Finding Your New Home: Researching a Neighborhood Before Buying
Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, you can now know every detail about all the people you’ve ever met—the breakfast menu of a childhood pal, which bar your ex frequents for happy hour, or even how your co-worker is “feeling” (illustrated with the proper emoticon, of course). But did you know the Web can also help you discover all the important information about a neighborhood? Here’s how to harness your Internet stalking skills to find the best places to live.
The first thing you probably want to know about your new neighborhood is how much you’ll have to pay to put a roof over your head. An interactive chart should provide you how home values and rental prices have changed over the last 10 years.
You’ll also want to know how much of your salary will be going to income taxes and what the sales and property tax rates are like for your new home. Although the federal government doesn’t have a sales tax, most states do have their own property taxes. The taxes may differ depending on the state where you buy the property.
Many people worry about crime rates when they move into a new place. Some cities, like Miami and Seattle, offer useful crime maps that show the density of different types of crime in different areas.
If a quick Google search doesn’t turn one up for your area, browse the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports to see how many crimes and what types have been reported in a neighborhood.
You might have to dig a little, but the comprehensive information is worth it. If you are a parent, living alone or are often out late at night, you might be especially concerned about sex offenders living in your neighborhood. The Department of Justice has consolidated this information at the National Sex Offender Public Website.
Enough about crime and taxes. What most of us really want to know is what kind of quality of life we can expect in a neighborhood. Consider taking a quick look at how many restaurants are within walking distance, how extensive the bike paths are, and try finding as much info on nearby transit routes including how far you can get on a bus or train in 30 minutes.
Whether you have kids or not, the quality of schools in a neighborhood is important to note. Areas with better schools often have higher home values. But if you are a parent, you’ll want to dig deeper and find the local school district’s website to start getting the information you need to understand whether the local school is a good fit for your child.
The best thing about any neighborhood is the neighbors. It is imperative to find the demographic around your new home as it can to help you find a place where you’ll feel welcome. Knowing the demographic can give you an idea if the neighborhood value diversity as much as you do?
Information on income, racial diversity, age, and relationship status can tell you a lot about where you’ll feel at home before you even set foot in a new city.
There’s no such thing as TMI when it comes to finding the right place to live. Do you have a favorite corner of the Internet where you go to stalk potential neighborhoods?
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