When you can tell the difference between your housing wants and needs, you'll probably have an easier time deciding what you want and need from a neighborhood. Where you live is as important as the house you live in.
You may already have a good idea about the neighborhood you would like to live in. Don't let that keep you from looking at other neighborhoods with similar qualities. You might not be giving another area a chance - and you might be passing up your dream house.
Ask yourself these questions about neighborhoods:
- How long will it take to get to work? What will it cost?
- Is this country, suburban, or urban living?
- How far will you be from family members?
- How far will you be from religious activities, night school, or other regular activities?
- Are there any homeowners' association fees?
- Are there any homeowners' association rules or restrictions?
- Can you afford the county and/or city taxes?
- What are the schools, hospitals, and other public services like? How close are they?
- Is it an older, established neighborhood or a younger, still growing community?
- Are there signs of new construction in the area?
- What will this neighborhood look like in 10 years?
- What are the values of other homes in the neighborhood?
- If there are nearby restaurants and other businesses, do they bring people out during the day, or at night?
- What's the traffic like during the week? In the evenings? On weekends?
- Is the empty lot behind the house going to be developed?
- Are there plans for a mega-mall or sports facility nearby?
- Are there mass-transit options within walking distance?
If you like a neighborhood, talk to people who live there. They'll be the most knowledgeable about the area and may be your future neighbors.
Where should you look for additional neighborhood and community information?
- Local newspapers and radio stations
- Local school districts, school boards and county Web sites for school information
- Neighborhood or homeowners' associations
- Real estate professionals
- Local organizations like the local Chamber of Commerce
- Local businesses
- Public libraries
- Local police departments
- The Internet