Deciding where to live isn’t just about the specifications for an apartment; it starts with determining the area in which you want to find that perfect home – the area where you will shop, play, eat and live.
Your neighborhood, like your apartment, needs to suit your individual needs and interests. But how do you know whether the new area will provide the comfort and convenience you’re looking for? Use the following guidelines to figure out what locations are best for you and your new home.
Your first step is defining what you need most out of your neighborhood. Are you single and looking to frequent restaurants and bars? Are your kids going to start or continue school soon? Is a branch of your favorite grocery store or bank nearby? Once you’ve answered these questions, you can start narrowing down your search area to specific locations that meet your needs and give you easy access to the places you visit the most.
Once you’ve decided what neighborhood qualities are most important to you, start searching for the areas that best fit your criteria. If you’re single, where are the hubs of post-school or work activity? If you have kids, where are the best schools? If you hate traffic, which neighborhoods are closest to work or campus? Also be sure to look at crime rates (crimereports.com), traffic patterns and doctor and specialist availability in these areas.
Chances are you won’t find an area that is perfect – proximity to everything usually means lots of traffic, and a more secluded location with a low crime rate usually means you’ll be traveling further to get to work, school and errands. So decide what you’re willing to give up. Will you commit to a longer commute if it means living in a better school district? Can you bear a higher crime rate if you can live closer to your favorite social spots? Like with the initial prioritizing questions, answers to these questions will help narrow down your list of possible neighborhoods.
With a short list of areas determined, visit each one at various times during the day. Do cars barely move during rush hour? Are mornings particularly quiet and peaceful? Is there too much commotion at night? Also, talk to residents of the areas (your potential neighborhoods). Ask what they like most and least. Go to local stores and see what’s available. Observing the characteristics of the neighborhoods and comparing them to your preferences will allow you to pick the perfect one for you.
Once you’ve found the best neighborhood for you, don’t be a stranger. Get to know your neighbors, visit local vendors and take advantage of the great area you chose.
Photo Credit: iStockphoto/GeorgePeters