The search for a house can be a long one and when you find that picture perfect home, you might be eager to grab it and settle in. But as ideal as the house itself might be, the neighborhood is also going to play a large roll in your quality of life and enjoyment of your new home. Before you pull the trigger make sure you ask yourself these key questions….
1. How easy is it to get where I need to go?
So you feel in love with the quaint little beach area and the house with the amazing view… the only issue, there’s only one road headed in and out and getting to the closest freeway takes fifteen minutes or so. For people with flexible work schedules, or work from home jobs this may not be an issue, but it is worth considering how easy it to get from your new home to your work, grocery stores, the airport, etc.
2. What are the schools like?
If you are buying a house in your early twenties this may not seem like an issue, but if you plan on living there for the next ten years it could easily become one. Take a look at the local public school’s records, and maybe even stop by around the end of the day to see if you can ask a few parents picking up kids what they think of it. Sometimes a local school may not have the best stats, but is improving due to involved parents and neighborhood commitment to it. Take a look. If the school isn’t one you would want to send your kids to, make sure to look at the potential private schools nearby and whether you would want to go to those or add tuition to the your future expenses.
3. What do the neighbor’s houses look like?
You’ve probably heard the expression “don’t judge a book by its cover” but in this case you can tell a lot by taking a close look at how well your potential neighbors care for their homes. Are lawns well maintained? Do people seem to have a lot of debris sitting around (which could potential attract pests)? Do the houses look like they’ve been painted recently? While your house may be perfect, you want to join a community of home owners who also care about their houses- and by extension the neighborhood.
4. Are there community events?
If there is one, stop by the local coffee house or Starbucks and take a look at what the potential community has going on. Farms markets, art fairs, free concerts, yearly parades, or even just school fundraisers are all signs that you’re looking at a community of people that care about participating in the the neighborhood they live in and therefore will be committed to caring for their homes and their neighbors. Even if you don’t plan on participating in any of the events, it’s good to know
5. Is there an HOA?
For some people and HOA is a lifesaver, keeping your neighbors from building an eyesore shed in their front lawn, or adding on an extension that blocks your view. On top of that the HOA will ensure that certain facilities, (for example a community pool or playground), are well-maintained. For others, an HOA can be a dealbreaker because it can limit the improvements they want to make at their house or even stop them from doing basic things like hanging their yearly holiday light spectacular. Decide what matters to you and be clear on the community rules before you make the call.