How to choose the right neighbourhood for you
Choosing your next home is about more than finding a house you love.
In order to be truly happy in your new place, you need to be located in the right neighbourhood. Otherwise, no matter how much you love your house at first, if there are things about the neighbourhood that really get on your nerves, that happy feeling will fade and you’ll start to resent where you live.
Of course, the “right” neighbourhood is different for everybody. It all depends on you; your preferences, your lifestyle, your needs and wants.
While you may not find a neighbourhood that perfectly suits everything on your wish list, it’s important to put some thought into what your most important priorities are and what you will be willing to compromise on.
Start by brainstorming a list of characteristics you want to have in a neighbourhood, such as close to school, work or other amenities, tall trees, older or newer homes, and whatever else you can think of.
Next, rank your list from what is most important to what is not as important. This will help you figure out what you want the most and what you can learn to live with (or without).
In this step you’ll also be thinking about what kind of house you want to live in, but the point of this step is to remember not to limit yourself to thinking about how many bedrooms, the size of the garage, or whether or not you want a yard. Think beyond the walls and fences of your dream house and consider your dream neighbourhood.
Next, it’s time to do a little research. If you know the city you are moving to, you might have a head start on this step. Make a list of the areas that seem to best suit your list of priorities. If you are moving to a new city that you don’t know very well, you might have to start by searching out some kind of list of the different areas in town.
Search for any resources you can think of for the city you want to move to – official websites for your city or region, websites that provide tourism information, business improvement area or neighbourhood association websites, or anything else you can think of. Your real estate agent should also have some resources for you.
As you find information about the neighbourhoods on your list, you’ll probably be able to start eliminating some of them. Some neighbourhoods you may want to get further information on, such as school information, where the parks are, what kind of services are nearby, and so on.
Of course, the affordability of an area is a big factor for most of us while we are house hunting, but try not to discount areas that seem a bit pricey. There might be little surprises within the area that are more affordable – a street or two over from the priciest houses, there might be plenty of homes that are within your budget. Keep an open mind, but be reasonable.
When you think you have a good feel for the neighbourhoods on your list, make a plan to visit the ones that still interest you.
When you visit the neighbourhood, pay attention to your first impression. Is the area fairly clean and well-kept? Does it seem quiet, active, noisy? Is there enough green space for your liking?
Think about your daily life. What are your habits and which amenities do you need to be closest to?
Does the neighbourhood feel like somewhere you can see yourself living? Does it meet your criteria? Go back to your list of priorities. Don’t just accept that the neighbourhood looks nice. Does it have your most important characteristics?
Now that you’ve narrowed down your search area, hopefully there will be some homes for sale there that also fulfill your criteria. You might need a little patience, but at least you’ll know that when you are looking at properties, you have done your homework on the area and can weigh all the pros and cons about the homes and the neighbourhood to help you come to a great decision.