Articles and Advice

Scouting Out Your New Neighborhood

Finding a new neighborhood can be nerve-wracking when you realize what's at stake. You're not just buying a house, you're also investing in the future of the neighborhood.

Make a bad decision, and you could find yourself living someplace you hate, or worse, unable to sell when you find a new area you prefer.

It's incredibly important to make certain your new neighborhood has all of the right qualities you and your family might need for the foreseeable future. Take these things into consideration when scouting your new neighborhood when you're buying a home:

  • Housing Statistics
    When you're first vetting out a potential neighborhood, a little online research can go a long way. For instance, you can look up average home values in the area and whether they are increasing in value. There are also several websites where you can research statistics, giving you an idea of just how safe an area is before you commit to it.

  • Schools
    Any parent knows when you're buying a home, quality schools are a top factor in your home-buying decision. Proximity to the school district is also important, as this will affect how frequently your children will be able to visit their friends. Also important to research is the availability of daycare, open enrollment, and private schools.

  • Commute
    Many home buyers overlook the importance of their daily commute. Decide what an acceptable drive time might be before you begin your home search, then determine how a potential neighborhood measures up. Scout out multiple routes, check typical traffic during rush hour using interactive maps on your phone or online, and if you are really serious about buying a home in a particular neighborhood, take the time to actually drive it first.

  • Transportation
    Families that have a car for every driving-age adult may overlook the importance of public transportation in a new neighborhood. It's a good idea to see what's available in a potential community. You never know when you might need access to public transportation; be sure to locate train, subway, and bus routes in the area. Also, take a look at the main roads in and out, bike routes for cyclists, and what is within walking distance.

  • Local Amenities
    Consider where you'll need to go on a regular basis. This includes gas stations, grocery stores, and other types of local businesses. Make sure these places are conveniently located in the neighborhood, but also drive by or visit them in person if possible, so you can get a feel for the neighborhood itself.

  • Neighbors
    There's something to be said for getting to know your potential neighbors. Take walks through the neighborhood and talk with the people you encounter. Friendly people out for leisure walks are a good sign. You can use a dog or another casual opening as an opportunity to chat a little and see what they like or don't like about the neighborhood.

When buying a home, it's important to remember that as much as we tend to focus on the property that's for sale, there's actually much more at stake than just the home. While your money is buying a house, your investment is tied to the ups and downs the neighborhood goes through over the years, and how happy you are there depends heavily on whether the neighborhood itself meets your needs.

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