Even if you don’t have kids, these rankings are important. They affect resale value, for instance. If you’re in a desirable school district, you can expect future development and an increase in your property value, which could add up to a quick and profitable resell down the road. A school’s ranking also gives hints about the demographic makeup of the neighborhood. If it’s a top school, expect lots of families in the neighborhood. Niche.com and GreatSchools.org both present school rankings nationwide calculated with data from the Department of Education and local reviewers.
Nothing beats hanging out in neighborhoods you’re interested in (and striking up conversations with the people who already live there). But if you’re looking for hard data about amenities, public transportation options, walkability, and crime, head to the Internet.
AreaVibes.com ranks areas by total livability, including high-school graduation rate, crime, amenities, weather, and other important factors. It shares the data behind its scores and lets you compare neighborhoods.
For a deep dive into a neighborhood’s walkability index that includes public transit options and commute time projections, check WalkScore.com. Also check with the neighborhood association or city council about any building plans approved, and ask yourself if you’ll benefit from the development.
Finally, it’s a good idea to glance at police incidents in the area. Go to CrimeReports.com to filter a neighborhood’s submitted reports by time of day, type of incident, and more. Check out at least six month’s worth of data to get an accurate picture of overall police activity in the neighborhood.
Determine Your Five-Year Plan
Most personal finance experts say it’s best to live in a house for at least five years before reselling. If you move prior to that, the equity you’ve built up likely won’t recoup your closing costs. So picture yourself in five years: Will you be in the same job with the same commute? Will someone move in with you or will you have children? Would you like to get a dog or start working from home? Now think of Future You as you evaluate individual properties and make sure the house you love now is one you can live in comfortably for the next few years.
Ask about Special Cases
Disaster is the last thing you want to think about when you have dream-home buzz. But it’s worth inquiring and researching to see if the property you’re in love with sits on a flood plain or an earthquake zone, or is at risk from wildfires. If so, ask your insurance agent to estimate the extra cost to add natural disaster coverage to your policies, but also do some soul-searching: If the worst happens and you lost your home, are you the type to rebuild? More practically, will you spend each fire or rain season paranoid about potential disaster, lessening your enjoyment of your home even if nothing ever happens? If so, move on to safer ground.
Source: Sunset.com ~ By: JOANNA LINBERG