Surprisingly the knowledge that you have found a place that you might enjoy often comes as an "aha" moment.
Some of the clues that I would offer are fairly simple. First and most important, your spot in paradise is rarely the first place that you visit. Usually on your first visit, you really do not know what you want or what is really available.
Second, your place is most often not exactly as you might have imagined it. Imagination is a great thing, but getting it to map to reality is serious challenge.
The real key to finding your place and recognizing it is coming to an understanding of what is really important to you.
The last three homes we have purchased, we really wanted a nice backyard. The first of the three had great potential for a backyard, and we actually paid to have some trees taken down and a backyard created. Then it turned out that we had a really nice backyard in community that wasn't right for us.
We ended up moving to another community five hours away. It turned out to be the right community for us since we raised our family there and lived in the same house for over twenty years, but we never got the backyard we wanted because our home was on the side of a mountain. In essence we traded our backyard for a view that made us feel like we were living in a treehouse for twenty years. It was a great trade, and I will never regret it.
Five years ago, we decided to try living at the coast. For me it was a lifelong dream. Of course we put a backyard on our list of what we wanted in a home. And once again we ended up with no backyard unless the water where our boatlift is counts as one.
This time we traded easy access to a the vast water playground of the Crystal Coast for some grass and trees. I am pretty happy with the trade, but every person is different.
It is important that you see enough properties to get an idea of what is available. Then when you are serious, you pick what home represents the best set of tradeoffs for your personal situation.
While real estate agents are very good at lining up homes which represent some distinct choices, only you can figure out what place just feels right.
However, it is important that you remain realistic. In spite of what you might hear on the news, no one is giving away waterfront properties. I still get people who expect to buy a nice home on the water for $200K. Sometimes they even tell me that have seen very cheap waterfront homes in another area. Invariably I end up telling them that if the homes in the other area are such a great deal, they should head on back to there, buy one, and let me get back to fishing or walking the beaches.
While I can show people plenty of homes priced at around $200K, I don't have any in that price range which are literally on the water.
When we found our current place, we had been looking for nearly three years. We had seen just about everything under the sun except what we wanted. Our Realtors® even convinced us to make an offer on a place that really wasn't what we wanted. Fortunately we didn't get it, and we started looking in another area with a different Realtor®.
When I saw the cove pictured at the top of the post and the dock behind the new home we had found on the water, I just knew we were in the right spot. My initial intuition has proven to be correct.
Since I am a Realtor®, I have literally looked at hundreds of homes since we bought ours, and I have yet to see one that I like better for the same or less money. Would I like to have more of a backyard? Of course I would. However, I am enjoying a very big water playground that takes it place. Our home is very much our special spot just the way it is.
We put our mountainside home on the market last summer, and when it sells, we will likely make a few changes to our current home, but we are pretty happy in it the way it is.
Fortunately we knew our current coastal home was the right place because we had decided that if we were going to live at the coast, we wanted to be on water and to be able to see water. We also wanted a new home so we didn't have deal with all the repairs on a historic home.
Living where we do, we get the chance to be out on the water whenever we want to drop the boat in the water. We are also much closer to the beach than in the first area where we looked. Our efforts to get to that "aha" moment were well worth the time.
As an informed potential buyer, you can do much to make your search easier. Make certain you want to live in a particular area before you contact a Realtor®. As much as I enjoy being a tour guide, I really cannot afford to drive people around for hours only to have them decide that they would rather be in another area.
I have spent thousands of hours putting materials on the web to help people understand if the Crystal Coast portion of the Southern Outer Banks is the right spot for them. I enjoy answering email questions about our area, and I also don't mind meeting with people to answer some area questions. However, unless you have made the decision to live in Carteret or Onslow Counties, I am going to pass on being your tour guide.
I can suggest you start at the welcome page of my Crystal Coast Life blog, and then visit my real estate search page, scroll down, and look at the homes which have sold in the last six months. If some that have sold are in your price range and are something you might have considered, take the time to read some of my many articles about living here or the ones designed to help you consider living here.
I walk the beaches of the area and spend time on the water so if those activities are important to you, I can answer your questions.
When you feel in your heart this is the right place for you at this time in your life, give me a call, and we will find a special spot for you. This area is a welcome quiet spot for many of us who have spent too long in the cities, but it is also a place with plenty to do if you love the out of doors.