Think about it. A home is most likely your largest investment now and forever. So it makes a lot of sense to consider the many aspects of the ‘home’ you’re choosing, including the state, city, and neighborhood that is the best fit for you and your family. It happens that sometimes we don’t have a lot of time to choose, while in other situations we can plan and prepare for our best move.
Either way, it is possible to take certain steps to assure your move is to a home and neighborhood that meets your pre-planned goals and aspirations. All it takes is a little thinking up front about what’s important to you.
Here are some easy tips for choosing a neighborhood that's right for you:
Know Your Priorities
Situations and circumstances usually dictate action. Being aware of what is important to you in all aspects of life makes those 'complicated' decisions a little easier. Consider your life situation when looking for your home - are you single and happy in the hustle and bustle of active urban areas with lots of entertainment and activity options? Or are you at a place where a nice quiet street with friendly neighbors and a community pool and social gatherings sounds best?
When making this decision, many variables come into play and sometimes trade-offs make sense. But you should still be pretty certain of the situational lifestyle you’re looking for and make it a priority in your ultimate choice.
Tip: If you’re searching from a remote location, be sure to check out various ‘neighborhood guide’ websites for ideas. The site Nextdoor.com is an easy way to browse the ‘vibe’ and get some real insights about a neighborhood you are interested in.
Make a Visit
The common wisdom these days is that people get a lot of ideas and advice from the internet. While websites are a great resource, remember they often portray a view that is biased by a self-serving motive. The local Chamber of Commerce is unlikely to say bad things about any neighborhood in their city. Have you ever visited a place with poor reviews but ended up having a great experience?
The key is your personal experience. It’s great to get some guidance, of course, but making a visit to the neighborhood(s) that interest you is the best way to see for yourself how it ‘feels.’ Trusting your own impression and intuition is usually best.
Ask the Locals
Your inquiries should start with choosing the right people to ask. This starts with getting a great real estate professional to assist you in your search and being honest and upfront about what your priorities are. Of course, a real estate agent is motivated by making a sale, but if their sales don’t work out for their clients, how popular will they be?
Point is, an agent often knows a lot about the neighborhoods in their town and can offer you valuable advice. If you’re looking at homes, take time to meet the neighbors! You don’t have to do a thorough interrogation to get a feel for the area. Be prepared to ask some simple direct questions though. Open-ended questions like ‘How do you like it here?’ might elicit very subjective responses. As we said, when you know what you're looking for, you know what you’ll want to see and hear.
Investigate Schools and Safety
Safety for you and your family is a top priority, and fortunately, there are several simple ways to learn how safe a town and neighborhood is. A simple Google search will uncover a variety of sites which track multiple safety aspects of various communities. Make sure you understand how these sites collect and track their statistics and also what types of ‘events’ qualify for reporting. Remember that some areas make ‘easy targets’ - places where residential areas are close to busy traffic arteries and highways. Every community deals with crimes like car break-ins and vandalism.
If you have school-aged children, you will most likely want to take schools into consideration when choosing a neighborhood. Having elementary schools close by is convenient, safe, and a great way to stay connected with neighbors. Learning about the schools, themselves, is also important. Check out school evaluation websites, area school district websites, or perhaps even visit the school your kids would attend and see for yourself.
All in all, choosing a neighborhood that enriches your life only requires a bit of thinking ahead about your priorities. So as you embark on this important decision, take time to make sure you know what exactly you want. That’s the best way to be sure you can find the neighborhood where you and your family feel truly 'at home.'
Trulia Blog: No Regrets: 4 Ways to Find the Right Neighborhood