“If houses are like spouses, a neighborhood is like the extended family. But while you can have a good marriage and still dread holidays with the in-laws, you’ll never love a house if you don’t like your neighborhood.” I’m not sure where I read this, but it is so true… the only thing you can’t change about your house is where it is located. That is why it is so important.
How can you choose the right community? Become a neighborhood detective and hit the streets. Figure out what you’re looking for, do research and find neighborhoods that fit your description. Visit neighborhoods of interest in person and literally walk the streets to get a better sense of what it would be like to live there.
Profile Your Perfect Neighborhood
Before you start scrutinizing neighborhoods, think about yourself and what you’re really looking for in a new neighborhood. Remember, you’ll probably have to make compromises, so put the “must-haves” at the top and the “would- like-to-haves” at the bottom of your list.
Here are some questions to ask when you are considering what fits your lifestyle.
- Do you have children or are you planning to have children anytime soon? Parents know that the first thing to do when looking at a neighborhood is to research the school system. Even if you’re single, living in an area with a much sought-after school system raises your property value. If you have kids, you’ll likely also want to live close to parks and community centers.
- What type of home do you want? Are you interested in a single-family home, townhouse, condo?
- How far are you willing to commute? Do you want to drive, walk or take bus/light rail to work?
- Do you want to be in a historic neighborhood or a new development? Historic neighborhoods have tons of character, but often require lots of repair work. Newer developments have more modern features, but are typically far from the city center. Think of the age of house you want… eras tend to form concentric circles extending from the heart of the city.
- What is your current community lacking… and what will you miss about your current community? If you’re currently landlocked, but have always wanted to live on the waterfront, put that at the top of your list. If you’re a coffee junkie, having a coffee shop down the street may be a dream come true. Think about how you spend your time when you aren’t working… being in a neighborhood where what you love to do is nearby can be a real plus. Knowing what you love and will miss about your current community can help you identify your new neighborhood. It’s interesting… some communities are so loved that people tend to move to other homes in the same community when their needs change rather than move to a new neighborhood.
- Do you want to be able to go places on foot? Would you like to be within walking distance of shops, restaurants and bars? Or would you be willing to drive to nearby businesses?
- Know what you don’t want. It’s just as important to know what you don’t want as what you do want in a neighborhood. What noise, smells, views would make you not want to come home?!
Know that your ‘perfect’ neighborhood may not exist, or may not be attainable in your price range. Know what you are willing to sacrifice if necessary to live in a neighborhood you love.