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6 Things to Look For When Choosing a Neighborhood

When you're looking to buy a home, it's important to find a good neighborhood. Not only will the quality of the neighborhood make living in your home more enjoyable and worry-free, but it will also help the value of your home appreciate more quickly, giving you a higher return on your investment if you decide to sell.

What makes a good neighborhood?

When searching for a good neighborhood, it comes down to research and your preferences. A good neighborhood for many typically has a low crime rate, reputable school districts and easy access to various amenities such as parks, recreational facilities, shopping centers or restaurants.

An ideal neighborhood also has a strong sense of community, often characterized by well-maintained homes and active neighborhood associations. Keep in mind the neighborhood must not only meet your current needs but also needs to align with your long-term goals and lifestyle preferences.

How to Find a Good Neighborhood

With so many options, visiting every neighborhood is not practical. Working with a real estate agent or using online resources is the best way to find your ideal neighborhood.

Homefront is a great resource for Veterans and military families when purchasing a home. Homefront allows you to personalize your home and neighborhood search to your unique situation.

Factors to Look For in a Neighborhood

While your real estate agent will take your preferences into consideration in your home search, it’s important to keep a few factors top of mind.

1. Curb Appeal

How the homes look from the outside can be a great indicator of the neighborhood's commitment to upkeep and property values. Keep an eye out for furniture in the yard, cars parked in the front yard, and homes in bad repair; these can be a sign of a neighborhood in a downward spiral. Good signs could include gardens, backyard add-ons like pergolas or flagstone patios, or a neighborhood park.

Neighborhoods with strong curb appeal often offer a welcoming atmosphere, making them more appealing to potential buyers. This aspect is not only important for immediate satisfaction but also for long-term investment, as neighborhoods with high curb appeal tend to maintain or increase their property values over time.

2. Landscaping and Topography

The things to look for are quality and variety. You don't want unsightly dirt patches or unmaintained lawns. Even if everything is in pristine condition, the same arrangement of trees and shrubs, house after house, is monotonous. A varied ecosystem of trees, shrubs and grasses is more likely to stay healthy for the long run by having different reactions to drought, pests and temperature changes.

A neighborhood that features a wetland area can be a big plus too, increasing the area's ability to deal with excess rainwater in a way that diverts it into a natural catchment area and away from your basement.

3. Streets

The layout and condition of the neighborhood’s streets can greatly influence the area's livability and appeal. Well-designed streets that are spacious and well-maintained contribute to a neighborhood’s functionality. Wide streets with ample sidewalks promote walkability, making it safer and more enjoyable for residents to walk, jog or bike.

This not only fosters a healthier lifestyle but also encourages community interactions. On the other hand, narrow or poorly maintained streets can lead to congestion and safety concerns. Quiet, low-traffic streets are often preferred for their tranquility and safety, especially for families with children. Additionally, well-lit streets improve visibility and security during the night.

4. Family-friendly

Try to drive through the neighborhood at different times of the day and look for activity in the neighborhood. Are there people sitting on their porches? Walking dogs? Taking their kids on a walk?

If residents are willing to get out and walk around the neighborhood, that's a good sign of its vitality and safety. A neighborhood with an invested population will stay vibrant and valuable for a long time.

5. Public Services and Amenities

The proximity to services and amenities can significantly affect your daily life and overall satisfaction with your living environment. Living near essential services such as grocery stores, healthcare facilities and banks adds a layer of convenience.

Additionally, having amenities like parks, recreational centers, restaurants and cultural venues within easy reach can greatly offer opportunities for relaxation, entertainment, and social engagement. Also, check the neighborhood's proximity to fire and police services; besides helping you feel more secure, a nearby fire station can lower your home insurance premiums.

6. Ownership

Try to get a feel for the level of ownership in the community. Are there a lot of renters in the neighborhood? More homeowners means greater stability and a higher level of investment in the health of the neighborhood.

In these recent tough times for the housing market, find out how many homes are up for sale or in foreclosure in the neighborhood. Too many foreclosures will plummet housing prices in a community over time.

How to Choose the Right Neighborhood For You

Picking the perfect neighborhood is just as crucial as finding your dream home. Exploring the neighborhood and observing the atmosphere is the best way to get a sense of living within it. Remember, the most beautiful house can lose its appeal if it's in an area that doesn't align with your lifestyle or if it's next to neighbors with disruptive habits.

Ultimately, the goal is to find a neighborhood that not only meets your practical needs but also resonates with your personal preferences and lifestyle, ensuring long-term happiness and comfort in your new home.

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About Our Editorial Process

Veterans United is recognized as the leading VA lender in the nation, unmatched in our specialization and expertise in VA loans. Our strict adherence to accuracy and the highest editorial standards guarantees our information is based on thoroughly vetted, unbiased research. Committed to excellence, we offer guidance to our nation's Veterans, ensuring their homebuying experience is informed, seamless and secured with integrity.

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