I'm the type of person who might understand the urge to buy a new home if it were well-built, attractive, and didn't so closely resemble all its neighbors. My sister bought her first new house in Temecula, CA, about 15 years ago when it first started "enjoying" a real estate boom. It was close enough to San Diego and Orange Counties to serve as a bedroom community, while being inland enough to be cheap. Her 2,500 square foot house cost something like $115,000 back then.
But, to a certain extent, you kinda get what you pay for when "the lowest bidder" keeps popping up. The kitchen overhead light fixtures throughout the neighborhood kept crapping out, slabs would crack, bath fixtures would fail. But that's not what bugged me. I simply couldn't understand the allure of living in a neighborhood where every aesthetic is required to meet a certain very narrow consensus. My wife agrees: everytime we'd drive down to visit, as soon as we came in sight of the development she'd sing Malvina Reynolds' "Little Boxes" with a minor lyric change:
"Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes made of ticky-tacky, little boxes on the hillside, little boxes all the same. There's a beige one, and a beige one, and a beige one, and another beige one..."
Whoever wrote the "Arcadia" episode of The X-Files knows whereof I speak, and it's no huge coincidence that it was set in a planned bedroom community outside San Diego. It could have been shot on my sister's cul-de-sac.
Yesterday there was some discussion of HOAs on Airtalk on NPR, and I was surprised to hear how many callers approved of living in such a place. Yeesh. I could not possibly care less how many broken-down cars my neighbors have in their yards, nor what color they paint their houses, nor how long their grass gets. If someone is a genuine nuisance, I'll talk to them. If that doesn't work, I'll summon the local authorities. But bitching about clotheslines and purple paintjobs and vegetable gardens in the front yard? Puh-leeze. People oughta stop resenting their neighbor's comfort and happiness and start cultivating their own.
Gol-danged control freaks.