Choosing a neighborhood is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make when purchasing a new home. It determines your lifestyle; like whether or not you’re going to be driving a lot, the schools your kids go to, nearby amenities and what jobs you can take. After you finish unpacking your moving truck, a neighborhood should feel like home. When choosing a neighborhood you need to consider what you want in and around it. We asked Redfin real estate agent Sabrina Booth what she thinks are important factors to consider when deciding on a new neighborhood to live in. Here’s what she said:
Price and Ratings
It’s safe to say almost everyone considers price when looking at homes and deciding on a neighborhood. Everyone wants a nice house in the nicest neighborhood, but that isn’t always possible. So, homebuyers have to decide what’s more important to them, and if they are willing to pay the large price for the nice house and location. Often times people are willing to give up space in a home for a better location, and vice versa. People also look at how the neighborhood has been rated, which has a lot of factors in it. For example, if it’s a family neighborhood, if it’s a younger area, if it’s a well-liked area etc.
Walkability is a major factor to look for in a neighborhood. If you’re someone who likes to walk to coffee shops, restaurants, parks, grocery stores, etc. you absolutely want to check the Walk Score of the neighborhood you’re considering. It’s also important to think about whether or not you’re going to be driving a car. If not, can you walk to work or to transportation? Can your kids walk to school? With all of the car service options now, having a car is really not necessary and living in a neighborhood with a high Walk Score is more important.
Many people are starting to buy in areas with great transportation. For example, the light rail was just added to the Rainier Valley neighborhood in Seattle, and the number of buyers in that area has gone up immensely for that reason, according to Sabrina Booth. Being close to transportation is important if you don’t plan to drive into work everyday. You can save money on gas and parking, and feel better about your carbon footprint!
Today, people work longer hours and spend more time at their offices than they used to. So, living closer to the higher-paying jobs in the city and having a shorter commute is very important. A lot of people who don’t have kids would sacrifice a big home with a yard for a smaller home with a shorter commute. A high Opportunity Score is important to a lot of people because it allows them to be close to the office and have a shorter commute time. When people start to have kids, they then realize they need more space and a different style neighborhood than they did before. They are willing to have longer commute time and a bigger home with a yard and garage.
There are lots of resources out there to help you determine whether or not the neighborhood you’re searching in is safe. You can look up crime statistics, sex offenders, etc. This is something you’ll definitely want to do when you start narrowing in on neighborhoods, especially if you have kids.
When a family with children is looking for a new home, the school ratings in the neighborhood are a major factor. Typically when schools are better in an area, the homes get more expensive, and people are willing to pay the prices to be in the district with the highly rated schools. You can use a tool like GreatSchools to determine how the schools fare in the neighborhood you’re interested in.
U-Haul Tip: Nearby Storage
When you finally get everything in your new home, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with clutter. Maybe you have more items than you need because you’re downsizing. Perhaps you have a big family with lots of sporting equipment and seasonal items. Either way, you may be seeking some storage. If this is likely for you, it’s a good idea to research how far you’ll be from a storage unit. It’s a great way to get settled quicker, and save those extra items for another day!
What are some things you consider when choosing a new neighborhood? Tell us in the comments below!
Alexandra is Redfin’s public relations and social media intern. She writes content for the Fun & Fabulous and Local News sections of Redfin Real-Time. Her dream home would be near the water and have a big kitchen for entertaining and cooking.