Tips for Finding the Right Neighborhood for You

When you are planning to move, you must find the right home to suit your needs. However, the process of selecting a home cannot be limited to the building itself. For example, you may find a suitable home that is within your budget but later find out that features of the neighborhood itself do not meet your needs. At worst, there may be hidden costs of living in a certain area that can cause your expenses to unexpectedly increase beyond your available budget. Certain neighborhoods may present safety concerns or have other negative traits as well. There are also personal reasons why you might prefer to live in one neighborhood as opposed to another, such as how accessible your favorite destinations will be from your new home. Below is a list of several tips for finding the right neighborhood for you, including how to narrow down your choices and identify the neighborhood features you want.

Identify Your Personal Neighborhood Needs

The first step in selecting the right neighborhood for you is to identify your personal needs. For example, if you have children, you must make sure there are good schools nearby. However, you may wish to move to a neighborhood with no nearby schools if you have no children and do not want the noise and distractions found in neighborhoods with many children. Similarly, it may or may not be important to you that your neighborhood have other amenities, such as parks, shopping centers or public transportation options.

When creating your list of neighborhood attributes that are important to you, you must also consider the general type of neighborhood you prefer. If you are looking for a more modern or urban neighborhood then you can rule out certain areas immediately. The same is true if you want to live in a historic neighborhood or a quiet suburb.

Research Neighborhood Rules and Restrictions

When you are considering moving to a neighborhood that is a gated community or has its own neighborhood association, then you must understand that such neighborhoods may have good features, such as better security. However, problems like construction and decorating rules may quickly cause friction if you want to personalize your home. You may also be required to pay annual membership and maintenance fees when living in such a community.

Conduct Neighborhood Surveillance

Any neighborhood you have interest in may look great at certain times of day and when presented in a positive light by a real estate agent. You will learn more about the neighborhood when you perform surveillance on your own time. Visit any neighborhood you are interested in at different times of day to see if the atmosphere changes. Also, keep in mind that the activity level you see in the area on weekdays may be quite different than what you will encounter on weekends. Also visit during inclement weather so that you can see how the neighborhood does when it is snowing or there is heavy rainfall.

Look for Known Problems

Certain neighborhood features are typically considered to be universally bad. For example, having an airport too close to your home could cause frequent noise disturbances. The same is true for trains or heavy machinery. If you have small children, you may want to automatically rule out neighborhoods with dangerous waterways and other common hazards.

Check the Local Crime Rate

Depending on your preferences and household, may want to avoid moving to areas where crime rates are high. Reading back issues of local newspapers can help you to better understand the neighborhood crime rate and whether it is improving or worsening.

Count the Number of Vacant Houses in the Neighborhood

Another way to judge a neighborhood is by the number of vacant houses in it. Typically, multiple empty houses in a small area is an indication that something in that area is causing people to move away from it. It is important to identify the reason for such vacancies and decide if you are willing to deal with the cause. If you are purchasing a home rather than renting one, you should also research how your property value may be impacted.

Talk to Your Potential Neighbors

The best sources for information about a neighborhood are the residents of that neighborhood. Therefore, you must take the time to talk to potential neighbors in order to learn about both positive and negative aspects of the area. Average people in the area will be more honest and knowledgeable than your real estate agent when it comes to area history, economic trends and hidden annoyances. You may also learn unexpected positive things about a neighborhood from its residents.

In addition to knowledge about the neighborhood itself, learning about the residents who may become your neighbors is important. If you talk to potential neighbors who are all friendly, then you can expect to have a close-knit community. On the other hand, potential neighbors who are rude or refuse to talk to you entirely when you are considering moving into the neighborhood are likely to be just as impolite if they actually become your neighbors.

Prioritize and Make a Balanced Decision

There is no perfect neighborhood. Therefore, you must prioritize and consider the big picture when selecting a neighborhood in which to live. It may be necessary to ignore certain items on your wish list, such as proximity to shopping centers, in order to reap other benefits, such as the ability to live in a quiet community. When making your final decision, you must also weigh your financial constraints against your preferences and absolute requirements in order to strike a balance.