When it comes to finding the best places to live, neighborhood selection is almost as critical as selecting a house or apartment. It must be safe, with low crime rates, affordable, and populated by people you could see yourself befriending. Depending on your family’s needs, you may also want access to playgrounds and a good school district.
If you’re considering purchasing a home, keep in mind that you’re investing in a neighborhood, not just a house. Because the two are synonymous, you must exercise extreme caution when selecting a neighborhood to live in.
11 Reminders to Help You Choose the Ideal Neighborhood
While it’s natural to become obsessed with finding a home that meets all your criteria, real estate experts say it’s more critical to pay close attention to the neighborhood. After all, a house can be updated and repaired, but its location, the vibe of the neighborhood, and its neighbors cannot be changed.
When it comes to determining how to locate a good neighborhood, it all comes down to one thing: research. And a good deal of it. While your real estate agent is an excellent resource for highlighting key amenities and informing you about homeowners’ association rules, you cannot rely on them for certain details.
Are you still unsure how to locate a good neighborhood? Additional factors to consider include the following:
Online Crime Statistics
Enter the city’s name and “crime statistics by neighborhood” into a search engine. This should generate some data, depending on the city’s size. While larger cities have comprehensive crime reports, smaller towns may only have general information. Bear in mind that different parts of the same town may be safer or more dangerous than others, so it’s a good idea to ask around or even read the local newspaper’s crime reports.
Contact your community’s police department
The police department will provide additional information about a specific area. This is probably your best source for crime and safety information. The majority of police stations will also provide information about the community’s involvement in crime prevention or community policing.
Circulate the Area
Keep an eye out for graffiti and other acts of vandalism, such as broken windows. Are homes equipped with effective deterrents such as “Beware of Dog” signs, tall fences, or bars on accessible windows?
Take a stroll through the neighborhood. Attempt this at various times of the day to get a sense of the day’s highs and lows. Take note of the houses, front yards, streets, and sidewalks’ condition. Keep an eye out for people who make eye contact with you. If they do, the community is likely to be safe and friendly.
Conduct a search for vacant lots or abandoned structures. Both could be used for commercial development, altering the neighborhood’s character and impacting property values. Take note of the traffic and speed, as well as whether the streets appear to be quiet or noisy.
Additionally, take note of the demographics of the residents. Are the majority of residents young singles? Families with children? Middle-aged? What is the retirement age? Or is the community well-balanced in terms of age? Is the neighborhood primarily composed of single-family residences, apartment buildings, high-rises, or condominiums?
Time Spent in Transit
How long will it take for you to arrive at work? Are you going with or against the flow of traffic? Is the route straightforward to follow? It’s a good idea to test the route during rush hour to determine its feasibility.
Is public transportation an option to driving? Does the transit stop during rush hours?
How far is it to the airport if you require access? Will you save money on daily public transport rather than getting a car loan? Is public transportation a viable alternative?
Suggested Read: Why You Should Invest in a Home Over a Car First
A well-kept school is a sign of a good neighborhood. And if you have children, this is almost certainly the first factor to consider when choosing a good neighborhood. Additionally, you can conduct an online search for schools, which is well worth your time if you have school-aged children. How many students are in each class? What percentage of students perform well on standardized tests? Do most children graduate from high school and/or continue their education in college?
Another factor to consider is your child’s transportation to and from school. Is public transportation available? Are they able to walk? Is it secure? How far is it by car?
Current Housing Values
Determine the current market value of homes in your neighborhood, and then consult a real estate agent to determine how that compares to the average value five and ten years ago. How much has the property appreciated in value? Has the neighborhood undergone any changes? Is the real estate agent informed of any anticipated changes? Bear in mind, however, that realtors are not permitted to express an opinion such as “this neighborhood is prosperous and safe,” or “that neighborhood is dangerous and impoverished,” so you may want to knock on a few doors and ask potential neighbors questions as well.
Development in the Future
The city hall or the local chamber of commerce can provide additional information. Future developments alter the character of a neighborhood, increase property taxes, and exacerbate traffic congestion. It’s a good idea to investigate the neighborhood’s future potential and then determine whether that outlook is suitable for you and your family.
Taxation of real estate
Determine the current tax rate and how much it has increased in the last five years by contacting the real estate agent or the city. Is another increase anticipated? How much could you possibly pay in five years? Include this expense in your moving budget.
How close are you to a supermarket, a convenience store, a cafe, or a restaurant? If there are bars nearby, how noisy will weekends be?
If you enjoy participating in community activities, look for nearby houses of worship, art centers, libraries, and other hubs of activity. Consider checking the local newspaper, websites, or bulletin boards to learn about local events.
How Do you Picture Your New Neighborhood?
Consider what you truly desire in a new neighborhood. Bear in mind that you will almost certainly have to make concessions, so prioritize the “must-haves” first and the “would-like-to-haves” second. Not sure what will work best for your lifestyle? Adhere to these 11 reminders to find a good neighborhood match.