Buying a house is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your life. You’ll be committing your hard-earned cash and several years of your life to one property, so you should make sure it’s a place you want to live in. You probably know the number of bathrooms and bedrooms you want, as well as the type of kitchen and the amount of backyard space.
But have you thought about the kind of neighborhood want to live in?
Your neighborhood is just as important, if not more important, than the house itself. While you’ll probably be spending more time in your house, your neighborhood will determine local activities, neighbors, safety, schools, how far you are from work, how far you are from stores/restaurants, etc. Here are some questions you should ask yourself when buying a home.
What kind of neighbors would you get along with? You’ll be living next to them for potentially decades, so you should greet your potential neighbors when looking for a home to buy. If you’re in your 30’s and are looking for peers to socialize with, you might not want to pick a neighborhood consisting of mostly retirees. If you have kids, it’s a great idea to pick a neighborhood with children their age so they can make friends. If your kids just left the nest and you want a quiet place to settle down, a busy college town probably isn’t for you. Don’t wait until after you’ve bought the house to meet your neighbors.
How safe is the area? Neighborhoods that feel safe during the day might be much worse at night, so do your research. Check the local police records or look up the crime rate of the area. You might want to consider getting a security system, depending on what you find.
What’s nearby? Are there any walking trails, sports fields, or playgrounds? How far is the nearest grocery store? Do you like to visit movie theaters, coffee shops, or restaurants often? Find the local commercial area and see what it has to offer.
Lastly, is the property part of a Homeowners Association? If so, what amenities does it provide, what are the rules, and how much are the fees? Homeowners Associations can offer an array of features like pools and tennis courts, but they usually have restrictions as well, such as what colors you can paint your house and how you need to take care of your lawn.
If you want to be certain you’re making a smart choice, do your homework and consider the area around your potential home as much as the home itself.