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How to Find the Right Neighborhood

Moving into a new neighborhood doesn't have to be filled with unknowns. Use these five tips to ensure you pick the right neighborhood for you.

By Meghann Shike on April 15, 2015

When moving to a new city, there are often several nice neighborhoods to choose from. How do you pick the right neighborhood? Start with these tips to help you narrow down the options:

Investigate the area.

When searching for new homes, you’re probably going to start with a service such as Trulia or Zillow. These are great resources for home searching and things like home prices and getting a lay of the land. You’ll also want to familerize yourself with the community and Livability.com provides you with everything from school rankings to major employers, hospitals and things to do. Livability.com also gives you the city’s population, median household income and median home price so you’ll know if those data sets meet your needs.

Are you buying in a flood zone?

When picking the right neighborhood, you also want to know if the house you’re purchasing is in a flood zone. Ask your insurance agent if the home is in a flood zone and if it will need flood insurance. Realize that just because it is in a flood plain, doesn’t mean it has ever flooded or ever will. It just means that this home is at a higher risk of flooding in heavy rains.

Has there been a natural disaster?

Ask the realtor you’re working with if there have been any natural disasters in the neighborhood where your house is located. For example, if you’re moving to Nashville from somewhere else, you might not remember how badly Nashville flooded in 2010. Ask your realtor if there’s been a flood or any other natural disaster in the neighborhood recently that might have affected the home you’re buying or property values in the neighborhood. You might not get an answer to your question. They might not know, but it’s worth asking.

Check your home values.

Check the home values in your neighborhood. You may plan on living in this house for the next 30 years. However, what happens if you get a job transfer, or your kids get into a special school across the country and you have to sell in two years? Or what is going to happen when you want to sell in 30 years? You want to know your house is in a part of town and in a neighborhood that’s going to appreciate in value. Ask your realtor, and get on Trulia to see what’s recently sold in your neighborhood and for how much. Look at the price history on Trulia to see where home values around you have been. Also look at the last sold values of homes in your neighborhood to see where home values have been most recently.

Map it!

Google Map your favorite store locations closest to the house you’re buying. If you currently live within half a mile of Kroger and Publix, it’s probably going to be hard to move 20 minutes from a grocery store in your new home. The same rule applies to Target or Walgreens or whatever stores you frequent most. Make sure you’re picking a new neighborhood that’s sufficiently close to the things you need most.

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