When buying a new home, although the home’s interior layout matters, so do the neighborhoods, counsels architect Jason Shimp. You might prioritize house hunting by focusing on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need, but a better method prioritizes locating the ideal neighborhoods first, then locating appropriate homes to buy.
How do you find a good neighborhood?
You can quickly identify a few great neighborhoods in any city by prioritizing two factors – the cost of living and safety. Most house hunting websites offer something similar to Zillow’s monthly payment calculator, so you can see at a glance the total monthly cost of the home. This typically includes the house payment, insurance estimate, and any homeowners association dues.
Cost of Living
Jason Shimp says that once you locate neighborhoods with house payments within your budget, you determine which of these neighborhoods provides a low cost of living, too. You can use websites like Movoto to determine which neighborhoods in a city or state offer the best cost of living.
Follow this up by studying the crime rates of each of these reasonable-cost neighborhoods. A neighborhood loses its attraction if it costs little but isn’t safe. You can use a website like Neighborhood Scout to determine an accurate crime rate for each neighborhood. The website amalgamates the crime statistics of all jurisdictions for a neighborhood to catch jurisdictions that overlap instead of relying only on the stats of the local precinct.
Schools and Accessibility
Jason Shimp explains that to determine which neighborhoods offer homes within your budget with safe, low-crime neighborhoods, you can begin shopping for the other items that make a good neighborhood great. If you have children, ranking the neighborhoods by schools offered comes next. If you have no kids and don’t plan to do so in the foreseeable future, your next criterion should be your commute. How easily accessible the neighborhood is to major highways and interstates decides this. Also, consider the walkability of the neighborhood. Could you easily shop for groceries, run errands, or go for coffee on foot?
In some compactly developed areas, such as New York, New Jersey, California, and Illinois, you may have a choice between townships or towns instead of neighborhoods. Your commute might be equal from either location, but other factors such as local sales tax and property taxes influence which neighborhood would create the ideal living situation.
At this point, you’re ready to conduct housing searches using sites like Zillow. You can prioritize specific areas and visit homes you find within your budget to tour the house, wander the yard, and get a feel for the neighborhood’s vibe. You can save yourself time by researching neighborhoods in this order and whittling down where to look for your next home, says Jason Shimp.