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How to Research Neighborhoods

Buying a new home is major undertaking. Even before you begin to consider issues such as pricing and financing, there are factors such as kind of home, size, and location. Another major consideration is neighborhood.

It is important to research neighborhoods before relocating. Knowing where the best schools are, where the crime rates are lowest, and which areas are the most desirable are important pieces of information, as they will not only affect your quality of living, but are also helpful to your new home's resale value.

Below are ways to effectively research neighborhoods:

Read online and printed information

There are a number of websites and printed resources to kick-off your search. For example, you can research neighborhoods by:

  • Viewing school reports, city comparisons, and demographic information:
  • Getting complete city profiles, including schools and demographics, and compare your current neighborhood with your potentially new one:
  • Calculating your moving costs, explore school and city reports, and view crime statistics:
  • Reading newspapers for lists of trends of the most desirable neighborhoods
  • Visiting the local library or city planning office of your potentially new neighborhood

Visit neighborhoods

If you are able to, visit your potentially new neighborhood. Drive around and look at the homes, businesses, and environments. Talk to people to get to know what the locals are like. Find out what people like and dislike about their neighborhood. Visit and chat with people in various restaurants and coffee shops.

Schedule school visits

Another great idea is to schedule a visit with the local schools. Meet with the principals and see if he or she will introduce you to some teachers. Bring your child(ren) to see get their take on the school. Walk around the school to check out the facilities. Be sure to call ahead and check in with the school's office prior to visiting, as most schools have visitor policies for safety precautions.

Test out the transportation

If getting around easily is a top priority, you can research neighborhoods by testing out the public transportation system. For big cities, use the subway, trains, bus system, and even taxis to get a feel of the routine, cost, routes, and scheduling. Note how many transfers you must make between work or school and your potentially new home. If you have a car and will be mostly driving, drive around the city and main parts of town. Get a feel for the parking situations, traffic during rush hours, and your route to and from work or school. An inconvenient transportation plan can affect some people's moving decisions.

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Next Steps

Contact a qualified real estate attorney to help guide you through the home buying process.

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