The Homeowners Association Agreement is a little strange, however, there is not very much of it that is enforced. As I'm looking around, The neighbor's backyard here - lots of weeds ... and many people have built fences and have ignored the type/height of fences that the agreement specifies and also it's distance to the curbs/street. From what I can gather from the folks that live on my street - 1 family has moved to Virginia, 1 to Wisconsin (both these families were owned by Grad/Ph.D students from U of I), 1 couple is moving because of Grad School (Chicago), 1 Family is moving abroad (london)... The community of champaign-urbana in general is somewhat transient. Grad Students with families buy homes, and newer homes are attractive because they don't have to work very hard on them. The housing glut in town was quite extraordinary this summer, and hopefully, that will get a little better soon.
The Wal-Mart has been a little bit of life-saver for us, soon, there will be a Meijer (on Philo) and Menards (near the Wal-Mart), and new restaurants (Philo and Windsor). I've investigated myself as to why there are so many houses on sale in this area, and the results are mixed - grad school students, moving to more established neighborhoods (some people really get bugged when there are no mature trees around!), jobs in other states (some young professors, some others), large number of starter homes. My next door neighbor contends that the streets are straight and there are low trees, so you can look straight down the street and see the signs of the houses on sale - just looks like a lot. My realtor puts it down to the transient community. I think (personally) that it's a mix of factors and what appealed to me was that my home was ready to move in. it is energy efficient (i'm a little bit of tree hugger - and the bills are lower), my neighbors are mostly young start up families, there was good diversity on my street (that was important for me), the basements were clean and dry, didn't smell funny! and the house doesn't look it's consumed by garage (there are garages in the back).
I too, am not sure if I will be here longer than the next 4 years.
Just my two cents...