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Homeside: Your Modern Mortgage Blog

What do I need in a neighborhood?

Posted by Rachel Guthrie on December 18, 2015

Often times when you are looking to move into a new home, it’s challenging to decide exactly what neighborhood is best for you, especially if you’re moving from a distant city or from out of state.

First, the best question to ask when evaluating what you need in a new home is “what do you like to do when you come home from work?” This can be a starting point for determining what amenities and locations are most important to the buyer for proximity purposes. Maybe they want to live close to the gym, their church, their job, a park, or a shopping plaza with multiple restaurant and grocery options.

It’s important to also make sure you’re checking out the neighborhood for yourself, if possible. If you live close enough, it’s a good idea to pop by the neighborhood at all different times of day and see it through your own eyes.

Next, sit down and make a list of your “must-haves” and items that are just “nice-to-have.”

Here are some questions that you might want to ask yourself before choosing a neighborhood or location:

City or Suburb? Think about the area that you would love to live in. Would you like a city feel? You might be close to the action, the best bars and restaurants, and the night life – but you also might be lacking a comfortable garage and significant space for your dog to run and play. Would you like the suburban feel? You might enjoy having a safe and quiet neighborhood to raise your children, but you also might be a 20-40 minute drive to your job in a downtown office. Most importantly, assess if you want be able to walk to these various locations. These decisions might depend on where you are in your life and your goals for the next 5-15 years.

Do you want a historic neighborhood or something more newly developed? A historic neighborhood will offer a lovely amount of character, but will more than likely require a lot of repair and work. Also, many of these neighborhoods are governed by community associations with strict standards that are put in place to keep the charm and image of the neighborhood.

Where is your job located? Next thing to consider is: where your income source located? Be honest with yourself about the commute. It is highly recommended, if you love close enough, to take some extra effort, and visit the neighborhood that you’re considering around the time when you would normally leave for work and time how long it may take for you to get there. Understanding how long your commute will be during various prime hours could make or break a location decision.

Are you planning on having children? Researching and understanding the school district is not just for married couples or individuals with children – this is an important topic to research for any home buyer in the market for a new house. Regardless of whether you’re single or childless, the school district in which you purchase may directly impact your property value. Maybe you don’t want to have children right now – but if you plan to have school aged children on that property, you should understand the quality of that school district and the extra community parks and programs that it offers.

What you DON’T want : Don’t forget – make sure you make a list and assess everything that you don’t want in a neighborhood as well. These discussions can be equally important when choosing your next home. Understanding both items that you do and do not want, and then weighting and prioritizing them accordingly should help to give you a solid starting point for your home search. 

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