Finding your way home
People often daydream about their ultimate “dream house” when they get the itch to move, but it’s important to remember that the perfect house is only as fabulous as the neighborhood in which it’s situated. If the area doesn’t suit you or your family’s needs and desires, not even the cutest little cottage or slickest urban condo will do, no matter how perfect it is on paper. Because while obviously you’ll be spending lots of time in your new house, you’ll also be out and about in your community—so make sure it’s one you really want to live in.
HGTV has some great suggestions for things you should think about when you’re planning to move. Consider these tips for choosing a neighborhood that’s perfect for you and yours.
- Make a list of all the things that are important to you in a neighborhood, and remember to think about your family’s needs and interests both now and 5, 10 or 15 years in the future.
- Do you have children, or are you planning to have children? You may want to make sure there are parks, community centers, libraries, and good schools nearby.
- Where do you work? Consider your commute, including whether or not there is public transit available to you, and how long your trek to work will be. Consider mileage and gas costs, or calculate train, subway or bus fare.
- Do you enjoy walking? If being able to walk or bike to stores, attractions and restaurants in your new community is important to you, visit Walk Score to find out just how walkable a potential neighborhood really is.
- What’s missing? Think about the things you wish your current neighborhood had and put them on your wish list.
- Once you’ve zeroed in on an area you’re interested in, start digging a little deeper.
- What are the crime rates? If your real estate agent and/or real estate websites can’t shed any light on the subject, call the local police department for specific information on crime in your potential new community.
- What’s there to do? Visit the city or town’s official website or local tourism websites to find out what interesting attractions are located nearby.
- What will they expect of you? Check to see if there is a neighborhood association. Find out what kind of rules and regulations you’ll be expected to adhere to, and if there is a yearly fee.
- How close are important services? Where is the nearest hospital, airport or library, for example?
- If possible, visit your potential new neighborhood. In fact, park and walk around to get a real feel for the place.
- See how houses and yards are maintained, determine if stores and restaurants are clean and inviting, notice if there are any derelict buildings nearby or if there is a lot of vandalism and graffiti.
- Think about the things you like to do—go for a run in local parks, walk to a coffee shop, visit the library—and make sure all those things will still be easy to do in your new neighborhood.
- Drop into the community during different times of the day, if possible. You’ll get a better overall snapshot of what daily life will look like there, and a feel for noise levels, congestion and traffic.
- Chat with the locals. Ask them what they like and don’t like about the neighborhood and where they like to eat and hang out. If they’re friendly and polite, that’s a good sign!
- Take a sniff. Are there any offensive smells coming from local businesses, factories or even homes?
Moving can be a big life change for you and your family. Doing some preliminary thinking and research is a great way to make sure that the move you ultimately make is as positive as possible for everyone involved.
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