Everyone knows that in the world of real estate, it’s all about location, location, location.
Truth be told, location is probably the most important determining factor when buying a home, because no matter how much you like the actual house, the location isn’t something you can change.
While there are often little things we can overlook when choosing a home, our location impacts our daily lives.
Here are eight tips on what to consider when picking your perfect home:
#1. Commute Time
If you need to commute to work every day, distance matters. And as all commuters know, time and distance aren’t always equal. So if you live in a suburb that is 20 miles outside of town, that could actually translate into an hour (or more) in the car going to and from work.
The best way to figure out if the commute time is doable is to do a test run during peak times. Go to your desired neighborhood and make the drive to work during morning rush hour. That will give you an idea of what your average daily commute time may be.
#2. Local Businesses & Shopping
Restaurants, grocery stores and entertainment are usually top of the list when people are looking to see what’s accessible in an area.
This doesn’t necessarily mean these amenities need to be steps away. It may mean you want them within a short driving distance. In which case, you’ll want to know how long it takes to get to these places and what sort of hours they’re open so you can plan accordingly.
#3. Recreational Activities
No matter what stage of life you’re in, you’ll want to make sure that the recreational activities of the neighborhood match your lifestyle.
Maybe you’re looking for bike paths in the area so you can hop on your bike and go for a ride on a Saturday morning instead of having to load up the car and go somewhere else to cycle. Or perhaps you want a nearby pool for your kids to learn to swim.
Ideally, you want to find somewhere that fits how you want to spend your recreation time. If you know you’ll be spending a good chunk of your leisure time doing specific activities, then look for a neighborhood that supports those as much as possible.
It might not be the first thing you think to look for, but does the neighborhood you’re considering have sidewalks? Walking paths? Busy roads with proper crosswalks?
If you’re looking for an active place to live, then walkability matters. Sidewalks actually make neighborhoods safer overall by providing passage for pedestrians. If you have a dog that needs walking every day or kids who’ll be headed
to the park or a nearby friend’s house, living somewhere pedestrian-friendly is a must.
Another consideration when it comes to walkability is your lifestyle. Are parks, trails or public spaces within walking distance? Depending on your interests, having places close by that are easy to get to on foot can be a big plus when picking a neighborhood.
It’s no secret that schools can impact the value of a home. While it may not seem like something people without kids should be concerned about, the quality of the school district can directly impact your home’s resale value.
If you do have kids who’ll be attending the neighborhood school, there’s more you can look at beyond the details of your school district or neighborhood school. Talk to neighbors, attend a PTA meeting or call the school and ask for a tour.
#6. Public Transportation
If you rely on public transportation as your primary way to get around then accessibility to transit will be important. It’s worth taking the time to check out the local transit authorities to get as many details you can and ensure you have easy access to where you want to go.
Questions you’ll want answered:
- How close is the nearest bus or commuter train line?
- How often are pick ups/drop offs? Does the schedule differ from weekday to weekend?
- Will you have to make multiple changeovers to get to places like work or social activities?
- How much does it cost?
- How long will it take to get to places you go to regularly?
#7. Property Taxes
People often choose to roll the cost of property taxes into their mortgage payment each month. However, taxes can increase over time and this needs to be factored in.
When choosing a neighborhood you should look at the average property taxes for the area over a period of several years to see how much fluctuation has occurred.
Potential taxes should also be a consideration if you’re moving to a newer, developing neighborhood. As more houses are built and public services are made available, property values will increase over time, and taxes may increase as well.
#8. Future Developments
Whether living in your new house is a five or 25-year plan, it’s important to know what the future of your community looks like. The best way to do this is to check with the local planning office and see what may be on the books for upcoming development.
Additionally, even if there isn’t anything currently planned that’ll directly impact your lot, development CAN impact the overall feel and look of a neighborhood. If your development includes a giant empty field, know that at some point that empty land may eventually end up with houses or retail on it.
If your potential new home has no rear neighbors and backs on a wooded area, it’s worth finding out if that land is protected or if it could be bought and developed.
There are a lot of factors at play when it comes to selecting the right neighborhood for you. Ensuring the location of your new home is right will increase the quality of your day-to-day life and enjoyment of your home.
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