House hunters tend to focus on, well, the house. Extra bedrooms, an updated kitchen, a dreamy patio—these things may boost your future happiness while you’re at home, but what about when you walk out the front door?
It’s easy to forget to evaluate the whole neighborhood during a home search, and this can lead to neighborhood regret. According to a recent Trulia survey, 36 percent of respondents would move to a different neighborhood than their current one if given the chance. And that number goes up based on location and age. Forty-two percent of San Franciscans experience neighborhood regret, versus 35 percent of Austinites, and 42 percent of people 18 to 29 reported regret, compared with 28 percent of those 50 and older.
There may not be much you can do about your city—and even less you can do about your age—but there are other ways to up your odds of loving your new neighborhood.
Here are four ways to avoid neighborhood regret:
Put “the right neighborhood vibe” on your must-have list next to number of bedrooms during your home search. Do you want a quiet, family-friendly cul-de-sac full of minivans? Or lively, walkable, urban block flush with entertainment options?
Screening for the right vibe can vastly improve your chances of avoiding neighborhood regret. Fifty-five percent of people who are currently happy with their neighborhood were significantly influenced by the vibe of the neighborhood when selecting their house, compared with only 36 percent of people with neighborhood regret.
How do you do it? There are a million ways to figure it out, but luckily, you don’t have to do it on your own. Trulia has an amenities section on every neighborhood page. Check it out to see if the neighborhood you are looking at it is heavy on nightlife or mom-and-pop shops, depending on your preferences.
Neighborhood regret is more likely to happen when homebuyers don’t have access to accurate information about a prospective neighborhood. For example, 22 percent thought the vibe was oversold. Features like “vibe” are pretty subjective, so you’ll want to check it out yourself rather than take a listing’s or agent’s word for it.
Of course, you don’t always have time to visit a dozen neighborhoods during a home search—or even one if you’re shopping from afar. Fortunately, Trulia Neighborhoods includes neighborhood photo galleries to help you out (currently available only in San Francisco, Austin, and Chicago, but we’ll be launching in more metros soon). Whether you use the original photos to narrow your search down to a couple of neighborhoods to check out, or to scope out a community from across the country, the virtual tour is the next best thing to being there yourself.
If you get the chance to spend time in a prospective neighborhood, get friendly. Strike up a conversation with pedestrians, baristas, and neighbors about what they think the neighborhood is like. Many of neighborhood regretters’ complaints are things that may be hard to spot during a quiet stroll. Thirty-three percent of them dislike the lack of social activity in their neighborhoods, while 30 percent complain of street noise, and 28 percent are unhappy about unfriendly neighbors.
Trulia makes the task much easier with crowdsourced reviews by your future neighbors our What Locals Say section. Want to know how your pets or kids will fit into the community? With one click, you can sort reviews by dog owners and parents to see what they have to say.
It’s hard to beat safety and school quality in neighborhood must-haves. And yet, 21 percent of neighborhood regretters believe the school quality in their area was oversold. Problem solved: Trulia Neighborhoods includes detailed information about crime and schools, including a crime risk map, what locals say about safety, school ratings, and school reviews by parents. With such important information, nothing compares to hearing from those who already live there.
You can knock down walls and repaint your new home all you want, but when it comes to your neighborhood, you take it as it is. But if you choose the right one, that can be great news. Follow these tips, and you can find a neighborhood that feels like home.