How to Find the Perfect Neighborhood
By Ale Zamora
When it’s time to find a new place, you start a process that many call “house hunting”. Essentially, you are hunting for a home, but to coin that title to the process seriously overlooks a crucial part: finding the perfect neighborhood. How could anyone forget about this major component? You must have one neighborhood (or a list of them) that you have researched intensely and are absolutely in love with before you actually start house hunting. And don’t go thinking that these two are typically the same thing; in fact, finding a neighborhood may even be more important than finding your actual home. As HGTV editor Liz Gray puts it, “If houses are like spouses, a neighborhood is like the extended family. But while you can have a good marriage and still dread holidays with the in-laws, you'll never love a house if you don't like your neighborhood.” Keep reading for tips on finding your perfect neighborhood.
Just like anything in life, you have to identify the right foundation for what you want your ideal neighborhood to be. These are the basics, and for the most part, they include factors such as crime statistics, commute time, etc. You always want an area that has little to no crime, and if you want to be a little extra cautious, consider a gated neighborhood with a 24 hour guard on duty. Consider how far you’re willing to drive to work every morning, too. Have kids? Research schools in your town and see which one is right for them; if it’s private, consider the drive time during the busy, early morning, and if its public, make sure you look within the school’s limits.
Once the basics have been checked off, take a minute to think about all those extras you’d like in a neighborhood. First, how do you want your home and surrounding homes to look? Do you want a whole street of updated craftsman style homes, or a whole neighborhood of rustic and charming homes that were built in the 19th century? Next, think about what you want surrounding the neighborhood. If you have kids, maybe you want to be within walking distance to a nice park or a YMCA. If you don’t have kids, consider how close to nightlife you want to be- and the extent of the noise that comes with it. Don’t forget about your privacy preferences, too. For instance, if you’re the kind of person who wants to go outside but still be somewhat secluded from civilization, look for areas with plenty of space between homes and high fences or thick bushes as dividers for the backyard.
If you're looking to snag a home in a great neighborhood for a less hefty price tag, look for one near some power lines. Many people stray away from homes with power lines for aesthetic reasons, providing you with a great opportunity to find that perfect house in that perfect neighborhood for a significantly cheaper price. If you’re searching for a semi-permanent, more temporary home, be sure to find one close to a top school, even if you don’t have kids; this will make your home desirable when you decide to sell.