When you’re house hunting, it’s easy to focus on finding that perfect cozy fireplace or sweet breakfast nook. And while those things will be major joy factors while you’re in your slippers, what about when you lace up your shoes? Taking the time to find a neighborhood that’s just right for you is a big part of securing your future homeownership happiness.
Ask a local.
You don’t have to go door knocking for this. Trulia makes it easy to find out what real neighbors think about their community. Look up a neighborhood you’re interested in on Trulia Neighborhoods (or scroll down on any property listing) to see What Locals Say as well as find information on schools, safety and crime, neighborliness, restaurants and entertainment, and more. Millions of people from all over the country have shared what it’s like to live in their neighborhood.
Look for your lifestyle needs (and wants).
Just like you made a wants and needs list for your home buying, make one for finding a neighborhood. Do you want to walk to dinner and a movie? Is a nearby park a must? Compare your results to the Explore the Area map on Trulia Neighborhood pages. You’ll find dining, groceries, nightlife, cafes, shopping, fitness, and arts and entertainment destinations. And on each property listing, you can find commute info, as well as demographics, so you can get a feel for your future neighbors before you even meet them.
Learn about the local vibe.
In addition to resident reviews, What Local Say polls respondents about specific things in their neighborhood that help define what it’s like to live there. Want to live in a place with a great holiday spirit? A place where everyone knows your name? Or where you can walk to get groceries? Locals rate their neighborhoods on these factors and others, including dog-friendliness, wildlife, parking, and more.
Check out the schools.
There are two big reasons to screen neighborhood schools. If you have kids, you know the first one: finding the right school for your family is huge. But the second reason applies to everyone—houses in the best school districts tend to hold their value better and are more appealing to future buyers. You can get the local schools scoop on Trulia Neighborhood pages, including ratings and parent reviews.
Consider crime and safety.
How safe is that neighborhood? A crime map on every Trulia listing can show you frequency and types of crimes, as well as crime trends and rates relative to other places nearby.
Factor in local costs.
A house with the same asking price in two different neighborhoods can have two different effects on your monthly budget. Property taxes, for example, will vary based on your state, county, and city rates, as well as your school district. You can get an estimate of your local taxes with Trulia’s mortgage calculator, or check with the municipal tax office for specific rates.
Another neighborhood cost to consider is a homeowner’s association fee, which some communities have. These vary by neighborhood and can cover everything from snow plowing to mailbox painting. You’ll find HOA fees on Trulia property listings.
Go for a neighborhood walk.
Once you’ve narrowed your neighborhood options down to a few, nothing beats a real walkabout to get a feel for the area. See for yourself how properties are kept up, how friendly the local baristas are, and if there are flowers planted along the roads. Hang out during peak traffic and on a quiet weekend morning to find a neighborhood that fits your style. Eat in nearby restaurants, visit the library, and swim in a community pool if you can. After all, if there’s a chance you could end up closing on house there, you might as well make yourself at home.