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Finding the Perfect Neighborhood for You

If you are new to an area or relocating for work, finding the perfect neighborhood for you and your family can be a challenge. As you are scouring listings for the kitchen of your dreams or the backyard with room for entertaining, you are also trying to get a feel for the neighborhood that you’ll be living in and what it will really be like owning a home there. Let's face it, for many of us finding the RIGHT neighborhood is just as important as the RIGHT house. For some, the neighborhood needs to be close to your office while others would like it to be near a specific school. Some may want an urban environment with a good walking score and late night restaurants while others might be more interested in a quiet part of town with lots of walking paths and greenbelts. It is important to do your research to determine what you are looking for in a neighborhood and what is important to YOU about where you live. This article will explain a few of the most common things that buyers often consider when shopping in different neighborhoods.

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How to Find the Perfect Neighborhood for You

The Amy Jones Group
Oct 30 10 minutes read

Location

Location is everything…at least for many of us. Imagine living in an amazing area, but you work more than 50 miles away. While some are used to a longer commute and enjoy the extra time in the car, many would like to be a little closer to home so that they can enjoy all of your neighborhood and backyard amenities. Commuting can be overwhelming so mapping your potential home to where you will be spending most of your time (work, kid’s events, friends & family, etc.) might be helpful during the home buying process. Also take a look at what you LIKE to do in your free time. If you are looking for gyms, retail stores, shopping or dining - you might be looking for a more urban area but if you can usually be found curled up in your sitting room with a good book, you might be okay with a little longer drive to the big city. Regardless of which environment you think you’ll thrive in, spend some time driving around the surrounding area of your new home to see what’s in the proximity and imagine yourself enjoying it!

Schools

If you have little kiddos running around, then school districts and their ratings might be some of the most important factors when choosing WHERE you live. Some people are looking for a school nearby for their kids to walk to school and some are seeking schools for children with special needs, a specific program for an outdoor sport or a school that specializes in viola. The best advice we could give is to decide on the schools that have what you need or want in a school, and then start to consider the different neighborhoods around it, determining how far from the school you are willing to live as you go. We’ve seen some families relocate for a top volleyball program or a coding school and are okay living just about as far as they need to be in order to get their kids in those programs. Determining what is important to you in a school is step one and then leveraging online resources likewww.greatschools.org to find out how it ranks would be a good step two. We always recommend visiting the schools you are considering even if you have to make a trip out here - there’s no better way to get a feel for the school than walking down it’s hallway.

Your Neighbors

Asking the locals in an area is a great way to see if you would enjoy it there - we always recommend doing your shopping at the local grocery store, grabbing a bite to eat at the local watering hole, or spending some time outdoors at the nearby parks and trails on the weekend. The locals will know the area best and can make you aware of the perks and even the concerns with any area - as long as you are willing to ask! Most people love chatting about their neighborhood and where they live and taking some time to start up a conversation with your neighbor or attend one of the neighborhood events will help you get the word on the street about your new potential neighborhood. By asking questions, you can find out if most people in the area are renters or homeowners, if they work in the same or different industry as you, if their kids play the same or different sports and just by driving around you’ll be able to see if people take good care of their home, if the HOA in the neighborhood plays a big role in the upkeep in the neighborhood, and if people are mostly out walking their dogs in the morning or behind doors at night. Everyone is looking for something a little different in a neighborhood but doing your research may shed light on the FEEL of the neighborhood and any potential impacts on property values that you might want to be aware of.

Property Values

The property values in a neighborhood may play a huge role in your choice of neighborhoods whether you are purchasing for your primary residence or picking up a rental property to add to your portfolio. If your desired neighborhood has high property values, this will typically mean higher taxes for your local government to provide greater services to the area. The more taxes the local government collects, the more walking paths, parks, city recreation activities, etc. you might find in it. Sometimes you purposely buy in a transitioning neighborhood because of the location or proximity to your work or school, the feeling of the neighborhood or friends or family who already live in the neighborhood, or the potential upside for remodeling and selling the property for a profit in the future. Regardless of whether you are looking for homes with high or low property values, high or low taxes, high or low HOAs (or no HOAs at all!), or high or low turnover, potential upside, or rental rates - understanding property values and how they can play an impact is important. Realtors can help you access data that show the long term trends of the properties in the neighborhoods you are considering so that you can make an informed decision about your purchase.

Property Taxes

Taxes will vary by neighborhoods, so you should definitely consider them when buying a home. Like we stated above with property values, areas that are appreciating in value are also going to have larger taxes. Many cities have specific times of the year where they reassess home values to ensure the local government is getting the proper amount of tax revenue to provide the city with services. This is why it is not always wise to purchase a home at the top of your price range if you are buying in a neighborhood with increasing values because the taxes you pay will go up in cost as well. Purchasing at the top of your budget can make the excitement of purchasing a home become a nightmare when all your other expenses roll in.

This is why it is important to make sure you consider all the expenses that come with owning a home. We can always help you with any questions you have, so do not be scared to give us a call. 

Safety

One of the most common questions we get is, “How safe is this neighborhood?”. When considering a neighborhood, it is important to understand what you consider to be a safe neighborhood, what features you want your neighborhood to have or not have (gated entry, guard gates, bars on windows), and how involved you want to be in your community safety (neighborhood watch, HOA committee, etc.). One of the best ways to understand what crime rates might be in your prospective neighborhoods is to visit the city’s website and look at the public crime records, reach out to your community action officer and local precinct and talk to them about the area you are looking to move into, and always get to know your neighbors and get a real local’s perspective on how safe the area is. Some cities, like Gilbert, have been ranked as one of the safest cities in the United States, a ranking based on a collection of crime data. If crime rates are important to you, check out the local government’s resources and check out the national rankings like WalletHub who evaluates home and community safety, financial safety and natural disaster risk in their “safe city” awards.

Bottom Line

The neighborhood that you live in can have just as much impact on how happy you are with your home as your home itself. The right house in the wrong area will leave you unhappy in the long run so we reccomend finding a neighborhood specialist that can help you with the right resources to research online, suggestions for how to meet the locals for some one on one conversations and the best places to drive around to help you determine if the neighborhood is right for you. At the Amy Jones Group, we have lots of happy families in lots of different neighborhoods - high rise condos in Downtown Phoenix, tree lined streets in Gilbert, urban historic communities in Chandler, horse property in Queen Creek, and everything in between - and we would be happy to connect you with them for an insider’s view of the neighborhood you are considering. Do your research and let us help you - together we’ll find you the house AND neighborhood of your dreams.

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