Moving to a new community can be thrilling and overwhelming at the same time. It’s exciting to see all the possibilities that a new place has to offer, but you’re also forced to confront your different options and whittle down to the criteria most important to you. There are a lot of things to consider about the community. When shopping for a property, the actual home you choose to live in is important, but almost equally essential is the community that surrounds it. You want to find the best community for you.
So what should you look for in a community? Every home buyer is different and has their own set of values that are important to them, but here are some points to consider that will help you determine which community is the right fit for you as you’re comparing communities:
Amenities. Some communities offer pools, tennis courts, golf courses, fitness centers and other convenient facilities that are shared by the neighborhood. These kinds of perks often come with a monthly HOA fee that would need to be worked into your budget, but they enable you to enjoy added amenities without having to maintain them yourself or find a home that includes them.
Taxes. The real estate world is filled with stories of home buyers who thought they found a great bargain – and then saw their first tax bill. Multiple jurisdictions may tax the same property, and these costs can be a game changer if you’re on a budget. Get the facts on what your property taxes will be before committing to a community and be sure to plan your finances accordingly.
Schools. If you have young children, their education is going to be a primary and on-going concern, so you’ll want to do thorough research on the quality of the school district in the community. Be sure to look into the available elementary, middle and high schools in the area if you’re planning to set down roots for the long term. Ask your agent about the school system and where you can find accurate information on the district’s ratings.
Noise Level. Some communities are quiet and others are bustling with activity. Consider if the community is near a highly-trafficked area and think about how busy it could get near your home. Visit the location at varied times of day or on different days of the week to get an accurate sense of the typical noise level. If you’re looking for a peaceful place, you might not want to settle on the community that is overrun with visitors or too close to busy roads or commercial places.
Municipal Events. Local events hosted by the city – like farmer’s markets, festivals or concerts – foster a sense of community and connection that can make a place feel like home. Check the local city center’s activities calendar to see if these kinds of events are offered and how frequently they’re held.
For Sale Signs. If there are a substantial amount of “for sale” signs in the community, that could be a red flag. There’s a reason that so many people are looking to leave, and it’s worth investigating exactly what the reason may be. Established neighborhoods that have happy, long-time residents are positive signs that the community is stable, and if a home becomes available it will likely have more competition in a desirable area with less turn-over of residents.
Public Services. It’s important to make sure necessary services like trash removal, road maintenance and other public facilities are handled properly. You can likely view information on the city’s website regarding how these are addressed, but to get better insight, consider discussing with your future neighbors to see if they are pleased with the services.
Curb Appeal. Make a point to evaluate the curb appeal of some of the other properties in the community. This will give you a general sense of how well other residents take care of their homes. Also be sure to look beyond the homes at any surrounding parks or buildings to see how well maintained the area is overall, as this can affect the value of your home.