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Old 01-05-2008, 07:28 AM
 
7 posts, read 39,442 times
Reputation: 12

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Hi everyone,

My husband and 2 year old are moving to Jax in March. We've been looking at houses like crazy and are at the end of our rope! My family lives in Fleming Island and my husband will be working on the westside, so initally we were sticking with Eagle Harbor.

However, we have started looking at Ortega and Avondale and really love both of the areas. We can afford a pretty decent house in the nicest part of either area, but nothing like what we can afford in Eagle Harbor- which would be the nicest part of Eagle Harbor. In Ortega or Avondale, the houses would either be much smaller or need a lot of work.

Obviously, we know the areas are very different so it's become hard to decide.

We love Ortega but are afraid it might be a little "older" or stuffier. We're both just under 30. However, we love the Yacht Club (also not sure if it's stuffy- although we know we can get a membership pretty easily) and feel like it's a pretty safe area. And we have seen a good amount of kids there.

We also love Avondale, and feel like the houses have so much more character- which we are used to as we have been living abroad for many years. But we'd get very little lawn and are not sure if the area is a bit too close to less safe areas. Of course, as I said we would be buying in what I believe is one of the nicest parts of Avondale.

The 3rd option is still Eagle Harbor. We feel like this is the "easy" option. Big house, little crime, etc. BUT, we actually are on the fence on the whole McMansion thing- as well as about having one of the most expensive houses in the whole neighborhood with very little character. And while I am sure that our neighbors would be friendly and welcoming, we would be pretty far from anything going on in town. And while I'm at it, we've also had our heart set on sending our kids to Bolles.

So, I know all 3 are nice, but can anyone give me some new insight?? We're on such a tight schedule, we will actually have to make an offer by early next week!

Any help would be greatly appreciated!!
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Old 01-05-2008, 12:21 PM
 
Location: St. Augustine FL
1,641 posts, read 5,008,252 times
Reputation: 2391
Well, first of all if you are in a rush, I hope you are working with a Realtor, he/she can help line up the homes based on your criteria. Are you aware that Eagle Harbor has CDD (community development district) fees that are about 1600/yr added on to your tax bill, it sounds like that would be no issue for you, but many folks object to that fee. Additionally, there will be Home Owner Association fees you will pay monthly. While your child is still qute youn, it may be a better option because of the huge amenity center. Ortega does have a reputation of being "old" money, but I have friends who live there and they wouldn't live anywhere else. And Avondale, well, if you want a traditional old home, you cannot do too much better than Avondale. I have friends living there too, and they also love it, and have never indicated any issues with the area.
I hope this helps, and good luck with your decision.
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Old 01-05-2008, 03:10 PM
 
Location: JAX
227 posts, read 966,881 times
Reputation: 92
In my opinion, it's never a good idea to buy a home in a hurry. If you are up on the Jacksonville RE market right now you know that the home you buy now will more than likely be worth much less in a year and may continue to depreciate for several more. It’s really a bad time to be buying a home unless you can get a great deal. So, you may be stuck in your home for quite a while. If you are going to be stuck, it's better to be stuck in the right one in the neighborhood where you want to be.

Why don't you rent a home for a while and extend the time you have to look. You can write an addendum to your lease that allows you to end the lease contract in the event that you buy a home. Many people are so desperate to rent out single family homes that they can’t sell that they will allow you to do that (it’s what we did). This will give you time to look and get exactly what you want. You may also save yourself a lot of money by waiting just a few months. The latest information is calling for the true buyers market to start this spring when everyone puts their homes back on the market at prices that start moving more in-line with reality.
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Old 01-05-2008, 09:18 PM
 
Location: Jacksonville, FL
21 posts, read 68,448 times
Reputation: 16
If you're thinking of Bolles, please do consider that the drive from Eagle Harbor will be a nightmare! In heavy traffic it could take you close to an hour.

I personally would choose Ortega or Avondale because they have more character and traffic isn't as bad. In the really good parts I don't think safety should be a problem.
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Old 01-06-2008, 06:11 AM
 
Location: Black Hammock Island
4,620 posts, read 14,913,558 times
Reputation: 4620
Default Eagle Harbor - yes CDD but no HOA

First - a clarification that Eagle Harbor does not have HOA fees - the maintenance and operation fees are tied into the annual CDD fee. However, we do have the "honor" of paying a quarterly fee to the Clay County Utility Authority (water and sewer) which other Fleming Island communities do not pay. (Purpose of the fee is that Eagle Harbor owns its water/sewer system which is purportedly a good thing.)

Second - most of what you described is true that newer communities' houses lack the character of older communities such as Ortega and Avondale. Although Eagle Harbor had about 10 or so different builders (or something like that), many of the designs are similar. Our house does have the niches, the elaborate crown mouldings, the high ceilings and such, but so do most of our neighbors in, perhaps, a different configuration.

Third - we faced the same dilemma as you .. the need to buy fast (rental was not an option). In the end we created a wish list prioritizing our desires and then created a pro-n-con list for each area/house we looked at. Yes, a little bit of work, but worth it. For us, Eagle Harbor came out on top, BUT we didn't have to consider the Buckman Bridge because our commute is west.

We compromised our house wish list when Eagle Harbor's amenities and incredible friendliness got more points during our prioritizing. Perhaps if you actually make a written pro-n-con list, the answer to "where to live" will be more clear for you as it was for us.
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Old 01-07-2008, 08:45 AM
 
7 posts, read 39,442 times
Reputation: 12
Thanks everyone!

I suppose I should have clarified... we've actually been looking for 2 months. It's just that without knowing anyone here except for my family, it's hard to get an unbiased opinion on the areas.

I am trying to avoid renting at all costs because of our young daughter and we have already moved 5 times since she's been born! We wouldn't buy something unless it was a VERY good deal and well below the asking price as we are well aware of the strong liklihood that the housing market will continue to decline for the next year or two.

We're definitely leaning more towards Avondale or Ortega, but deciding between the two, that's another matter!

If anyone could tell me more about either area I would much appreciate it!

Thanks again!
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Old 01-07-2008, 10:12 AM
 
Location: Jacksonville, FL
116 posts, read 417,599 times
Reputation: 52
Both Avondale and Ortega are excellent neighborhoods if you can appreciate the varied architecture of these older neighborhoods. I am a 30 year old Ortega resident, been here about 5 years, and love the neighborhood, although I am definitely well below the median age of the neighborhood. With that said, my next door neighbors on both sides are in their 30s as well, so there are several younger families in the area. Ortega gets the "old money" label because of the plethora of riverfront estates in the neighborhood...most of us who live "inland" are much closer to your demographic. Avondale is another great choice, and I wouldn't hesistate to live there one bit. There are several Realtors that specialize in the "historic" areas. If you need one, I recommend Janie Boyd w/ Norville Realty...she helped me find my home (which wasn't even on the market at the time) as well as my parents find their home in Avondale...she's extremely knowledgeable and friendly. Hope that helps! -Todd
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Old 01-07-2008, 01:22 PM
 
Location: JAX
227 posts, read 966,881 times
Reputation: 92
I'm in my very early 30's and have been looking for a home for quite a while. My first choice of any neighborhood in Jacksonville would be Avondale (my wife thinks otherwise so it's still up in the air). I think Ortega is great, but I think the overall historic feel of Avondale makes it my first choice. Some of the homes in Avondale that we have looked at have been on the market (and empty) for well over two years so you may be able to get a good deal.
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Old 01-08-2008, 12:28 AM
 
Location: Beautiful place in Virginia
2,679 posts, read 11,695,441 times
Reputation: 1360
I didn't catch if you have children. The schools in Fleming Island are very good.

I don't know what the schools are like in Avondale or Ortega.
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Old 01-10-2008, 06:09 AM
 
1,023 posts, read 3,330,178 times
Reputation: 273
Quote:
Originally Posted by PJPK View Post
Hi everyone,

My husband and 2 year old are moving to Jax in March. We've been looking at houses like crazy and are at the end of our rope! My family lives in Fleming Island and my husband will be working on the westside, so initally we were sticking with Eagle Harbor.

However, we have started looking at Ortega and Avondale and really love both of the areas. We can afford a pretty decent house in the nicest part of either area, but nothing like what we can afford in Eagle Harbor- which would be the nicest part of Eagle Harbor. In Ortega or Avondale, the houses would either be much smaller or need a lot of work.

Obviously, we know the areas are very different so it's become hard to decide.

We love Ortega but are afraid it might be a little "older" or stuffier. We're both just under 30. However, we love the Yacht Club (also not sure if it's stuffy- although we know we can get a membership pretty easily) and feel like it's a pretty safe area. And we have seen a good amount of kids there.

We also love Avondale, and feel like the houses have so much more character- which we are used to as we have been living abroad for many years. But we'd get very little lawn and are not sure if the area is a bit too close to less safe areas. Of course, as I said we would be buying in what I believe is one of the nicest parts of Avondale.

The 3rd option is still Eagle Harbor. We feel like this is the "easy" option. Big house, little crime, etc. BUT, we actually are on the fence on the whole McMansion thing- as well as about having one of the most expensive houses in the whole neighborhood with very little character. And while I am sure that our neighbors would be friendly and welcoming, we would be pretty far from anything going on in town. And while I'm at it, we've also had our heart set on sending our kids to Bolles.

So, I know all 3 are nice, but can anyone give me some new insight?? We're on such a tight schedule, we will actually have to make an offer by early next week!

Any help would be greatly appreciated!!
Here is some very quick advise for you
1. Eagle Harbor will ALWAYS have homes for sale. You will always have competition for resale. That can hurt in the end. Especially if you say you can afford some of the nicest homes. Honestly, if you rented and thought about it for 6 months, I bet a lot of the Eagle Harbor large homes would still be for sale.
2. Avondale has older homes...thus, more maintenance. However, the large homes in Avondale sell much faster...less competition, and many downtown professionals/doctors from St. Vincent's etc. live there.. Kids should attend private school. It's Duval County, not Clay.
3. Ortega...if you can purchase in the absolute most desireable area, it's very nice, but overpriced. Not as safe either.

Depending on where your husband will be working, the traffic by Eagle Harbor/Fleming Island/Wells Rd/220 etc. might drive him insane.

Good luck.
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