When you’re in the market for a new home, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re not just looking for a house. You’re also looking to find the right neighborhood. A dream home can quickly turn into a nightmare if it’s in the wrong place, and a fixer-upper may be worth it if it’s in the right area.
That said, if you’re among the 11% of the U.S. population relocating, here are a few key ways you can find the right neighborhood for you and your family.
1. Visit the neighborhood
One of the best ways to determine whether a neighborhood is right for you is to visit it yourself at different times of the day. A potential home may be on a street that looks promising during the day but may have a different vibe at night. It’s also a good idea to visit the area during both the weekday and the weekend. A neighborhood might be quiet on the weekdays but could be rowdy during the weekends if you live near local colleges.
2. Review public crime maps
Over 70 million people have criminal records indexed by the Interstate Identification Index (III), and websites like Family Watchdog can let you know whether a convicted criminal lives near your potential new home. Other real estate websites, like Trulia, provide crime maps you can use to determine whether a neighborhood is safe. While Family Watchdog will tell you whether a convicted person lives near your home, crime maps will offer more general information such as whether there were any assaults or break-ins in the area.
3. Check out industrial companies in the area
Crime isn’t the only thing that can make a neighborhood unsafe. You also want to be sure that the neighborhood you’re moving into has clean water and air. You’d be surprised by the amount of pollution that can make its way into a residential neighborhood. For instance, pipeline corrosion alone costs the country over $9 billion every year. Fortunately, you can track the amount of pollution that goes into certain areas using the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory, which tracks how many “releases” industrial facilities put into the air, water, and land.
4. Research local spots
It’s one thing for a neighborhood to be safe and another for it to be safe and a good fit for your family. Be sure to ask yourself what your family wants from a neighborhood. Do you have dogs that love to run around at the park? Do you prefer to walk to the store with the kids? A quick way you can take homes off your “maybe” list is by doing a quick Google maps search to find where local parks and shops are in the area around the property. This quick search will help keep you from getting too invested in a home that doesn’t need your neighborhood needs.
It can be tricky to find both a home and a neighborhood that meets the needs of your family. By following the tips above, though, you can make the home hunting process just a little bit easier.