Long-distance moves can be downright stressful. If you’re moving for work, you may be in luck and have a company-provided relocation specialist to help point you toward the right neighborhoods for your needs. But most of us are our own relocation specialists, and it’s a high-stakes gig, especially if there’s a tight time crunch, can’t easily visit your new area for scouting or house-hunting, and if you don’t know any locals to ask for insights.
All that said, with a little online research and advance planning, it is possible to effectively hone in on potential neighborhoods.
First, you have to know what you’re looking for in a neighborhood. Maybe you’ve been dying to cut down on your hour-plus New York, NY, commute, so you narrow your search radius to neighborhoods within 30 minutes of your new office. Or perhaps your kids will be heading off to school in a few years, so a good school district is at the top of your list. Whatever your needs, remember that you may not be able to check off every box, especially if you can’t visit the neighborhood in person. Instead, prioritize your must-haves and then consider your nice-to-haves.
Also keep in mind that when you buy a house, you’re also committing to a neighborhood. And when you’re new to an area, the neighborhood can be key to making you feel at home. Picking the right neighborhood can sometimes be more important than picking the right house! Resources like Trulia’s Neighborhood Guides and Market Overviews can be a savior for long-distance moves. It’s also important to consider some of the less obvious things that can make a neighborhood truly great, from walkability to proximity to outdoor activities and whether your new neighbors display a pride of ownership that matches your own.
Finally, one great way to get a sense of a place is to read the publications in your new town: By catching up on local news, you can learn where new construction is happening, what areas are growing, what kind of businesses are in each neighborhood, and which parts of town are your best match.