Happy Sandbox Girl

Trends in real estate might not always be the right move

This month, right around the time when Time Magazine ran a cover story about the new Apple Watch, the Wall Street Journal ran another story we found particularly interesting. It was titled: Foodie Cities: Real Estate for the Restaurant Set.

At first glance, the two articles seem to have little in common.  One is about a tech gadget; the other is about how foodie trends are affecting residential real estate.  But upon closer inspection, they both tell a story about our nation’s obsession with having it all, having it now, and having it exactly where we want it at all times – at our fingertips.

The Apple Watch, apparently, can act as alarm, fitness coach, personal assistant, communications tool, credit card, and, uh, a way to send your heartbeat to friends.  And foodie trends have become so central to our lives that urban real estate developers are doing their darnedest to capitalize on it. They’re offering everything from high-end appliances in rental units to celebrity chefs as neighbors, in order to cater to those who, in the words of WSJ’s Katie McLaughlin, believe “you have to have ramen and vegan cupcakes and small batch sodas within walking distance of your house,” (as told to Mike Weinstein on WSJ Radio).

When it comes to real estate, she’s the one you want to think about because she’s the innermost you.

  Here’s the thing: 

We’re into trends as much as the next girl; in fact some of us are already standing in line for our Apple Watches (although it will likely be 2015 before the line starts moving).

And being as eager to be up-to-date as we are, we’ve been known to throw our money after some fads that didn’t last much longer than it took us to sign the credit card receipt.

But when it comes to real estate, we’re talking about a much bigger investment than a cool tech gadget.

So we’d like to take a moment to offer a few words of encouragement to that part of you that, as a kid, enjoyed playing in the sandbox alone and didn’t know the first thing about trends or fads. She was happy because she was happy. We want to appeal to the girl in you that loved dandelions even though they’re weeds, the girl who wore her big brother’s boots to school even though they weren’t pink.

When it comes to real estate, she’s the one you want to think about because she’s the innermost you, and she knows where your money will best be spent.


If you access your Happy Sandbox Girl through shopping ventures to farmers’ markets, specialty spice shops, and charcuterie purveyors, then maybe paying extra for the property with the chef’s kitchen and the tiny bedrooms is the way to go.

If you’re the type of girl who cooks so infrequently that you consider your oven as storage place to stash your dirty dishes before guests arrive, then maybe you’re better off purchasing the apartment with the hotplate kitchen that’s within walking (or at least delivery) distance of the highest number of eateries.

We get the trendy thing; we really do.  But remember that having all the at-your-fingertips conveniences promised with these new urban developments comes with a serious price tag.  And if paying an over-the-top mortgage to live within the one that assures all-day-everyday access to eats by your favorite celebrity chef, what’s the point if you can’t afford to dine at her fancy new restaurant more than once a month?

Besides, if three in five restaurants close or change ownership within the first three years, who’s to say chef so-and-so will stick around long enough for you to take advantage of the proximity?

Our point is, unless you have unlimited income, your happiness is more likely to have staying power if you base the decision of your home purchase on something with more weight, like a short work commute, than the average fad or trend.

Unless of course, your Happy Sandbox Girl gets her kicks chasing the latest trends. If that is the case, we totally understand.  Like we said, we’re already standing in line for our Apple Watches.

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Elizabeth Salaam
Along with her work as Senior Contributing Writer for Girl's Guide, Elizabeth Salaam writes for the San Diego Reader. Her work has also been published in Elle Magazine. | Most inspired by: Contradictions. | Favorite room in my home: The Master suite. The windows have views for days! | Best design idea I may never do: Adorn my enclosed toilet room with library book wallpaper and a chandelier. | Will never: Bungee jump. | Have always been: Rebellious. | Dying to: Live in a Paris flat with herringbone wood floors.
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