Deciding What Neighborhood is Right for You
When you’re renting your home, you have year-long leases. You can move at the end of the lease if you don’t like the area.
When you buy your first home, it’s entirely different. You want to get the neighborhood right because purchasing a home should be a permanent decision or, at least, a long-lasting one.
The same is true when you rent to own. If you decide not to purchase the property you’re leasing because you don’t like the area, you’ll lose your option fee and any rent credits you’ve earned.
Consider the neighborhood you’re interested in living in. You might decide it’s not the right fit for you, or you could be more certain in your investment decision. Go through these tips for surveying a neighborhood and make sure you’ve done all the important checks.
Check Out Schools Near You
This is a criterion that many nonparents don’t often consider, and that’s a mistake.
Obviously, if you have a child you want him or her to get the best possible education; and, therefore, you would want to live within a good school’s boundaries. If you don’t have kids, you still want to consider local schools.
Living within the boundaries of a strong school raises property values for parents and nonparents alike. So, if you’re ever interested in selling your home, it will be worth more because it’s close to a good school. More so, there will be greater demand for a home in a good school zone.
You can learn about the quality of a school through websites, like GreatSchools.org. States release performance data about public schools that you can look into, as well.
Read crime statistics online
Many local police agencies send their data to websites, like CrimeReports or CrimeMapping. On those sites, you will get a map of the zip code and show you what crimes have taken place. You will probably want to steer clear of neighborhoods with a lot of armed robberies, violent crimes and burglaries – or at least factor them into your decision-making process.
Drive through the neighborhood at night
Most people tour homes during the daytime. Once you’ve narrowed down the homes you’re interested in, drive through the neighborhoods at different times of the day.
For example, you may want to drive through at night and listen to whether your potential neighbors play a lot of loud music at night. You might be able to hear the local high school band practicing from your window. Your backyard neighbors might sit in the backyard and talk until late in the night. For someone who works early mornings, that’s a less than ideal situation.
When you drive through, do neighbors wave at your car? Are they friendly? It’s difficult to get an idea of that while everyone’s at work, but at dusk, when people take walks or on the weekends, it’s clear.
Neighborhoods are different in the early morning, after school lets out, and late at night. You’re going to want to see all of them to get a clear understanding of how you would be living.
Is the neighborhood booming or busting?
If you see a lot of new homes or stores being built in the area, the area is growing and, thus, property values should increase. However, if you see big stores like Walmart leaving the area, it’s probably a bad sign.
First, it means that the neighborhood is shrinking not growing. Second, if a big store like Walmart cannot survive in the area, it’s likely difficult for local stores too. This could be a sign that the area will become t a food desert, in which healthy options are difficult and expensive to access.
Proximity to Work
For people with traditional 5-day work schedules who live 15 minutes away from work spend more than 5 days a week driving to and from work. The further you live from home, more of your year is spent in the car.
Therefore, in the interest of your own time, the closer you can live to work, the better.
Additionally, if you don’t have a car to drive to work, you want to ensure you live near public transportation, which you can use to get to work.
How to Discern Whether a Neighborhood is a Good Fit for You
To figure out if a neighborhood is ideal, make sure to visit the neighborhood at different times of the day to observe, check out the local schools and economy, look up crime statistics and figure out if it’s close enough to where you work.
My Neighborhood by Chis Dlugosz is licensed under CC BY 2.0.