, Hyde Park, and Indian Hill/Kenwood (probably in that order). I have researched the housing, schools, taxes, and whatever else I can find. But, what about the services and intangibles in these communities? What about the things you can't research on the internet or see in short visit, but things you only know from living somewhere for a while?

  • For instance, I know Wyoming has a nice rec center and pool that is quite affordable when compared to the private swim and tennis club in Indian Hill.
  • Also, several people noted the size of the schools in Wyoming, Madeira, Mariemont, and Indian Hill (relatively small high schools where kids have more opportunities to participate) vs larger schools (like Walnut Hills).
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Old 04-27-2014, 12:40 AM
Location: Cambridge, MA
4,821 posts, read 12,130,412 times
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You can tell it's April at the Goyguy Sr's house in Wyoming because there's a "mountain" of mulch blocking their driveway. The city will deliver it to your home at low or no cost. It's their way of recycling wood chips from dead trees and street-side pruning. So, if you enjoy gardening but would just as soon not pay for, and schlep, those big heavy sacks of mulch from Home Depot you could live in Wyoming and have the city provide your supply.
A longtime "small town" tradition loved by many in Wyoming is the annual Turkey Disposal in mid-November. Members of the volunteer fire department ride a vintage pumper truck around town selling raffle tickets, which you bring to the station on a set evening. Random ticket numbers are painted on a large roulette wheel mounted on the firehouse wall. Every winner gets a bird and the proceeds all go to the first-responder teams.
Because of how expensive (and shady) the tailors are in the area where I live now, when I need new trouser cuffs or coat alterations or whatever I bring the garments along on my next home visit. They're dropped off at Robbie's Quality Alterations on Wyoming Ave, and the jobs are always done to perfection.
In the same block in the "village" is a butcher shop where what's arguably the best non-restaurant lunchtime hamburger in the Tri-State can be procured. Guys from the store are out front firing up the kettle grills on many days when the weather's cooperating. Within minutes they'll have a made-to-order puck of ground beef ready for your eager consumption. Cheese and the usual condiments? No problem.

This year Wyoming High School took second-place honors statewide in "everybody's favorite" US News rankings. Walnut Hills was in first again, but many have been quick to point out that every prospective student at "Walnut" has to pass an entrance exam in order to go there. In Wyoming the schoolhouse door is open to everyone who finishes 8th Grade. [The same holds true in most communities, including Indian Hill (#3) and Madeira (#4.)] This brings me to what, to me, is probably a key "intangible" about my childhood 'burb. Wyoming has a reputation - well-earned - for snobbery which at the same time doesn't tell the whole story. Several areas of town fall well within the "affordable" category, meaning that public employees don't have to live elsewhere nor do teachers. It's one of the ever-shrinking number of communities where the children of clerks and factory workers can learn alongside the kids of the CEO's of their parents' companies. (My class valedictorian was in the former group.) There is also, by American standards, a significant amount of cultural diversity. Official statistics from 2012 show that the village's population is 76% "Non-Hispanic White," out of which as much as a third is Jewish and a quarter is Catholic. The "Wyoming WASP" is still very much present but only represents a small slice of the demographic pie. And the solid, though invisible, "color line" began weakening toward the beginning of the '70s so that a few Whites have settled in the traditionally AA section (which far from lacks for nice houses) and Black, Asian, Hispanic, and mixed-race households are all over town.
All of this is all well and good, but the property taxes are insane!!!
Though my relationship with Wyoming is love/hate at best, my educations in and out of school (the latter being that "key intangible") have always served me well. None of the other east-side places highlighted in this thread can provide that key intangible - they're too White/WASP and uniformly affluent - although Walnut can and does deliver both educations at the same high level as Wyoming. But only Wyoming has fresh hamburgers for sale on the street, mulch delivery, a turkey raffle, and Robbie.
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Old 04-27-2014, 08:22 AM
Location: Mason, OH
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I take exception that Madeira is affluent. Large portions of town are quite modest houses, either single floor ranches or cape cods. People will pay more for them than in other sections of Cincinnati due to the schools.

I grew up in Madeira, went all 12 years of school there, lived with my parents another 5 years while attending UC Engineering, got married literally right out of UC, bought a small ranch and lived in Madeira another 13 years until our expanding family forced us into a larger house.

My parents moved to Madeira when I was 4 years old. Madira going west basically ended at Hosbrook Rd. North of Euclid Rd and east to Miami Ave was basically bare farm ground. The same was true of east of Miami and north of Euclid.

The first significant subdivision I recall being built occupied the land north of Euclid and between Hosbrook Rd and Miami Ave. The streets were north and south Timberlane Dr, Miami Hills Dr, Shewango Way, and north and south Mingo Lane. The housing stock was mainly nice sized ranches with the new concept of 2-car attached garages. Now where I lived, which was a new cape cod in the older section of town south of Euclid, these ranches were the upper class of Madeira and they stayed that way for quite a while.

BTW, my grandparents lived in Silverton/Deer Park. I remember my mother taking me in tow and we would walk west on Euclid Rd to Ken Arbre Dr, jog north to Montgomery, then west again into Silverton. Back then, all the land north of Euclid between Hosbrook and Kenwood Rds was vacant, open fields.
No Kenwood Plaza or Kenwood Mall, no nothing.

The second significant subdivision I remember going in was in the northeast quadrant of the city east of Miami Ave and north of Euclid. I won't name the builder though it sticks in my brain. He had one purpose only, pack as many houses as he could on the land. The construction was cheap, and I mean cheap. He cut every corner possible. Many houses had no garage, just a single width cheap asphalt driveway to the side of the house. And the lots were so narrow you couldn't have a double width drive if you wanted one. Some of the homes were horrible floor plan cape cods. Due to a lack of roof height and pitch, the 2nd floor would barely finish out as 2 rooms. Many of them had the 2nd floor stairway running the length of the roof and in the center of the house. So the result is one of your so called rooms has a stairwell right in the middle of the room, reducing it to basically a hallway. But they were new and in Madeira, and they sold quickly. What spurred Madeira's growth at that time was GE Evendale. Many of the workers there were making good money and looking for a nice, newer place to live. Many also had young kids and were desiring, no make that stronger, demanding good schools.

Several years later my wife and I were looking for our first house in Madeira. I grew up in a Cape Cod which my father had custom designed and built. It was so livable. I am 6' 4" tall. I went into so many ill-conceived cape cods where I could not even stand up straight in the 2nd floor without hitting my head. So we bought a ranch.

I said earlier for years the western terminus of Madeira was Hosbrook Rd.
From there west to Ken Arbre and Stewart Rds was considered Kenwood, which was just unincorporated township. While sparsely populated, what was there was considered nice. I am not sure what the impetus was, but suddenly I hear about a petition to annex most of this property to Madeira and also join the Madeira School District.

The annexation took place and immediately raised the average home value in Madeira somewhat. Subsequent new home building in this area raised it even further.

But to say Madeira overall is affluent, no I don't think so. Nice, comfortable, good people yes, but affluent NO. Now Indian Hill is affluent. And Mariemont is affluent or otherwise the people are idiots for paying the prices there.
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Old 04-27-2014, 08:47 AM
Location: Mason, OH
9,259 posts, read 14,692,976 times
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OP ... Your questions on intangibles is certainly a good one.

To my knowledge, of the suburbs you mentioned Wyoming is the only one with a true community center.

It is probably why I would have Blue Ash on my list probably at the expense of Montgomery. Blue Ash has a fine community center which has been remodeled and expanded multiple times over the past several years.

And when you speak of intangibles, Blue Ash leads the list. The city sponsored summer concert series, events like Taste of Blue Ash, holiday parades with also concerts at the veterans memorial park in the center of town.

But to me the biggest intangible, though it is very much a tangible, in Blue Ash is their tax base on which to operate the city. They don't have to come at you every time you turn around for more taxes.
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Old 04-28-2014, 05:02 AM
85 posts, read 262,533 times
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Thanks for the responses thus far. What about appreciation potential? Of the neighborhoods I listed, where do you think the most money could be made?
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Old 04-28-2014, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by fiskkm View Post
Thanks for the responses thus far. What about appreciation potential? Of the neighborhoods I listed, where do you think the most money could be made?
I think buying a home to "make money" with the expectation of appreciation is the wrong way to go into it. I have been lucky that all of my homes that I have bought have sold for more more than I bought them for mostly due to "appreciation." However, the costs of interest, taxes, maintenance and real estate commissions negate that. In reality i look at appreciation as some gravy when it comes time to sell.

I don't know where you are moving from, but the midwest is not a high appreciation part of the country. Rampant speculation does not cause the fast run up of home prices, nor the inevitable bubble bursting. That is really a good thing in that our housing really didn't suffer like the "high appreciation" markets in the country over the last 5 years. This is especially true in the markets you are looking at.

All of the cities you mention have pretty strong demand and appeal to a class of people who can actually obtain a mortgage. Also, there are usually only a small number of homes available at any given time. Therefore, unless there is a huge economic downturn, an exit/downsizing of several major employers in the region, failed school levies you will likely see stable to moderately increasing home prices in these cities over time.

I looked at similar neighborhoods as you with the exception of Indian Hill/Kenwood (not our cup of tea) and ended up in Wyoming. We are extremely happy we did. What I say is people come for the schools, but tend to stay for the community. As previously mentioned, it is a diverse community made up of people with different backgrounds that share similar values in family, education and community. In fact, I just returned from a backpacking trip that included a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a carpenter, a former ballet dancer and a business consultant. All of whom live in Wyoming.
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Old 04-28-2014, 11:02 AM
Location: Mason, OH
9,259 posts, read 14,692,976 times
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^^ I agree, increased property value is not a big thing right now in this part of the country. Property had appreciated, some handsomely, until the housing bubble event ot about 5 years ago, which was admittedly national in scope. But it certainly did affect property in the Greater Cincinnati Area. Housing values dropped. Where I live they estimated and dropped the property evaluations 15%. In the Mainville area I read where values went down over 30%. This is where Little Miami Schools are located and a big reason the voters there refused to pass a school levy. I just lost over 30% on the value of my house, and you want me to pass a new school levy? Pack salt!

OP ... Indian Hill and Hyde Park may be the two locations you could expect some appreciation, simply because it has occurred there over many years.

Now Madeira and Mariemont I would think are priced out for some time. They both had appreciated beyond reasonable bounds for both the size and quality of the homes, and lost substantial property value during the downturn and I doubt are back to their prior price level, let alone at the point to make money. Of course if you find someone having to sell, get the property at a depressed value, that is a different story.

Wyoming is the dark horse. Due to the quality of the schools and its proximity to jobs downtown, it holds a somewhat unique position. However there are several things to consider. It is not very large, so homes on the market may simply not be there when you want to buy. And the areas surrounding Wyoming are in no way at its caliber. To me, that is the most significant aspect. There is a point when people will turn their backs on Wyoming and say No I will not pay that much to live with that next door to me.

I firmly believe this is why Madeira has held a position of respect for so many years far exceeding its phyical environment. Look at its surroundings. Indian Hill on the southeast. Mariemont on the southwest. Montgomery to the northeast, and Blue Ash to the northcentral. Silverton and Deer Park encroach from the west, but not really since you have the huge Kenwood Town Centre in between.

I have expressed myelf several times on this panel as saying Madeira is overpriced. Since I grew up there and have a better than 60 year knowledge of the city, I feel competent in making that statement. At the same time I received a very good upbringing and education in Madeira. There are far many more places where you will receive less value for your money.

OP ... If you are concerned about making a commitment in Cincinnati and then in short order being told to relocate again by your employer, there are no guarantees.

Don't know your job status. It may be with an outfit which prides themselves on carousel employment, out one door and in another. I myself was fortunate, one company, one city, 45-1/2 years of enployment.

If you enjoy such a life-circumstance, you wil embrace it.
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Old 04-28-2014, 12:26 PM
Location: Cincinnati near
2,595 posts, read 3,790,044 times
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Originally Posted by kjbrill View Post

I have expressed myelf several times on this panel as saying Madeira is overpriced. Since I grew up there and have a better than 60 year knowledge of the city, I feel competent in making that statement. At the same time I received a very good upbringing and education in Madeira. There are far many more places where you will receive less value for your money.
Madeira gets by exactly the same way other successful municipalities do: they are small and flexible enough to align their resources with what their residents want, and exclusive enough to control demographics through zoning. In Madeira's case, it is safe streets, good schools, and a charming business district. I have a good friend who moved to Madeira a few years ago. He and his wife are both attorneys and they previously had a house in Hyde Park. They bought a significantly smaller and less expensive one-and-a-half story 3 BR Cape Cod style house with a fairly small yard because they like the schools, the proximity to the interstate (his job requires meeting clients all over the metro area), and the family atmosphere. A big house, big yard, or unique architectural style were simply not high on their priorities list.

Mariemont sells itself as providing an old-world type village experience with a tight knit community, solid schools, and slightly more exclusive socioeconomic demographic than Madeira. I am good friends with a couple that just bought a house a few blocks from the square in Mariemont, and they described the sense of community as "cultish, but in a positive way". In Mariemont, it is a selling point that neighbors know each other very well as everyone seems to know all of their neighbors their kids by name. You do have to pay a bit of a premium for a house in Mariemont, but the strict zoning practices and responsiveness to the residents' desires keeps the property values stable and the streets beautiful.

My own municipality of Amberley Village, on the other hand, has a very different formula. If Madeira and Mariemont have a brand that is about community, Amberley is selling privacy and peace. The houses are on much bigger plots, are set further from the street, and there aren't even sidewalks on most streets. If you look at aerial photographs from the spring or summer months, Amberley is a giant green blob in a grey background of denser housing and commercial parking lots in neighboring areas. Zoning is used to keep the density very low, and city services are minimal in scope but high in quality. While people who love density and bustling commercial districts would not like Amberley, it serves its residents very well and is more pastoral in flavor than anywhere else between I-71 and I-75 in the metro area.

Indian Hill is a very exclusive neighborhood, but since it mainly caters to residents for whom money is not a concern, I don't feel that it is much of a bargain. Without a budget at 750K or higher I would not really recommend looking in Indian Hill.

Hyde Park is different from the rest because it is a city neighborhood. This has advantages and disadvantages, but as a whole it does not mean as much as many here would lead you to believe. Compared to the other neighborhoods mentioned, it has the most commercial development by a long shot. It isn't even really fair to compare Hyde Park to the other neighborhoods because it is so much more diverse in the types of houses than the others. The mansions off of Grandin really have very little in common with the Wasson corridor or the apartments on Madison Road.

I don't really have anything good or bad to say about Wyoming, other than I know some great people who grew up there. It was never on my radar when buying a house, but that is mostly because of its location relative to my family, friends, job, and favorite destinations. When I was in college I worked for a high end remodeling company and we did quite a bit of work in Wyoming. I got to see some very beautiful houses, but it was my impression at the time that they were quite overpriced. Of course, I was a kid that grew up in Madisonville and Kennedy Heights, so my baseline was very skewed. My opinion may change if I were to revisit the properties today.
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Old 04-28-2014, 03:17 PM
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Wyoming is a geographical anomaly on your list, where will you be commuting to?

The only one of those communities that can make you any money is Madeira (or Mariemont if you buy a foreclosure) and that is only if you find the right price/lot to add on to or renovate. Real estate pricing is going to be flat for years to come in all the others on your list. Madeira is full of tiny grandma houses that developers are leveling daily, so be prepared for noise and backhoes. You can make some money by buying and updating a ranch in either the Sycamore Township/Madeira neighborhood bounded by Miami/Euclid/highway. Empty nesters are desperate for single level living and many of them have enough bedrooms for a family. The further from the highway the better. However, you can't make much money this way.

Wyoming and Mariemont are reknown for their community feel, Wyoming is bigger and has more entry level pricing and community amenities but it is on the other side of town from the others on your list.
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Old 04-28-2014, 04:42 PM
Location: Philaburbia
35,518 posts, read 64,789,808 times
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Originally Posted by SoFresh99 View Post
Madeira is full of tiny grandma houses that developers are leveling daily, so be prepared for noise and backhoes.
I do wish municipal governments would put a stop to this, but that's fodder for another thread ...
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