If your family is considering a big move, you may be wondering how to tell if a neighborhood is good or not – for all of you. The best method is by asking the right questions. Let's take a look at what every family should consider as they start visiting neighborhoods and new developments.
Cost of Living and Real Estate Realities
First things first: Cost of living can vary significantly from neighborhood to neighborhood, even if they are only a couple of miles from each other. Start any new home search by considering your budget, means to purchase, and what you can afford when it comes to monthly fees. This is especially true for families who are looking at rental opportunities, but is also helpful when calculating a mortgage, etc.
Look at Local School Options
If you are wondering how to choose the right neighborhood for your growing family, start with looking at school options. If your children are on the younger side, look at elementary schools, what features and academic options they offer, and where they are: The perfect neighborhood for your family may be just a safe walk or bike ride away from an elementary school that you love.
As kids grow older, they are generally automatically assigned a high school based on their school district and the specific zone they live in. It's important to check what high school that would be, what features it has, and where it sits in rankings and performance metrics like graduation percentages, test scores, etc.
Nearby Recreation and Entertainment
Always take a minute and ask, "What are the good things in my neighborhood that everyone enjoys? Which of these fun features would we miss the most when moving?"
If your family loves playing in the park, take a drive around to nearby parks and see how they fit with your plans. If they prefer skateboarding, basketball, or other sports, look for the appropriate parks with these amenities. Or perhaps a home close to a river or lake is important to you. You may also want to consider what kind of grocery stores or gas stations are nearby.
Don't forget about entertainment, too: Is there the sort of dining and cuisine nearby that you enjoy? How close is the nearest movie theater? Are there fun shopping experiences nearby? If you have a dog, you'll want to find things to do in the neighborhood for your furry friend too, like visiting local dog parks or walking routes.
This is always a good time to consider neighborhood safety: you can find a variety of safety tools online to look up specific neighborhoods and get ideas about crime rates and more.
Many families look for a new home after they already have a new job set up – in this case, you know where you'll be working, so take time to think about the commute if necessary. Do you mind driving a certain distance to your job? Are there public transportation options for easy access to the workplace? If you're a cyclist, think about whether you'd like a neighborhood that's close enough to bike to work.
If you are working from home, you can think about if you'd like any cafes or collaborative spaces within a short distance to help you find additional pleasant work environments.
Know the Noise Levels of the Area
Almost everyone seems to have a horror story about a noise issue in places they once lived, from overhead planes at all hours to partying college kids on the other side of the street. One issue that homebuyers have is that it's difficult to diagnose any noise issues with a single visit to a property – but there are alternative ways to find out.
If you find a property or neighborhood you are particularly interested in, make an effort to visit several times at different times of the day – something noise levels at the early morning or late at night can be very different than the middle of the day. Look for any signs that noise may pick up at certain times, such as nearby bars and pubs, sport venues, and similar places. When in doubt, you can always look for a friendly neighbor to ask, or see if you can hop on a social app like Nextdoor to ask for more information on types of neighborhoods.
Remember to Consider HOAs
HOAs, or Homeowners Associations, are a divisive topic! But they are also a common feature of neighborhoods and need to be considered when finding the right community for your family. For some people, the idea of the perfect neighbor is someone who leaves them alone and allows them to landscape, decorate, and modify as they see fit – which means it's a good idea to look for a neighborhood without an HOA or with an HOA that has been recently disbanded.
Others may prefer an Association that maintains a certain amount of order and control over how houses look, where trailers can be parked, and a variety of other details. Check if there is an HOA, and carefully read its guidelines if there is one.
Find the Perfect House
Finally, what makes a perfect community is often the perfect house: We encourage you to explore new developments with the latest home designs, and ongoing lot construction that allows you to make plans for the future if you prefer to take things slow. Think about how much yard space you need, whether you like a one-story or two-story home, and what sort of amenities are must-haves for your family.
Lancia Home offers a variety of options for seeing our newest developments, designing a home, and buying a house once you've found the right spot. We also offer Zoom Meetings and tours for those who prefer to do remote research at this time!