House-Hunting 101: How to Choose a Community
You’re excited to start hunting for your new house, but first you have to pick a community to begin your search. The Twin Cities metro area offers many diverse and appealing neighborhood options, depending what you’re looking for in a community. Taking the time to identify what qualities you’re looking for in a community will help you narrow the field of your search and find a place that feels like home. Thinking about the items on this list will help you start the process of deciding which community to make the focus of your search.
What motivates you and your family – work? play? social life? Your first priority when choosing a community should be finding a match to your central values and the lifestyle you hope to lead. If you value time outdoors, narrow your search to neighborhoods near lakes, parks, or trails. If you value an active social life, consider proximity to close friends and family. You might prefer to be only a short drive away.
Do you want to live in a community where you can walk to most places you visit on a daily basis, like the grocery store, coffee shop, gym, or local library? You’ll want to look at neighborhoods closer to the city. If you don’t mind driving your daily errand route, communities further into the suburbs might suit you.
It goes without saying that you want to feel comfortable and safe in your community, especially if you’re starting or raising a family. Research crime statistics for the area, and spend time driving or walking around the neighborhood. The condition of other houses on your street will tell you a lot about the condition of the community as a whole. A good litmus test is to pay attention to whether people you pass make eye contact or not. If they do, it’s probably a friendly, safe community.
If you have kids, educational options in the community should be an important consideration. Does the local public school system offer quality education? Would you rather send your kids to private school? Will you be able to drive your kids to school, or do you need to live in a neighborhood where they can ride the bus? Don’t forget to think ahead. Even if your kids are only in elementary school, assess the options for middle and high school. You never know how long you might stay put.
The daily commute to work is always top of mind when considering a change in living situation—as it should be. Your commute is a significant time and financial investment, and it’s important to weigh the pros and cons. Many people make the mistake of moving farther from the cities to afford a larger home, but end up paying the costs of extra gas and extended commuting time. Paying more to live closer to the city could pay off in savings on gas, public transportation, or time.
Photo from North Charleston