When you purchase a house, you’re not just buying land and a structure. You're also choosing the community you’ll live in. Finding the right neighborhood for you is an important consideration. After all, many details of your daily life depend on your location. And while you certainly can describe a neighborhood by a subdivision name or the streets that form its boundaries, a neighborhood is much more than a section on the map. It is defined by the people, amenities and character of the area.
Set your priorities
Deciding on a neighborhood that fits your lifestyle and desires is an important step in ensuring your happiness. It can be challenging, too. There are so many things to consider.
Quality schools top many homebuyer lists of desirable neighborhood amenities. It may surprise you that being in an area with good schools is important even for people without children because of the influence on resale value.
It’s unfortunate that we have to think about it, but crime statistics of a neighborhood are important, too. Take your time and do your research on this one.
You will also want to consider transportation issues, such as how living in this area is going to affect your commute and the ease of access to public transportation and major thoroughfares.
Some people would like to be in close proximity to healthcare facilities. Others find that having quick access to shopping centers or their favorite grocery store or restaurants is a top priority. Still others may value features such as public pools and parks, access to bike routes and jogging and walking trails.
Everyone’s list will be different. The key is to find a neighborhood that scores well in areas you deem important. That’s a good place to concentrate your search.
It would be great if you found everything you were looking for, and I hope that you do. However, if you’re like many people, you may have to make some sacrifices. A neighborhood you’re considering may score well on most of your checklist but not meet every single one of your criteria. That’s when you have to decide if a missing attribute can be offset by the presence of another.
Now that you know what’s important
Once you establish what you want in a neighborhood, how do you find a place that has what you’re looking for?
A great way to judge the character of an area is to go out and view it with your own eyes. If you have the opportunity, get in your car and drive around or walk through the neighborhood. Don’t limit yourself to one particular time of day. Visit the neighborhood during rush hour, mid-day, on weekends and other times to see if there are significant changes at different times.
Talk to people who live and work there. Ask them to candidly describe their neighborhood. Check out the schools and stores.
If you are relocating to a new city and want to get a feel for the area, subscribe to the community newspaper. You can find out a lot about a neighborhood through a local paper.
Searching the Internet can yield interesting results, too. Many neighborhoods have online communities where frank, lively discussions of neighborhood issues are common.
You also can find sites that offer demographic information, data about crime, statistics about public and private schools, business reviews and much more.
Get local expertise
When you purchase a house, you’re also making an investment in a neighborhood. As a result, choosing the neighborhood should be a primary consideration when you begin your home search. Many Realtors specialize in specific neighborhoods and can offer valuable insider advice and local expertise.
Whether you're interested in buying your first home, your next home, or just want to know more about home-ownership in general, I encourage you to check out a couple of great online resources: http://www.texasrealestate.com/ or http://www.har.com/ and for all of your Pearland TX and Northern Brazoria and Galveston County real estate needs, please visit my site at http://www.danfrankrealty.com/. All of these sites offer tons of useful, real estate-related information geared specifically for Texans.
Danny Frank is a local Pearland TX Real Estate expert! You can see my entire blog at http://www.pearlandrealtyblog.com
My column was also published in the 09Oct09 edition of the Galveston County Daily News