5 Signs You Have ZIP Code Envy

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Envy isn't just one of the seven deadly sins — it's also a great driver of the housing market. If you find yourself feeling not so hot about your current place and ogling other people's neighborhoods, you may be suffering from "ZIP code envy."

Whether you're wishing for access to public transportation, proximity to life-enhancing things like
parks and running trails, or just the glitz and glamour of living near Whole Foods, it can be hard to imagine past your current living arrangement.

Read on to see if any of the signs below sound like you and learn how to bounce back (and maybe even find your dream home in the process).

1. You take the "scenic route" home every day

Normal people take Sunday joy rides through nice neighborhoods. But you're not normal. Your "Sunday joy ride" is through a coveted neighborhood — and it's become a daily habit. You stop in front of condos and imagine the lives led therein, namely yours.

You cruise down residential streets named things like "Grand Champion Way" and ruefully compare them with yours, which may be somewhat more humbly named, like 83rd Avenue.
If this describes you, you need to ask yourself: "Why don't I want to drive through my own neighborhood anymore?"

Narrow in on what your current location lacks and use the results to create your open house checklist when you're shopping your next place.

2. You buy things for your future home


When you see a friend's antique garden statue in their yard, you want one for your front yard too — even though your landlord or HOA won't allow it. You're constantly pinning images of gorgeous kitchens on Pinterest, and may have even started collecting tile and counter samples — even though you live in a rental.

If this sounds like you, then you might be closer to finding a new place than you think. Now's the time to start getting your finances in order so that you're ready to jump into action when you start interviewing lenders and selecting a real estate agent.

3. You use Trulia Maps in your downtime

Normal people waste time on the Internet checking Facebook or looking at sports stats. But not you. At any given moment, you have several tabs open on your browser so you can explore new neighborhoods.

You digitally tour desired streets, fixating on amenity locations, demographic information, and shopping opportunities. You may even "X out" of your tab when a friend or colleague glances at your screen. And, yes, you've already created one (or 40) of Trulia's new boards to save your favorite finds.

Stop dreaming and start acting — figure out the common themes among the homes you covet and identify what it would take (an improved credit score? new job? new city?) to make your dreams a reality.

Make a list of what you need to do and create an action plan with touch points each month for checking in with yourself to track progress. In six months, you might be ready to take that next step.

4. You make questionable sacrifices

You're pulling all-nighters to get that bonus or promotion at work, because you see the reward as the step that will enable you to make the leap to a new neighborhood.

All your work may be commendable; studies indicate that "benign envy" may motivate people to work harder. But when you're showing up to work with bags under your eyes and a caffeine-induced facial tic, you've got to wonder whether your envy is benign.

If this sounds like you, consider keeping your eye on the prize while pulling back your ambitions. Moving to your new, exciting neighborhood won't be any fun if you've wrecked yourself in the process.

5. You're well known on the open-house circuit

Do you walk into an open house or apartment showing and find the real estate agent greeting you by name?

If so, it's time to double down on achieving whatever goals are stopping you from moving. Are you having a hard time saving for a down payment? Help is here. Are you worried about breaking your lease? Have no fear.

The next step: reach out to a real estate pro who can help you take stock of where you are, figure out where you want to be, and what options you have to get there.
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