When choosing the right community for your family, there are many factors that guide your decision. Location, amenities, and safety are just a few of the many things homeowners think about when selling their home and making a move. Whether you have young children, are entering the empty-nest phase or are on the hunt for a place to call all yours, there are certain factors that can help you decide which community is the right community. Here are some important questions to ask yourself as you begin the search for your new home.
A Community to Match Your Lifestyle
If you have numerous pets and enjoy gardening, living in a concentrated urban environment is probably not ideal. Similarly, an active couple might not feel settled in an area that doesn’t offer many parks or biking trails. As you consider homes, keep your eyes open for a community that closely matches the lifestyle you live.
Do You Have Children?
Moving your family can be complicated, especially when you have young children. Parents of school-age kids undoubtedly want to live in communities with stellar school systems. But that just scratches the surface of considerations when choosing the right community for your family. Ideally, you want to set your kids up for success within their interests. If you have athletes, choosing a community that has a school district with strong athletic programs may be paramount. If academics is more their focus, your search may include charter or private schools with challenging Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curricula. How are the teachers? What do other parents have to say about it? What about extracurricular offerings? The questions can seem hyper-detailed, but are extremely important when making your decision.
Aside from schools, other neighborhood amenities such as parks, a public pool, or rec center may be high priority. Consider the interests your kids have. What are their hobbies? What do they do for fun? Choosing a community that has activities to participate in and safe places for them to spend their time is crucial.
What About Dogs?
If you’re a fur-parent, you likely have expectations of the canine variety for your ideal community. Maybe your dog needs a large backyard to run around and work off energy, or enjoys time at the dog park. If a run or a long walk with your four-legged friend is part of your daily routine, local trails are important. Or, perhaps you have a breed that isn’t accepted in all communities. This could narrow your search, but you’re better off knowing each community’s rules and regulations before you purchase a home.
Are You Into Athletics?
Is a morning run or walk part of your daily routine? Do you enjoy skating, playing golf, or riding bikes? Maybe you prefer to lift weights and work out in a gym. Regardless of which you choose, you’ll want to find a community where there are plenty of venues that allow you to maintain your schedule. Lakes and pools are great for people who like to fish or swim. Community or recreational centers offer a wide range of options when it comes to sports and group classes. Universities often offer a gym membership to locals within their immediate area, and parks can usually accommodate many different outdoor sports and activities.
Is Work a Factor?
Whether you’re moving to be closer to work or are relocating to a new state or across the country for your job, commutes are often a factor when moving and choosing the right community for your family. Long drives can make your days and weeks drag. If you want to significantly decrease your time spent in transit, look for listed properties only a short ride from your office and monitor the traffic during rush hour.
Is the Community Safe?
Regardless of your stage of life, choosing a safe community in a neighborhood with low crime rates is a priority. One of the easiest ways to determine how safe a neighborhood may be is to drive through it at various times of the day.
What do you see? Are the homes cluttered and unkempt, or well taken care of? What kind of cars are parked in front of the houses? What do the surrounding businesses or apartment buildings look like? Groups of individuals loitering on corners, bars on windows and graffiti on local buildings are all red flags to note.
Other Popular Amenities
When it comes to choosing the right community for your family, be sure to take a look at the nearby amenities. If you love to shop, look for a community near popular malls or outdoor shopping centers. Consider the local grocery stores, restaurants and opportunities for entertainment, like movie theaters and music venues.
Some people prefer an edgier urban environment because of the proximity to fine dining and nightclubs. North Texans have the unique advantage of living in close proximity to two major cities. Both Dallas and Fort Worth have unique offerings and a culture all their own. Thankfully, no matter where you choose to live within the Metroplex, you’ll be within driving distance to experience all that both cities have to offer.
Many communities offer a variety of seasonal events each year. If this is of interest to you, take some time to research the city calendar. From movies in the park, carnivals and music and art festivals to holiday parades, fundraisers, and concerts, the events offered in your ideal community could offer a lot of entertainment and enjoyment for you and your family. If you have kids, check out what the local library, rec center, or community pool offers throughout the year.
The Inevitability of Taxes
Property taxes are prohibitively high in some areas, which can limit your home-purchasing options. If you aren’t sure of the tax rate within the community you’re considering, you can call the assessor’s office and ask them about:
- The current tax rate
- History of tax increases in the last decade
- Whether there are any planned tax increases
- Projected tax amounts
Property taxes are not the only tax concern. Sales tax rates can significantly increase your cost-of-living budget. So, make sure that you consider all tax consequences when you make your final decision.
Learn More: Buying, Selling, and Your Taxes
Talk to Potential New Neighbors
Once you’ve identified a community you really feel you could call home, take an observant stroll through the neighborhood. Engage with any residents you see. Introduce yourself and explain that you’re mulling over buying a home in the neighborhood. Ask if they’re willing to share any insights — and really listen to the insider’s perspective that they share with you.
This can be a deciding factor for some potential home purchases. Living stuck next to an unpleasant neighbor for an extended period of time is a nightmare you want to avoid. How are the noise levels? Does the home you’re considering sit on a busy street? By talking to a few different residents, you can confidently form your own conclusions from their combined feedback.
Make the Right Move
While it’s important to know and stick to your priorities, the neighborhood you find may not check every single box on your list. Identify your nonnegotiables, but then be open to new possibilities. You never know what you might find when you approach the moving process with an open mind. At the end of the day, the right community for your family will be a community that works. It will be a place that you enjoy and makes you feel safe and welcome.