How to Spot a Great Neighborhood

Author: Alecia Pirulis


It’s time to move. The city is the easy part – perhaps a job is the reason for your relocation, or you are moving for school or to be closer to family. Maybe you just decided it was time for a change and threw a dart at a map. But within that city, there are all types of neighborhoods. Finding the one right for you could be a little more challenging. Here are some ways to find a great neighborhood:

Look for a wide variety of architecture. If you like historic neighborhoods, be sure the homes in the area are well-maintained. If you prefer a modern home, consider the layout of the neighborhood, the space between houses, the size of the lots, and the home designs. Try to imagine the neighborhood in ten or fifteen years – with the current tree placement and home designs, will the neighborhood be considered well-shaded and established?

Find a neighborhood near an outdoor shopping area. If you can’t be near downtown, try to find a pleasant gathering spot – the place where the farmer’s market is held on weekends, a popular park that is often the site of art shows, or a well-planned outdoor shopping plaza with plenty of fountains, benches, and wide sidewalks. If you can find a location near sidewalk cafes and locally-owned shops, you’ll enjoy spending the afternoon strolling through the stores and having coffee with friends.

If nightlife is a top priority, visit the neighborhood in the evening and stop in to a few clubs, theaters, and restaurants. Find the local sports arena, museum, concert venue – having those nearby means you won’t have to drive for miles after the show to get home.

Mass transit is a huge plus for a neighborhood. Check and see what the area offers and if the stops are within walking distance to your neighborhood. If you plan to work in the area and use mass transit, be sure the train or bus stops near your place of employment, and check the schedule to see which bus or train you would need.

If you enjoy being outdoors, if you have kids, or if you have a dog, living near a great local park, a dog park, or a state or national park will be a huge bonus. If you enjoy hiking, camping, fishing, skiing, boating, rock climbing, or kayaking, be sure there are opportunities nearby to enjoy your favorite pastime.

A great neighborhood should have a great skyline. Look for one with views – mountain views, a cityscape, a lake, a park, the ocean, or even a sprawling backyard with plenty of trees. Picture yourself having a cup of coffee or tea in the morning, on your back deck or front porch. If the image isn’t a pleasant one, then perhaps that isn’t the best location for you.

Community events are a great way to meet your neighbors. A close-knit neighborhood is great – look for one that holds block parties, neighborhood garage sales, or other celebrations. See if the area holds regular art fairs and holiday celebrations. An active, welcoming community will make you feel right at home – not to mention giving you a sense of security.

A pedestrian-friendly neighborhood is good for your health – people who live in walkable neighborhoods weigh about seven pounds less on average. Look for sidewalks and people out walking their dogs, pushing strollers, and kids on bicycles.