In the digital age, you’ve got plenty of tools at your fingertips to help you research and get the inside scoop on neighborhoods. From your social network to your search engine, there are great resources you can use to find out about places to eat, shop and play. You can even get statistics on crime rates and school performance, for instance.
Check out these sites to possibly get a clearer picture of the neighborhoods you want to explore.
• Sperling’s Best Places. If you’re wondering how to research several cities at once, BestPlaces.net is a great place to start. From this site, you can find information on any nearly city in the country, comparing vital stats like cost of living and climate. One helpful feature allows users to see whether a city has fallen on a “top ten” list. And Sperling’s often ranks the best places to live in the United States. Lists on Sperling’s explore a wide range of topics, everything from “most irritation prone cities” to the “best places to retire.”
• NeighborhoodScout.com. NeighborhoodScout.com is an online service offering specific information about home appreciation rates, schools and area crime rates. Some of the information can be viewed for free, but more detailed views require a subscription.
• Social networks. When you research neighborhoods, don’t forget to take advantage of social networking sites to find your friends’ favorite places to eat, shop and relax. Sites like FourSquare will show you places that your friends have visited and liked (and show you where to find them on a map, too) and NextDoor.com, a Facebook-like site for neighbors, can put you in touch with the people living right next door.
• RealEstate.com. RealEstate.com offers an inside look at the housing market in any neighborhood in the country. Type in a city, neighborhood, or zip code to get a detailed snapshot of housing market trends in that area.
• Online tours. Last, but not least, don’t forget to check out online pictures, tours and descriptions of neighborhood communities and hangouts. Google Street View and Bing Maps, for example, can help you experience a place visually and direct you to valuable information you can use to learn more about places in a neighborhood.
When you’re done checking out all these great online neighborhood resources, you will also want to visit any neighborhood where you are considering living. There’s certainly plenty of great information available online, but there’s nothing like experiencing a place first-hand!
Photo credit: Shutterstock / Andresr