When searching for a new home, what kind of neighborhood do you look for? If you’ve considered this question, you’re ready to start your search. If you haven’t, it might be worth taking some time to start thinking about the neighborhood where your next home will be located. After all, homes don’t exist in a vacuum. The character of your neighborhood, the quality of the houses, the local amenities, and even your neighbors will all contribute to your living experience in a particular area. Use the seven tips below to get a feel for approaching your search for the perfect neighborhood.
1. Start with setting your priorities
Do you just want to move to a nice area, or do you want to live in a particular type of neighborhood? For instance, consider properties in the St. John area as an example. If you're going to live on the water, you might look at Chocolate Hole, St. John, to find something on the beach. If you value proximity to the beach but don’t mind living just slightly inland, you could check out Catherinesberg, St. John. And if you’re just searching for a nice neighborhood and don’t care as much about oceanfront proximity, you might check out Rendezvous & Ditleff. These are just examples, as priorities will vary widely among different individuals.
Also, consider what sort of local attractions or amenities you value. Some homeowners want to live right up in the middle of the action, while others are more comfortable in a purely residential neighborhood. These considerations will get you thinking in the right direction.
2. Do some online research
You can use tools like the U.S. Census Bureau to look at general areas, including cities, towns, villages, and census-designated areas. If you’re looking at a famous or historically significant neighborhood, there may be a lot of good information elsewhere online. Once you find a setting that might interest you, you should look at some online property listings in the area. Remember when you’re looking online that the word “neighborhood” can refer to everything from a couple of city blocks to an entire village, so looking at a map of the neighborhoods in your desired location may be helpful.
3. Go for a drive
The internet can be a great place to start when looking into neighborhoods. You can find all sorts of pictures, information about local things to do, or whatever else you want from a neighborhood. However, don’t rely too much upon the internet to determine how you feel about a particular area. Once you’ve spotted a place that looks promising, it’s essential to see the neighborhood in person. See if the local houses look attractive and well-maintained. See if the neighborhood looks walkable or suitable for cycling. Investigate how close it is to the nearest stores or restaurants, etcetera. The same rule for searching for neighborhoods also applies to searching for homes. Use the web to find something that interests you, then check it out in person before investing.
4. Check out local schools
If you don’t have school-aged children, you will have more flexibility in the kind of neighborhood you choose. For those who do have youngsters, schools are often a foremost concern. Of course, you can take comfort knowing that nice neighborhoods typically have excellent schools. After all, you wouldn’t expect to drive through an upscale neighborhood and see a dilapidated school. However, as a parent, you may want more than just to know that the local schools are good. Are they highly rated? Do they have any appealing programs and extracurricular activities? How close to a particular neighborhood or residence are they? Asking questions like these and researching your local schools will help give you an idea of where to hone in your property search if you have kids in school.
5. Consider the local zoning
Most people don’t think about zoning much, but it can be relevant to your neighborhood search. Zoning laws vary between places, meaning different areas are developed and used differently. In some areas, entire neighborhoods are off-limits to most commercial development; everything is residential in such communities. Other areas are zoned for commercial use, and some have a mix of different zoning. You don’t necessarily have to look at local zoning regulations before purchasing an existing home. Still, you can do so if you’re curious about what can and can’t happen to the neighborhood in the future.
6. Know the rules
Individual homes — and sometimes entire developments or neighborhoods — may come with a homeowners association (HOA), a condo board, or other governing entity. HOAs and similar entities function as private regulatory bodies with the aim of maintaining the value, security, and beauty of a neighborhood. While HOA rules tend to be rational and reasonable for most homes, they come with fees, and some homeowners prefer to avoid them.
Knowing whether or not you want to belong to an HOA will help you narrow the search for your perfect neighborhood. Your realtor should be able to detail any restrictive covenants attached to a home. You can also typically find information regarding HOAs or other governing bodies for real estate online.
7. Consult with a local real estate agent
All of the above tips can help you search for the perfect neighborhood, but the most efficient way to narrow down your search is to consult with a local real estate agent. Since realtors typically specialize in a specific geographical area where their firm is located, you can count on an experienced realtor to give you the inside scoop on local neighborhoods.
Tropical Properties Real Estate & Development is a seasoned team with properties in the best neighborhoods in the St. John area, from Catherinesberg, St. John to Chocolate Hole, St. John to Rendezvous & Ditleff. When you’re living in paradise, choosing a neighborhood can be difficult, and that’s why talking to a realtor at Tropical Properties Real Estate & Development should be the first step in your neighborhood search. Reach the experts at Tropical Properties anytime to uplevel your real estate search.
*Header photo courtesy of Shutterstock