5 Ways You Can Research a Neighborhood Before You Move

By Alicia Geigel on July 1, 2022

Adult life is full of exciting new changes: getting a job, starting a new relationship, or even securing a home of your own. Moving out of your parents’ home and into a place that you share with either roommates or a romantic partner is a major milestone in adulthood and one that has plenty of things to consider.

Rent/mortgage payments and home type are some of the most common factors to weigh during a home search, but another important one that shouldn’t be neglected is picking the right neighborhood that fits your wants and needs.

Narrowing down the perfect location will most likely require some compromise, as not every town or area is going to be perfect. As you’re looking for your forever home (however you want to quantify ‘forever’), follow these five simple tips that will guide you to a suitable location for your current situation.

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1. Evaluate What You Want: Before diving into any neighborhood that comes your way, sit down and get a clear idea of what you’re looking for in terms of location, accessibility, roadways, etc. In determining all the traits and qualities of your dream neighborhood, don’t forget to come up with a legitimate, affordable price for home shopping. Location is a driver in increasing home prices, so if you are looking for something easier on the wallet, consider your different options. Doing this helps you to stay on track while perhaps other stressors can cloud your judgment or ability to think clearly. You don’t have to have absolutely everything figured out, but the basics are a good start.

2. Determine the Neighborhood Type: Not that you have started to understand what you’re looking for, now it’s time to determine the type of neighborhood you want. Depending on the area, the location could be urban, suburban, or rural- each coming with their own sets of benefits and disadvantages. Narrow down your searches by figuring out what you want out of your neighbors, such as accessibility to grocery/retail stores, accessibility to major roadways/highways, sidewalks, nearby parks, buildings of worship, educational buildings, etc. This also gives you a little bit of wisdom and adds another layer of detail that you can leverage to find the best place for your situation.

3. Look Into Crime Rates: A sidewalk adorned with flowers and a chic, modernized townhouse is not always indicative of how safe the location is in terms of crime. As you are dealing with your home search, looking into crime rates is an imperative step to take during the process. Not only do you want to check the frequency of crimes, but you should also consider the type of crimes occurring in your area, such as theft, breaking and entering, battery, murder, etc. If there is a low crime rate in your neighborhood and its surrounding areas, you’re in the clear. Don’t be lured by lower home prices if it is in an unsafe area, if your safety is at risk, it’s not worth it.

4. Talk to the Locals: There is no better way to gauge a potential neighborhood than by talking to the local residents who live in that area. Unlike formal websites that only give out hard numbers, reports, and data, locals can give you an idea of what it is exactly like to live in the neighborhood. Each person can give you their account of what noise levels, traffic, parking, municipal rules/laws, etc. are like so you have a real idea of the ins and outs of the neighborhood. Elizabeth Weintraub of The Balance notes, “Do not be afraid to go the extra mile and talk with the neighbors before you buy a home. Not only will meeting them give you an idea of whether you’ll be compatible, but neighbors will often disclose material facts that a seller might forget.”

5. Keep Track of Real Estate Trends: Another way you can efficiently decide on where to settle in your new home is by monitoring the real estate trends in that area. Look on sites like Trulia or Zillow to gather useful information on the rental market in that location, as well as the number of housing sales in the recent years. Regarding evaluating real estate, US News notes, “Too many [homes for sale] may indicate a possible drop in property values, while very few could be a sign that the area is full of long-term residents.” This ultimately should not be the sole factor that determines where you’ll be moving to, but it can give you a more well-rounded answer to your potential questions.

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Making the leap of faith to move from one area to another is by no means an easy feat. The entire process of moving can be both physically and mentally exhausting, which is why doing the proper research on your potential neighborhood can save you an extra headache in the long run.

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