Choosing the right neighborhood is like selecting the right workplace; if you don’t like where you work, it’s hard to enjoy your job. Similarly, if you don’t enjoy your neighborhood, it will make it difficult to truly love your home. Before you commit to your dream home, ask yourself these six questions about the neighborhood to determine whether it’s right for you:
1. What are the historic market conditions?
Ask your real estate professional about the housing prices and property taxes in the area and how they have changed over the past decade. Does your agent know about any future developments that could influence the neighborhood’s market conditions? Understanding the neighborhood’s past, present, and future will help you to make an informed decision.
2. What school district are you in?
A neighborhood’s proximity to high-ranking schools is an influential factor for a lot of families and one that can affect property values. Buyers tend to be more willing to pay top dollar for a home that is in an exceptional school district. Whether you have kids or not, you should be considering how a neighborhood’s school district can influence the value of your home when it’s time to sell.
3. What about your commute?
It’s important to consider your current mode of transportation and how that might change in the new neighborhood. Figure out how long your current commute is and compare it to how long it will be in the new neighborhood. It’s also wise to use online tools to assess typical traffic levels for the neighborhood and surrounding areas to get an impression of what rush hour will look like when making these decisions.
If you telecommute, be sure to check the availability of a reliable, strong internet connection.
4. What’s the crime rate?
The local police department can be an invaluable resource for this type of information. If you’re feeling adventurous, drive around the neighborhood to try and get a sense of public safety looking for signs of vandalism. Are families enjoying their yards? Talk to the locals. Get a sense for indicators that the neighborhood has issues which could affect your property value and peace of mind.
5. What is your current neighborhood missing?
What amenities would make your new neighborhood a perfect fit? Consider things like greenery, parks, hiking trails, theatres, gyms, restaurants, and community centers. What style of neighborhood do you prefer; rural, downtown urban, suburban, new development, or historic? Living in a community that aligns with your personality can do wonders for making your neighborhood feel just right.
6. What do your senses say?
Your senses of smell, sight, and hearing can tell you a lot about a neighborhood. What do you see: does the area seem clean, do the homes have curb appeal, and do the demographics match your expectations? What do you smell: are you downwind of something unpleasant that could blow through your area? What do you hear: is it generally quiet throughout the day, at night, and on weekends? Neighborhoods with an active nightlife can be the antithesis to peace and quiet. It’s better to err on the side of caution and learn about these factors firsthand from neighbors and online, before deciding if the neighborhood is right for you.
It’s important that you love every aspect of your home, which includes its surroundings. That’s why it pays to be selective about what you will be willing to tolerate in your new neighborhood.