Finding a Good Neighborhood: It’s More Than Just Location

We’re diving in and discussing all the finer points of how to choose a good neighborhood for real estate investment. 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? No biggie, you got this. 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 some key factors to consider when looking for homes to buy in Phoenix or Salt Lake City.

School System

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. Let’s break it 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 educations for kids. Online resources like and 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 is 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 the 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!

Alternative Transport Options

Don’t get excited, we’re not talking about hoverboards or teleportation here. Transportation options like walking, biking, public transport, and ridesharing are important to consider when looking for a good neighborhood. Use maps to evaluate the different transportation options available in an area. Ideally, a good neighborhood will be close to restaurants and parks and will be easy to get around via car, bike, foot, and public transit. But you might find neighborhoods that rank really high in two of the three categories. If coffee shops and local eateries are your love language, you’ll totally want to check neighborhood walkability.

How to find the neighborhood for you

Public Parks and Playgrounds

In the 1950s, American society experienced post-WWII economic prosperity and cities expanded to build more parks that also housed sports facilities. Today, throughout the country, parks are a major venue for physical activity. Data from the National Recreation and Parks Association states that nearly 75 percent of American’s live within a two-mile radius of a park. Not bad! In good neighborhoods, parks are better staffed with support personnel, which often means more developed park programs and activities for residents to enjoy.

Parks present a great opportunities to get to know others in your community. Plus, you’ll have ample space to toss a frisbee in the exact opposite direction than you intended. You can search online at Find Your Park and Nylabone’s Dog Park Locator to find outdoor spaces in a neighborhood.


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.


Some neighborhoods come fully equipped with recreational facilities. From golf courses to community pools, it’s smart to explore the social offerings available in a neighborhood. Depending on the climate, certain neighborhoods could host more desirable amenities. A home near a fantastic neighborhood pool in Phoenix or a property on an exclusive golf course in Park City are both ideal features for their respective communities. Tennis, anyone?


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. It’s risky business.

The Final Word

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!

Feeling overwhelmed with where to begin? Reach out to Homie to get started today. 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!

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