Before committing to living in a neighborhood that you’re unfamiliar with, it is a good idea to research it thoroughly. Keeping that in mind, here are six ways you can research a neighborhood before you move in.
To find out how walkable and convenient a neighborhood is, use a tool like Walk Score. If you live in an area with a low walkability score, you’ll probably need a car to get anywhere you want to go, whereas a high walkability score means you can get around just fine on foot.
If you’d rather spend your time getting around, use a tool like Bike Score. It gives you a sense of a neighborhood’s bike-friendliness from the extent of its bike lanes and trails.
When you need crime statistics, there are a few places to go. Several tools are available that aggregate crime data, including CityProtect, AreaVibes, and Neighborhood Scout. In the meantime, you can check if there are any registered sexual offenders in the area on a site such as Family Watchdog. You can also do some general Google research on your own.
Find out how safe it would be to walk outside your home by entering your address into My Local Crime. You can see exactly where those crimes were committed by clicking on the map function.
It’s more valuable to know these trends than you might think. How a neighborhood’s housing prices have changed over time can tell you a lot about its history and potential. A neighborhood’s schools and parks may also be well-funded based on property tax rates in the area.
The value of a property doesn’t always tell the whole story, and a low value doesn’t necessarily mean that the place isn’t a good place to live. It’s still worth looking into them as you research a neighborhood—especially if you’re planning to invest long-term.
Ask People Who Live There
It’s often helpful to ask people who live there since they know the area best. Those who live in the area should be able to tell you what they like and dislike about residing there. You can also reach out to some residents through an app like Nextdoor or a public Facebook group if you don’t know anyone who resides in the neighborhood. Yelp can find restaurants near you, and Moviefone shows you nearby theaters.
You can use all of the steps above to research a neighborhood effectively, but only you know what matters most to you. Keep your most pressing concerns and preferences in mind, and remember that every neighborhood will have its advantages and disadvantages. If you have a reasonable foundation of information, you should be able to determine whether you want to take up residency.