Choosing the right home, neighborhood, part of Charlottesville or Albemarle area can be hard, time-consuming, and challenging. As I tell my clients, “you’re making a decision that will affect the rest of your lives (and your kids’ too, if you have them).
My advice: take your time. So far this year, I have represented three or four buyers who started the search process between three and five years ago. Time and patience are key.
I have clients who planned to move to the Charlottesville area from a larger, transient area to be in a smaller town, with more opportunities for long-term friendships for their kids, and notably, for themselves.
We couldn’t find the right place, so they ended up renting just east of Charlottesville, about 25 minutes away. After a few months of living there, they sent me an update, which I’m sharing 1) with permission and 2) their deliberate thought process is something useful for me to read, and maybe for you. Either way, I wanted it here on the blog for me to reference later.
Hardest part of what they wrote? They set a high bar for deliberative evaluation of the home search process.
Note: If you have the luxury, please rent first.
(East of Charlottesville neighborhood) Pros
- Quiet and secure
- Newer house – clean, efficient, and relatively maintenance-free
- Beautiful neighborhood with great amenities (trails, security, pool, restaurant)
- Extremely affordable for what we get – the cleanliness and spaciousness is a welcome change
- Close to BBQ Exchange (had to mention that…)
- Reasonably close to downtown Charlottesville and Wegmans
- Easy access to Short Pump/Richmond when we need something not available in Charlottesville (also have family in that area)
- This is a practical location for splitting time between Charlottesville and Richmond for my job
(East of Charlottesville neighborhood) Cons
- Louisa schools are an hour bus ride each way, which may be a concern in a few years.
- We usually go into Charlottesville 1-2 times a day. Once we’re in Charlottesville, everything is within 10 minutes. Tacking on 20 minutes to the front and back end of every trip may get frustrating after a while.
- Hard to get a good feel of the neighborhood because people are in winter hibernation. Our side of the neighborhood feels somewhat more like a retirement community than a family community. We’ll reassess when everyone emerges in the spring.
- We have Walmart next door for emergencies, but everything else is 20 minutes away. This may be a good thing budget-wise, but we haven’t run out just for coffee because the “coffee run” is an hour round trip.
- No Uber or public transportation options, so it is becoming apparent we’ll need a second car soon. Transportation expenses are a real factor, given the need for two vehicles + adding 200ish miles per week of extra driving just between C’ville and (east of Charlottesville neighborhood).
We’ll keep a mental list when we start actively looking again. Here’s the start of the list.
- Now that we have space to live, we love it and probably wouldn’t go back to smaller living with kids.
- A large yard is not a priority. We prefer proximity to public spaces – parks and trails – over having to maintain a large private outdoor space.
- We seem to spend a lot of time in the Stonefield area and downtown Charlottesville
- 29 North by Hollymead/Forest Lakes/Airport is at least as far (timewise) from the places we frequent as where we live now. While it does have more nearby amenities like dry cleaning, Starbucks, Target, etc., we’d consider other areas first.
- The area south of town in the vicinity of Monticello High School/Mill Creek/Redfields seems appealing because of the natural beauty of the area, proximity to downtown by road and trail, the relatively new (post-1980) housing developments, and access via quieter roads.
- We’re probably not considering the City of Charlottesville because of (not the right neighborhoods for us), older houses, and higher expenses.
- We stumbled across the Belvedere neighborhood. We realize the price point of the neighborhood will likely be out of our reach, but it looked appealing – good location, beautifully-designed houses, smaller yards.
- Still on the fence about schools. The outlying counties (Louisa, Fluvanna, Green) seem quite rural outside of the widely-scattered housing developments, so the schools (and friends/activities) may be a long way away.