When you buy a home, that’s not all you’re doing. You are also buying into a neighborhood. And, unfortunately, many homebuyers wind up with a home they love, but in a neighborhood, they don’t really like – which is definitely not a good combination when they intend to live in that home for many years to come. The trick is to find a home that ticks all your must-have boxes and as many of your like-to-have boxes as possible and that is located in a neighborhood you like or is at least compatible with your needs and lifestyle. With that in mind, we offer these 5 important things to consider when choosing a neighborhood in New Jersey.
Safety should always be an important consideration when choosing a neighborhood in New Jersey or anywhere else, especially if you have children.
Here are a few of the most important safety-related concerns:
- Crime rate – Any neighborhood will have some level of criminal activity, but you want the neighborhood you choose to be as crime-free as possible. So “if you check criminal reports through the city website or contact local law enforcement and notice a high level of activity, it may be a red flag.”
- A neighborhood watch – “Is there a neighborhood watch group established in the area? This may not be a deal-breaker, but it’s something some families value. Ask local law enforcement or one of the residents. You might also see a street sign indicating it is a neighborhood watch area.”
- Good street lighting – Plenty of street lighting is a great deterrent of criminal activity and can help you feel safer. So before choosing a neighborhood in New Jersey, be sure to check out the street lighting.
You can, of course, do your own research to find out about the safety of a particular neighborhood. A better course, though, is to consult a local New Jersey agent who will know the neighborhood well. Just call 855-966-DEAL to find out more.
2. Quality of Schools
The quality of the local schools is also an important consideration in choosing a neighborhood – even if you don’t have children. Quality, highly ranked schools are an excellent indicator of a good neighborhood. Neighborhoods with good schools typically have good potential for property appreciation, which also means a good return on your investment and much better resale value.
To find out about schools, you can contact a New Jersey agent at 855-966-DEAL, or you can “[g]o to the local school district’s website and download the report card of nearby schools. This will include information about the school’s demographics, test scores, and graduation rates. Another resource is GreatShools.org, which allows you to easily compare data between schools and read parents’ reviews.”
3. Amenities and Conveniences
Also, be sure to look into local amenities and conveniences when choosing a neighborhood in New Jersey. For example . . .
“Take time to explore each neighborhood you’re considering and identify the nearby amenities and conveniences. If the neighborhood is more suburban or rural, you’ll have to determine how far you are willing to travel for everyday conveniences such as grocery or convenience stores, dry cleaners, gas stations, health services, and more.”
BE sure to “[i]dentify or research some of the other local amenities such as parks, community centers, recreational activities, museums, and other attractions.” Some neighborhood features/amenities that can make one neighborhood stand out above others are sidewalks, nearby parks, and easily accessible walking trails.
4. Commute Times
And then, when choosing a neighborhood, there is the practical matter of commute time to consider. How much driving are you willing to do, or do you even want to drive at all.
“Ask yourself how you plan to get around. Will you be driving, walking, or taking public transportation to get to and from work and other activities? For most buyers, especially those who live in an urban area with major traffic concerns, the time it takes to commute to and from work and schools is a major consideration. How long are you willing to spend in the car or commuting each day?”
You really need to consider how your commute times will impact your (and your family’s) quality of life. So be sure to weigh the benefits of living in a neighborhood necessitating longer commutes against the decrease in time you can spend with family and friends and doing the things you enjoy.
5. Lifestyle Compatibility
Ultimately, a large part of choosing a neighborhood has to do with how well the neighborhood suits your particular lifestyle. Young couples just starting out will need a much different kind of neighborhood than, say, retirees.
“A couple starting a family, for example,” will want different amenities in their ideal neighborhood than empty-nesters looking for a slower pace of life. Pay attention to things like parks, open spaces, trails, proximity to shopping, dining, and local attractions. If the community is a homeowners association, or HOA, find out what amenities are included in your dues, such as a pool, clubhouse, or gym.”
Talking to your agent is a good way to find out about a neighborhood’s compatibility with your lifestyle. You can also do your own online research using such tools as WalkScore.com and neighborhood Facebook groups.
Lean on Your New Jersey Agent When Choosing a Neighborhood
It should be pretty clear by now that choosing the right neighborhood is a big part of buying the right home. Still, for most buyers, affordability remains an overriding concern, which usually means some compromise. But you can increase your chance of getting the home you want in a neighborhood you like by working closely with an experienced, local New Jersey agent. When you’re in the market for a new home and are concerned about choosing a neighborhood that suits you, be sure to contact us at 855-966-DEAL.