Moving for Work? How to Find a Great Neighborhood for Your Family
Did you just get a promotion at work that requires you to move to another city? Is your company moving to a new location and you want to move closer to the head office? When you're ready to move, how can you make sure you move to a neighborhood that is safe and meets your family's needs? Here are some house-hunting questions to ask as you search for your new dream home when your job requires you to move to a new city.
Everyone Wants a Safe Community to Call Home
Finding the right home for you and your family is about more than just finding a house or apartment with all the interior design features you want.
Remember what real estate agents always say? Location! Location! Location! When searching for your next dream home, you need to factor in the impact that the local neighborhood and surrounding community will have on your lifestyle.
How do you choose a community that suits your lifestyle? If you're ready to buy a new home or sign a rental agreement on a condo, you should plan on doing some diligent research if you want to live in an ideal neighborhood. Here are some questions and suggestions to help you identify the perfect community for you and your family.
Start with your priorities. Start by listing the lifestyle features that are the most important to you and your family. You can categorize your needs and wants into essential and non-essential features, and then further group those features into categories such as schools, recreation, health and safety, transportation, pets, and so on. Creating a clear vision will help narrow down your search and save you time and money (not to mention potential heartache).
Have you decided that you want to live in a quiet rural area, far from heavy traffic and busy malls? Or would you be willing to give up that small-town peace and quiet in order to be near urban hotspots, trendy amenities and big-city conveniences?
Where will you do your grocery shopping? Will the local grocery store fit your food budget (i.e.; discount grocer vs. high-end organic store)? Will you be able to buy foods that meet any special dietary needs or food preferences you have locally (i.e.; organic, healthy or ethnic foods)? Or will you have to drive to another part of town to buy the food that your family needs?
Can you walk to the store or will you always have to take the car?
Are the restaurants, bars, and coffee shops in the neighborhood appealing and affordable?
Is there easy access to banks, medical and dental offices, and other self-care services (i.e.; hair, spa, nails, fitness and yoga studios)?
Find out how noisy your new neighborhood can get on the weekend. Spend an hour and a half and park your car in your desired neighborhood one weekend evening. Roll down the windows; observe and listen to what is going on.
- Can you hear loud parties in the area?
- Is there heavy traffic on the street?
- How safe do you feel sitting in your parked car?
- Would you feel comfortable sitting on a bench or bus stop at night in this neighborhood?
- Is there good street lighting?
- Are sidewalks and park paths well lit?
- Is there a local community policing office?
- What are the local crime statistics for the area?
Health and fitness
- Does this neighborhood have physiotherapists, recreation centers, gyms, and other fitness facilities?
- Will you need to find a new family doctor, or will you still need to travel to your old doctor’s office?
- Where is the nearest hospital or 24-hour medical clinic?
- How many schools are there in your prospective community? How do they rank for academics, sports, and artistic achievements?
- Will your children be able to “grow up” within the school system? That is, will they be able to move smoothly from elementary school to junior/middle school to high school without having to travel outside the neighborhood?
- Will your older/ teen child be able to walk to school on their own safety? Will they need to take the school bus or get a ride from you each day?
- How close are you to the nearest highway? Is this a convenience? Or is it a safety hazard and potential source of noise pollution?
- How heavy is the traffic on the street outside your prospective house or condo? Will people be using your street as a detour?
- How far away is the nearest bus, train, or other public transportation stop?
- How long will your commute to and from work take each day? How will this affect the quality of your family time?
- Will your new home be easy to get to for your family and friends? Is there enough visitor or street parking available? Can friends and family get to your home by public transit?
- How bike-friendly are the roads in your new neighborhood?
- Where will you take your pet for veterinary care?
- Will any of your pets violate local zoning bylaws? What licenses are required for cats and dogs or other animals?
- How pet-friendly is the community? Are dogs allowed in the local parks? Are there designated off-lease dog areas?
- Are there any major developments planned for the area in the near future?
- If the answer is yes, will this benefit you and your family (i.e.; more local amenities, stronger economy)? Or is there a downside to the potential development (i.e.; loss of view, increased traffic, increased noise and air pollution)?
- Can you see your family living in this neighborhood for the next 20 years?
Community culture and pride
- What is the social vibe of this new neighborhood? Pick up a few editions of the local newspaper and find out what community events are celebrated. Are there fun festivals and free events open to the public? How are public spaces such as plazas, parks, and waterfront areas used to bring people together?
- Is diversity and acceptance of other cultures, religious practices, and different political beliefs important to you? Does your prospective neighborhood reflect your values and beliefs?
Animals and wildlife
- Some areas have seasonal population explosions of pests such as rodents, frogs, mosquitoes, caterpillars, or crickets. Find out how the local government deals with these pests and determine whether or not it fits with your environmental values. For example, some communities might use heavy pesticides to get rid of bugs and other critters. Are you concerned about this impacting your health at all?
- Does your new neighborhood live harmoniously alongside the local wildlife population? Some communities are situated near waterways, dense forests, and steep mountains that are home to bears, coyotes, raccoons and even deadly snakes and alligators. Have there been any recent dangerous encounters between wildlife, humans, and household pets?
Climate and geography
- When choosing your new neighborhood, don’t forget to factor in the risk of forest fires, floods, and bad weather and what impact these things would have on your home, your insurance premiums, and your ability to get to work during a storm.
- How would a flood affect you and your family if your neighborhood was cut off? Would your home be at risk in the event of a wildfire? How will any of these potential risks affect your insurance rates and property values? And more importantly, how would they impact your sense of safety and security?
- Obviously, no one can predict every unforeseen natural disaster or extreme weather condition. But being familiar with the terrain of your prospective community will help you determine if you and your family will find the level of safety and security that you're looking for.
Carefully researching a new neighborhood before you buy or rent can prevent disappointment and financial loss down the road. No one wants to move into a new home, and then find out that the area is plagued by falling home prices and rising property crime.
What is your number one criterion for a new neighborhood?
Did you know? According to David Niven, Ph.D. and author of The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy Families, researchers have found that people who are highly satisfied with their neighborhood are 25% more likely to be satisfied with their family life!
Good Read: Will Your New Address Change Who You Are?
- Your Personality Changes When You Move to a New Place -- Science of Us
Different address, different you. Here's a fascinating article on the impact that moving to a new geographical region can have on your personality.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2012 Sally Hayes