Location, Location, Location:  It may seem like a cliche phrase you’s see in a real estate advertising, but like most cliches, it comes from some truth.  When you are house hunting, location is one of the most significant choices you’ll make for your family.  Here are some important points that you should keep in mind when looking for that perfect home.

Lifestyle:  Before you even begin, you have to consider your lifestyle.  What is your current way of like and will the neighborhood support it?  You might fall in love with a particular home, but if the neighborhood doesn’t fit your lifestyle, it could cause a lot of unhappiness in the long term.  It’s helpful to begin your search with at least a general sense of your values, needs, and priorities.  Are you looking for something urban, suburban or more off the beaten path?  Do you value privacy and quiet over being in the center of all the action, or vice versa?  Do you have children or plan to have children soon?

Take a look at your life and your daily routine and determine the things that make you happy, the things you couldn’t live without, and the things you could.    Aside from the price point, your lifestyle priorities will probably be the biggest determining factor in choosing a neighborhood, or at least narrowing it down to a few potential candidates.

Amenities and Conveniences:  Take time to explore each neighborhood that you’re considering and identify the nearby amenities.  If the neighborhood is more suburban or rural, you’ll have to determine how far you are willing to travel for everyday conveniences such as grocery or convenience stores, dry cleaners, gas stations, health services and more.  Research some of the other local amenities such as parks, community centers, recreational activities, museums, and other attractions.  More and more home buyers are leaning toward areas where they can walk to the local coffee shop, dining spots and shopping centers.

Commute Times:  Ask yourself how do you plan to get around.  Will you be driving, walking, or taking public transportation. For most buyers, especially those that live in an urban area with major traffic concerns, the time it takes to commute to work and schools is a major consideration.  How long are you willing to spend in the car each day when commuting to work or dropping the kids to school?

Schools:  If you have children or are planning to have children, schools could be a major determining factor in your neighborhood choice.  Research the schools in your area including elementary, middle and high schools.

Market Conditions and Affordability:  For most buyers the ultimate decision comes down to affordability and a compromise to get the most for your money.  Buying a home is a very personal decision, but it’s also a huge investment.  For most people, a home is one of the most important investments they will make.

Working with a real estate agent who is familiar with the area can be helpful in determining if property values are on the rise, have been declining or are holding steady. 

Finding the ideal neighborhood can be a balancing act of give and take, but if you’ve done your homework and have a clear idea of your short and long-term goals, it will make the entire process much more manageable.