As my husband and I searched for our first home, we had a general idea of the location in which we'd like to live. We knew we wanted to be within driving distance of work. That was about it. Thankfully, our real estate agent helped us to realize there were many factors we ought to be considering. He educated us on those factors he could legally talk to us about and urged us to do our own research in areas where his hands were tied. Here are six factors we discovered it was important to think about when choosing the location of our new home.
Since we were planning on having kids, it was helpful for us to think about the district where we'd like to send them to school. It turned out that the taxes and homes were cheaper in the school districts that were considered lower quality, but we felt it was worth the extra money to settle in an area with safe, reputable schools.
Although he couldn't share the crime rate of locations with us, our real estate agent subtly nudged us to look into that factor on our own. We used website like SpotCrime.com to see what sorts of recent incidents had taken places near the addresses of homes we were interested in. It was enlightening to see the difference that even a couple of blocks can make when it comes to crime.
We knew we wanted to live near other young families, so we kept an eye out for swing sets and bikes when driving through potential new neighborhoods. People keep to themselves in some neighborhoods, but in others such as ours, they stop to talk on the street, chat over backyard fences, and are always willing to lend a helping hand. Knowing the type of neighbors we wanted to have helped us focus on certain areas over others during our home search. Of course, I wish someone would have clued us in that our neighbors across the street have a garage band...
Proximity to interstates
Living close to an interstate means it's generally more convenient to travel, and it usually also comes along with easy access to restaurants, shopping, and other entertainment. Unfortunately, it also comes along with increased traffic, and our real estate agent steered us clear of any homes that were so close to the interstate that the whir of cars passing by became backyard ambiance.
We could look at two homes that were in the same price range, but in some areas, the annual property taxes would drastically increase the monthly payment we'd be facing for one home over the other. My husband always shares the example that while his parents' home in another town is worth $100,000 more than ours, because of where we chose to live, we pay almost double what they do in taxes.
Value of other homes
While it was important for our price point that our asking price fell within the range of other recent sales, it also became clear that we shouldn't strive to buy the most expensive home in the area. Doing so would have limited - or maybe even eliminated - the potential bang for our buck we could get out of any future improvements.
It might have cost more money than we were originally hoping to spend, and of course it has its downsides as any place would, but I know we chose the right location to live. When I pull into my driveway at the end of the day and look around, I'm grateful to call this town home.
This article is part of my Newlywed Real Estate series. Visit my blog to read more.
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