Most house hunters have a clear vision of their dream home. A gourmet kitchen. A yard for the kids. Lots of natural light. But how often is equal consideration given to the finer details of the location? How do you evaluate a neighborhood to determine if your dream home is truly in your dream location? Here are 5 ways to figure out if a neighborhood matches your lifestyle and investment goals.
High Level Analysis
Check out FindYourSpot.com and take a quiz that matches you with top rated locations based on your responses in categories such as: weather, culture, access to education and medical services, outdoor recreation, crime rate, communities of faith, and taxes/cost of living. Even if you don’t opt to register to receive the actual results, the questions will give you some great insight to ponder.
Think about what you like to surround yourself with. Do you like to be in the middle of it all with pedestrian or bike access to dining, shopping and entertainment? Do you prefer a quieter, more rural setting with some additional privacy? Or maybe you are somewhere in between. It’s helpful to evaluate the neighborhood using WalkScore.com. This will give you a good idea of what kind of access you have to amenities.
Park and walk
Immerse yourself in the neighborhood. Drive around and walk a bit too – at different times of the day. Not just in the neighborhood, but in the adjacent city center or surrounding business sectors. Here are some things to take note of:
- Are front yards and streets clean and well maintained?
- Are there parks and what condition are they in?
- Is there a public library? (This can be an indication of the state of public services and the financial health of the city or town.)
- Are businesses thriving or are there signs of businesses shutting down?
- What’s traffic like during commute times?
- Do you feel safe at night?
- What noises can you hear at different times of day?
- Are there any major employers in the area to attract jobs and support the local economy?
- Do you see the amenities you want? Outdoor recreation? Art and cultural enrichment? Shopping? Dining?
Whether you have children in the school system or not, a look at the reputation of schools is worthwhile since strong schools typically translate into better resale and property values. An easy way to check out the schools is to visit GreatSchools.org.
Dig Deeper – Consult a Professional
Online resources are a great way start your research and do your homework up front. But, when it’s really time to get serious, consult a loan advisor who will help evaluate your finances and provide a pre-approval to help match your dream home and location with a realistic budget. A local REALTOR® will have in-depth knowledge of neighborhoods and can provide additional guidance based on your preferences and budget.