More Than Location: Finding the Right Neighborhood

If you’re shopping for a home, you’ve probably created a wish list to narrow down your search. Biggest purchase of your life, right?

Once you’ve landed on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and how important granite countertops and hardwood floors are, you’ve likely considered the L word: Location. Homeownership is a long-term relationship, and you’ll want to make sure to do your homework when dating your future neighborhood. Finding the best qualities of a great neighborhood is all about knowing where to look.

Here are a few ways to score a home and its neighborhood, no matter where you’re shopping!

Schools

Maybe you’ve got a baby on the way, or perhaps you’re single and kids are the last thing on your mind. Don’t worry, we got you either way. Buying a home in close proximity to a thriving school is more important than you might think. Diaper bag or not, you should do your homework on the schools near the home you are interested in. A buyer should do their own independent research to gain their greatest understanding of the neighborhood.

K-12

Trust us, you should care about how well schools in your area are doing. Let’s break the stats down for you. Here’s what you need to know, as suggested by the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

  • Check out the school district’s annual report.
  • What is the school’s discipline policy?
  • Check to see what services are available at the school.
  • What is the school’s safety policy?
  • Is there an active parent organization?

Doing research on local schools before you make an offer on a home can pay off. Good schools mean good neighborhoods, stable home values, a higher selling price, and better education for kids. Online resources like SchoolDigger.com and GreatSchools.org are especially helpful for evaluating schools.

School Digger ranks schools compared to other options in the state. You can narrow the search by city, neighborhood, and school level. The color code helps you quickly identify the rank of the schools in your preferred search area.

Great Schools provides a robust review platform where users can rate their local school. Reading the reviews is helpful for getting a good overall feel for the school environment.

Alright, bachelors and bachelorettes, we see you, you can put your hand down. What’s the big deal about buying near a good school if you don’t have kids? Two words: resale value. This is important, for real. Living near a thriving school means better teachers and better test scores, but in the bigger picture it also helps maintain the value of a home and ensure a faster resale. Homes located in high-quality school districts tend to sell quicker than homes near lower ranked schools. Be prepared that property taxes can be higher too… but that can be a good thing!

A good chunk of those taxes will go back to the local schools, which supports their programs and, in turn, makes for a great neighborhood to own a home. Everybody wins!

Post-Secondary Education

OK, so your dream home isn’t near any K-12 schools. Don’t fret! Post-secondary schools are good, too. Colleges, trade schools, and universities bring their own value to the neighborhood table. Here’s what you can look forward to:

  • Value. Like schools for younger kids, living near a college or the like can raise the likelihood of your home selling for more money later on because of pure proximity. People like to walk to places! They can save money on gas and not have to worry about parking.
  • Mature neighborhoods. If you live in the general area of one of these types of schools, it’s likely that the crowd is a bit older. If you’re looking for a mature neighborhood where you can find friends with similar interests, this is your best bet!
  • Entertainment. College towns are notorious for having plenty to do. Cute shops, restaurants and other fun places pop up all over in these areas because college kids like to have plans in the evening and on the weekends.

It’s important to note that these schools also bring a few less-than-ideal things to the table, too. Parties, full parking lots, and lots of traffic are sure to come with this area.

Commute

No one wants a commute to work that lasts as long as half a work day. However, some people can tolerate a commute that’s around an hour or so depending on how much they LOVE where they live. When you’re considering a neighborhood, don’t forget to take a peek at commute time on regular roadways and alternate means of transportation.

Public Amenities

There are a lot of public structures and activity areas that you can take advantage of. Many people like to live near these because they’re the best price: Free! Here are a few you may want to live near (preferably within walking distance).

Playgrounds

Playgrounds are the perfect gathering place for young families to meet and hang out without spending any moolah. There are also usually wide open spaces for family sports or rentable covered areas to host the next neighborhood picnic.

Dog Parks

Dogs are literally the best. See which parks will make your furry friend bark with enthusiasm with these resources.
Find Your Park and
Nylabone’s Dog Park Locator to find outdoor spaces in a neighborhood.

Libraries

This essentially goes in hand with a nearby school. Why buy books you’ll only use once when you can check them out for free? Libraries are also usually well-maintained so they provide a beautiful addition to the neighborhood.

Sports Areas

Some cities and neighborhoods offer basketball or tennis courts and other areas to play sports. There might even be a community pool! These are a great way to keep neighborhood kids outside and playing, as well as providing a place to connect with your neighbors.

Population

Proximity

In addition to all of the above, it’s important for you to consider the population size and density of your new neighborhood. Would living in a bustling urban metro area be your ideal neighborhood? Or do you prefer the peace and solitude of a rural neighborhood? Maybe a home in a suburban community geared toward young families is your preference? Whatever your liking, you’ll want to take population into account when seeking the best neighborhood for your individual needs.

Crime

It’s always important to check the crime rate of places you’re looking to move into. While crime happens everywhere, basically no matter what, you want to feel safe. You can find out this info with a simple Google search of city name crime rate.

Liveliness

It might be hard to get a good read on a neighborhood unless you have an opportunity to interview all of your potential neighbors. You can certainly knock on doors and ask questions, but if that’s not style here are a few key factors to consider when sizing up the vibe of a neighborhood:

  • People out and about. Seeing neighbors walking dogs and playing with their children in the front yard is a good sign of neighborhood vitality and safety. Future friends, yay!
  • High curb appeal. This is key for two reasons. First, it indicates that homeowners take pride in investing to maintain their properties. Second, it highlights that city services are functioning well, with paved streets and proper trash pickup services. In this case, go ahead and judge a book by its cover!
  • Nightlife. Visit the neighborhood during the daytime and evening hours, as well as on weekdays and weekends. This will help paint a realistic picture of what it might be like to live in the neighborhood. You’ll want to see all sides of your future home.

Home Insurance

The location, condition, and construction of a home will all play a part in determining home insurance cost. Here are just a few of the factors that a company will consider when quoting a home for an insurance premium:

  • Age and construction
  • Proximity to a fire station
  • Nearby coastline or body of water

Other features of a home will also be examined, but these three factors are closely tied to the neighborhood where the home is located. Insurance is about risk, and companies will assess risk in different ways. Always be sure to compare quotes to make sure you are getting the best rate for your coverage.

The End Goal

The qualities of a great neighborhood outlined above should prove helpful in the quest for finding the best neighborhood to fit your personal needs and lifestyle. Location isn’t the only critical consideration for resale value but it’s pretty dang important. A homeowner should enjoy and feel at home in their neighborhood. Buying a home is a long-term relationship, so take dating slowly and get to know each other before you take the next big step. You’ll want to make sure you and your new neighborhood are going to have a long and happy life together!

A Homie Can Help

Feeling overwhelmed with where to begin? Start browsing homes with Homie and see how easy it can be. Our team of licensed agents and experts are ready to help you find the home of your dreams, in a great neighborhood! All while saving you money. Pros that love contacts and legal jargon and want to help? Heck, yes! Oh, and they want to save you lots of dollar bills? Even better!

We made your neighborhood evaluation a bit easier, check out these guides!

Utah
Draper City

Arizona

Nevada

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