While it is important to know that the 'perfect' house and the 'perfect' neighborhood don't really exist, it is possible to find a great home in the best neighborhood for you. Below are some criteria to include in your home buying priority list.
1. Choose a neighborhood personality that matches your lifestyle
You can get a sense of a neighborhood by reading about it and looking at its amenities on a map, but you only truly experience it by a personal visit. Drive through first… if it passes that test, trying walking on the street(s) where you are thinking about buying. If you find people outside, maybe walking dogs or children, or working in their yards, talk to them and ask them about how they like living there. Spend time in neighborhood parks and trails, golf course, pool, community center, etc… eat at restaurants, shop in stores. Also consider visiting at different times of day to experience traffic patterns. Does it feel like it is a good fit for you?
2. Does the neighborhood 'look' appeal to you?
Is the terrain hilly or flat? mature trees and plantings or developing new landscaping? sidewalks and street lights? is the neighborhood well kept? bustling or quiet? can you see/hear your neighbors? what is important to you in how a neighborhood looks and feels? does the neighborhood match your expectations?
3. What about schools?
Do school rankings meet your expectations? If you prefer private schools or charter schools, are they practically accessible to the neighborhood you are considering? Even if you don't have children in school, school district can sometimes have an impact on resale.
4. Parks, trails, recreation
Most people like being near some form of recreation, whether it be parks and trails, a gym, golf course, lake or something else. What is important to you? Minneapolis is known as the 'city of lakes', but so is the entire metro area. If being near water, trails and parks is important to you, it would be hard to find a better metropolitan area than the Twin Cities.
5. Restaurants, cafes, shopping, services…
Do the dining options in the neighborhood suit your lifestyle? Where will you get your groceries? Do shopping opportunities suit you?
6. Entertainment options and cultural amenities
Do you like live music? theater? movies? dancing? sports? museums? libraries? churches? universities? Do the neighborhood amenities fit your lifestyle?
7. How close do you want to be?
Is it important you be close to schools? work? trails? parks? public transportation? downtown? the airport? medical facilities? neighborhood cafes? These factors can play an important role in choosing the right neighborhood for you.
8. Safety first
Low crime rates, low incidence of accidents and how well neighbors watch out for each other all help define a safe community if this is a top priority for you.
Keep in mind that it is OK for your priorities to change, and sometimes they must adjust because of price or other reasons. Finding the right home and neighborhood is usually an delicate balance of juggling priorities.