Okay, we know that there can be lot of scary aspects about moving to a new place. Not the least of those is the idea that you could be moving into a neighborhood that ends up not being the greatest fit. While picking the right home to buy can be challenging, picking the right neighborhood (and avoiding ones less ideal for you and your family) seems like it’s a lot harder.
Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. We’re going to help you understand the steps you need to take when you’re researching a neighborhood while home-hunting.
Define Your Dream Neighborhood
You have to define what’s right (and wrong) for you and your family in a neighborhood if you want to recognize a great neighborhood when you see one. Do you love the idea of an exclusive community with a homeowners association and private access to special amenities? Do you want a neighborhood that’s maybe more relaxed about appearances?
The perfect neighborhood is out there, just waiting on you to find it. Ask yourself the following kinds of questions to help inform your search for the right place:
- Do you prefer the tidy organization of a designed community or the organic feel of an eclectic area? Are you comfortable adhering to a homeowners association’s rules or does your rebel spirit chafe under those kinds of constraints?
- Do you want a family-oriented neighborhood that has lots of kids, or are you at a stage in your life where you’re happier surrounded by adults your own age? Do you crave the excitement of a college town or urban area, or do you prefer a sedate life?
- Do you want to be able to walk to a shopping area or restaurants? Would you prefer being at least a few miles away from the nearest bodega or grocery store? Does it matter if the neighbors are just feet away, or do you prefer lots of space between you and others?
Knowing what you do and don’t want in a neighborhood can help you narrow your options. Don’t be afraid to discuss these things with your realtor, so that you don’t waste time looking at houses in the wrong neighborhoods.
Look Into the Area
The demographics of a neighborhood can tell you a lot about what to expect from the area. Your Tucker agent can give you insight about housing prices and other local information.
You should also consider checking:
- NeighborhoodScout: This website will let you search the crime risk data of any given neighborhood, the average income of its residents, the cultural groups that predominate an area and what most people do for a living, among other facts that can help you.
- Homefacts: You naturally want to know if a potential neighborhood is safe. This website can help you weed out sketchy areas and learn all about an area’s crime rates, the air quality and weather where you’re looking, and property reports.
- Greatschools: If you have children, you want to know what the schools are like. Well, this website not only tells you how well a school compares to others, but it also contains reviews from real students and parents.
It’s smart to remember, however, that statistics are only part of the way to explore a neighborhood. You still need to do some of your investigative work in person, whenever possible.
Go for a Walk in the Area
There’s probably no substitute for strolling through a neighborhood on foot if you want to get a feel for its character — and it’s liveability. Put on your favorite walking shoes and start your walk right where you’re thinking of living.
While you’re wandering through a potential new neighborhood, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you like the aesthetics of the area? Well-kept homes indicate that the residents care about their property.
- Do people seem friendly? When you encounter people, are they pleasant? Are there lots of walkers or does everyone seem to stay indoors? If you see children playing and people walking their dogs, the odds are high that they feel comfortable and safe in the area.
- How is your access to goods and services? What can you find within walking distance? Is there a bank, a coffee shop and a pharmacy nearby? Would you have to get in the car for every trip?
See What It Looks Like After Dark
Finally, if you’re starting to get serious about an area or a home, head back to that neighborhood after dark. Some neighborhoods undergo a remarkable transformation once the sun goes down and people get home from work — particularly on the weekends.
Areas that may have seemed quiet during the day can become boisterous in the evening, with lots of parties and loud music. That may or may not ruin your feelings about a neighborhood, but you never want that sort of thing to become a surprise after you’ve already bought the house.
At Talk to Tucker, we spend a lot of time digging into the neighborhoods in the area so that we can steer our clients to places that they’ll really enjoy calling “home.” Our agents live and work in the area, so they can guide you to a neighborhood where you’ll feel comfortable. If you’re thinking about looking for your new home and neighborhood, give us a call.