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3: Analyze Your Circumstances

What’s In a Neighborhood?

Shopping cartWhether buying or renting, when you move to a new area, you are becoming part of a larger neighborhood community where you will want to feel at home.

What makes a good neighborhood? Here are a few things to consider:

  • Crime rate – Check out whether crime rates are increasing or decreasing in your proposed neighborhood. RAIDS Online offers a quick crime mapping tool, but the most reliable source will be the local police department. 
  • Schools – Families with children will want a good school and school district. Check out for more information about the district and particular school your child might attend. 
  • Transportation – Is there nearby access to public transportation? Even those living in suburban areas may need public transportation if the car breaks down.
  • Commute time – As of 2013, the U.S. Census reported that 86 percent of U.S. workers commuted to work by car, and 3 out of 4 drove alone. Long commute times can impact your pocket book (gas), your health (cardiovascular and metabolic health), and your general level of satisfaction. 
  • Shopping, restaurants and entertainment – Unless you live in a rural location, nearby amenities for grabbing a bite or seeing a show can be an important consideration. 
  • Lifestyle match – Consider your life stage. Single professional? Perhaps a downtown condo with access to bars and restaurants. Retiring? Maybe you want a patio home where someone else handles yard maintenance. Married with children? You might want a suburban neighborhood with other families. 
  • Weather and climate – If you’re a fan of the outdoors, you’ll want a climate suitable to your adventures. Use the Weather Channel to check out regional forecasts for your potential new locations. 
  • Health care – Check out access to health facilities (hospitals, urgent care, doctors) as well as recreational facilities. 


Identify a neighborhood where you think you would like to live. If possible, visit that neighborhood and envision what your life might be like if you lived there. Which grocery store would you go to? How hard would it be for you or your guests to find street parking? Are there parks or trails nearby where you would walk your dog? Is the neighborhood bike-friendly? Make a list of your “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” in your next home’s location.

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