How to Choose the Right Neighborhood to Live In

05.11.12 By //
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I am excited to announce that I have partnered with Apartment Guide to serve as an Official Apartment Guide Decor Blogger! As an official blogger, I will be sharing articles and ideas for exploring your space, city and style.


Today’s Topic is all about how to choose the right neighborhood or city to live in, how I chose my own neighborhood, and some of the important factors in making the best decision for my family (or yours).

My family moved to my current home a little over 2 years ago, and I’m still glad about our choice of residence. I have a tendency to become restless in my surroundings when something is amiss, but I’m happy to say that so far, it hasn’t happened.

​The following are just a few of the key ingredients that went into finding my perfect space, and things you need to consider when finding yours:

  • ​Cost
  • ​Size
  • ​Amenities
  • ​Education
  • ​Proximity

Cost: Determining your monthly budget is absolutely crucial in choosing a neighborhood. Right off the bat, this factor alone will determine your possibilities. My family’s budget was pretty limited this last go around, and so my options were essentially limited to either newly developmed neighborhoods in previously undeveloped areas, smaller or ‘not so ideal’ existing space in a few favorable areas, or more suitable existing spaces in less favorable areas.

It didn’t take much to get me out there looking for places in neighborhoods I had never even visited, and wasn’t much of a decision at all when I was able to physically compare the new, well equipped communities that had popped up around town for a lot less cost, to the more trendy infill areas with virtually no space to show for your budget, and no amenities to speak of.

​For more tips on choosing the right neighborhood: How to “test drive” a city

Space: How much space does your family require? At that point in my adult life 2 years ago, when we were looking for a new place we were a daily family of 3 and a small dog, with an occasional family of 5 or 6. This expandable family dynamic of ours made for a bit of a tricky arrangement for rooms we might require, at any given moment, and certainly helped seal the deal on which neighborhoods we were able to peruse. Since the older more established areas in and around my city tend to have smaller more historic spaces and don’t tend to have even a remote possibility for 5 rooms or places to slumber, on the best of days, this essentially rules them out for our current living condition needs.

Amenities: What do you need to be comfortable in your space? For me this is a tall order… I need in unit laundry facilities, a decent amount of storage space, a kitchen area that isn’t closed off from the remaining living space (I need to have a visual on the kiddo at any given moment), a living and dining area separate from a family room (in other words a great room would not work for me as the only family living space or I would need to budget an off site storage unit), a yard or relatively functional patio area, easy access to parks and walking trails, and as any female might suggest a bath in the Master Suite is a big bonus… no, scratch that…a requirement!

​For more tips on choosing the right place to live: How to feel at home in a new city.

Education: Do you have school aged kids you need to consider? With my little man fast approaching pre-school age, the nearest elementary school was something that needed to be considered. Is it in a decent school district and well funded? Does it have a decent success rate and focus on education? Are there extracurricular activities available and what are they? What is the typical level of parental involvement for the kids?

I was lucky to find that several of the ‘newer’ developments were in good school districts with newly built school facilities and were comprised of young families that were focused on education and very involved in their kid’s daily activities. This definitely helped me feel comfortable that many of the areas we were looking at, would be good in the long run as well as comfortable in the short term with my list of growing amenity requirements.

For more tips on family friendly living: Best cities for families

Proximity: How far from civilization is the neighborhood in question and how far are you willing to travel? If a daily commute is something you deal with, knowing your drive time limit is crucial. While many families choose to stretch this in order to find a decent place, my personal belief is that this factor can considerably lower the standard of living for both parents and kids. If you choose a neighborhood more than an hour from your home, and there are traffic conditions to contend with, you will have substantially longer days, more restless nights, and a lot less time to spend with each other. For me, this is far from ideal and isn’t worth the sacrifice. Finding a neighborhood that suits my needs and is close enough to a freeway system or roads that will get me from one place to another easily, is important.

Equally important is the having the ability to run to the store for something last minute, without having to trek 20 minutes into town to get the job done. With kids in tow, a night time run is sure to occur, and dragging them out at all hours isn’t preferable. If your partner is stuck in traffic during rush hour and you are the only remaining hope for that very necessary dose of fever reducer, and you have to pile everyone in the car for 2 hours to get things taken care of, you can be sure there will be some irritated and uncomfortable parties involved in the end. Proximity may seem trivial in the beginning, but it becomes quite the heavy weight contender as time goes on.

Separating out your needs by ‘must haves’ and ‘really wants’ will help you weed through the options and find your ideal neighborhood and ultimately your ideal place. Be smart and think ahead and you will likely not have to move again in 6 months time, for problems you didn’t foresee.

For more Tips & Tricks visit Apartment Guide:

Disclosure: Apartment Guide and owner Consumer Source, Inc. have partnered with bloggers like me as Official Apartment Guide Bloggers. As part of this program, I have received compensation. They have not told me what to purchase or what to say about the products used, and believe that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Consumer Source’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

Images via: Freshome

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