Man walking his dog through a park.

What To Consider When Choosing A Neighborhood

Sarah Li Cain3-minute read
February 03, 2022

You may have your sights set on dream features of your new house, but choosing the right neighborhood for you is just as important. If you like the house but hate the area – perhaps it takes you too long to get to and from your usual amenities – you may not like living there.

Understanding how to choose the right neighborhood isn’t simply looking at crime rates in the area and hoping for nice neighbors (although that’s certainly a part of it). It’s about setting your priorities then looking at some common considerations when looking at the area you want to buy a house in.

Set Your Priorities

No one can decide what your must-haves are other than you. That means taking some time to decide what your lifestyle is and what you want in a neighborhood.

For example, if you have children (or are planning to), then you may want to think about families in the neighborhood, the parks nearby or the school district you’re in. Perhaps you’re single and are more interested in walkability and an area with more nightlife.

Whatever it is, write those so that when you start looking at homes, you can consider what you like and don’t like about the neighborhood as well.

Apply Online with Rocket Mortgage®

Get approved with Rocket Mortgage® and do it all online. You can get a real, customizable mortgage solution based on your unique financial situation.

7 Things To Consider When Choosing A Neighborhood

If you’re unsure of what you want to look for, here are some general guidelines.

Quality Of Schools

Checking into the schools around you can help determine your property values, as well as the kind of education your children will receive.

Amenities

Ideally, you’ll want your home to be convenient to places you would go regularly. For example, if you go to the gym a few times a week, it might be a good idea to see how long it’ll take you to go there. Or if you love to walk to your favorite restaurant or visit the beach, you’ll want to keep that in mind, as well.

Other amenities to consider include the number of grocery stores, libraries and cultural centers around you.

Speaking of places in your future neighborhood, check to see how far you are away from places like the hospital or fire department. That way, if an emergency happens, they’re nearby.

Noise Level

Finding an area with low noise levels can be difficult, depending on the time you visit. For example, it might seem quiet in the afternoon but at night the bars down the street could turn the entire street into a disco. You might want to consider visiting the area a few times to get a feel for what it could be like.

Walkability

See how it feels to walk around the neighborhood. Check crime maps and statistics to see what it’s like. Can you imagine yourself going out and about and feeling safe?

In addition, think about how easy it is to go from place to place. Do you have to drive everywhere, or can you walk? Even if you prefer to drive, having a more walkable area might help you get to know your neighbors better.

Commute Time

Most people would rather have a shorter commute. Think carefully about how far you’d be from your workplace. When touring homes, look at the streets and see how busy it is during rush hour. You can even look up estimates on Google Maps to see how long it might take you.

Socialization Opportunities

Are you an introvert who’s friendly but not interested in chatting up neighbors? Or do you like to live in a nice neighborhood where people have regular get-togethers? Or perhaps you’re interested in having more families around so your child can make friends?

Think about your lifestyle and observe what the neighbors do and imagine whether you’ll be able to get along with them. If you’re a person who likes to stay up late with a bunch of friends, then a quiet neighborhood may not be the best fit.

Nature

This may not be on everyone’s list of priorities (especially if you live in a heavily populated city), but having lots of trees or nature around you might be a good thing for your mental and physical well-being. Imagine being able to hear the birds singing while walking past a park on your daily stroll.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to choose the right neighborhood is crucial since it could make or break your experience of living in your new home. It’s not a process that should be thrown to the wayside or one that you don’t do a lot of upfront work on.

Once you narrowed down your search to a few prospective properties, check the neighborhood at different times of the day to really see what it might be like to live there. Plus, look at the homes on the same street to see whether they’re well maintained. See if you can drive around to see what it’s like to commute to and from work.

It will require some effort to do all this, but it’ll be worth it.

Apply Online with Rocket Mortgage®

Get approved with Rocket Mortgage® and do it all online. You can get a real, customizable mortgage solution based on your unique financial situation.

Sarah Li Cain

Sarah Li Cain is a freelance personal finance, credit and real estate writer who works with Fintech startups and Fortune 500 financial services companies to educate consumers through her writing. She’s also a candidate for the Accredited Financial Counselor designation and the host of Beyond The Dollar, where she and her guests have deep and honest conversations on how money affects our well-being.