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So where should you live?

Real Estate Agent with EXP Realty

Is there a difference between moving to a city or an unincorporated area?

You bet there is!  Before you move, you need to know the differences.

So you've found the area where you want to live!  Now the questions is should you move to the little local city or the unincorporated neighborhood?  What is the difference between a small city and a small unincorporated town in the same area?  There are important differences, pros and cons to each, that can affect your lifestyle.  The choice is yours.

The Incorporated City

PRO:  Incorporated cities have many good services to offer.

  • Garbage is collected more than once a week and includes collection of yard waste and household goods. Special days are also set, usually several times a year, for collection of hazardous household chemicals.
  • City water has consistently tested just as safe and clean as bottled water. City water is tested and treated continuously insuring safe drinking water.
  • City sewer service is relatively low maintenance compared to septic tank systems. Both the water and sewer services are more likely to remain in service even after a severe storm or a power outage.
  • Most cities have their own police force. Because they are employed by the city, they patrol only that city and are therefore quick to respond to emergencies.
  • City building codes keep buildings in good condition and increase property values.
  • There are city ordinances that limit noise, alcohol and animals. These ordinances are a great help to those neighbors living next door. Different cities have different ordinances, based on the needs of the city and the location. For example, in some cities animals cannot be left in a vehicle during the hot summer. 
  • Most cities limit the type of home businesses allowed. For example, a motorcycle repair shop would not be permitted in someone's back yard because of the noise and traffic it generates, but a beauty shop may be allowed.
  • Larger cities may have a city fire department which services only the city; allowing for a quicker response time.
  • Animal ordinances keep pets on a leash and keep sidewalks free of droppings. Farm or exotic animals are usually not permitted.
  • Zoning ordinances keep pink trailers in the pink trailer zone and not next door to a nice new home.

CON:  For all the wonderful services mentioned above, there are drawbacks to each

  • Water, sewer and garbage services are required by most cities, whether you want them or not. There is usually a "hook up" fee to be paid for water and sewer.
  • Garbage services are charged at the same rate, whether you use it once a month or twice a week. Depending on the annual budget and projected costs, the cost of these services can rise.
  • City building codes and ordinances may restrict home improvement projects to licensed contractors. Some of these ordinances may stop the homeowner from doing his own repairs in his own home. Permits are required for home improvement, with city inspections for every stage of remodeling. If adding a bathroom, you may be required to have the building extension inspected, the trusses and joints inspected, the flooring and drywall inspected, the electric inspected, the plumbing inspected and finally a certificate of completion. Each of these stages take time and money as all construction stops until the infraction is corrected.

The Unincorporated Neighborhood

PRO:  Living in an unincorporated neighborhood offers more freedom than an incorporated town.

  • There are no city ordinances to follow, only county and state regulations and zoning.
  • Home repairs can usually be done by the homeowner, as long as county regulations are followed. Home inspections for these repairs are not usually required.
  • Trees may be cut and disposed of and yard refuse can be burned as permitted by the county.
  • Water usually comes from your own well and your sewage is disposed of in a septic tank.
  • There are no monthly fees for water or sewer.
  • Disposal of garbage is usually done by private companies with the rate based on the number of pickups per month.
  • Zoning is usually more relaxed, allowing the homeowner more freedom to improve their property. A bathroom addition or outbuilding may not require a permit.

CON:  While there is more freedom living in an unincorporated neighborhood, there are drawbacks as well. 

  • Even if the unincorporated area is just one block away from the incorporated area, police and fire services are coming from the county. These police and fire agencies may be on the other side of the county when you need them and may take a long time in response.
  • You may have built a beautiful home when a neighbor moves in a pink trailer next door.
  • Installing a well and a septic tank are costly and require maintenance.
  • If the power goes out during a storm, chances are the well and toilets will not work. Life is not pretty at that point.
Deciding to live in an unincorporated town or within the city limits will affect your lifestyle as long as you live there. Familiarize yourself with the county and city you are moving into. Making an informed choice before you move will make your move and stay much more comfortable.
Highland Beach Condos David Serle
RE/MAX Services - Highland Beach, FL
Boca Raton Agent David Serle

It really depends on your situation.  If you are a family you probably consider the school system whereas if you are single or have no children than you may not. 

Jun 22, 2007 02:45 PM
Joshua Jarvis
Virtual Properties - Atlanta Real Estate - Duluth, GA
Moving Families Forward.
I thought this was a great post!   It's something a lot of people don't even consider.
Aug 28, 2007 01:34 AM