The steps to buy a house can be many and tedious – but there are also some that are fun.
Outside of ensuring the property itself is what you love, you want to be sure the neighborhood you’re settling in is exactly what you want.
There are several great ways to research a neighborhood you’re eyeing up before you take the plunge and move there.
Talk to the Locals
Nothing beats immersing yourself in the area and getting first-hand accounts of what it’s like.
Take a walk through the streets or visit a local park to see who’s up for a chat. Run errands to the local grocery or corner store, and stop in at a restaurant or coffee shop in town.
You’ll get a good sense of the neighborhood from simply being present in it and observing, and you might even have a friendly face or two talk to you about what it’s like to live there.
Look for Signs
While you’re in the area, take note of the amount of “for sale” signs you see. Is there at least one on every street, or are they hard to come by?
Noticing how many people are looking to leave the area will be a good indicator of what’s going on there. On the opposite end, if many people are not selling homes it’s a good sign the neighborhood is one for resident longevity.
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Consider Cost of Living
Take note of the price of gas at local stations, what groceries costs are like, and any other expenses you’ll incur doing routine activity. If you need to utilize public transportation, find out what the rates are.
Ask potential sellers what utility bills at the property are like and research property taxes.
All of these factors will dictate what the cost of living will be like in the area.
Commute to Work
You will want to know what your typical work commute will look like, so aim to drive into the office at the same time of day you normally would see what traffic patterns are. If using public transportation, arrange to take that at your usual commuting time.
Know How Safe It Is
Research the crime rates in the area, and look at recent local news to see if any red flags arise in the way of crime. Use aggregate crime data sites like CityProtect and NeighborhoodScout to gather information.
Walking around the neighborhood will give you a better idea of how safe you personally feel as well.
Look at the Topography
The physical characteristics of your new neighborhood can have a huge impact.
Research if the land and surrounding areas are prone to flooding, ice, or natural disasters.
The views from your yard can impact the price of the home; scenic areas like bodies of water or mountains may call for a higher price point on the house.
Check Social Media
Nowadays, most towns and cities have social media pages and groups dedicated to the area.
Look at postings for recent months to get first-hand news from residents.