Consider The Following About Your New Neighborhood:

Everyone has a mental and, sometimes physical, list of what they are looking for in a new house, but do you have a list of what you want in your new neighborhood? Almost as important as the house itself is the neighborhood in which it is located. You can always make modifications to the house itself but the characteristics of the surrounding area are, for the most part, out of your control. So make a list of what to look for in a neighborhood and make it a priority just as important as a gourmet kitchen, a bonus room, or a two-car garage.

Homeowners Association
A homeowners association, or HOA, can be your friend or your enemy, depending on if you are willing to abide by their rules. Newer neighborhoods have notoriously strict regulations regarding everything from paint colors to landscaping. If you like to do your own thing, then consider an older neighborhood without such regulations. Most will have a neighborhood association, but their main purpose is usually to resolve problems that face older neighborhoods, such as crime. Of course, without rules, you will have to learn to live with your neighbors without judging their tastes and such. Unless they are violating a city ordinance, you will have little recourse when your neighbor does something outlandish.

To families with young children and pets, sidewalks are essential. Having a safe place to take a walk, skate, or ride a bike is a nice feature to look for if you have a family. You'll find that neighborhoods with sidewalks are often more active which makes it easier to get to know the neighbors and make friends. On the downside, you'll have to deal with the occasional pet owner who doesn't clean up after their pet or the kids who decide to skateboard back and forth in the early morning!

Neighborhood schools are becoming common once again and, if you have young children, having a school nearby makes life infinitely easier when you want to volunteer, when your child misses the bus, or when you want to attend school events. The neighborhood children seem to become closer and are able to stay with the same kids through their high school years. On the other hand, if you are retired or have children in college, you may not want to be near the neighborhood middle school or high school, depending on how tolerant you are of a little teenage noise, traffic, and socializing.

Surrounding Amenities
Some prefer the peace and quiet of an isolated country location while others prefer the convenience of a neighborhood in the center of town. This usually depends on what stage of life you are in — do you have babies and need to make diaper runs now and then? You will prefer a location with a supermarket nearby. Are your retired and enjoying your days gardening in a peaceful rural retreat? Look for a neighborhood that is not on a main traffic artery or the airport flight pattern. If you have young children, you may want to be fairly close to a city park, the soccer fields, your workplace, the library, or the local rec center.

Future Expansion
We can't stress enough how important it is to check with your city planning office on future plans for construction, road expansion, and property development in your area. Your nice rural location may just be the site of a future shopping complex, school campus, or new highway. Your rural road may be on the books for expansion from two lanes to four lanes. Also check with the HOA on plans for neighborhood expansion. You may not realize that your house at the end of the road will be sitting on what will soon be a major neighborhood thoroughfare when more houses are built.

Close Proximity
Newer neighborhoods have smaller lots, for the most part, making it important to be able to put up with having neighbors very close by. You need to be willing to tolerate their tastes and habits while also being considerate of your neighbors with regard to your own. Older neighborhoods often have large lots, making privacy and freedom of choice a bit easier to maintain without irking your neighbor.

Good Record
Are you concerned about excessive crime, sources of pollution, school test scores, or sufficient diversity? All of these statistics come into play when you look for your ideal neighborhood. Virtually every city now has such data online regarding specific parts of the city. Check the facts and the numbers and find the area of the city that best suits your needs and desires. Then go looking for a neighborhood within that part of the city. Along the same lines, you can find a lot of positive and negative information regarding specific neighborhoods by simply doing a search online.

Consider how you and your family live and make a list of what you definitely want and do not want in your neighborhood. This list will prove to be just as important, if not more so, than the list of criteria you have for your new home. With both lists in hand, you'll have an easier time choosing among several houses and will find the home that best suits your family's needs.


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