Buying a home is an investment, whether you’re upgrading from your starter home or buying your first property. One of the first things you’ll need to decide is where you want to live. Are you relocating or staying in the same city? What is the school district like where you’re looking? There are some important factors you should consider when deciding where to buy, so let’s break it down.
Choose a City or Area
When you’re deciding where to buy, you should decide on the city or area first. Whether you’re relocating for a job or getting a fresh start, once you know the city you can start doing some research. What neighborhoods are the most sought after? Are some better for kids? What are the schools like? Ask around and figure out where you want to be.
You should also consider the area’s proximity to things like family, friends, and work. An hour and a half is a lot further for your parents, especially if they are used to being 10 minutes up the road from their grandkids. The same is true for your commute. If you’re not changing jobs, moving could mean a longer drive to work.
Just like you can make a home wishlist of things you’d like in your dream home, you can also make a location wishlist. Do you want parks nearby? How close do you want to be to major transportation hubs? Use our Home Location Wishlist below to get started by jotting down your wants and thoughts.
Choose a Neighborhood
What characteristics are you looking for in a neighborhood? You should look for things like a community center (a gyms, pool, etc.), sidewalks or bike paths, landscaping, and well kept pavement and streets.
These things will also affect the average home price in an area, which is something else you should consider. The average home price varies from one neighborhood to another, even ones that are just across the street. An experienced real estate agent will be able to help you navigate neighborhoods and varying home prices.
You’ll need to determine your budget and what you’re willing to live without in order to get the location you want. Yes, you want the best neighborhood, but you don’t want to stretch too far above your means to live there. Don’t forget that some neighborhoods have home owner’s associations (HOAs), too. When there’s an HOA, there is usually a monthly fee associated with buying a house in the neighborhood. Also, HOAs often have rules for the neighborhood concerning the outside of your house, which can be limiting.
What is the school District like?
If you have kids or are planning to start a family, you should consider the school district. Good public-school districts are highly sought after, and can impact the home’s cost and your resale value.
Even if you don’t have kids, considering the school district will help maximize your investment. If you plan to rent the property down the road or sell it, being in a good school district may increase its rental potential and value. It’s hard to say whether a good school district positively impacts the average home price or if a higher average home price makes the school district better,. Either way, the two usually go hand-in-hand.
Besides the school district, there are a few other factors that may increase your home’s value that you should look for when purchasing a home.
Consider Proximity to grocery stores, shopping, etc.
How important is convenience to you? Where is the closest grocery store? Is it close to your favorite coffee shop? Where is the closest gas station? You may not feel like these are the most important things, but they should be considered when you’re choosing a location. You might think a 30-minute drive to the closest grocery store is do-able, but that might get old after a while.
This is also true for shopping and activities — as much as you love your new house, it’s nice to get out of the house every now and then. What is the night life like in the area? If you wanted to go to a movie, where is the closest theater? Just like with the houses interior (number of bedrooms, bathrooms, a yard, etc.), you should decide what’s important to you and what you’re willing to sacrifice when choosing your home’s location.
Look at parks and recreation options in the area
For many, being near parks and recreational activities is high on their list of “wants” when they’re looking for a home, whether you’re walking, biking, or driving distance.
Depending on your hobbies, you may want to look for a neighborhood near parks, playgrounds, golf courses, bike paths, hiking paths, and dog parks.
If you do your research and find a good real estate agent and mortgage banker, you’ll be able to find not only the home that’s right for you, but an area and neighborhood you love, too. For more home buying and homeownership information, check out the Atlantic Bay Blog.