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Mountain House came to the forefront of the media in 2008 when it was recorded as the place having the highest percentage of negative equity in the United States following the economic crisis. It has since regained its footing and today, it home sales have soared by a whooping 352%. So where is it, and what has made such a big difference? Mountain Horse is a census-designated community (in other words not incorporated) that is located in the San Joaquin area in California and it lies on the way to the Sierra Nevada foothills. In fact, in the time of the Gold Rush it was a stop for those wishing tor rest before making a final assault for the fortunes that they believed lay ahead. Today, it has a population of about 14,000 people, up from about 9,500 in 2010.
Mountain House’s history goes back to the Gold Rush. A gentleman by the name of Thomas Goodall put up a tent at this location so that miners could get a midway point to rest between San Francisco and the Sierra Nevada. The tent eventually expanded into an adobe on the eastern range of the beautiful Diablo Hills, and he decided to call it Mountain House. As Wikipedia tells us, “Simon Zimmerman later acquired the stop and it became known as Zimmerman’s Mountain House, and became a well-known way station stop on the way to Stockton. The last remaining settlement buildings were leveled in 1940. In November 1994, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors officially launched the new community of Mountain House two miles to the northeast along Mountain House Creek. Mountain House was projected to be a small full-fledged city developed over 30-year period by Trimark Communities. The community covers 4,784 acres (1,936.0 ha) in San Joaquin County. The town was planned for 12 distinct neighborhoods including 10 family neighborhoods and two age-restricted neighborhoods each organized around a center containing a neighborhood park, a K-8 school, and a small commercial area.”
Today, construction continues, with 12 complete villages and others underway. It is expected that when construction is complete it will have 15,500 households and will be home to about 40,000 people. Mountain House, being a relatively new California community, has had some notable successes. Ground breaking for Mountain House High School, for example, took place in July 2012 in only 2 years later, in August 2014 the schools was complete and opened its doors to students. Delta College Mountain House Campus also opened its doors in 2009.
The economic downturn
It is hard to talk about Mountain House today without talking about the economic downturn that declared it as the worst affected community in the United States. It goes back to 2005, when CalPERS, a California pension management company, bought about 9,000 homes in the area from Shea Homes for about $1.12 billion. By 2010, this valuation had been reduced to $200 million. The company didn’t give up and held onto the investment, believing that the housing market would pick up once the crisis was over. And it did. As Wikipedia tells it, recovery was impressive: “Acknowledging the New York Times 2008 article that branded Mountain House as the most underwater community in America, the article chronicled a grassroots commitment by residents to keep their neighborhoods looking well-kept by mowing neglected lawns of homes in foreclosure, short sales or abandoned. This community spirit helped persuade CalPERS to hold onto its Mountain House investment, despite the drawbacks of a 1994-vintage land plan, termed “out of synch with the realities of the post-housing crash world.” Helping to balance the challenges of the land plan was the level of established infrastructure and homebuyers motivated by affordable pricing, proximity to job centers and traditional neighborhood.”
Today, most of the people who live in this community commute to neighboring cities for work, sometimes for more than an hour a day but that has not deterred residents. The BART transportation system is available for those who do not wish to drive, which reduces the average commute time a great deal. For one, the homes are located in beautiful California countryside that enjoys great weather most of the year. There is also a strong sense of community, with most of the people who live here living in communities. The cost of living is 2% higher than the California average but the average cost of a home is about $400,000 which gives you a fair idea of why this community recovered so fast from the economic crisis. While homes in many of the surrounding California communities go for an average of $1 and more, this Mountain House remains a community where the average person cam afford a home. The median family income is $106,000 which tells you the kind of neighbors you can expect to have.
Living in Mountain House
You will find that there are many people who discount the idea of living in this community because of the commute. The important thing to mention here is that if you can afford a home closer to the Bay Area and avoid the commute that is all well and good, but if you are looking for a good quality of life without spending all you money on a home then Mountain House is as good a location as any in California. People who live there seem to love it. Here is one from http://capropertyexperts.com/why-i-love-mountain-house/: “Not many Bay Area residents are aware that such a bustling community exists just within their backyard. Being able to walk outside and have your neighbors wave at you and say good morning is something you will need to get used to if you live in Mountain house. Neighbors are on first name basis in Mountain House, can’t say that about many places. As the weather has become warmer you see the kids out riding their bikes in the neighborhood or playing catch in the yard. People are out jogging on the trails or enjoying one of the many community events. The parks are full of families and friends laughing and making memories. Central Park is a great place to come spend the day. Whether it is for a picnic, a game of tennis or just to sit, relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery.”
Things to do in Mountain House
Since Mountain house is a small community the best way to keep your days occupied is to travel to nearby locations for entertainment and relaxation. There are many restaurants within the community itself as well as shopping opportunities but if you are looking for something more the Bay Area has it all. Again, remember it is not about the commute, but rather the quality of life you can enjoy without breaking an arm and a leg.
For those who are thinking about the future, such as college and retirement this is also an excellent place to live because instead of spending all your money on a mortgage you will be able to save.
You may see that many give Mountain House a bad vybe but do not believe it – this is a thriving community that offers families everything that they need to live a good quality of life in California.