"When we first moved here, we had three days to find a place to live," VerHoef said. "And you know how fate just sometimes leads you somewhere. That was it. We ended up in the right place by luck."
Now, the family's decision to buy a second home in the eastern Anne Arundel County community is anything but arbitrary.
"We can ride our bikes to the Bodkin; the neighbors are great. We didn't have this kind of community in California," VerHoef said.
Pasadena's waterfront has attracted many residents to the community which 20 years ago was little more than a spot on the map.
Boating and crabbing on Pasadena's Bodkin Creek has been a way of life for Nick Bortle, who grew up and went to school in the community. Bortle and his family now live in a home on a peninsula that stretches into the Bodkin and features a 110-foot pier. The lifelong resident says he can't imagine living anywhere else.
"Other than trying to go to Florida for the warm weather, it's as close to the perfect place for us because of the waterfront; we're water fanatics," Bortle said.
Angela Stull says the primary reason she and her family moved from Columbia to Pasadena 11 years ago was the proximity to the water.
"We were attracted to the water and wetlands and open spaces," Stull said. "Now it's a little more crowded but it's still a big water community. People take advantage of the fact that all over Pasadena there's waterways and creeks."
The attractive waterfront has anchored Pasadena's growth in recent years and the community now features six major subdivisions including Farmington Village, one of the fastest-selling developments in Anne Arundel County since it opened almost two years ago.
"Farmington Village was an unexpected surprise for buyers in that part of Anne Arundel County. A planned community of its caliber combined with Pasadena's location really attracted homebuyers," said Bob Coursey, director of marketing for Ryan Homes.
Dave Duncan, an agent with Long & Foster Real Estate Inc., said the range of new developments and existing homes has made Pasadena an active market.
"New constructions and the waterfront have been the big draw, but we've got the full range of prices and homes here in Pasadena," Duncan said.
With homes spending just a little more than three months on the market and selling for 98 percent of the listing price, homebuyers are heading to Pasadena in droves, Duncan said.
According to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, the multiple-listing service for Realtors, 407 homes have been sold in Pasadena in the past six months with an average selling price of $158,470.
"Pasadena has come a long way in the past decade or so," Duncan said. "It's really become an attractive market for homebuyers."
In the early days of Pasadena's growth, only a few stores and restaurants lined Mountain Road and the nearest shopping for residents was in Glen Burnie. When Marley Station mall opened on Ritchie Highway in 1987, Pasadena homeowners got their first taste of local shopping and congestion.
"The roads around Pasadena just aren't equipped to handle all the development," 11-year- resident Stull said. "It can get bad sometimes."