Buying a home isn’t just about finding a property — it’s about finding a community.
When you purchase a home, you’re making a decision about where you’re going to live. That includes the boundaries of your property, yes, but it also includes so much more — the schools and green spaces, the train and bus lines, the restaurants and theaters.
But what can you do to help determine if a neighborhood or town is going to be the right fit, before you commit to buying a home? Here are a few tried-and-true ways for home seekers to get the feel for a new neighborhood:
1.) Think About Your Wants and Needs
As you begin to explore new neighborhoods, one of the most important steps you can take is to think about yourself. Just as you create a list of wants and needs before you search for a new home, take some time to list out what you’re looking for in a potential neighborhood, as well. Keep in mind your current lifestyle, and think ahead, taking into account where you might be in a few years.
This list is going to be very individual, and different from person to person. For example, if you have kids, or are planning to have kids, you may want to think about what schools are nearby. In other cases, your biggest neighborhood want may be plenty of local restaurants and entertainment options. For others, the deciding factor could come down to how far the area is from work, or whether there is easy access to public transit. Come up with this list in advance, and it will be easier to get a feel for different neighborhoods later on.
2.) Do Some Research
There are countless resources out there that can help you explore different neighborhoods and communities, without ever having to leave your house. For instance? Here on our website, we offer in-depth neighborhood profiles and guides to different communities all around Chicagoland, offering helpful information like neighborhood history, things to do, and market stats.
Elsewhere on the web, you may want to search a given neighborhood using an online mapping tool, which can help you see what’s nearby, and get a sense for how to get around a potential new community. Social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram can also help you easily find pictures and stories about an area. You may also look into local schools, community organizations, politicians, or small businesses online, to see what information is out there about your neighborhood of choice.
3.) Talk to the Neighbors
Nobody knows a community like the people who are already living in it! Plus, if you do decide to move, some of the people nearby could be your friends and neighbors for years down the line. As you start to explore a new area, try striking up conversations with locals. Getting to chat with a few different people who know the area well can give you great insight, and may just help you decide if a new location feels like the right fit.
4.) Explore by Car, Bus, or Train
One of the best ways to discover the ins and outs of a new city or neighborhood is to really spend some time exploring it. That could mean heading around on foot, to see how things look and feel at the street level. If getting out and about is important to you, it’s worth seeing if there are enough walking, biking, skating, or hiking trails to let you get around. In other cases, you may want to see how a neighborhood feels when you drive through it. Does the traffic seem particularly rough? How far is the trip to a nearby coffee shop, or to the grocery store, or to your workplace? Try taking the bus or train, to see if the public transit options will suit your needs. However you get around, do you feel comfortable navigating this new neighborhood?
5.) Live Like a Local
When you buy a home, you’re also buying into the community around you, and it may be helpful to spend a day or two living like a local, to see if this area feels like a good fit. Try out the neighborhood’s restaurants. Go window shopping at local boutiques. Spend some time reading in a nearby coffee shop. Have a picnic in the park. Attend a local community event or gathering. Just see what it feels like to place yourself in this community, to get a sense for whether you’ll like being there long-term.
6.) Talk to Your Real Estate Broker
When it comes to discovering a new neighborhood, a local real estate expert is one of the very best guides around.
That’s where Baird & Warner would love to step in and help! Our brokers are hyperlocal experts, ready to do what it takes to help you find the home, and the neighborhood, that will be the right match for you.
Whether you want to start your home search, discover more about local market conditions, or even just get recommendations for the tastiest restaurant in town, your local Baird & Warner agent is here to make things easier, at every step of the way.
With thousands of agents based out of 30 convenient offices all around Chicagoland, our brokers have helped countless people settle into the homes of their dreams. At Baird & Warner, easier is just in our DNA. It’s who we are — and it has been since 1855.