Whether you’re moving for a new job, upsizing your home, or want to get a change of scenery, trying to find the best neighborhood is just as important as finding your new home. If you have kids, you need somewhere safe with access to schools and other amenities. When you purchase a new home, you’re buying a house and investing in a new neighborhood.
A neighborhood can make or break your quality of life. You might have your heart set on a beautiful home, but if the community has higher crime rates or little access to amenities close by, you might be putting yourself and your family in a more stressful situation.
Each family will have its own needs, but when finding a neighborhood, there are a few commonalities every family should look for. Here are some tips on how to choose the right neighborhood for your family.
Look at Neighborhood Safety
Safety should be a number one priority for you and your family. If you feel that a neighborhood is unsafe, you won’t enjoy your new community. Before you make a move, use the internet to look up local crime rates in the area you’re considering.
You can also visit the neighborhood and be on the lookout for well-kept homes, signs of neglect, and whether there are people out and about. Ask around as well and read crime reports in local newspapers.
Research Local Schools for Your Children
If you have kids or plan on having them, you should research local schools in your neighborhood. Usually, a sign of a good and safe community is a well-kept school. You can learn about the schools near your neighborhood online and plan a visit to the school. Consider things like class size, graduation rates, public transportation to get your kids to school, and the school’s safety.
Consider Your Needed and Wanted Amenities
Another consideration is proximity to amenities. You might find a quiet neighborhood, out of the way and more near the countryside, but if you have to drive a half-hour to get anywhere, it might not be worth it, depending on your lifestyle.
When looking for a new neighborhood, be sure to research proximity to grocery stores, hospitals, schools, restaurants and other non-essentials, like art centers or libraries.
Figure Out Commute Times to Work
How long will it take you to get to work from your potential new neighborhood? Is there traffic in the morning? Is it easy to navigate the route? If travel time to work is an important part of your lifestyle, you should visit your neighborhood during rush hour and drive the commute a few times to see if it’s manageable. An easy commute allows you to start your mornings on the right foot.
Check the Cost of Living
Every family has a budget when they move. If you haven’t figured out your budget yet for housing, property taxes, and general cost of living, it might be a good idea to do so before moving to a new neighborhood. Some neighborhoods are more expensive to live in than others, especially when it comes to property taxes. Research the cost of living for your potential new neighborhood to see if it will fit your lifestyle.
Visit Multiple Times
Another great way to ensure you’re choosing the right neighborhood is to visit it multiple times at different times of the year if possible. This might not be possible if it’s hundreds of miles away, but you can still make it happen.
Once you find a house you like, visit the neighborhood around it. This will give you a feel for the community. You might meet some people and ask what they like and dislike about it to help you make a more knowledgeable decision.
Make a List of Important Neighborhood Features
What are the most essential features of a neighborhood for you? You’ve likely learned what you enjoy or dislike about your current area, so use that information to make a list of features that you want in your new neighborhood.
Think about your own preferences and those of your kids and partner. Do you prefer quiet streets? Would you like to walk to amenities? Do your children want a park? Would you rather have a tight-knit community or be secluded?
Leverage Local Connections
Finally, use any local connections you have to a region to find a safe neighborhood for your family. If you’re relocating for work, you’re probably going to end up somewhere miles from anyone you know. Take advantage of anyone you know in your new region and find out facts about neighborhoods. Personal connections can often give you more insight into a community than any home-buying website. They’ll be more frank and helpful.