As a kid, I learned there was a strategy to picking a good neighborhood to trick-or-treat in for Halloween. There are certain landmarks to look for to get the “good” candy, but then again, sometimes we can be surprised, thinking a neighborhood will have chocolate when really they give away the cheap stuff…There were plenty of times that I went to a rundown neighborhood, full of working class people, all with lights on, who willingly gave out snickers and cans of ice cold soda from a cooler. There were also disappointments when the mansions by the beach handed out bulk, pure sugar, crap that only served to give cavities and wasn’t worth the calories. But generally speaking, there are trademarks to keep in mind to minimize candy risk on Halloween. I recently noticed, while house hunting, that those same trademarks are what you should look for when buying a house.
In this day and age, many of us narrow our real estate choices online and then go to see the house in person. Often, there are caveats that make the decision easier to make. What can we work with and what would make for a poor investment? One thing we can’t change is the neighborhood. I’m not suggesting that better people live in fancier homes- not by a long shot- but do the neighbors take pride in their homes? What does the lawn look like? How about the cars in the driveway? Keep in mind that driving an Audi while living on a tight budget in an apartment complex suggests mismanaged priorities, so no, luxury vehicles in the driveway shouldn’t necessarily impress you. (And for the sake of Halloween planning, if someone is spending every spare penny to keep that vehicle they can’t afford, what makes you think they will splurge a little on chocolate for strangers?!)
Nobody’s perfect. Most of us have a laundry list of home improvement items we need or want to do, but generally speaking, do the houses on the block reflect residents who care about where they live? If so, they probably value hard work and won’t mind shelling out candy to kids who put in the effort of donning a costume and marching through neighborhoods one festive night a year. In fact, I’ll argue that people who take pride in where they live actually look forward to the neighborhood camaraderie of Halloween and the annual reminder that they live somewhere safe enough and happy enough to facilitate trick-or-treaters. (There will always be those Get Off My Lawn curmudgeons, and if you buy a house in a gated or deed restricted community full of retirees only, I’m pretty sure you know what you’re getting into.)
I think the home purchase we recently made says, “We work hard to take care of our place, but we have funds left over to get the kind of candy we have to hide from my husband, so there will be enough for the kids come Halloween night.” And doesn’t that make everyone happy?