Don’t Get Stuck in a Neighborhood You Hate
More important than floor plan, paint color or wood vs carpet is the fit of the neighborhood you choose. Most of the time, it’s the luck of the draw; we don’t give the actual neighborhood too much attention because we’re all starry-eyed over the house itself. Remember, you can change most attributes about your home, but you can’t just pick it up and move it to new street. In this post I’ll share three tips to help ensure you don’t get stuck in a neighborhood you hate!
Image Credit: Rachel Sarai on Flickr
Tip #1: Know What is Important to You
Neighborhoods are like family. Some are very close and in each others “stuff” all the time. Some are distant (both physically and emotionally), and some fight. When you pick your neighborhood, you should think about how you like to live and seek an environment that enriches you. Think of these things:
- Do you currently engage with your neighbors? Is that the right amount for your preferences?
- How do you feel about the way your neighbors keep up their house, apartment, condo? What if anything drives you crazy?
- Are there children around? If so, do you like the sound of children playing, fighting, laughing?
- Do the people around you party a lot? Is that okay with you?
- How do you feel about old or multiple cars parked in the driveways or on the street?
- Do you mind street noise or need a very quiet environment?
- Are you a private person or very social?
I’m sure there are more things to consider, please add any you think of in the comments.
Tip #2: Shop Without the Realtor First
You probably already know what you want in house, condo or apartment: number of rooms, bathrooms, single or two-story, etc. Ask your realtor to give you a list of properties meeting your requirements in the general area you want to live. Then, do a drive-by first without the realtor.
You can knock a bunch off the list pretty fast just by doing a quick drive by. You don’t want a realtor whispering in your ear getting you to take a look inside and swaying your initial feel about a property. If you don’t like it from the outside, I don’t care how much lipstick you put on it, you can’t change the neighborhood.
Try to pay attention to why you are rejecting a property. If it’s because you have a negative feeling about the neighborhood, cross it off. If it seems like a good neighborhood (based on what you value), but the house is in disrepair, don’t be so fast to use the white out. Maybe it would be worth a look if you have the inclination to do some work.
Tip #3: Investigate Before You Make an Offer
Once you have whittled the list down to the ones you think are interesting, have the realtor show them to you. You’ll probably get the list down to one or two if you’re lucky. Before you make an offer, go back to the neighborhood without the realtor.
- Check in on the street a couple times: morning, noon and in the evening. What do you notice about the noise level, people that are out, traffic, etc? Does that fit in with your idea of a neighborhood you would fit in well with?
- Talk to people who are out. You can get a lot of great information just by asking. Try some of these questions…ask them:
- About the neighborhood.
- How long has that person lived there?
- Has the neighborhood changed in the last few years? If so, how?
- What do they like/dislike about living there.
- Is there an association? How do they feel about the way it is run?
- If applicable, what do they like/dislike about the schools?
If it’s a crazy market and you don’t have time to do this before making an offer, be sure you build in a way out in the offer so that you can do this investigation and back out if you find the neighborhood is not what it seems.
Moving is expensive regardless of whether you are buying or renting. I can’t stress enough how important it is to investigate the neighborhood as a part of your moving decision. I hear so many horror stories about people buying and then selling not because they hated the house, but because they hated the neighborhood.
One of the blogs I follow is 1500 Days to Freedom (see My Favorite Blogs). This couple shares a story about how they downsized several times. The last time they moved was because they really disliked the neighborhood they were in. Here’s a link to the post if you want to read it: Happily Losing $13,000. Don’t let this happen to you!
What Have You Experienced?
Please take the time to add to the conversation by sharing your tips and/or experiences in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!