Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.

Trying to find a new home can be a trying process, especially if you have your family’s needs to consider. You don’t just want to find a house that feels like home — you want it to be in a neighborhood that allows you to live both comfortably and safely. Luckily, NeighborWho has put together a checklist to help you in your search so you can focus on making the right decisions instead of wondering where to start!

Before you start looking…

Before you start looking for a new home in a new neighborhood, when you know that you want to move within the next few months, you may want to have a baseline idea of what you can afford and what you’re looking for. Having a budget is important, since you will likely be taking out a mortgage if you’re trying to buy a home, and you want to account for that and all other living expenses. Similarly, make a list of what’s important to you and your family, such as being close to a park, or being in an area with reliable public transportation.

  1. Agree on a budget.
  2. Create a list of priority amenities, neighborhood features, and recreational opportunities (bike lanes, park accessibility, entertainment).

Once you have an idea, start exploring neighborhoods.

Narrowing down the list of places where you may want to live can be difficult when there are so many great neighborhoods, but it may get easier when you start looking at the details.

Here are just a few considerations to make when choosing a neighborhood.

  1. Accessibility to public transportation: even if you anticipate relying on a car wherever you live, it may be a good idea to live somewhere where public transportation is reliable enough in the event of an emergency.
  2. Proximity to highly-rated schools: This is important if you have children, but even if you don’t, you may want to pick a neighborhood based on the quality of the schools nearby: houses in the vicinity tend to be of higher value.
  3. Commuting time: Your commute to and from work may take up a significant portion of the day, depending on where you live. Evaluate how long you’re willing to travel — and don’t forget to account for traffic and the cost of tolls and gas!
  4. The type of environment: Whether you want to live in the city, the suburbs, or somewhere in between, you should feel content with your choice of environment. A too noisy, or adversely, a too-quiet life may not be your cup of tea.
  5. Proximity to amenities: Chances are, you won’t be able to get everything you want in one square mile, or even in the same neighborhood. But you may want to pick a community where most of what you want is quickly accessible either by foot or by car. There may be a grocery store around the corner, but the dry cleaners is fifteen minutes away! Check your list of priority amenities for a better evaluation of a neighborhood.
  6. Community: Do you want to live in a tight-knit community? Or would you prefer to stay anonymous? This may be an important factor to you, especially if you live far away from a city or town. Talk to the locals for a better idea of what life is like, and check out the community center, if there is one.
  7. Crime rates: Generally, families want to avoid areas with a high crime rate, but the safety level of a neighborhood may not be immediately apparent. Visit the neighborhood’s local police station for more information.
  8. Property tax rates: The price of a home is one thing, but the property tax rates can make or break the decision to live in a certain neighborhood.
  9. Cost of living: Finally, take into account the cost of living in a certain neighborhood: are the amenities priced higher than you’re accustomed to? If the cost of living there doesn’t fit into your budget, you may want to consider a different area.

Before you move…

Congratulations! You’ve made your choice of which neighborhoods you could live in, and may have even found your dream home. If you have already checked out the neighborhood, that’s a great start. But before you move, you may want to get to know your new home a little better. Here are some tasks you may want to accomplish before move-in day.

  • Walk or drive around the area to get a feel for it. If you have kids, visit schools, libraries and playgrounds.
  • Talk to people in the area, maybe even your new future neighbors.
  • Visit a local shop or restaurant to get an idea of what life can be like.
  • Use local public transportation, especially if you’re going to be using it regularly.

While you’re getting used to your new neighborhood, ask yourself: Will I be happy here? Ultimately, trust your gut: your level of happiness while spending time in a certain area may be a good barometer for how you may feel when you live there!

Want to know more about your neighborhood? Plug an address into NeighborWho’s property finder and see what you can find!