I'm seriously considering making a cross-town move to a less expensive house. Right now, I've got it narrowed down to three options. 1) 1,818 sq. ft. in Lago Vista, $154,910 (fully configured) Floor Plan Elevation Pro: - Location, location, location! Lago Vista is a resort town about 25 miles outside of Austin, in the Texas Hill Country. Hills, forests, lakes, and golf courses abound. The environment resembles some of the most upscale neighborhoods in Austin, but prices are still somewhat reasonable. - My home would be one of the smaller and less expensive ones in its neighborhood, offering the best possible potential for appreciation. - BIG family room (I would pick the great room option) to get a 15x26 home theater space. - Better curb appeal than the other two homes. Con: - Of all 3 options, this house is the furthest away (in time and distance) from work. I would be driving 45-60 minutes each way, every day. - This home has less standard features than other builders', yet is the most expensive per square foot. It is livable but lacks architectural pizazz inside. - It has one too few rooms, so I would have to sacrifice the formal dining room (and my dining-room table) and settle for an "eat-in kitchen." (Since I rarely have dinner guests, this should be a minor quibble, but every classy home I've seen has a REAL dining room.) - Lago Vista has higher property taxes than other Austin-area suburbs (3% per year, compared to 2.5% per year in Leander). 2) 1,954 sq. ft. in Leander, $126,990 plus options (configured: about $132,500) Floor Plan Elevation Pro: - Better standard features than the Lago Vista home. - The extra ~140 sq. ft. yields an additional room over the Lago Vista home. - Closer to work and convenient highway access. - Lower property taxes than Lago Vista. Con: - The setting is like any ordinary tract-home subdivision. Noise can be heard from a highway and active railroad tracks about 1,500 feet away from the development. - If the builder won't move the fireplace out of the corner of the 15x18 family room to the center of the wall with windows (see floor plan), this floor plan will not work for home theater, and I will have to eliminate it from consideration. 3) 2,971 sq. ft. in Leander, $153,990 plus options (configured: about $157,000) Floor Plan Elevation Pro: - Excellent standard features, and almost as big as my current place, so I wouldn't feel like I was stepping down very much. - The 16x16 game room would make a good home theater space. - Closer to work and convenient highway access. - Lower property taxes than Lago Vista. Con: - The setting is like any ordinary tract-home subdivision. Noise can be heard from a highway and active railroad tracks about 1,500 feet away from the development. - This house may be too big for a single guy like me, and will result in higher recurring costs (property taxes, utility bills, etc.). - This home is the biggest floor plan the builder offers in that subdivision, and there are no bigger/more-expensive subdivisions nearby. This house may be too fancy for the neighborhood in which it is located. The conventional wisdom is: Don't buy the most expensive home in the neighborhood. --- Right now, I lean toward option #2 (contingent on the fireplace issue), but if that option falls through, I would have a tough time deciding between #1 and #3. I like the Lago Vista location better, but I'm not sure it's so much better as to sacrifice 1,000 sq. ft. of living space, and throw away an extra 30-45 minutes out of every day on a longer commute. Any opinions??? Should I go for the prime location, even though it is much more expensive than the alternatives? Or should I settle for a less desirable location, but get a cheaper, better looking, and bigger home?