You feel financially ready to buy a home home and you’ve figured out what you can afford to spend. Now it’s time to tackle the next step: researching where to move.
Location, location, location is everything, and your new neighborhood should be a good fit for your lifestyle. As you’re researching where to move, keep this checklist on hand to help you narrow down the field.
Weigh Needs vs. Wants
When comparing neighborhoods, start by thinking about what you need most to be happy in your new home. For example, your list might include:
- Living on a quiet side street versus near a busy main road
- Having a larger yard
- Being close to your job so you can avoid a lengthy commute
Now, consider what’s on your “want” list. That may mean things like:
- Living Within walking distance of shops or restaurants
- Settling down in a trendier area or a newer development
- Having access to amenities, such as a pool, tennis courts, golf courses, etc.
Distinguishing between your must-haves and would-be-nice-to-haves can help you prioritize what’s most important when researching where to move.
Check the Schools and Crime Rate
Quality schools and a safe environment are top priorities if you’re raising a family or expect to at some point.
If you have very young children, start by canvassing local daycare facilities to see how they’re rated and how much they charge for care. Then move on to the elementary, middle and high schools in the area, looking at both public and private education options.
You should be able to find crime rates for a specific neighborhood or city online, but if not, the local police department should be able to give you a rundown of how often violent and property crimes occur, and which types of crime are most common.
When researching where to move, be aware that great schools and low crime can help drive property values up, making homes more expensive. And, excellent safety and education ratings make a neighborhood more desirable, meaning more competition from other buyers. You should be factoring those things in to your strategy as you shop for homes.
Take a Closer Look
Researching neighborhoods online is a good place to start, but to get an idea of what a location is really like, you need to spend some time there.
If you’ve picked out a potential place to live, pay a visit at different times of the day. Observe things like how foot and vehicle traffic patterns vary, how quiet or noisy the area is, whether residents and passersby are friendly, if kids are encouraged to play outside, and how well-lit streets are at night.
When in doubt, talk to locals about what they like or don’t like about a particular neighborhood. And once you’ve found the perfect location, take a look at these mortgage loan FAQs to help you prepare to buy.