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Opting for an affordable commute

by Gregory Crofton, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Sherry Brennan and her family could afford a decent-sized house at Lake Tahoe five years ago, but there is no way they could today.

Brennan, who works for a Stateline casino, moved with her husband and daughter from Kansas City. There, they were able to afford a 4,500-square-foot home on more than 1 acre of land.

At Tahoe, aiming to find a home for less than $300,000 on the Nevada side of the lake, what she found for sale was too small or too old.



“We wanted to move here for the same reasons everyone wants to move here: it’s beautiful and it has a lifestyle we wanted,” she said. “We were willing to go up to $300,000, but we found nothing more than 1,400 square feet and it was dilapidated.”

So the Brennans headed to the valley and ended up moving into a new house in Minden in June 2001.




“What we got was more comparable to our 4,500-square foot house and we spent about the same amount,” she said.

Their house has three bedrooms and about 2,000 square feet.

“The commute is fine — it’s probably the most beautiful commute I’ll ever have in my life,” she said. “We’re satisfied, yes. But we’d prefer to live up here.”

The Brennans looked at only a few homes on the California side of the lake; none was satisfactory because each was too small and because the Brennans wanted to live in Nevada for its tax breaks.

But the high cost of real estate at the basin is not limited to Nevada. Even though there are more homes to choose from in California, many people who want to live at the lake end up buying a home in Carson Valley or Carson City.

“We had a couple that relocated to South Lake Tahoe and were looking for property here, ” said Adele Lucas, owner of Prudential Realities in Nevada and California. “They were unable to find a house under $200,000 — what they could afford. They ended up buying in the valley because it was more affordable.”

The couple bought a house for $225,000 in Carson City with three bedrooms, three baths and a two-car garage.

“To buy something similar here would be at least $100,000 more,” Lucas said. “A $225,000 home here may not have a garage at all and only one or two bathrooms.”

— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at gcrofton@tahoedailytribune.com


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