Choosing the Neighborhood is your first step when buying a new house
When you choose a house, you’re also choosing a neighborhood. However, the first decision is the neighborhood – because your real estate agent needs that information to start the search.
How should you choose the neighborhood where you and your family can live happily for the foreseeable future? Here are six key considerations to keep in mind when you are choosing a community.
1. Type and size of houses available. If you’ve already decided what type and size of house you need, that limits your range of neighborhood options. For instance, if you want a large single-family dwelling on a large lot, you probably won’t have the option of living in a neighborhood near the city core because the housing stock available there would probably be dominated by condominiums and townhouses.
2. Commuting preference. Another decision that you need to make early in the process is what type of commute you prefer. If you don’t have a car and need to use public transit, the suburbs are probably not an option. If you prefer to drive, living in a downtown neighborhood could be problematic, as parking is not always included with the house.
3. Schools. If you are a parent, schools are surely one of your top priorities. Parents want to be near schools – and some parents also specify the quality of the schools they seek. Even if you are not a parent, you should take note of the presence or absence of schools, as studies have shown that houses near schools retain their value better than other houses.
4. Commerce and culture. It’s important to decide what you need in nearby shopping and dining opportunities. Is it important to you to be able to walk to the shopping center and the café, the community center and the restaurants, the art galleries and the museums? If so, you’ll need to be in the city. If you don’t mind driving to almost everything, consider the suburbs.
5. Crime. You can check the crime statistics for a particular zip code on real estate websites. You can also try calling the local police station to ask about the crime rate in the neighborhood you’re considering. Alternately, you can simply walk or drive through the area at night to get a sense of the level of safety and security.
6. Specific ambiance. Finally, you should keep in mind that two neighborhoods can be similar in all the ways discussed above (from the type of housing available to the crime rate) and yet feel very different. So it’s a good idea to investigate the ambiance of each of the neighborhoods you are considering. It may be influenced by the average age of the houses, the ethnic backgrounds of residents, and many other factors. Soak up the ambiance of each community and decide what you like.
Just as choosing the right house is important, choosing the right neighborhood for you and your family is also important. So take the time to consider the options. Then you will be sending your real estate agent to a community where you know you can thrive.