Purchasing a home comes with much more than the house. It also comes with neighbors, a community, school districts, crime rates, and a whole bunch more. In fact, you might want to research neighborhoods before you start looking at homes. There?s a lot of information you can find on your own online, but when it?s closer to the time when you?d like to start looking, a real estate agent can help tremendously.
What do you want? First things first. Do some self-reflection and ask yourself what you want in a neighborhood. Do you have a family? Is a school district important? Do you want to be able to walk most places? Do you want there to be lots of green space like parks and preserves? Do you want a larger property that has space between houses for privacy or do you not mind being in close proximity with neighbors? Do you want to avoid popular hangout spots that might be noisy on weekends? Once you identify what you?re looking for, it?ll be easier to narrow things down in your search.
Research Crime Rates. Statistics can easily be found online for crime rates in any neighborhood. Drive around a prospective area to see how it feels. Are there a lot of signs on the property that show security is enforced like ?Beware of Dog? signs and ?Protected By? identifications? Do people appear friendly with each other? Don?t be afraid to talk to people who are outside and willing to answer questions.
Research School Districts. If you have children or plan to have children in this new home, school districts are likely important. Looking at a public school?s ranking is easy to do online but not the only thing to look at. Research any news articles that have come out about the school in the last decade. If possible, talk to parents who are already living in the area to get their opinions about the district. Many schools will set up tours as well so you can get a more up close look. If you’re more interested in private schools, take a look at the options nearby. Do they offer what your child needs? Are they within your budget?
Walkability, Public Transportation, & Accessibility. Do you like to walk everywhere? Do you or does someone in your family have a disability that makes it difficult to navigate hills and lots of levels? Would you like to be able to commute to work through public transportation? Do you want the kids to be able to walk to school? All neighborhoods have a ?walkability? rating which takes into account how much can be done on foot. You can also find out information on public transportation options like busses and trains, how often they run and what their dependability is.
Community. The type of community you?re comfortable with will have a lot of significance in your neighborhood. Homeowners Associations can sometimes have really strict rules that don?t allow much flexibility when it comes to your property. Some communities have neighborhood watch programs to ensure safety among neighbors. This information is best found by walking around a neighborhood and talking to the people who live there. Look into social media groups and pages to see what some of the conversations look like. Knowing what you want to receive from your community as well as how much effort you?re willing to put in will be a deciding factor when choosing a neighborhood.
What?s In the Area? This one is often easy to overlook. Take into account what grocery stores are close by, if any. If you attend services each week, is there a local place of worship? Do you enjoy going out to eat? Take a look at the restaurant scene. Is it all chains or are there a good number of small businesses as well. Do you have a nearby farmers market? Are there entertainment options like movie theaters, gaming and sports facilities? Are there music venues? Neighborhoods don?t always have everything but if you want specific amenities within a close driving distance, that?s something you need to factor into your decision. If driving 30 minutes to the nearest grocery store is a deal breaker for you, than that’s not the neighborhood for you.
The Noise Factor. This is something you need to spend time in the area to get an idea for. Neighborhoods that live close to airports will have a lot of air traffic. That can be very noisy. Neighborhoods that are more rural can be very quiet. People who are used to living in a city might not necessarily like that. If there are a lot of bars and late-night businesses nearby, that has the potential to be obnoxious at night and on weekends. If the neighborhood is near a hospital, you might hear sirens all the time. All this can make a difference when choosing a neighborhood that?s right for you.
Property Taxes. This won?t affect a neighborhood?s experience but it will certainly affect your wallet. As your real estate agent about the situation around property taxes in any given neighborhood. Has it increased within the last 5-10 years? Are there any contingencies around it raising? For example, does it need to be put to a vote? If the property taxes have the potential to get out of control while you’re planning to live there, you might want to look elsewhere.
Can you see yourself living here? Once you?ve nailed down all the details, this is the most important question you can ask yourself. HGTV has a list of things to think about to really make sure this is the neighborhood for you from sights to smells. If the neighborhood is right and you?ve found a home that fits the bill as well, it?s time to make the jump!
Finding the ideal neighborhood is such an individual process. Everyone?s needs and wants are different so it?s impossible to make a checklist of what?s best. However, by looking into each of these criteria, it should at the very least give you confidence while searching for a home so you don?t end up in a house that you love but a community you hate.