You have an idea of where you’d like to buy, but you haven’t yet narrowed down which neighborhood makes the best home. Sound familiar?
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re looking for a new home.
Aside from fundamental property requirements, one of the most important things I advise my clients to do is to write down a list of their priorities. When I review the list, I can usually identify a corresponding location and discuss the key factors of that particular area— the pluses and, inevitably, the minuses of the neighborhood—so that my client can move forward with confidence.
If you’re planning a move and don’t know where to start, you can usually get an idea of whether a neighborhood is right for you based on the following 7 factors.
7 Factors To Consider When Moving To A New Neighborhood:
1. Proximity To Work, Transportation, And Shopping
How far are you willing to travel for work? What would your route to the office look like, and how much traffic is there during rush hour?
If you’re considering neighborhoods far from your job, find out what your commute would feel like. Pick one or two days to drive to work from each neighborhood where you’re thinking of buying, and see if the travel time is compatible with your schedule.
This goes hand in hand with proximity to transportation; if you’re thinking of purchasing a home far away from work, family, or other commitments, it may be beneficial to live close to transportation.
Lastly, think about conveniences like shopping and entertainment. Do you cook or dine out most nights? How would these habits be affected if you were to live in a given neighborhood?
Again, one of the best ways to answer these questions to set aside time to explore each area where you’re thinking of buying a home.
2. Local School Ratings
Whether or not you have children in school, your home’s value and property taxes will be affected by schools in the area. Research public schools near the neighborhoods you’re most interested in, and avoid areas with underperforming schools when possible.
If you are a parent, it may be worthwhile to research nearby private schools as well.
GreatSchools.org is an excellent resource for finding more detailed information about different schools in each neighborhood.
3. Climate And Weather In The Area
Whether you’re moving 5 miles away or across the country, research the climate and how your new home could potentially be affected. Find out if the area you’re interested in has extreme summers or winters.
Learn what to expect during each different season and how different weather patterns could affect a property. Depending on where you’d like to buy, you may be required to purchase flood insurance for your home. This information will be important when you’re determining your total budget.
4. Presence Or Absence Of An HOA
As you can imagine, homeowners associations and their corresponding fees can vary dramatically from one town to the next.
If the home you’re interested in is part of an HOA, contact its manager for detailed information. Aside from knowing how much the HOA costs annually, make sure you research what the HOA offers. Learn about the duties you’d be responsible for as part of the association, and find out how you could benefit from joining the HOA as well.
Your findings regarding the HOA alone could help you decide if a neighborhood is the right choice for you.
5. Crime Rate
Researching an area’s crime rate is a critical step for choosing a neighborhood. In addition to keeping you and your family safe, avoiding high-crime neighborhoods increases the chances your home can be sold at a favorable price if and when you move again.
You can begin your research through various websites and even apps for your phone that provide information about local crime rates. Additionally, make sure you also contact the local cops to request a log of recent crimes and police calls made in the area. This will give you a better understanding of whether or not a specific neighborhood is, in fact, a safe choice.
6. Property Taxes
Another critical factor that can easily be overlooked is the annual cost of property taxes in the neighborhood you’re considering.
Luckily, property tax information isn’t too hard to find. If you’re buying a home in the Houston area, for instance, you can look up historical property taxes on the Harris County Appraisal District’s website.
Your realtor is also a great resource for finding out about property taxes in the area.
7. Income Required For A Comfortable Lifestyle
Being “house poor” is never the goal! Research the cost of living for each neighborhood you’re interested in, and ask yourself honestly if you could live comfortably.
Estimate your monthly mortgage payments, and compare this to your household income. Could you easily afford to pay bills and buy groceries, or would you be stretching your wallet too thin?
Still Need Help Choosing Your New Neighborhood?
As a long time resident of Houston, almost 30 years now, I know practically every nook and cranny of the city. I know the shortcuts, the ground streets to use to avoid highways, the parks, the cool restaurants and other area amenities! I’m a geographical wizard!
If you’re thinking of buying a luxury home near Houston, please contact me for assistance!
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