What to Consider When Targeting the Perfect Neighborhood?
Many potential first-time buyers enter into the home purchase thought process with a clear idea of exactly which neighborhood they intend to call home.
Most first-timers quickly realize that your favorite neighborhood is also one that you are not close to being able to afford.
Keep your mind open, pick several neighborhoods you consider primary then go back and pick another few that you consider secondary preferences.
Urban setting or pastoral paradise?
The obvious first question would be: Do you prefer to live downtown, with easy access to plays, live music, restaurants, shopping and the like? Or does being a little further away, in a little quieter and – typically – more affordable rural or suburban setting?
Either way, if you are vehemently opposed to one or the other, and can knock the corresponding houses off your list, it will save you some aggravation; while if you open your mind, it can give you a larger set of considered alternatives from which to draw.
If you have children, this is likely going to be the second-most-important, if not the most important, criteria on your list. You’ll need to check out the school district as a whole, from the lowest point in the system that your children or prospective children will or may ever enter the system.
For example, if you currently have a middle-schooler, check out the middle schools and high schools, and their ranking nationally and within the state, and if available, the matriculation rates of graduates. But if you’re also considering having a baby at some point in the next five years, go ahead and check out your options for preschool and elementary schools.
“Options” is the name of the game here. Naturally, you can do a lot of this research online, but if you’re in town (either because you already live there, or if you’re in town for a weekend working on your house deal) then call ahead and see if you can make arrangements to take a brief tour of a few locations.
You may fall in love with a school that’s farther away from the house you’ve fallen in love with. That’s going to be a commitment on your part to drive the kid there, but otherwise – fine. Additionally, you can think outside the box and consider tools like online schooling for your kids.
Make sure that they get plenty of socialization with kids their own age though. In other words, make sure you consider proximity to parks or other places where kids of a similar age group tend to flock.
Everyone is going to place these items in different personal orders of importance but this is another key factor in decision-making.
In thinking about “usability,” please consider the convenience of your prospective new neighborhood to the key spots in your daily life, like these:
- Place of work
- Partners’ place of work
- Favorite cafes, restaurants, snack shops, live music venues and movie theatres
- Your place of worship
- Places to walk, play, picnic, exercise (including the community pool, if there is one)
Those are the top two critical criteria you can assess when considering the neighborhood that comes hand-in-hand with that sweet little castle you have your eye on – but here are a few more to keep in mind;
- Do you want to be in a historic neighborhood or a new development?
- What is your current community lacking?
- Think about what you don’t want in a neighborhood, too.
- Crime statistics:
- Tourist attractions
Finally, some field duty detective work is an absolute must.
Remember your first impression. Does it give you a feel-good feeling? Does this carry over into the neighborhood? Sometimes this “gut feeling,” or lack thereof, can be a very important process.
- Visualize yourself in the neighborhood. Can you see yourself walking to get your morning latte or taking your dog jogging? That will give you a feel for what it will be like to settle down as normal in the neighborhood, which should be helpful.
- Drive or walk through the neighborhood at different times of the day to get an idea of life in the community. .Do people get out and walk and chat after work? Are kids playing? Are the surface roads gridlock? Are the streets well-lit? These are all clues toward what you’re looking for, or not!
- Do this next one both in the morning and in the evening: Stop and listen. Bird chirps and other sounds of nature are generally pleasant, but you’ll probably want to make sure you’re not going to get too much noise from the highway, busy roads, train tracks, airports, the throbbing bass at the dance club nearby, and on and on.
It’s a lot to take in, but doing a bit of self-assessment, combined with just a pinch of detective work, can really pay you back as you enjoy your new home and your new neighborhood for years to come.