Moving isn't just about finding a new house to live in, but also about finding the perfect neighborhood for you and your family. Here are a few things you should look for before packing up that moving van to help make sure your new neighborhood will be a place you are happy being for years to come.
When checking the surrounding area, be sure to look at the local parks. Aside from ensuring there are plenty in the area to take your family, as well as a fun activity calendar, it's also extremely important you make sure they're safe. Local parks can often be used as a congregation point for homeless populations or illicit characters. Check with neighbors in the area to find out about any concerns with the parks, as well as scanning online news articles.
Neighborhood Watch Program
Does the neighborhood have a Neighborhood Watch Program (NWP)? A NWP can sometimes indicate the neighbors are serious about safety and can provide your family with added security. Look for signs posted in the neighborhood, like this:
Photo by Eva Luedin
Or speak with members of the community to see if they have one in place, how often they meet, and how they go about ensuring the area is safe. If there isn't one, look to see if any other members of the community would be willing to start an NWP with you.
While checking out a potential neighborhood, you might want to look for bike lanes, especially if you or your family bikes. Look for indications of clearly marked lanes, whether residents are using them properly, and that cars aren't parking in or blocking them. Properly used and maintained bike lines can help to show the neighbors are serious about taking care of one another.
Your children's education and safety is of utmost importance, so researching the schools in the area is a must. Use a school finder to compare important indicators, like average test scores, ratio of teachers to students, and reviews from current and former neighbors. Ideally, you'll want a school with an excellent overall performance record and enough teachers to give your child the attention he or she needs to succeed.
When moving to a new city, you'll need to know how safe the area is for your family. Some cities have higher crimes rates and may not be somewhere you want to settle down. Use a tool like SafeWise's safest cities list to find information on the safest cities in the area. Nowhere is exempt from crime, but some have higher rates of it. Take the added precaution of looking at a cities' crime rate history before moving there to be informed.
You'll probably want to get out and about in your new neighborhood to explore, but that could be hard to do if you have to drive everywhere. If you'd like to live in an area where you can easily get around on foot, have a look at Google's walkability score website. Simply type in the name of the area you're considering moving to and it will give you information on how pedestrian-friendly it is. If this is important to you, you'll want a place where you can take an evening stroll to the local parks, rather than a neighborhood where you'll be in the car more than out of it.
It's good to know help is nearby in case there is an emergency. Does the neighborhood have civil services, like police and fire departments, close to your potential home? You'll want a neighborhood with a noticeable police presence, but not so noticeable it indicates the area might have a crime problem. Look for a local fire department and try to get a feel for how long it might take them to respond to an emergency, should something go wrong.
Your neighbors will hopefully become your friends once you move to a new area. Good relationships with those around you are important for safety and having a peaceful living experience. Stop and chat with potential neighbors to get a feel for who you might be living near. Ideally, you'll develop good rapport, the neighbors will speak highly of one another, have regular get-togethers, and the yards will be kept clean and safe for the kids to play in.
Similarly, you should be looking for an area that compliments your lifestyle. If you're a younger family starting out, it might be good for you to find a neighborhood filled with families in a similar position. And if you have small children, you'll likely want to move into an area with other kids close to their age for them to play with. If you're an older couple, an area with other older families might be ideal for you. It's a matter of preference, but an area's culture can have a large impact on how much you enjoy living there.
A good neighborhood can make or break a home and is essential to providing a good experience for you and your family. By checking on these aspects of neighborhoods you're considering moving to, you can help ensure you're moving into an area that is friendly, safe, and will hopefully provide a promising future for you to build a life on.
Feature image by Steven Martin