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Buying a new home is exciting, but the neighbourhood you choose is just as important as the actual house. If your dream house is in a terrible neighbourhood, it won’t be your dream home for long. In order to make sure you choose the right neighbourhood for you and your family, ask specific questions. First, take an honest look at yourself and your needs. Then you can investigate the neighbourhood you're considering. Here are a few questions to get you started.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Do you have children or plans for children? What do they need?
Every child has different needs, so make sure you know what is best for the kids in your family. Maybe your kid would benefit from having lots of other young children to play with, or maybe they need a big back yard to run around in. Perhaps you have a son who wants to play soccer, or your daughter would benefit from a Spanish language immersion program. Decide what your family needs and then look for neighbourhoods that fit the bill.
What is your budget?
It is a lot easier to stick to your budget if you know what it is before you fall in love with a neighbourhood. Take a hard look at your situation and determine your budget before you start looking at homes or neighbourhoods. That way, you won’t waste time or heartache on homes you know you can’t afford.
Do you have the skills and patience to maintain an older home?
Older homes have personality and style. They are also in established neighbourhoods with full grown trees, and great amenities. The downside to purchasing an older home is that they require more maintenance. A first time home buyer in Ontario or Edmonton may be enticed by the charm of a historical neighbourhood, but charm wears off quickly if the plumbing breaks and you can’t fix it. Make sure you have the skills, money, and patience it takes to maintain an older home if you choose a historical neighbourhood.
What do you love about your current neighbourhood?
Do you love living in an area where you can walk to the local grocery store? Would you go crazy without easy access to a subway station? Do you love the wide open space in your current home in a rural area or are you addicted to the dynamic nightlife of the big city? Take all these questions into account when you choose a neighbourhood for your new home.
What do you hate about your current neighbourhood?
While it is best to focus on the positive, make note of the things that drive you crazy about your current area as well. Whether you can’t stand the noise of the traffic, or you miss having exciting restaurants to visit on Friday night, see to it that your new neighbourhood won’t present the same problems as the one you are leaving.
Questions to Ask About the Neighbourhood
Are the schools highly ranked?
If you have children, quality schools are essential, but quality schools matter even if you are childless. Homes near highly ranked schools are more valuable than homes in areas where the schools are sub-par.
What is the crime rate?
You can’t predict everything, but you can protect your family by making informed decisions. Do your research ahead of time and find out what the crime rate is in the area. You should also check for registered sex offenders in the neighbourhood you are investigating.
What do the locals think of the neighbourhood?
One of the best ways to learn about an area is to talk to the people who live there. Ask your potential neighbours what they think of the schools, parks, HOA rules, and local attractions.
What is the area like during various times of day? What is it like on the weekend?
Make sure to visit the neighbourhood you are considering more than once. It may be calm and peaceful on Tuesday afternoons and crazy and loud on Saturday nights. Was the loud traffic an anomaly, or is it always that loud? Did you ignore the weird smell the first time you visited because you were busy thinking about other things? Go back for a second visit so you can be more objective and observant.
If you need more help picking the right neighbourhood, consider enlisting the services of a real estate professional. Websites like ReaLocation offer advice about home inspections, mortgage rates, and local moving companies. Other websites let you look up a neighbourhood by postal code. You can then look up the median age of people in the neighbourhood, find homes for sale, check the weather patterns and research crime statistics.
Asking the right questions is the first step to finding the perfect new neighbourhood and home. Take the time up front to do your research and it will pay off for years to come.