July 10, 2015 Josh Sprague

How to Select the Right Neighborhood

The home buying process is very exciting, but can also be very challenging. When buying a house, you are buying so much more than just 4 walls and a yard. This could be the place you live the rest of your life. If you have children, they are going to live in the home, but they’ll grow up in the local schools, and they’ll immerse themselves in the community amenities nearby. You are going to shop, entertain, and exercise close to your home every day. And you are going to take your kids to the park there for recreation over and over again. There are so many lifestyle choices that are affected by location! Let’s take a look at some of the top factors to consider when choosing a neighborhood and a home:

School District

Schools are very important when purchasing a house. A great school district will often sustain property values in an area, even in a downturn. For this reason, schools are one of the most important location factors to consider when purchasing a home, even if you don’t have school age children. If you are a parent, you’ll want the best childhood experience for your kids, and that means the best education. And even if you don’t have children at the moment, you might in the future and you may end up living in the home longer than you think.

Transportation

When purchasing a home, it is important to consider how convenient it is for you to get to work, school, grocery stores, retail, and other places you need to be. Some people like to live close to where they work, while others don’t mind a commute. Is there public transportation available? Are there bike trails close by that can lead you to important local and regional destinations? How congested is the highway system nearby, and are there easy ways to maneuver around the highway system when congestion is very high? These are all important questions to consider.

Crime and Safety

Crime and safety are both important when selecting a neighborhood. You can look up the crime statistics for the area which you are considering. You can also ask neighbors or people you know from work or church what they think about the safety of the area. If there has been a rash of crimes nearby, or there is a long-standing pattern of crime that law enforcement has failed to curtail, you may want to take a deeper look at what’s happening. Especially if you have kids or other more vulnerable members of your household.

Retail & Services

Some neighborhoods are within walking or biking distance to important retail locations like restaurants, grocery stores, and local services, while others require you to get in your car to get even the basics. Most people nowadays prefer locations that provide all transportation options: either by foot, bike, or car, depending on your mood and the situation. You can easily check out how walkable a location is by checking on websites like walkscore.com. You should also consider how close the neighborhood is to a hospital, and to urgent care providers for after-hours non-emergency care. This last service provider is even more important for households with children. Moreover, if you are living with someone who has a chronic condition or is medically vulnerable, it is important to have easy access to hospital services.

Parks and Recreation

Are you someone who likes to go to the nearest park to play a pickup game of basketball or hockey? Are you a parent who likes to take their kids to play or hike at a park or go to the local pool? Are your kids highly active and in need of greenspace to play games and let some steam off in? Parks can be very important when selecting a home. You should drive around and check out the closest parks and trails. If you don’t like to go to parks or don’t plan on taking your kids there, then this is probably not a huge issue for you. But if you are a frequent public park user, whether for programmed athletics, casual games, or simply enjoying nature, you may want to choose a neighborhood with close access to one or more parks.

Nightlife

How is the nightlife in the area? If you are a person who likes to get out for drinks, dancing, appetizers, movies,or other night activities, you’ll want to find a neighborhood that is near clubs, restaurants, and bars. If you are “over” the nightlife scene, or you’re busy raising kids, you’ll want a location that is further away, or adequately buffered, from lively evening spots like these.

In the end, the important thing for home buyers is to consider all the different location factors before choosing a home, and to do some research, both online, on the ground, and with neighbors, about all the location amenities that a particular neighborhood has to offer.

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