How are the schools? Where’s the nearest grocery store? How long will your commute be? There are several aspects to consider when searching for the right neighborhood, and it often comes down to your own personal priorities. However, we have a few other criteria you should consider before you decide.
Fits Your Lifestyle
First and foremost, make sure the community matches your lifestyle. If you love checking out new restaurants and bars, choose an area that accommodates that. Families that enjoy taking walks or going on long runs may be happiest in a community that is close to parks with miles of trails to enjoy. Do you want to be in a community where neighbors get together for social events? How do you feel about spending your weekend at nearby museums and music venues? What about beaches or golf courses?
Make a list of “must-haves” and a list of “like to haves” so you can stay focused on what is most important to you and your family.
Sidewalks and Amenities
When searching neighborhoods, make note of the sidewalks, or lack thereof. If a community has wide, well-maintained sidewalks, it is likely family-friendly. Wide sidewalks are ideal for residents who enjoy riding bikes or taking walks. Neighborhoods without sidewalks could be dangerous for children walking home from school and could also present a safety concern for walking at night.
Community amenities are also something to keep in mind – if you would enjoy taking advantage of a shared swimming pool, clubhouse, tennis court or playground, then add that to your list of “must-haves” or “like to haves.”
We don’t suggest committing to a neighborhood without checking your potential commute time. It can be easy to fall in love with an area without realizing that your commute would be 45 minutes in heavy traffic each way. And don’t forget to calculate the distance to the closest grocery store, movie theatre, gym and restaurants. If it’s important for you to be within 10 minutes of a Target, which we of course understand, then make sure you keep that in mind when choosing your neighborhood.
Low Crime Rate and Highly Rated Schools
It’s important to check crime rates and school scores when deciding on an area, especially if you’re moving there from out of town. Without knowledge of various parts of the city, you risk finding a community that looks safe but actually has a high rate of break-ins or burglaries. Same goes with schools – be sure to check school scores online. It may also be worth driving by and seeing the schools in person to ensure they look well-maintained. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
Tour In Person
Don’t rely upon pictures and Google Maps Street View – check out the area in person. Take in the smells and the sounds. Listen for sounds from nearby busy streets, train tracks, hospitals, freeways or airports. We suggest visiting the community at various times of day as well. Are the streets well-lit at night? Are there children playing in their front yards? Does traffic build up as people are leaving the community on their way to work in the morning?
Last but certainly not least, trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right about the area but you can’t figure out what it is, you are probably right. And the opposite is also true – if you have a good feeling about the community, it has all of your “must-haves” and you have checked all of the criteria listed above, go for it!
What’s your best piece of advice for choosing the right neighborhood? Let us know in the comments below!