If you’re starting a family, you might want to consider a neighborhood known for its good schools. Or if your children have graduated, you might want to move to a “hipper” neighborhood. Perhaps your company has moved, and you want to be closer to work. Any of your priorities may have changed over the years. Here are seven ways to evaluate a possible move.
#1: Time the Commute to Your Job
Perhaps you have been spending hours stuck in traffic to and from work and are looking for a much shorter commute. Just because one neighborhood is closer does not mean that you will get there faster. Time the commute from the different neighborhoods you are considering.
#2: Meet the Neighbors
You want to get a feel for the neighborhood? Talk to the neighbors. Just by walking around the neighborhood, you’ll get a vibe to let you know if it’s right for you. Are the people a little standoffish? Are they hesitant to make eye contact with you?
Are people friendly and neighborly? Maybe a little too friendly and neighborly…? Take a walk around and strike up a conversation with your potential future neighbors to get a good feel for the community.
#3: Go for a Walk Around the Neighborhood
One of the best ways to pick the best neighborhood is to look around it. Go for a walk and drive through the neighborhood on the weekend and on weekdays. Do the same thing at different times of day. Note where there are areas that look a little unsafe or dilapidated. How will that affect your quality of life there?
#4: Attend a Local Festival or Event
Kill several birds with one stone by attending a local event or festival. You’ll meet people in the neighborhood and get a sense of the type of community that it is; is it tight-knit? Young? Too old? A little too country? Local events can tell you a lot about the spirit of the neighborhood.
#5: Go Out to Eat at a Local Hot Spot
While you’re checking out houses, go to a popular eatery in the neighborhood. Check out the vibe and take note of people’s moods. Do they look at you suspiciously? Is the customer service lousy? Is it great and are the people great? You can glean a lot about a neighborhood by simply people-watching at a diner.
#6: See a Play or a Game at a Local School
If you have kids, the quality of the local schools in your neighborhood may be priority No. 1. Before you buy a house and enroll the kids, visit the school. Go to a school play or watch one of the local school’s sports teams to get a feel for the level of community support for the school and athletics.
#7: Read About the Local Job Market/Main Industries
Having a job today does not guarantee that you’ll have one tomorrow. And even if you do, it’s important to know if you are moving into a neighborhood that is growing and thriving or one that is crumbling. Get a local paper and read about the main industries in the area and the state of the local job market.