Buying a new home or property is a big life move. Knowing as much as possible before you take that leap is the key to feeling relaxed about a life transition, and about where you’ll soon become a part of the community.
A good neighborhood can be very important when purchasing a home. It can foster a community for your family and affect the resale value of your home. If you’re looking for a home in a safe neighborhood to settle your family in, or are ready to start a family, then schools, safety, amenities, and community are you’re most important factors.
These tips will help you research the neighborhoods you’re looking to buy in, whether you’re retired, a family, or a single person moving to a neighborhood in a new city.
Finding a Neighborhood for Your Family
1. Research Schools
Begin by looking for the best schools in the area based on performance scores and the school ethos, and look for neighborhoods that are zoned to those particular schools. If you narrow it down to three, see whether the school has a website where you can take a look at their blog, posts from teachers, and what the community is focused on in terms of volunteer work and wider community celebrations.
You could also meet with the principal of each school and find out what the school morals and focus might be. Some schools are stronger for math and science whereas others are more focused on foreign languages. Decide what you want for your children, and start there.
2. Tour Family Amenities
If riding a bike, having access to a local pool, walking trails, sports facilities, and a park nearby are important to you, then look for a planned community where these items are accessible.
Take a drive to a few of them, and see how you feel once you’re there. Most planned communities have a central place where you can learn about the development, and what the future plans are for it.
Pop into the local grocery store and get a feel for where you might be shopping in the future.
You could also pack a picnic lunch, and take to the trails one day. Set up at the park with your whole family, and have your lunch there. Don’t be shy and talk to the other families you might see about the neighborhood in general.
Actually spending time in the neighborhood gives you a glimpse of what your weekends may look like in the future, should you choose that particular area.
You might also look at your future neighborhood and consider what else is within an hour’s driving distance, such as national parks and other natural resources.
It’s also a good idea to find a neighborhood that includes an emergency clinic and doctors’ offices, including a pediatrician. When life gets busy with kids, it’s easier to have a family doctor close to home than having to drive.
3. Check Crime Rates
Check online records and talk to the local police about crimes in the area. Look at local city websites and Trulia for crime statistics and ask the police about how often they are called to the area.
Finding a Neighborhood in the City
If you’re single, or haven’t any children, then where you might wish to settle would look different than for a family of five. It’s likely that you would want different amenities than a community pool and strong schools.
See how close your new home is to a cafe where you could walk to, or meet friends for Sunday coffee. Perhaps a biking trail would be appealing for your weekends rides. Maybe an area where new restaurants are popping up would sway you, knowing that in the coming years, innovation and creativity will surround you.
Once you’ve narrowed down the neighborhoods that feel like “you,” that are vibrant, hip, and walkable, see how their crime rates are. Talk to the local police station, and ask them what their major concerns are in the area. If you’re a single person, this could really sway you, especially if your job sees you coming home in the dark.
You want to make sure that you have your own driveway to park in, as opposed to street parking.
If you’ve got your eye on a few places, then go over there at night, and see how the neighborhood might feel. Is it sleepy, or quite active? Is it too noisy, or just right? Visiting a place at various times of the day can give you a sense of what to expect. Check it out on weekends, and during the weekday.
Finding a Neighborhood for Retirement
Where you settle in for retirement looks much different than the place you’d want as a young person starting out on life’s journey.
A community club house may be appealing, as might being located near a golf club.
Are there yoga or tai chi classes nearby? How far do your children and grandchildren live from you? How far is it to your current doctor? Would a pool be helpful to maintain your level of fitness? What are the streets like and will the sidewalks allow for wheelchairs or other electric transportation?
What to Look for in a Neighborhood
1. Public Transport
Some people rely solely on public transport, and for others it’s a nice option to have. When you use the bus line or light rail to get to doctor appointments, or social activities, being on the transportation line is important. You’d want to make sure that your home isn’t too far to walk to a stop, either.
2. Medical Center
Find out how far your new home might be to a hospital and medical center and try to keep both things within 20 miles of one another. You can also research where your primary physician is in proximity to your new home or apartment. This can make trips to the doctor much easier than having to travel and great distances.
3. Future Neighbors
No matter what your age is or which stage of life you’re in, talk to the neighbors where you might be choosing to settle. While these are just opinions, it really helps to see how others view the neighborhoods. You might hear good and bad details, but it’s better to have a broader spectrum about where you may settle.