Finding the right neighborhood to meet your needs is an important piece of any homebuying decision. Don’t let neighborhood-fit fall to the back of your mind. Use the following guide to help you determine where you’d like to live.
When evaluating neighborhoods, consider the following six neighborhood attributes:
- Safety: One of the most important things to consider when deciding where you’ll live is the safety of the area. Safety has been linked to self-esteem and overall well-being. Taking the time to research the overall safety of your desired neighborhood can have far-reaching benefits.
Some questions to ask yourself include: What are the crime rates in the area? Is there a neighborhood watch? Will you feel safe? You can find valuable information about crime rates in your area online. A quick search will reveal your local crime map, which is kept up-to-date by the local police department. You can also review the National Sex Offenders Registry(Opens in a new window) and check out sites such as NextDoor(Opens in a new window) for quantifiable and anecdotal insights into the area. Don’t rely solely on the internet. One of the best ways to gauge the safety of a neighborhood is to drive or walk through it and see it for yourself.
- School District: If you have children, the school district is probably the second most important factor in your home buying decision. You’ll want to know about the area surrounding your new home and how the schools rank in education, sports, etc. You may also be looking for different types of schools, such as Montessori, language immersion, or parochial schools. It’s important to see if these types of schooling options are available near your desired neighborhood. Websites Niche(Opens in a new window) and Great Schools(Opens in a new window) provide ratings and reviews of schools in any given area.
Nonparents might also consider a school district for future resale value purposes.
- Availability of Groceries: This neighborhood attribute may not run top-of-mind during your homebuying process, but it will certainly become top-of-mind once you move in. Look to see if your desired home is located in a food desert. Is this an issue for you? How about particular stores? Do you prefer certain grocery store chains? Knowing your grocery options will go a long way in helping you adjust to your new home.
- Livability: From walkability to attractions to recreational areas, livability encompasses many factors. When assessing neighborhoods, keep your interests in mind. Are you able to do the things you like nearby? For example, is the neighborhood close to:
- Gyms, yoga studios, etc.
- Restaurants, movie theaters, shops
- Golf courses, parks and walking trails.
The website Livability(Opens in a new window) provides many insights into things to do near your desired neighborhood. Just like safety, a drive around the area will point many of these things out as well.
- Resident Make-up: Do you have young kids? Are you looking for a neighborhood made up of young families, where kids run and play together? Do you desire a more mature community with residents whose children have left the home? For individuals interested in the social aspects of belonging to a neighborhood, resident make-up can play a big role in their happiness. There are independent research sources online, such as Area Vibes(Opens in a new window), that can help you find out more about demographic and behavior characteristics of residents in an area that interests you.
- Homeowner’s Association: Many neighborhoods have a homeowner’s association (HOA) that is responsible for various aspects of neighborhood life. Residents of the neighborhood make up the board and ensure:
- Common areas, such as community pools and entrances, are maintained.
- Houses and landscaping within the neighborhood conform to standards.
- Certain city services, such as trash pick-up, are centralized.
Ask your real estate agent about an HOA in the neighborhoods that interest you. If there is an HOA, how much are the HOA fees? What do the fees pay for? Are they worth it? What rules and regulations does the HOA impose?
A neighborhood plays a big role in the enjoyment of your home. It has social, educational and financial ramifications. Don’t let your excitement over a specific house cause you to ignore a review of the neighborhood. Use this guide to help you determine where you want to live.
For more information on buying a home, contact(Opens in a new window) your Guardian Mortgage professional. We’re here to help you purchase the home of your dreams.
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