Five Things to Look for When Choosing a Neighborhood

| November 2, 2012

picking out a neighborhood Choosing the neighborhood of your future home is as important as the dwelling itself. Consider the following five things to look for when talking to a real estate agent and choosing a neighborhood.

1. Homeowners association

Some neighborhoods and subdivisions contain homeowners associations that maintain common areas and enforce certain rules and restrictions (HOAs). Some people prefer to live in an HOA neighborhood because they can be assured of certain standards when it comes to the neighborhood and exterior of homes. Other people find such an atmosphere too restrictive and do not want to pay association fees in addition to a mortgage. Deciding ahead of time which category you fall into will help you in choosing the right neighborhood.

2. Well-maintained, walkable streets

Seek out a neighborhood with well-lit streets free of potholes and other dangers. Also look for short streets and quiet cul-de-sacs, which means you’ll be situated away from major traffic, an especially attractive prospect if you have children or pets.

Consider how walkable it is when looking at the layout of a neighborhood. Walk-friendly neighborhoods allow you to explore your area while getting exercise. Such neighborhoods often contain a variety of conveniences such as nearby restaurants and shopping, along with hiking and biking trails.

3. Nearby services and signs of growth

Look for a community with readily-available amenities and services, such as churches, schools, libraries, grocers and restaurants. Mark on a map the most important services you’ll need to see how the neighborhood is laid out. Nearby police and fire stations are also a perk in case of an emergency.

A neighborhood that appears to be growing, rather than downsizing, is another important consideration. Signs of new or planned construction are a good thing to see because it shows the area is likely to continue to improve. In a more established area, look for vacant buildings and lots, and empty storefronts, which generally are not a good sign.

4. Family-friendly

Even if you don’t have a family, it’s nice to move into a neighborhood where people feel comfortable to walk their dogs and push their children in strollers. The fact that residents feel safe walking around is a good sign that the neighborhood is secure.

5. Well-maintained homes and satisfied residents

When houses and landscapes are well taken care of, that shows that the neighborhood is composed of individuals who take pride in their homes, which is the kind of neighborhood you want.

It sounds obvious, but the people who live in an area have the most accurate view of what life is like there. If your potential future neighbors are happy with the area, then there’s a good chance you’ll be happy as well. When choosing a neighborhood, search for reviews of the area online, which will give you a good indication of how satisfied residents are with the area.

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Category: Real Estate

About the Author ()

Julie Bawden-Davis is a Southern-California-based writer specializing in home and garden, real estate, small business and personal finance. Since 1985, her work has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Family Circle, Ladies’ Home Journal, Better Homes & Gardens, Entrepreneur and The Los Angeles Times. Julie is a University of California Certified Master Gardener and has written five gardening books, including Reader’s Digest Flower Gardening.