When you get ready to start your apartment hunt, here’s how to be sure you are looking in a great neighborhood:
____It is charming, with a wide variety of architecture and perhaps some history. Historic sites are not only fun to visit on a weekend afternoon — they add aesthetically to the area and draw tourists. And you’ll always have a place to take out-of-town visitors.
____It has a town center, a town square, or some other type of “downtown” area. A pedestrian-friendly area with sidewalk cafes, shops, and locally-owned restaurants will make your new home that much more interesting. Sure, a sprawling mall is fine too – but if you enjoy being outdoors on a pleasant day, a town center is a must.
____Nearby mass transit is great, especially if you don’t drive a car. Even if you do, it is greener, more economical, and easier to take that high-speed rail train.
____Your neighborhood has a great local park, or is near a park. A state or national park is a major bonus – they usually offer a wide variety of activities, including camping, hiking, lodges, and historic sites.
____A great neighborhood will have an amazing skyline – whether that’s marvelous mountain views, a cityscape, the ocean, or a lake.
____Community events! Look for an area with block parties, parades, art fairs, farmer’s markets, neighborhood garage sales, holiday celebrations, and weekly get-togethers. If your community is active, you’ll meet tons of new people and have fun doing it.
___Nightlife in the form of pubs, nightclubs, street fairs, and concert series. A community theater, an opera house, concert venues, major sports arenas – you’ll be glad you don’t have to drive miles after the show when you rent a place close by.
___The term “walkable neighborhood” has become a hot-button catch-phrase for a reason – people who live in walkable neighborhoods weigh seven pounds less on average than their car-driving counterparts.
You probably won’t find everything on this list, but aim for your top three “musts” and take it from there. Once you’ve settled into your great new neighborhood, you’ll be glad you did!