More than anything, home is a feeling. The confidence comes with feeling safe, the satisfaction of knowing you found exactly what you were looking for, and the joy that accompanies happy memories.
It is common to think about finding a dream home, but discovering your dream neighborhood is equally as important. Real estate is centrally focused on location, so being in a good area can have a great impact on your home’s value and appreciation over time.
That is not to say that locating the perfect neighborhood is an easy feat, though. It can require trips around the city with tours of dozens of homes to find the right fit. Before committing to an area you wish to live in, think about putting these tips to use.
Know your priorities
Whether you need to live in a certain school district or have a specific number of square feet, having the needs of you and your family in mind will undoubtedly make the house-hunting search easier.
Consider starting by listing out every need and all of the things you could want in a home and neighborhood. Do some research on your own to see how it aligns with your budget.
It is also a good idea to reach out to a trusted local realtor, like Dillon Gray LeFan
, if you are searching in or moving to St. Louis. Working closely with a professional realtor can make the process much easier.
An experienced real estate agent will know what kind of neighborhood will likely work for you based on your needs, and they’re also in the know about nearby areas. For example, a St. Louis realtor will also have insight into specific neighborhoods like Town and Country
, Tower Grove
, and more.
After that, create a list of neighborhoods that fit the bill. Try to keep the number between three and five to ensure you have options without going overboard. From there, you can start touring to see what will—and won’t—work. If you can’t find a home in your desired neighborhood, revisit your list and see what else might be a good fit in the surrounding areas.
Think about lifestyle
Morning strolls with a serene backdrop and a cup of coffee in hand may sound blissful. But if you live in an urban area near downtown, you’re more likely going to be listening to the morning commute than anything else.
Don’t discount the value of living in a neighborhood that fits your lifestyle and keeps the future in mind, too. If you anticipate growing your family or changing jobs soon, you’ll need to plan accordingly. Maybe that means moving into a more suburban neighborhood or opting for a central location in an urban area.
Of course, what is considered idyllic varies from person to person, so take a few minutes to nail down the lifestyle you’re looking for. Ultimately, the neighborhood you live in will need to align with that vision—even if only in part.
Visit top contenders
Physically visiting and vetting the neighborhoods
in contention is part of the process. However, it is important to remember to see them day and night to get the most realistic feel for what living there would be like.
For example, moving to an up-and-coming neighborhood that’s on the brink of substantial growth may sound like the perfect fit. But it might also mean that you will be waking up to the sound of drilling, hammering, and other construction efforts while the neighborhood is being developed. While that is only a short-term issue, someone with infants and young children could find that to be the worst-case scenario. If you frequently travel for work, you may be more concerned about the commute than neighborhood amenities.
The same goes for the nighttime. An area right in the middle of it all is great for walkability and access to bars, restaurants, and more, but will it be as good of a fit on weekend nights? For some, it will. For others, its noise level will make it worthwhile to look elsewhere.
Factor in amenities
From Homeowner’s Associations (HOAs)
to neighborhood parks, different areas are best suited for different things. Think about resale value, too. While it may not be ideal to have access to communal tennis courts and pools for you, that could be a selling point to someone else in the future.
Consider neighborhoods that have features you consider nice to have as well as those with no amenities at all. You may surprise yourself with what ends up in your routine, and you could just be happy you have access to those perks.
Of course, there are costs associated. So, it’s really about weighing the pros and cons of various amenities in comparison to other aspects of the neighborhood, like location, school districts, and noise factors.
It can be helpful to get insight into a neighborhood or two by asking friends, family, or coworkers who live in the area. This is especially true if you’re moving from far away. They will know more about the day-to-day life in the area, the best entertainment spots to hit up, and what things to keep an eye out for.
Of course, it’s best to take insights from others as only a piece of your decision-making process. It’s also important to note if their lifestyle or priorities don’t align with yours because then their advice may not be as applicable.
Your local real estate agent is a great resource for the pros and cons of each neighborhood you are considering. This is especially true if they live in the area and can speak to their personal experiences.
Found the perfect home in the right neighborhood? Use this Buyer’s Guide
to understand the next steps.