The right neighborhood is as important as the home you choose. The perfect home is a small consolation if the neighborhood is unwelcoming, in an area with poor schools for your children, or doesn't have the basics you need to feel comfortable. Before selecting a new home, it's a good idea to create a list of requirements. Think about the things that you must have in a new neighborhood, and then create another list of the things you simply can't tolerate. If you need a neighborhood close to good schools, put that information on the list. If you won't tolerate a neighborhood near a busy city area, add it to your list of cons.
Consider the Commute
The commute between your home and work should be one of your primary concerns. If you don't yet know where you're going to be working, look at local businesses and choose an area with a high level of employment. If you don't have a car, choose an area with a good public transportation system. At the very least, you'll want to research the different modes of transportation available. An area with good bicycle lanes and pedestrian walkways can be essential for a family without a car. The trade-off for being close to city-life is that you'll have more noise and possibly pay more for a home in a quieter area.
The Style of Homes
The neighborhood you choose may be partially determined by the style of the homes. On the surface level, you must first decide what kind of home you want. Single-family, apartments, co-ops and townhouses are all options that will partially determine the neighborhood of your choose. Once you decide on the type of home, consider whether you want a historic home or a newer development. There are also neighborhoods that offer homes that have the feel of a historic home with the features of a modern home. For example, a good choice for a discerning family might be to choose one of the classic homes from builders. These classic homes feature architecture that is truly timeless, elegant exteriors and superbly detailed designs.
Gather Information About the Area
Once you've narrowed down a list of areas based on the home style, proximity to businesses, distance from schools, and the availability of public transportation, it's time to gather statistics. Look up the reputation of local schools, check the crime statistics for each area, identify any local parks and recreational areas, and look up any tourist attractions. Finding out what each neighborhood has to offer can help you drastically narrow down your options.
Determine the Mood
Don't be afraid to knock on a few neighbors doors, or attend a local community event to get a feeling for the new neighborhood. Visit the local community center, attend a community play or a local church gathering. Participate in the local community once you've narrowed down the options, so that you can get a feel for the community and type of people you will be living around. Save this step as a last step once you have narrowed down the options to two neighborhoods.
Once you've gathered all your information, it's time to choose a neighborhood. Take some time to sit in the neighborhoods you've considered and listen. Pay attention to the sounds you hear, since you will become very familiar with them over time. If a neighborhood fits all your requirements but still feels wrong, you should trust your gut and go with another area. Finally, compare your loan options and aim to take a home that is less than the total value of any money offered to you by a lender. Most lenders often offer you more than you can afford, so it's important to stay practical when choosing your new neighborhood.