Should your coffee habits determine where you live?

I have been struggling for over 20 years with where, exactly, our Dream Home should be situated. I knew I would want it to be in Colorado, and somewhere near Denver – in order to have good access to jobs, theatre, shopping and restaurants in a laid-back, outdoorsy place (and my husband graciously bought into my dream and agreed on Denver).

… But just how urban – versus suburban – should it be?

I know a lot of people begin to struggle with a decision like this when they start a family. Like others, we pictured our kids growing up in a house with their own rooms, a big yard to play in, good schools within walking distance, safe playgrounds – you know, the whole “white picket fence” thing. So, when we  moved to Colorado from Los Angeles in 1992 that’s exactly what we found – in a neighborhood I knew well from my own youth, in Littleton, Colorado.

Even though we got exactly what we wanted – 17 miles to downtown Denver for work (about 25 minutes’ drive), good schools, awesome house (where we soon deposited a couple kids into their own rooms) – I continued to feel like I had given-up something important from my former city-life: walking to a restaurant or a coffee shop. Our last apartment in Sherman Oaks, California (yep, “the Valley”) was only a block from a commercial district. Any night we had our choice of many restaurants within a 10-minute walk.

The trade-off in the suburbs is that this expanse of white-picket-fence-sized home lots and tight zoning restrictions means you pretty much have to get in the car and drive to get to a coffee shop or restaurant, or anything commercial or communal – unless you have a clubhouse/pool in your housing development. Ever since we left “the city,” I’ve been plotting for how we’ll get back to living within a 5-minute walk of great coffee (sorry, but that leaves out the ubiquitous Star$$s).

I blame my friend Matt and his coffee-roasting prowess for the re-emergence of this issue for me. He got me hooked on his really amazing The Third Crack beans while I was working with him in Austin. Fortunately, the ‘burbs are starting to get first-rate coffee shops, too, like my local fave Two Rivers Coffee. Still, if living very near to one of these critical facilities is important to you, it would take some special planning during the house-hunting process to be both near commerce and in a suburban home.

For now, I’ve decided to work on my barista skills and brew at home.

 How about you? As you make decisions about buying (and selling) your home have you factored in what’s important to you and your family from a lifestyle perspective – and what trade-offs you’re willing to make to get it? These big decisions guide where to even look at properties; and making them is one of the toughest, most important parts of homeownership. I’d recommend you and your family members think long and hard about the lifestyle you’re after in your next home before you spend too much time looking at options you later realize don’t suit you. And, remember, what you want now will likely change in the future – so be sure to buy a good, recession-proof house that you’ll be able to sell easily (and profitably!) when you’re ready for the next phase of your life.

When our kids are out of the house (one down, one to go!) – I hope we’ll reconfigure our definition of Dream Home to something more maintenance-free and coffee-shop-friendly. I don’t regret the trade-offs we’ve made to give our kids (one possible form of) an awesome childhood, but I’ll be ready to shed the suburbs and get handy access to more fresh-roasted coffee, brewed by an actual professional!

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