Finding the right neighborhood is as important as finding the right home. You should make a list of things you want in a neighborhood before you start looking for homes. Some criteria to think about include schools; commute time; walking distance to amenities; look, feel and sound of the area; and tourist attractions. Here are some things to consider.

  1. The time of day when you first lay eyes on a prospective house can affect your impression of the neighborhood, so visit at various hours. Everything always looks pretty in the sunshine.
  2. Don’t forget to factor in commuting costs to the home price. Also, think about the costs to get to things you like to do and proximity to basic services such as a grocery store, post office, freeway or train station. Gas isn’t cheap, neither is inconvenience.
  3. Consider the area’s amenities. Just because an area is safe and the homes are pretty doesn’t mean it has what you are looking for culturally. Are schools important to you or medical facilities or parks or museums? Figure out what type of lifestyle you are living and what your personal future holds.
  4. Research the future of the neighborhood such as future developments that could increase taxes or traffic. Also, look at property value over time.
  5. Characteristic of the neighborhood are important because you will want to “fit in” in your new neighborhood. Research the demographics, types of housing and neighbor values to see if they match yours.

There are some great tools on the web to help you choose the perfect neighborhood. Try Walk Score to see if you can learn something about your current neighborhood.