By David Hakimi
Location, location, location. Half of buying a home is all about finding where you want to live. You might've found your dream house, but it's not in your dream neighborhood.
Related: Top 10 Markets and Neighborhoods
So, what should you be watching out for? Here's how you can find the perfect neighborhood:
Check It Out Online
Ah—the internet. It provides an immense amount of information. It's easy and entirely accessible for everyone, so you don't have any excuses not to take advantage of it. Look up what everyone is saying about a neighborhood you're interested in. Do people actually enjoy living there? What do they like and dislike about it?
Google the crime statistics for the area; safety should be top of mind. You don't want to get stuck in a neighborhood with a high break-in rate—take your safety and security seriously. At the same time, if you have kids, look up schools in the area. What are they rated? Most school systems have a rating scale based off mostly academics. Find out if they're good options for your children.
Scout It Out
Literally. Do drive-bys, and do them at different times of the day. Get a feel for a certain neighborhood. Is there a soccer field or baseball diamond close by? You'll want to know before it's too late whether or not cars will be lined up on your street. Make sure you're in the know. You don't want things like that to come up as a surprise after you've moved in. Furthermore, check out the traffic patterns in the area. What's that intersection near the home you're interested in really like during rush hour?
How Far Is Your Potential Home From Your Job?
This might not matter to some—if you're near retirement, it might not matter at all!—but a long commute has the potential to become an everyday stressor, one that you don't need or want. If you take the bus, look up the route and times. If you drive, check out the route during your normal commute times on Google Maps.
Do Your Research on Property Taxes
This could majorly impact your cost of living. Property taxes greatly differ from one region to the next. Do your research and find out what to expect. Don't let this come as a shock. You want to make sure you can afford the area you want to live in. Be sure to do your due diligence with some good research! Also, take this a step further, and look at other costs of living—think utilities and food prices.
Ensure your perfect home is in your ideal neighborhood. It's worth taking the time to do research and be sure it's really what you want.