First of all, for the most part...we love our yard. Someone has taken pretty good care of the front yard, with nice green grass and some extra landscaping. We'd like to continue what's already there, and hopefully also add in some extra bushes or something in the spring. In the backyard, we do have one gigantic tree. In the picture below, you can see maybe 1/4 of the tree. It's definitely Shawn's favorite part of the backyard. We know that it's some kind of maple with gigantic leaves...I'm guessing that once upon a time, it may have been about 10 or 15 small trees planted really close together. Whatever the case, all of the trunks have pretty much morphed together. We're going to need to invest in a couple really sturdy rakes!
The rest of the backyard will need a little work, but it's still pretty nice. A few of the fence slats will need to be replaced, and there's a large area that will need something...grass or a stone patio or a garden or some combination of things. It's where we think the previous owners had a large playset for their kids.
We realized last week (after googling the name of the neighborhood) that our development has a pretty well established Home Owners' Association. That made me nervous at first, but then we realized that the annual dues are very reasonable, and the covenant seemed pretty reasonable, too. One thing that I like about the area is that we are, in fact, in a development, but it's not one of those cookie-cutter places. There's a variety of housing looks, and the yards are big with lots of tall trees and older growth bushes and landscaping.
Our favorite thing (so far) about the neighborhood is what the HOA does with the dues. There are a number of "common areas" for everyone to use, like a couple playfields, a soccer field, a playground, and what I assume could be a sledding hill in the winter (during the few times it might actually snow). What we love about this is that there is an actual trail system that connects all these areas! When you're on the trail, there's enough trees and other "natural" things that it's easy to forget that you're walking between backyards (and there's still privacy for the homes that back onto the trails). We also found lots of blackberry bushes filled with ripe berries in one of the common fields. :-)
In addition to the actual development itself, what's around it is great. There are two main "entrances" for the neighborhood. We're pretty close to one entrance, and on that end, there's a large, newer Safeway (grocery store) with a gas station. There's also a little shopping area right there that has a few little shops and restaurants and an Applebee's! I love Applebee's. :) Of course, because of this rather large financial obligation we'll soon be saddled with, our monthly "eating out" budget is going to be pretty small. This entrance also has a YMCA that's in the middle of a huge expansion...we just have to decide if it's worth the money to get passes. By the other "entrance" of the neighborhood, there's a little shopping area that has a take-n-bake pizza place, a bakery, a burger place, and an Italian restaurant.
So after spending an hour or two in our new neighborhood, we're getting more excited for the move! Now we just need to keep our fingers crossed that everything goes well during the inspection on Thursday!