Finding a new place to live is always stressful. In your search for that perfect new apartment or house, don’t forget about what’s around it: your new neighborhood. Here are 11 things you should be looking for in your new community.
1. LOW NOISE
It’s easy to overlook noise as a factor when choosing a home. If you only visit in the early mornings, you won’t find out that the coffee shop down the street turns into a bumping music venue at 8 p.m. Visit your new neighborhood at different times to get a better picture of what living there is really like, and make sure to pause for a moment and listen carefully while touring your potential digs—can you hear the nearby train every time it rattles by? Be sure to weigh whether you’re willing to hear those sounds every single day.
2. GOOD SCHOOLS
Even if you don’t have kids, it’s good to look into the quality of your future home’s school district. It might come in handy if you do eventually decide to have children, but even if you don’t, good school districts can have a major impact on real estate values.
3. RETAIL NECESSITIES
Think about what you buy on a regular basis. Do you get coffee every single morning? Do you find yourself coming home and thinking, “Whoops, I forgot to grab a gallon of milk!” twice a week? Be aware of your retail needs (even if, say, you really don’t think you should buy coffee every day) and check out what your new neighborhood has to offer.
It’s important that you feel safe wandering around your neighborhood. You can check out crime stats to get an overall picture of the area. It’s more important, though, to make sure you feel at home as you’re out and about, and can picture yourself being happy being a resident there.
5. EMERGENCY SERVICES
How far away are you from an emergency room or a fire department? It’s good to be aware of these things before an emergency actually strikes, and in some suburbs, the nearest hospital or police station can be surprisingly far away.
Do you feel comfortable walking around your neighborhood, or are you dodging cars and being blocked by highways every 10 steps? Neighborhood walkability has been linked to higher home values in cities, and one study found that people who lived in walkable neighborhoods were more likely to trust their neighbors and less likely to be glued to the television.
7. LOTS OF TREES
Does your neighborhood have street trees? They may seem like mere decorations, but living among trees is majorly important for health and happiness. They clean the air, and they’re great for mental health. One study found that people who live in neighborhoods with dense tree cover take fewer antidepressants than people who live in bare neighborhoods. Another found that living among trees makes people feel healthier.
8. AN EASY WAY TO GET TO WORK
Studies have found that the longer a person has to commute, the less happy they are. Pay attention to what traffic is like around your neighborhood at rush hour and how long it would take you to get to the office on the average day.
9. A COMFORTABLE COMMUNITY
Do you want to know all your neighbors, or do you prefer to be anonymous? Do you want to live in a quiet place with a place for your kids to run around or a place where no one will mind if you throw an all-night rager? Try to find a place where the vibe fits your lifestyle. If you move your toddler into an apartment building where all the other residents like to party until 2 a.m., you’re bound to run into some conflict.
It’s important to have places you can hang out when you’re not inside your home. Parks, farmers markets, community centers, theaters—these are all places where you can not only get out of the house and entertain yourself, but they’re great places to make neighborhood friends if you’re looking to branch out.
11. A PLACE TO EXERCISE
It’s easy to skip working out if you’ve got to drive at least 15 minutes to do it. It’s nice to be able to decide you want to go for a run or a bike ride, and just go do it. And it’s a lot easier to convince yourself to go to the gym if it’s a block away. Even if the gym isn’t your scene, see if there are any tennis or basketball courts where you could get in a quick game.