There is no easy calculation for figuring out which neighborhood is the right one. But there are a few considerations that might lead you closer to landing in the right place. Here is what the experts say you should think about before settling upon a location.
Think about your upbringing. Alison Bernstein, founder of Suburban Jungle Realty Group, helps City families relocate into suburban neighborhoods. One of the first things she does with new clients is ask them to think about how they grew up and what they liked and disliked about their upbringing. “Was it too city? Was it too country? Was there not enough diversity?” she says. “These questions lead to a bigger discussion about what is their ideal way to raise a family.”
Never judge a town solely by the downtown. Another trick Bernstein shares with her clients is to steer away from picking a neighborhood just for its downtown. “The downtown doesn’t necessarily tell you who lives there and what they do,” she says, factors that are often more important for families. Downtowns are also constantly evolving, bringing in new attractions and closing down others. Main Street could look drastically different in a few short years.
Don’t forget about your family’s location. A big question Bernstein asks her clients is, “How important is it to be close to their families?” Many clients don’t think about the fact that if they are on the opposite side of the county, their parents “aren’t able to jump in for lunch or come over if your kid is sick and you have to go somewhere.”
Buy the house you need now. Mark Seiden, who runs the Mark Seiden Real Estate Team in Briarcliff Manor, says a lot of homebuyers get wrapped up in buying the home they think they will need in five or 10 years, rather than the home they need now. The average American family spends only five to seven years in a home, so “you should buy what is on your wish list now,” he says.
Don’t buy for the big return. A big mistake young couples make is buying a home in a higher-priced school district, thinking their property value will be higher down the road. Seiden believes there is no use paying the extra taxes if you don’t need them. “Why put your money into something and have to make payments for five to 10 years on something you aren’t going to appreciate?” he says. “When you want to sell [in a district with lower-ranked schools], you may get 20 percent less, but you will have bought the house for 20 percent less, too.”
When looking at school districts, think about what your child needs. It’s easy to get wrapped up in school ratings, but they aren’t the be-all and end-all. “Kids may have certain needs, such as having Spanish as their first language, or having an arts program,” says Bernstein. “There are so many things that are important to different families, and it’s about understanding what those needs are.” Figure out what type of school works best for your child and choose your home accordingly, she advises.