Don’t just Choose the Right House. Choose the Right Neighborhood!
Author: Andy (Anh Dung) Pham
We all love finding our dream home—a house that fits perfectly with what we wanted—but is that enough? There’s another factor to consider as well: your neighborhood. We might be clear on which cities we’d like to live in, but let’s think carefully about this question: Is this particular neighborhood a good fit? Here are 5 things that you should consider.
Table of Contents:
1. Is it safe?
Safety comes first for you and your family. You want to make sure you live in an area where you have peace of mind. Ask your agent to help you research the area.
A. Is it in a low-crime area?
B. What was the crime rate over the last few years?
C. Is it trending upward or downward?
D. What kind of crimes took place in the past year?
E. Are they mainly domestic complaints, theft, auto theft, vandalism, drug activity or other felonies?
F. Is there sufficient outdoor lighting along the street or by front door, garage and patio entrances?
Another consideration to take into account is how well the neighborhood and properties are protected.
One more good idea: check on the location of the city’s closest fire station (for response time) and nearby fire hydrants.
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2. Is it a community with a homeowner association?
Many communities have an HOA (homeowner association) under direction of the board of directors and charging monthly or annual fees.
Dues may include:
- Trash and recycling collection
- Street maintenance: sweeping, snow plowing, street light maintenance, etc.
- Lawn care, landscape and tree upkeep
- Maintenance of common areas
- Maintenance of exterior components (roofs, siding, gutters, concrete, etc.)
Rules and Regulations may include:
- Noise restrictions, especially after daylight hours
- Restrictions for pets
- No additions or modifications to the buildings, driveway or yard without approval
- No added landscaping by homeowners
- No gardens
- Specifics on street and guest parking
- No RV, large truck or boat parking
- No choice of exterior paint colors
Read the HOA governing documents carefully before making the purchase. You will be bound to agreement and observance of all rules and regulations once you are an owner. This step should not be overlooked. HOAs can reduce a lot of anxiety and unwanted chores for homeowners, and the rules can also drive some owners crazy because they would rather have more independence and control over the exterior of their property. This is a very personal choice.
3. Are there other amenities available within the HOA or neighborhood?
- Community swimming pool
- Indoor community room with kitchen and hosting possibilities
- Exercise facilities
- Underground parking
- Basketball court
- Tennis court
- Children’s playground
- Water features, pond or lake
- Nature preserve with walking or biking trails
- Golf course
Having these amenities can make your neighborhood a desirable place but might come with an additional, and unexpected, price tag in your HOA dues or taxes. Extra features might be nice, but only if it’s something that’s really meaningful to you and will bring joy or convenience to your lifestyle. Think about the amenities—or lack of—to decide if it seems right for you.
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4. What’s near the neighborhood?
- Parks, river or lake
- Biking and walking trails
- Hospital or clinic
- Gas station or convenience store
- Grocery store
- Shops and shopping center
- Other services centers (auto repair, auto body shop, post office, etc.)
- Coffee shops and restaurants
- Potential irritations (railroad, airport, lumber mill, power plant, chemical plant or other manufacturers that may cause noise, air or water pollution)
When contemplating living in a new place, it’s important to think about nearby features that will affect your level of contentment. You’ll want a space that feels relaxing and convenient. If you like to entertain, think about what that would look like in this neighborhood. If you like lots of activity, children and pets, does this feel right for you? Prefer solitude and quiet spaces? Will this property fit that bill? Some people also realize that they need to see water or trees and greenery. Think about what makes you happy and what is most important to you and your family.
5. The Neighbors
Getting to know the neighborhood and neighbors might be difficult since you aren’t living there, but you can take some proactive steps to better acquaint yourself with the area. Drive through the neighborhood at different times of the day and week. This lets you know what goes on and what type of activity you can expect.
Try driving to/from the neighborhood before and after school and work to judge what you could expect from the traffic conditions. Look for typical property upkeep, toys and pets. If you are in a snow-belt, check on how well the streets, sidewalks and driveways are cleared of snow. These observations will give you a clue of what is standard for the area.
You can also walk through the neighborhood and greet the people who live there. When the weather is nice, do you see people walking around, working on their lawns or landscaping, or visiting with each other? If so, don’t be shy. Walk up to them with a friendly hello and a smile and talk with them about how long they’ve been there and what they like most about it.
Let them know you are new to the area and ask them questions about their neighborhood and the surrounding area. Your realtor, the seller and the seller’s realtor may be able to fill you in further. Give it some serious thought. It’s always a plus if the home and setting you choose are a good fit for your preferred lifestyle.
At the end of the day, you want to choose a house that is comfortable for you and your family and convenient to your most frequented places like work, school, shopping and friends. To make it even better, do a little more homework on the neighborhood itself, and you’ll enjoy a daily routine and setting that feels like home to you! If you’ve enjoyed this article, please share it with a friend on your Facebook who might benefit as well. Thank you in advance!