The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Dream House: Arcadia Part I

Arcadia is one of those areas in Metro-Phoenix you just happen upon because you’re going to a party at a work acquaintance’s house who lives at Camelback and 48th Street. You pull into the neighborhood 10 minutes before the party is set to start because you thought it would take longer to get there. You don’t want to be the first one in the door because you’ll end up making small talk with the work acquaintance about your mutual boss’s tendency to speak to the front of your shirt rather than your face and the boss will inevitably wander in right at the moment you say ‘boobs’ and point to your chestal region and you’ll spend the rest of the party wondering if he heard any of that and over-analyzing whether he’s looking at your cleavage now or specifically avoiding it. To circumvent this you drive around for a bit to kill time. As you’re wandering you realize it’s a fabulous, adorable neighborhood. It’s filled with unassuming, but unique ranch-style homes on large lots. There’s no tract home feel and some of the houses are spectacularly well-maintained and originally remodeled; it’s clear even from the exteriors. I could live here, you think.

And of course you could. Everyone thinks that. That’s why it’s insanely expensive and exclusive. Arcadia is kind of a Reese Whitherspoon neighborhood. It tricks you into thinking it’s all down-to-earth and accessible, and you could probably totally be BFFs if you could just get your hands on a phone number, but really it’s just as unattainably rich, famous and heavily body-gaurded as Jennifer Lopez (McDowell Mountain Ranch). Your co-worker is probably married to a plastic surgeon.

My sister and I picked Arcadia for our first ‘Dream House’ tour because she’s always appreciated the slightly old-fashioned, but interesting and expensively beautiful esthetic. You know, Anthropologie-esque. That’s her look. We wanted to see what kind of scratch it would take for her to buy one of the fabulous little gems we’d always driven past and coveted.

Geography Lesson: OK, so I had to actually do some Googling to figure out what the boundaries of Arcadia are. It’s not a specific subdivision with an HOA like we know and love out in the East Valley. It’s more of a large neighborhood. It’s sort of like Ahwatukee (which some morons are still convinced is a city. I showed a listing out there a couple of months ago with Ahwatukee in the MLS as the city. Not a city, Dummy. Phoenix is the city. Tangent.). I found a Wikipedia entry on Arcadia that called the boundaries Camelback to the Crosscut Canal and 44th Street to 68th Street. I have, however, heard it described as a much broader area. For the purposes of this tour, we kept mostly in that main area, although we did see one house just North of Camelback, right up against the mountain.

The home building in Arcadia began in the 1950s and many of the houses there now were originally constructed in that time period. Because the location is in such high demand, however, there has been quite a bit of land-subdividing and new construction, complete remodels and even total knockdown rebuilds. The lack of a Home Owner’s Association makes for some unusual sights as you drive around. We saw an enormous yellow house with a purple block fence across the back. We saw blow-up Santas and houses coated in holiday vomit next door to homes clearly worth millions. It’s a neighborhood like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.

The basic parameters of the houses we toured were:

2500-4400 square feet

4 bedrooms

2 car garage

Built between 1955 and 2001 (although one I’m convinced was a total knockdown and built this year)

Priced between $600K and $1.465MIL.

And let me tell you; what we saw ran the gamut.

My sister did find her dream house. She actually found two she could happily live in for the remainder of her existence. She also decided that if she had $600,000 to spend on a home, she probably wouldn’t spend it in Arcadia and her antique-loving heart learned to appreciate the benefits of new construction.

Monday I’ll share the details…

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