The right home is more than just a building to house your furniture and family, it’s also the neighborhood surrounding you. The house may be the perfect fit, but if your neighbors are annoying, there’s a loud and noisy highway running past your backyard or you have to drive half in hour in every direction just to pick up a carton of milk , the novelty of hardwood floor, a backyard pool or an attic loft can wear off pretty quickly.
Everybody preaches “location, location, location”, but not every “location” is right for you. How do you make sure your home dreams are achieved on every level? Research, research, research. Here are a few things you should consider when in the market for a new neighborhood:
Commuting & Transportation
You may have found the ideal house, but do you really want to spend two hours in traffic to and from work every day? It’s common for house hunters to do a practice run from the neighborhood to their job to see just how long a morning or evening commute might take.
It’s also important to consider how close your home is to public transportation, and how frequently it runs.
If you have or are planning to have kids, the local school system will play an important role in your final decision. From preschool to secondary, public to private, what schools do you have to choose from in your area? Don’t be afraid to talk to parents in the neighborhood to get a feel for the quality of the education programs.
In addition to schools, how kid-friendly is the neighborhood? Are there a lot of other families with children that live near by? Are there parks and playgrounds where kids can run around? How about community centers with basketball courts, pools, or other activities and programs?
When you’re looking into a new neighborhood, consider the types of places you visit frequently – grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, and the like. What about laundry facilities, or whether there is a gm near by?
You should also be comfortable with the quality and price of the amenities nearby. Your grocery store may be convenient but might not stock fresh or organic fruits and vegetables. In this case, you’ll have to factor in the time it takes to get to a store that does.
Crime & Safety
Whether you live alone or with a big family, you want to feel safe in your new home. What are the crime statistics for your new neighborhood? You can find tools online that map crime in your community, or you can visit your local police department. Talk to the neighbors – crime statistics may be informative, but you’ll learn a lot more about how comfortable people feel living in the area when you speak with the locals directly.
What does the new neighborhood offer by way of entertainment? Boutiques, coffee shops, movie theaters, restaurants – if you’re the kind of person that likes to get out and about, a busy ‘hood within walking distance should definitely be near the top of your list.
Taxes & Property Values
It’s safe to say that no matter the neighborhood your property value and taxes are going to rise, but just how much may help you decide whether this is the area for you. What are the houses currently valued at? Talk to your real estate agent for comparisons, and find out what the values were five and even ten years previous. How much has the property value increased? Whether the neighborhood has changed, is in the process of gentrifying, or there are planned developments scheduled for the near future will affect property values as well.
Don’t forget to ask about the current tax rate, and how much it has increased in the last five years. Will there be another tax hike in the future, and how much can a realtor estimate you’ll be paying in the next five years?
All the above aside, the most important thing about your new neighborhood is that it feels like home. If when you walk around the neighborhood and you feel like your home, you know you’re already in the right place.