Most people who are moving ask for a home with specific features (a certain number of bedrooms or bathrooms etc.) which is located in a good community. However, it is important to keep in mind that your “good community” can be very different from that of the agent helping you find a home.
What most people need to do is consider how a community will meet their lifestyle needs and how “safe” in quotations because no community is 100% safe. Your local police department maintains crime statistics from FBI reports and is and excellent source of crime information. Other sources include on-line reports from the FBI and reports from private sources. When evaluating crime statistics, you may want to consider property crimes versus personal crimes. Property crimes range from vandalism to burglary. Most communities have some level of history with property crimes, so it necessary to evaluate the extent of the crimes. Personal crimes can range from harassment to homicide. Understandably, most people would not like to live in a community that has a high record of personal crimes. When choosing a neighborhood, consider if you can go out at night with a reasonable level of certainty you won’t be a victim of a personal crime. Keep in mind that statistical reports don’t always tell the whole story; in urban areas, for example, the distance of a few blocks can make a big difference in how “safe” a community is.
Another consideration is what is your preferred lifestyle and how can your community fulfill those needs. One way to evaluate your lifestyle needs is to make a list of all the activities you like to do in your current community and those you’d like to be able to do in your new community. Also write what you don’t like about where you live now. Do you like a busy community with lots of activities? Do you like outdoor activities? It is important to have a variety of restaurants and shopping within a certain distance? Do you like seclusion? What community public resources do you currently use (schools, community colleges, library, daycare, recreation center)? Rank these preferences in order and seek communities that meet most of your needs. It doesn’t hurt to create a list of resources for each community you’re considering. Many times the local city hall will have a packet of community resources.
Do your homework in choosing a community. Click here for our community guide. A really nice home in a not-so-nice neighborhood is not necessarily a good investment, but a home in the right community can make your home ownership experience both satisfying and financially rewarding.