House hunters tend to focus on, well, the house. Extra bedrooms, an updated kitchen, a dreamy patio—these things may boost your future happiness while you’re at home, but what about when you walk out the front door?
It’s easy to forget to evaluate the whole neighborhood during a home search, and this can lead to neighborhood regret. According to a recent Trulia survey, 36 percent of respondents would move to a different neighborhood than their current one if given the chance. And that number goes up based on location and age. Forty-two percent of San Franciscans experience neighborhood regret, versus 35 percent of Austinites, and 42 percent of people 18 to 29 reported regret, compared with 28 percent of those 50 and older.
There may not be much you can do about your city—and even less you can do about your age—but there are other ways to up your odds of loving your new neighborhood.
Here are four ways to avoid neighborhood regret:
1. Prioritize the vibe
Put “the right neighborhood vibe” on your must-have list next to number of bedrooms during your home search. Do you want a quiet, family-friendly cul-de-sac full of minivans? Or lively, walkable, urban block flush with entertainment options?
Screening for the right vibe can vastly improve your chances of avoiding neighborhood regret. Fifty-five percent of people who are currently happy with their neighborhood were significantly influenced by the vibe of the neighborhood when selecting their house, compared with only 36 percent of people with neighborhood regret.
2. Check it out yourself
Neighborhood regret is more likely to happen when homebuyers don’t have access to accurate information about a prospective neighborhood. For example, 22 percent thought the vibe was oversold. Features like “vibe” are pretty subjective, so you’ll want to check it out yourself rather than take a listing’s or agent’s word for it.
3. Ask around
If you get the chance to spend time in a prospective neighborhood, get friendly. Strike up a conversation with pedestrians, baristas, and neighbors about what they think the neighborhood is like. Many of neighborhood regretters’ complaints are things that may be hard to spot during a quiet stroll. Thirty-three percent of them dislike the lack of social activity in their neighborhoods, while 30 percent complain of street noise, and 28 percent are unhappy about unfriendly neighbors.
4. Screen for safety and schools
It’s hard to beat safety and school quality in neighborhood must-haves. And yet, 21 percent of neighborhood regretters believe the school quality in their area was oversold.
You can knock down walls and repaint your new home all you want, but when it comes to your neighborhood, you take it as it is. But if you choose the right one, that can be great news. Follow these tips, and you can find a neighborhood that feels like home.