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The good and bad of Homeowner's Associations in Phoenix, Arizona

If you live in the Phoenix, Arizona area, chances are that you live with a Homeowner's Association, or there's one nearby. And there are good things, and bad things, about them. As someone who has lived in a neighborhood with an HOA for over twenty years, I tend to understand the good. But I also understand the bad. And it has to do with rules.

The West has traditionally been a place of freedom, where a man can do as he pleases without having to say "please and thank you" to a lot of people telling him what to do. The wide-open spaces invited that way of thinking. The song that says, "Give me land, lots of land, don't fence me in" says it the best. And yet when you have neighbors, the expression "Good fences make for good neighbors" really applies.

Rules are like fences. Whether they're municipal laws, or Homeowner's Association rules, it's all the same. It's a bunch of rules that tell people what to do. Speaking for myself, I've never needed much in the way of rules - I didn't need to study the local laws to, for example, not rob a liquor store (an extreme example, I know!). I also didn't need to study local laws to know that I shouldn't run red lights, or park my car on my lawn. I certainly didn't need to know local law to know that I shouldn't have a yard congested with weeds, and covered with stuff that should have been hauled off to the dump years ago. But that's just me. Some people need to know specifically if something is against a law, or a rule.

When I went shopping for a house, I intentionally looked for a neighborhood with a Homeowner's Association. I wanted good fences, and good neighbors. And no, it's not perfect, there are always going to be neighbors who really don't know that they shouldn't do stuff, like leave their junked cars on the street, or play loud music at 3 am. I understand. But an HOA neighborhood gave me a better chance to be around like-minded people, and I've been happy here.

On the other hand, I've seen ads for houses that advertised "No Homeowner's Association", and I can understand that, too. There are a lot of things that HOAs don't allow, that many people love to do, like restoring old cars, and having the bits and pieces lying around, and having the noise and commotion associated with that. And not everyone can afford to have a shop separate from their house to that kind of stuff. Luckily, Phoenix has a LOT of places without HOAs, where you can do whatever you please, and be around like-minded people.

I like living in a neighborhood with an association, but then again I also like living with a wiener dog. To each his own! In Phoenix you can live and let live. I like that.

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