Long before you ever schedule your first home-hunting visit, you’ll spend lots of time researching where that home is located. That’s because considering where you want to live, and what that neighborhood is like, is one of the most important steps to buying a new home.
If you’re changing neighborhoods, your home itself isn’t the only thing you’ll be moving into. The area surrounding your home is arguably just as important as the home itself. For starters, knowing where you want to live will help you narrow your search considerably. More importantly, it may be the factor that helps you settle in – or creates buyer’s regret.
Not sure how to choose the right neighborhood for you? Start by considering the following key pieces of information:
- Cost of living. Practically speaking, you will want to move into a neighborhood where you can afford to live. Local housing price trends, income taxes, and sales and property taxes will all factor into a neighborhood’s affordability. Fortunately, these days it’s easier than ever to find this information courtesy of Google, which can collect public information in a single place for your use.
- Safety. It’s normal – and encouraged – to research a neighborhood’s safety statistics when deciding where to live. In addition to Googling for cost of living stats, you can also use the search engine to find crime reports of the areas that interest you. Niche.com and HomeFacts.com are both specific examples of sites that will help you find an area you’re comfortable with.
- Travel. We can’t spend our entire lives in our homes, so knowing how you’ll get around is another important part of choosing where to live. Is the neighborhood walkable? Does it have bike paths? Can you access public transit? And if you drive, what are normal traffic patterns on the roads you’ll use most? Depending on your priorities, you may research these questions to different degrees. Walk Score may be helpful for bikers and transit users. Meanwhile, Google Maps and local traffic reports can help you analyze the roads. CommuteInfo.org will even help you estimate the cost of your new commute, if you have the information you need for the calculations!
- School. Even if you don’t have children, you need to know what school or schools are in your prospective neighborhood. Schools impact home values, as well as your local commute. Niche.com, HomeFacts.com, Greatschools.org, and even an area’s school district website can help you determine if the school system will fit into your moving plans.
- Demographics. From income to age to relationship status, there are a number of demographics that will either make a new neighborhood feel welcoming or closed off to you. Census data may be a helpful starting point as you consider these factors, and the comprehensive reports from HomeFacts.com also offer some insights here. But once again, Google will be the fastest resource you have for gathering public information in one easy-to-use place.
These five important pieces of information are big things to consider when deciding where to live. While only a single part of the process when buying a new home, they’ll lay the groundwork for every decision to come. Making that groundwork strong is what will make your future home, the right home!
Have questions about your next steps? Reach out to your local Howard Hanna agent! No matter where you are in your home hunting journey, our team can help you decide on your next steps with confidence.