6 Questions to Help Identify Your Ideal Place to Live
When you start to think about making a move, one of the first things you need to decide is what neighborhood or area you would prefer to live in. As you narrow down the areas in which you would like to search for a new home, it is a great idea to get to know the neighborhoods you are considering. After all, buying a home is a huge investment, and you want to be confident you are making the right choice on a location. The St. Louis area is full of amazing neighborhoods, and they all have their own unique appeal. It is important to evaluate your needs and desires when choosing a place to look for a home. Here are 6 questions to help identify your ideal place to live in the St. Louis area.
1. Is it close to the places I go most often?
When you are choosing a place to live, you need to take into consideration its proximity to the places you frequent. How far away is your job? What would your commute time be? How far away are your friends and family? What stores, restaurants, and recreational facilities do you go to most often, and how far away are those? What do you like to do for fun? Are there nearby parks and recreational facilities? Think about these answers and evaluate how easy or difficult it may be to get to these places you spend the most time so you aren’t stuck driving long distances to get to the places you need to be. Or perhaps, you want to put a little extra buffer between your home and family.
2. Is it safe?
It is a good idea to dig into the crime statistics of an area you are considering so you can determine its safety. Talk with the local police department, or search online. Usually, the county sheriff's website is a great place to start, for the latest statistics. Pay attention not only to the number of crimes but the nature of those crimes and whether it is trending upwards or downwards.
3. Is it economically stable?
The local economic development office can give you information about the household income and property values in the area. Are they rising or at least stable? How many homes are owner-occupied versus rentals? Are there buildings or homes that have sat empty or been on the market for long periods of time? This can give you a glimpse into the economic stability of an area.
4. Is it a good investment?
Working with a licensed and experienced real estate agent can help you determine the value of your investment in a home. One amazing benefit of owning a home is wealth building through the increase in home values over time. However, this is not a guarantee and depends on the area and the overall real estate market. A real estate agent can provide you with information on past appreciation and home values in the neighborhood. Although past performance is not a guarantee for future outcomes, it is a great indicator and can give you a sense of what to expect in the neighborhood.
5. What school districts do I prefer?
School performance is often a huge determinant of where someone wants to live. Spend some time researching not only the district as a whole but the specific schools in which your children will attend in any given neighborhood you are considering. Not only can you look online using websites such as greatschools.org to find helpful data, but you can also visit the schools and ask for information on things like test scores, class sizes, and anything else that might be important to you. Even if you do not have children, the schools are an important consideration, because the quality of neighborhood schools often has a direct effect on resale values.
6. Does it fit my lifestyle and preferences?
Before you buy a home, you should spend some time in the area to get a feel for the neighborhood. What neighborhoods or areas would you enjoy living in? Are there particular streets or subdivisions within these areas that you are drawn to? Simply driving through the neighborhood at varying times of the day will help give you an idea of what the neighborhood is like. Do you see a lot of kids out playing? Are people out walking or running? Is it quiet or busy? What is the traffic like throughout the neighborhood? Make observations about the area so you can decide if it fits what you are looking for.
When my husband and I started searching for our first home, we had a young daughter and knew that a kid-friendly neighborhood was very important to us. I remembered the good old days of running around with my neighbors playing kick the can until the sun went down, and desperately wanted that for our kids. Driving through our neighborhood in the summertime, we were thrilled to see the streets, sidewalks, and backyards filled with kids playing. This helped us know that we were moving into an area where lots of young kids lived and had a huge potential for our daughter making new friends.
On the flip side, we have four schools at either end of our neighborhood. What I did not do during our search was drive the area during school drop-off and pick-up times. The traffic and backups from the drop-off and pick-up lines and extra school traffic have been a source of frustration to me that I wish I had known to anticipate.
So, think about the area and what is around. Then, pick some different times to drive through or just sit and observe the area to help you get a good feeling for what it is like living there.
It is important to really evaluate your desires and get to know an area before you buy a home so you can be confident in your decision. Our Buyer Specialists will sit down with you and help you narrow down your home search based on your own personal wants and needs. Inform your Buyer Specialist of any other consideration or preference so that they can help you find your ideal area. Our team has helped hundreds of people find their dream home; will you be next? If you have any questions or would like to request a free, no-obligation Buyer Strategy Session, contact us today or fill out the form below to get started.