How to Choose The Right Neighborhood When Moving
One of the most challenging parts about moving is finding the right neighborhood to rent or buy. Location can impact your quality of life when settling into a new home.
Before most of our moves, we had the luxury of being able to explore neighborhoods before settling down. Being able to research areas ahead of time, and getting to see communities in person, helped us narrow down locations that worked for us.
Sometimes, we knew exactly where we wanted to move, which was easy. Other times, we had to visit different areas until we found the right one. And a few times, we got it wrong and moved again to a different neighborhood as soon as possible.
When planning our move to Southern California, we hoped to buy right away. That didn’t happen for three reasons:
- The city we were looking at was massive. We needed help finding a location that felt like home. Our Realtor needed help to guide us to the right community, so we spent a long time scoping out different regions of the city.
- My husband and I were on different pages about what we wanted and needed in a home. So, we saw a lot of homes that weren’t the right fit for us.
- There was a low inventory, and the cost of living was high. So, we were picky about finding the right home if we had to pay so much.
Choosing a neighborhood to move to can be a big decision, and there are several factors to consider. Once we found a location that checked most of our wants and needs, settling down was much more manageable. Learn from our mistakes and follow these tips to help you choose a neighborhood that suits your needs:
Determine your budget
Before you start looking at neighborhoods, it’s essential to determine how much you can afford to spend on housing. Consider your income, expenses, and other financial obligations when setting your budget. Remember to factor in the cost of moving, utilities, down payments, and deposits. These added costs can make the moving process much more stressful
Decide what you’re looking for
Consider the most important things in a neighborhood, such as proximity to work or school, public transportation options, safety, amenities, walkability, and community activities. It took my husband and me a while to get on the same page regarding our wants and needs in a neighborhood and a home. I created this cheat sheet for you as a conversation starter to help narrow down what is best for your family.
Once you have a good idea of what you’re looking for, start researching neighborhoods that fit your criteria. You can use online tools like Zillow or Trulia to get an idea of housing prices and other information about the community. I also recommend joining local online groups to get a pulse on different neighborhoods. As a mom, I’ve joined local mom groups to ask about housing opportunities. Reaching out to groups who live a similar lifestyle to you can be very beneficial by giving honest feedback.
Once you’ve identified some neighborhoods that seem like a good fit, visit them in person if possible. A quick weekend trip to scope things out can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. Walk around, check out local stores and restaurants, and talk to people who live there to get a sense of the community. Drive through neighborhoods at different times of day to get an honest feel for the community.
Consider the commute
If you will commute to work or school, choose a convenient neighborhood. Consider the time it will take to get to your destination and the transportation options available. If an hour commute isn’t a big deal, your housing opportunities are greater. But, if you prefer a short commute, keep that in mind as you look at neighborhoods.
Look at crime rates
Safety is an important factor to consider when choosing a neighborhood. Check the local crime rates to make sure you feel comfortable living there. I remember we lived in a neighborhood where the crime was common. This made us uneasy, and we moved to a safer area. I was far less anxious when walking in the community and going to my car when it was dark outside in the early mornings.
Consider the schools
Suppose you have children or are planning to have children. In that case, the quality of the local schools will be an important consideration. Look at school rankings and talk to other parents in the area to understand the education system. It’s much easier to settle on a community with a good school district early on than to move into one at the last minute before your kiddo starts school. Also, neighborhoods with good school districts tend to be safer, cleaner, and have high returns on property value.
Evaluate the housing market
Consider the current housing market in the neighborhood you’re considering. Is it a seller’s market or a buyer’s market? What is the average length of time homes stay on the market? This information can help you decide more about your housing options.
Considering these factors, you can choose a neighborhood that meets your needs and fits your lifestyle. Which in turn improves your quality of life. Remember, an open line of communication with your family, your Realtor, and anyone helping you with the moving process can make this move more enjoyable and less stressful. Remember that your wants and needs may change throughout the process, as there may come a time to compromise to make this move happen.