So... Over the years I have written about wanting to move. We wanted to move to Maine and I got the most amazing advice from Emily, about the area she lives in, and the school system quality.
Well, now my twins are actually starting Kindergarten. Before, we had time to dream, now we are down to the wire. Our town and school system are less than desirable for many reasons. We don't love our house. It just doesn't work for our family. We know we want to build a new house, just the way we want it, with our own specifications, etc. This town has high taxes, even though it's really run down. A prison was built here about 11 years ago, and since then the population has become mostly low income, and less and less middle class families. This town is the VT center for Welfare, there is subsidized housing, prison families are moving here, drug problems, etc. Our taxes are ridiculous, because actual home owners are paying for all these services.
So, now we actually have some realistic options. We can't move to Maine right now. We both have secure jobs here in our town, and my husband's pays very well. He has a great situation... Great enough that the CEO of his company offered him 21 acres of land in a secluded, area surrounded by apple orchards. The only way to get to this land is through a lovely little neighborhood, where no houses are run down, etc. Lots of kids and families. We would have easy access to the neighborhood, the town, but have complete privacy, and 21 acres around us... And yes, I did say GIVE us the land. Free. It's ours. We could build a lovely house and probably end up with no mortgage at all. BUT!!!!!!!! The land is still in the town we currently live in. Same school system.
Option 2, is to buy land in a rural and quaint town, next door to the town we currently live in, and build there. We would have to pay for the land land, and then pay to build the house. This town has a wonderful elementary school, and then also offers school choice. That means the twins can go to any school in the surrounding area, (and there are some really good ones), or we would get a voucher which would pay for private school tuition. Lower taxes...
But, who gets offered 21 acres of land for free? Or who turns that down? We're so confused.
If your kids are going to go to public school, I'd probably want them in the nicer area/better school district.
If they are going to go to a private school in either area, I think I'd go for the free land.
I would think your out of pocket expenses for land would pay a lot of tuition at a private school. I wouldn't turn down free land. If it's yours to keep, you will have a lot of equity when you are ready to sell too. This seems like a no brainer to me.
That sounds like a generous offer, but will you (and/or the CEO) have tax consequences for receiving "free" land? Has the land been surveyed/can it be developed? What if you later decide to leave and want to sell? Seems to me the other issues are still there - poor schools, downturn in nearby neighborhoods, etc.
What ever you decide, make sure you understand the tax consequences of accepting a gift of land.
Is there an option 3 to purchase an existing home in the other town? The kids would be in the school system and you could live in a construction free zone.
Two thoughts for you. Is Home Schooling an option? or Private School a possibility?
Best Wishes on your decision!
~Like sands through the hourglass
~So are the days of our lives
Call me cynical, but something tells me if it sounds too good to be true, it is. I mean, what did your DH do to deserve such largesse?
What do you know about the land? Does it have easy access to electricity and water? How much are the property taxes now, and how much might they go up when you "improve" the land. Is the land sitting on or near something obnoxious, like a Superfund site? (Hey, you never know.)
Will you actually get a deed for the land or just the right to build a house on it. My SIL/BIL were offered a similar deal: they could buy the house, and use the land it sits on, but not own it, as it is a huge cattle pasture. So cows and cow poop are part of the package. As is the jet fuel pipeline that was put in right through the property in front of their home. (Right, this is Texas.) They've lived there 20 years, and cannot sell the house; no one wants it.
Anyway, doing your due diligence about the land should be your first order of business. Find out if there will be anything planned on or near this plot of land that could adversely affect you.
Addressing simply the school situation. Is there a Montessori school nearby? What about a religious based school? (if that could accommodate your personal credo) any charter schools? How bad are the schools in your current school district? Do you know anyone on the school board that you give you inside info? What percentage of graduating seniors go on to college? What type of colleges?
Are there utilities existing on the land-gas,electric,cable? The cost of bringing utilities in is very expensive. And it's the homeowner that pays those thousands of dollars.
I too question whether something free is really free. Location is #1 is real estate. Would you be overbuilding for the neighborhood? And the quality of schools and the low income aspect of town will not change and will impact your future resale. I personally would move to the adjacent town. Free is not always worth it in my eyes. School districts were always the top criteria for us when we were raising our family and buying homes.
Tough decision, but in my mind, there's no decision but to move on. Good luck.This message has been edited. Last edited by: mamaspoon,
I know it seems like there is a catch on the land, but there isn't. It's really pretty, most of it sloped and woods, but that's fine. The CEO would be able to do this through the company, and we would pay $3,000. The owner, really just loves our family. He used to have me come in and do little projects for him, or be in a local commercial, and he would then send us on an all expense paid trip to NYC, where we would stay on Park Avenue, go to a Broadway show, eat wherever we wanted. He's very nice to us.
We would have to drill a well, but electricity is close. We have no idea what it really costs to build a house from the ground up. We have gutted and remodeled two houses and we can do everything (except the foundation) ourselves. The neighborhood around it is very nice and will stay that way. It's just a nice part of town, kind of on the outskirts.
Schools: that's another story. I am a teacher. I work at the high school. My husband just left the school board after 6 years... We have a high turnover in administration, each coming in with one big idea and then leaving. There are good teachers, some great ones, but the direction the district is going is way off the mark considering the new population in town. We have a majority of low income families now - which doesn't mean they are bad people, but... These are messed up kids. Drugs, abuse, learning disabilities. Our test scores are low, yet the district is pushing (forcing, like we have to teach this way or else...) a co-constructivist teaching program on us. This would work in an affluent area, where kids have rich backgrounds, but the students are not like that. We aren't supposed to lecture at all or give information, but instead "let the students come up with their own truths and understanding.". Yeah, that doesn't work if they don't know anything about history, politics, science, religion, culture, cultural history... Anyway, I could go on and on, but the schools are not what we want for our kids...
There are great private schools within driving distance of Springfield (where we live now) and Perkinsville (school choice town), but it would be a half hour drive to a "good school." There is a private Montessori school in another area we like, but the middle and high school are no good there. That's about 30 minutes away. I don't get how parents transport kids to schools that are that far away, if they both have to work full time to afford the school, you know?
Perkinsville does not have a lot of houses, or even properties for sale. We've been scouting out houses, but there is nothing yet. My husband just called a man whose name he got from the Perkinsville town lister, about a old farm house we have seen, that is empty,and has been for a long time. I guess the family is in litigation right now and has been for four years. It might be over this summer...
Cani just say, that you ladies are the most thoughtful, smart, and helpful people I know. Seriously! When we were faced with this option, I wanted to ask all of you immediately. (ooh, and decorating a brand new house?! I am so excited)!
What I read about the 'free' land is this, It is in the SAME town you are not happy in. So, in the future, you could not recoup your money if no one else wants to live in that town either.
A free anything is not really free if you are not happy.
Your kids future and your family's happiness is at stake.
I have seen things like this happen to a few neighborhoods in Nova Scotia, they are bringing small mink farms in with the workers who can't afford to buy a house but need to live near where the work is. Ruins the whole area with many living in one rental house. Too much change and over populated too fast.
So, the only WAY you can see clearly is to drive to the lot (free lot) get out of your car, walk around and then drive back out noticing where you will shop, where the kids have to go to school, and how it will all work.
It is so much easier to see the other decision when you are off the fence and not comparing. Just go with your ONE choice for a day or two, then you will be amazed at how 'clear' the other choice becomes!
#1 Your family's happiness and safety
#2 Your kids education and future
All else is extra!
Thanks Mary Ruth. We live on one side of the town now, and the property is on the other side. We live in a nice area now, just don't love our house, the busy road at the bottom of our driveway... So it would just be moving from one of the best options in this town, to an option that seems a bit better. We might have no mortgage or a really small one, and a brand new house, exactly as we would want it on the free property... That's if we sell the existing one... Man, it's tough. Either way, the school system is a no go in Springfield, after 2nd grade, but our jobs in Springfield are too good to leave.
I'm going to take pics and post them.
I know it is a tough decision, that is why you must make one decision, let's say, go for it (DO NOT sign anything nor give your answer to his boss!!!) Then go ahead for a week or two ONLY researching the move to that built house.
This will help you with an exercise to feel out your decision, and to research it without confusing yourself with all the details of both choices.
Also, what is that property worth? (you do not have to disclose this, just question to ponder yourself) is it worth a LOT or below market value just like anywhere else in the country at this time. And if there is land abutting this property, who else is going to be using that land around you in the future? Is it commercially zoned on any side of your land (the land given to you?) Would there be a preserve, any ordinance against buildings on property such as detached buildings in case you wanted to build a detached storage building someday? Any trees protected, animal or bird nests?
I had a client once that had to put on hold replacing the roof on their because of an endangered species bird decided to nest in their cupola!
If you can build your house on the side that borders closer to the other town, so you can exit there and shop and live as if you were in the other town, thus not always having to deal with the sights, noise, and smell of the old town, so to speak?
Thinking about the NEW house deserves a lot of research and planning. Do you have a deadline on your decision?
Oh and Congratulations on your GIFT offer, and it is not everyday someone gives you and your family a boost like this, should have mentioned that earlier. I wish you ALL the best!
I see positives for both moves.
Nothing is more important to me than a truly fine school system for my children.
There is nothing to even think about on this point.
Land in quaint neighboring town.
4.52 acres, asking close to $80,000, but we would never pay more than $50,000This message has been edited. Last edited by: jovtfam4,
Dont know enough about your area and situation, but around here(and many places elsewhere in USA) a 1/2 hr commute to work isnt anything out of the ordinary. Move to Springfield to take advantage of schools and better surroundings, and keep your jobs and commute if it's only 1/2 hr to Perkinsville.
We live and work in Springfield. How do kids get to school, if parents work? I don't get how people work that out. If they go to school in town here, we can drop them off and pick them up because we both work near the K-2 school.
Most schools around here and in NJ(where our DD lives) have what is called EDC- extended day care held at school before and after school hours for working parents. This works out very well as they're already at school. Now that my DD's twins are nine, she has arranged to pay a neighbor down the street to watch them until they get on bus and uses EDC for after school. Maybe your schools have a similar program.
Wow, thanks mamaspoon. That really baffles me, how parents work all this stuff out. I was so lucky to have my mother take care of the twins when I went back to work full time, but the school transport thing is something I would never ask her to do, or that she could do.
pic 2 of nice town land that costs money. This is looking down towards road. There is an old stone wal, and trees around the entire field.This message has been edited. Last edited by: jovtfam4,
free land in town where we currently live.
looking at road, old stone wall all along road frontage.
One direction. Looks like it was cleared in a messy way. Just the flat part is like this, from what I could see.
another view, from free 21 acres.
Emily, We have a high drop out rate, low college admittance rate. We do have top tier students who go on to Ivy League schools, (Dartmouth, Smith, Harvard, Brown, etc.) but most of the kids do not even apply to colleges.
Looking at the pics, you can see we're still talking about VT here. Small Vermont towns at their worst, are still pretty nice.
Oh, and our "view" now, from current house... No view, but lots of privacy... and kid mess everywhere... Frankly I'm at my wit's end this summer and I don't care about the mess right now!
Power lines... Yeah. They were completely hidden when we bought the house and the power company came and cut down a bunch of our trees when my dh and I were at work years ago. We planted apple trees up there, but it will be years and years before they are hidden again, I think.
Our yard now. Very private from road. No neighbors.
Down driveway is a busy road. We own the property below too, which includes a small cape house we just fixed up and are renting out, a big barn and a garage.
This sounds positive. My DD lives in Pleasantville N.Y. which has an excellent school system with probably a 95% + college attendance. Yet not one of the students from my DGD's class was accepted at Yale, Harvard, Williams. One goes to Carnegie Mellon, DGD to Bowdoin, one to Wellesley,Cornell etc. Good, but not the very top!
About transportation, have you enquired of the private schools if they have any accommodations for parents like you?
Your curriculum sounds wacko! How many kids are really motivated to basically teach themselves?
I know, right? I would say 85% of our students will suffer because of the new curriculum. The principal is also bullying all the Veteran teachers, trying to get them to retire, because they aren't on board with his new program. I would say they know better, but he thinks they are "bad teachers" now. It makes no sense.
Hi, appreciate your dilemma but wanted to ask where the people in the nicer area, near the 21 acres, send their children to school? Wouldn't your children attend the same schools? Maybe you could contact one of them for info since they live in the area you want to relocate.
Property looks beautiful but since you both work, how do you maintain such a large property.
All parts of this town have one public school for each: Grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and then high scchool. We could send our kids to private school, and stay in this town. Many families do that in this town. Some of my friends are homeschooling their kids, but we can't afford to do that. I need to work.
We wouldn't have to maintain the 21 acres, I don't think. It's a lot of woods and stuff. We need to go there and walk around the entire property. We just looked at the flat area near the road so far, and drove around the perimeter parts where we could.
Thank you so much for every single reponse on this thread. I read them all to my husband, and it's really helping us understand both options better. We really didn't have anyone to talk to about this, because the free land thing is not something we can advertise.
The Superfund comment cracks me up. It isn't... but it made us research, and "the view" could be marred by a bio mass plant, smokestack and smoke, that is proposed by the state and being debated right now. It would be really far away, but it might be in our line of sight, since the property has such a wide view.
Sigh... I'll keep you updated.This message has been edited. Last edited by: jovtfam4,
I would opt for doing what is the absolute best for the education of my children. The way you described the school system where your children would continue to attend if you built on the free land would be my deciding factor. Nothing would deter me from making certain my children were given the best opportunity at a quality education that will benefit them their entire lives. The family may have to sacrifice to have that by choosing to have less home or whatever, but I would do whatever it takes to get my children into better more quality educational institutions. That's just my opinion. I know you will do what is best for your entire family. Good luck with your choices.
If the land is buildable at some point, environmently safe, and the taxes are not ridiculous, I would take the land for $3000.00 as an investment. Then build/buy a home where the schools are good. Some point down the line, that land could be profitable. I would get some legal/investment advice before hand. Good luck to you.
Thank you Paintlady and MMTSH! We are going to take the land, after we find out all the legal stuff involved with the property (right of way, option to build, option to sell, etc.) and pay the small amount of tax.
LOS (Emily) actually made me go back and research my own school district! I work at the high school, and it has been beaten into us that our standardized test scores are lower on average than the state. I see that we have some major problems too; we are certainly not perfect. But when Emily asked about what colleges our students get into, I realized that our top tier kids are testing at Proficient with Distinction, above other schools in hoyty toyty towns, where the schools are seen as much better. We have a higher percentage of students testing "proficient with distinction," than many schools in the area, yet we also have a higher percentage of kids who are deemed partialy proficient or not profficient. We have a lot of students on Free and Reduced Lunch, yet our kids in that category score higher than the state average. We just have a lot of kids that are on IEPs and in the special ed program. We also have kids who drop out or refuse to take the test. Every kid who should be attending high school in our town, whether they are here or not, whether they are in an "alternative program" or not, or whether they are ODP kids, their tests count towards our scores. A no show just = a 0 averages against us.
Thank you Emily, for making me think about that further. I feel very silly to not have thought about this. My biggest concern at this point, is that the AP and Honors teachers we have now, who are obviously doing a stand out job, might not or won't be at the high school when my kids get there. This is a case of excellent teachers, maybe dispite a "failing school."
Congrats on your decision made with a sane head and sound reasoning.
Wishing you all the best!
Do you have a house in mind (style, floor plans, etc)?
If you are out of the way and on 21 lovely acres, why not just send the kids to private school?!
I'm just seeing this thread today. I'm glad you decided on the free 21 acres. It sounds too good to be true so I'm glad everything is on the up and up.
Whether You Think You Can Or You Think You Can't..... You're Right - Henry Ford
You are certainly more than welcome! Sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees.
My DGD and her friends all scored in high 90's averages and as I said not one of them got into Williams or Harvard or Yale. If some of your students are getting into this most esteemed and difficult to get into schools, your school system is doing something right!
A friends grandson went to a private LA school is proficient at water polo and a very good student. He wanted Harvard or Princeton so badly but didn't get into either. He will go to Johns Hopkins which isn't anything to sneeze at but still. . .
Congratulations on your decision.
Thanks again everyone. We walked around on the land yesterday and it is even better than I thought. One one side, there is an old stone wall, delineating our property from an apple orchard. I'm a sucker for those stone walls, found in old overgrown fields and woods. (Maybe because I come from a family of farmers). There is a huge "field" area that had been cleared years ago, that is overgrown with small trees and black raspberry bushes.(A little too excited, I blazed through this area in short and now have scratches from ankle to thigh). This could easily be cleared back open for our horse, and for the kids to have space to run around. It slopes gently, when we thought it could possibly be fairly steep. From standing where we took the pictures, we could not tell.
Now, for building a house. We are clueless. We know what we want in our heads, and have found pictures, close to what we like, but are trying to decide between timber frame and traditional framing. We want to save as much money as possible, still ending up with a beautiful house. I tried this house design software, that seemed so easy to use, however when I clicked 3D rendering, it was a jacked up crazy looking mess with nutso rooflines all over the place. Meh. We will need help with that. Wish one of you was an architect. We'd hire you to get to VT pronto and help us figure this out!
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