So you’ve found a property you love: a great home for a good price, perfect for your needs in every way… but the big question is – is it located in a great place? A good neighbourhood is critical for you to be able to truly enjoy living in your new property. Apart from the intangible quality of a neighbourhood having ‘a good feel to it’ – what factors make a neighbourhood more desirable than another?
A number of factors affect the unique entity constituting a neighbourhood, including:
- Good schools nearby.
- Well-maintained homes and clean public areas.
- Close proximity to good shopping.
- Public facilities like parks and community centres.
Doing thorough neighbourhood research is critical if you truly want your home to fit your needs. Here some basic strategies for researching a prospective new neighbourhood:
An area might be perfect right now, but it becomes a whole different story if there is existent zoning or future plans for major developments and works, such as a recycling centre, waste depot or main road. Conversely, a bargain might be had in a neighbourhood that is currently not so desirable due to proximity to a main road but where a future bypass is planned. Check with local officials on the zoning of neighbourhoods and the likelihood of any substantial public projects. Large projects such as major road construction are planned years in advance.
No one has a crystal ball when it comes to predicting appreciation but it’s worthwhile to at least try to determine a home’s resale potential. Slow-selling homes may be a function of the current market, but they could also indicate problems (or perceived problems) with the neighbourhood that could affect resale. Check for any information on new industries or companies moving to the area in the future that could lead to housing demand later.
Local community and our surrounding neighbourhood can have a huge impact on the quality of our lives. Ensuring that you purchase in a safe, clean, well-maintained, friendly neighbourhood is very important, especially if you have children.
Probably the most important step in researching a neighbourhood is to get a first-hand look. Talk to residents, visit local schools, businesses, and parks, and get to know your way around. If you plan on using public transport, see what options are available. Be sure to visit the neighbourhood at several different times of day. Three surefire ways to scope out a neighbourhood:
- Eat at local restaurants (non-chains) to get a feel for the local people.
- Attend a community meeting
- Read the community newspaper for at least a week.
Ultimately, your impression of a neighbourhood will be an emotional reaction. However, by researching the facts and future of a given neighbourhood, you can ensure that your hunches are right.