7 Tips to Choosing the Right Neighborhood for Your Next Home
October 30, 2020
One of the top criteria homebuyers mention is finding a house in a safe neighborhood. But how can you tell if a neighborhood is the right fit for you?
Here are 7 different categories to consider as you choose the best neighborhood for your next home:
Whether or not you have children, the local school district is an important factor to consider. Local school rankings are available from GreatSchools.org, Niche.com and other local online e-zines. As a first step, consider calling the local district office or searching their website for a fact sheet about the makeup of the student body, average test scores, accommodations for special needs children, etc.
- Local Business & Shopping.
Tour around yourself, and check out the local scene. Are there retail vacancies? Talk to “mom and pop” small business and shop owners … try asking them what they love about the community, or what do they wish could change? The Chamber of Commerce or local Convention & Visitor’s Bureau is also a fantastic resource.
- Public Transportation.
For some, access to public transportation is key to how you get around a city or to work, so be mindful different neighborhoods have different commute times. Find the local bus or subway line, research access to a train station (and possibly parking or other accessibility), and try to learn more about fees and travel times from any given neighborhood.
This can vary, depending on your personal priorities. Think through if you need (or want) quick access to freeways, grocery stores, a fitness center, shopping, restaurants, etc. If you’re looking to be “close to the action,” then naturally, access is key. Conversely, if you hope to “get away from it all,” then finding solitude in a more rural area might be a better option to pursue.
- Crime Statistics.
Similar to schools, crime statistics are another important factor when searching for the right home. You can search online by city or by zip code, and learn more about crime statistics in a given area to see how it compares within your state or the national average. And a call to the local police station’s non-emergency number might also shed some insights.
Tax rates can vary by town and county, so before making a home purchase, be sure to do your research and/or work with a realtor to learn what the local tax rate is, and see how it compares to other neighboring communities. In any given year (but especially an election year) it’s also important to know if there are any prospective referendums on the ballot that might impact your tax rate.
- Future Development.
Whether you plan to stay for 2 or 20 years, future development in any given area can affect the resale value. Are there new plans for building, zoning changes, retail, civic or school expansions planned? Ask around, and research local news websites for more information about a given municipality.
No matter which category you value the most, there’s nothing quite like taking a personal look yourself. Drive or walk the neighborhood, talk to homeowners, and visit the local shops and restaurants
For more, visit the original blog where many of these tips appeared.