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Finding the Right Neighborhood: 3 Things to Look For

Photo by Samson Katt from Pexels

When buying a new home, the house itself is only part of the purchase. The surrounding area is just as important and there are many factors to consider when choosing not only the property but the neighborhood. However, it can be very difficult to evaluate a neighborhood you don’t already live in. How can you learn whether a neighborhood is right for you? There are many things to look for, but here are 3 of the most important things:

Safety

Looking at an area’s crime statistics won’t tell you everything. It’s still a good idea to check on, but there are other ways to get a sense of how safe you’ll feel in a specific neighborhood. Some things you can look for:

  • Are there “neighborhood watch” signs or similar evidence of organized security?

  • Is there proper street lighting at night?

  • Are the home exteriors generally well-kept?

  • Are there lots of other properties for sale or rent?

These are all good questions to guide you when scouting out possible new homes. It’s ideal to visit at different times of day and weekends to get a sense of the activity level, noise and other things that could affect your comfort level. When in doubt: go with your gut. If you have a bad feeling about a place for any reason, you shouldn’t ignore it.

Schools

If you have children or are planning to have children in the future, the quality and choice of schools in the area is something important to look for. Research the nearby school districts to see where your choice of home would fall among the options. Many online sources allow you to access and compare statistics like dropout rates and test scores for chosen districts, as well as “score” schools based on other factors like parental (and even student) reviews. Regardless of whether you have children, knowing how local schools compare can help get a bigger picture of the neighborhood.

Lifestyle

Don’t forget your life outside of your house. The type of lifestyle you want to live or want to avoid should be top of mind when evaluating a potential neighborhood. Are there community organizations or specific activities you want to live nearby? Are you specifically trying to find a place that’s quieter or a place where there is always something going on? Do you need a place to walk your dog? All of this should factor in to your choice. Look for the proximity of local businesses and activities and calendars or advertisements for local events. It helps to make a “wish list” of things you would prefer in a neighborhood as well as to identify any potential deal-breakers. Being clear about what you do and don’t want will help guide your research.

These are just a few of the things to look for when learning about a potential new neighborhood. Make use of all the resources available and don’t underestimate the effectiveness of simply visiting yourself. Your life and comfort level in your new home doesn’t end at your property line.

 

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