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While "the perfect neighborhood" means different things to different people, everyone can use the same process for narrowing down their options. Choosing the right neighborhood is an integral aspect of the buying process. You want an area that matches your needs for community, lifestyle, price range and more. If you're planning to rent or sell the house in the future, you should also consider the resale value of the neighborhood. Even though areas change over time, some areas can be relied on to maintain their value. Often this is due to other longer-term location features such as a university or access to a city's main shopping or services. Current price range and property values will always vary by neighborhood.
Getting from Place to Place
You’ve probably considered how long of a work commute you’re willing to make. While this is helpful as a starting point, it's vital to consider everywhere else you'll need to go on a regular basis. If you eat out or order in, how close are restaurants? Do you have choices within walking, biking or jogging distance? What are the alternatives for delivery? Find the nearest grocery store options and check to make sure they carry the kinds of food you want to buy. Be certain that their parking or public transportation access works for your shopping needs. Don't forget the business hours. If you get off work at 5 pm, then have an hour commute home, and the grocery store closes at 6:30 pm, your shopping will always be stressful, and the timing will inevitably be tight. Speaking of commutes, where is the nearest gas station? Find it and visit a view times to figure out how busy it is during rush hour or when you expect to need it in a hurry.
Schools and Healthcare
If you have or are planning to have children while living in this house, schools are an essential neighborhood feature. Visit schools for different ages and find out how the school district works in the community. Talk to administrators about dress codes, honor policies, class availability and how your kids will get there. Some schools have dedicated buses or walking routes. Some offer free or discounted public transportation passes. Others have strict rules about driving and drop-off times, so ask all these questions upfront.
Access to healthcare is a vital feature of any neighborhood. If your insurance requires your doctors and hospitals to be part of a particular health network, do your research. Find all the doctors, dentists, hospitals and pharmacies, and map them out. Use this map to ensure your favorite neighborhood isn't a considerable distance away from your emergency room, just in case.
Finding the perfect neighborhood can seem like a chore, but it is mandatory that you put the right amount of time into it if you want to get the most out of your new home purchase. Talk to your professional real estate agent about your specific needs and use their inside knowledge to help eliminate or favorite the areas on your list before searching for your forever home.