How to Test-Drive a Neighborhood While Sheltering in Place
When you’re in the market for a new place to live, finding the right neighborhood is everything. But in our current state, with shelter-in-place orders in full effect in many areas (and mere common sense limiting people’s excursions), scoping out a new neighborhood can be a little more challenging. But with the right tools, you can learn a lot about a neighborhood without leaving your home.
Here’s how to start your research.
1. Check out neighborhood publications and local social media
An active neighborhood community will sometimes have a print publication or local social media groups that connect residents. These can provide information on local events and activities that will give you a better feel for the neighborhood. For example, Carlsbad, CA, has a local publication called Carlsbad Magazine, which covers all of the cultural happenings in North San Diego County, as well as a Facebook page.
Browse Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for groups or accounts that document what’s going on in the neighborhood where you’re interested in moving. You can even interact with locals in the community who can give you their opinions of their locale.
2. Take a walk with Google
Want to take a stroll around your potential new neighborhood without leaving the couch?
Google Street View is a great way to ‘walk’ the street and neighborhood virtually.
Another way to access Google Street View is to go to google.com/maps, type in the address of the house you’re interested in, and click on the photo of the property in the menu to the left of the map. If Google Street View is available for that address, you should be able to click and drag the image to move down the street.
3. Browse websites with neighborhood data
You want to gather as much information as possible on your next neighborhood, and there are a lot of websites that can help you do that.
City-Data provides detailed city profiles about everything from cost of living to weather to average home prices, and its forums give useful insight from community locals.
Plug in your ZIP code at AreaVibes to get a livability score and help narrow down the best places to live.
4. Search other real estate listings
To learn about the typical architectural styles and ages of homes in a neighborhood, browse online listings on sites like realtor.com. Is the neighborhood full of ’50s ranch homes or hundred-year-old Victorians? Looking at the homes for sale will clue you in.
5. Call a real estate agent
It’s also a good idea to get in touch with a tech-savvy real estate agent.
If you’ve identified a home you’re interested contact your real estate for more information about the neighborhood. A local pro will be sure to have an insider’s perspective on the area and extensive knowledge on homes there.
6. Investigate schools and educational data
Relocating with your family? Then you will want to research schools in the area. A good resource is GreatSchools, which provides data on K-12 schools and reviews from parents. Areas with great schools typically maintain property values, and its neighborhoods are highly coveted.
And if you want to research education statistics, U.S. News & World Report has rankings of high schools with data on more than 23,000 public high schools in all 50 states.
7. Check crime rates
Safety is a priority for both buyers and renters, and crime rates can give you a picture of how safe a neighborhood is. Low crime rates are not only safer but can also help keep property values high.
Websites such as CrimeReports can provide crime data from law enforcement agencies.
To see if there are registered sex offenders living nearby, type the address of your potential new home in the National Sex Offender Registry’s public website.
8. Plan your daily commute
Get a feel for the neighborhood by monitoring traffic and your potential work commute by using commuting tools that predict traffic like Waze or Google Maps.
Let’s connect today so you have help with all of the additional steps along the way, and you’re ready to make your next move.