You may not realize it, but when you buy a new home, you’re getting more than just a house and some land. Just like getting married means a whole new family, a new house means signing up for a whole new neighborhood. So while you may have a list of likes and dislikes for a house, it’s important you think through the kind of neighborhood you want to be part of. We’ve all had experience that reinforce the truth that neighbors can make your life miserable or wonderful! Here are a few guidelines I’ve discovered for choosing a new neighborhood that will fit your needs:
- Look for a similar lifestyle. Of course everyone is unique and it’s unlikely your neighbors will be exactly like you. However, similarity in life choices can keep things more harmonious. For example, if you’re a young family with several kids, living in a neighborhood surrounded by empty-nesters might not be a good fit. Of if you’re looking for a quiet place to retire, the neighborhood full of younger people living life late into the night might not make you happy in the long run.
- Determine proximity to services. For many families buying a new home, being close to good schools is important. Do your homework to find out what the schools are like and if they’ll be a good fit for your kids (or future kids). Another thing to think about is how close the nearest hospital is to the neighborhood you’re considering living in.
- Find out what there is to do nearby. If you really value running outdoors, check the running routes nearby. If you have a family and a good local park is important, see if there’s one within walking distance. If you love eating out, ask what kind of dining is available and how far away. Whatever it is you love, be sure you know how near (or far!) those things are from your potential new neighborhood.
- Research safety and crime. No neighborhood is perfect and some neighborhoods deserve a second chance. However, you need to know the full story going into things. Look up crime statistics and even ask around about safety in the area.
- Weigh the sense of community. You may or may not become best friends with your neighbors, but you’ll want to know they have your back. Attend a function in the community like a sporting event, religious service, or even just take a walk through the neighborhood on a weekend or after work during the week to get a feel for the vibe in the neighborhood.
When you’re choosing a new neighborhood, it’s impossible to find out everything, but it’s important to try. Some of these things can be easily discovered by your own detective work. Some might require a little more insight. If you’re working with a real estate agent who’s knowledgable about the area you want to move (which you should be!), take advantage of their expertise by asking lots of questions and getting their input on your potential new community!