Choosing a place to live isn't just about finding the perfect property: you also need to feel at home in the community. Location has a significant impact on lifestyle, making it a crucial component of house-hunting. So, what makes a neighbourhood desirable, and how do you know whether a locale offers the right fit?
A three-year study carried out by the Knight Foundation considered what factors make people happy with where they live. The results indicated that most of us value living somewhere beautiful, with plenty of social opportunities and a welcoming environment. People are likely to have their own definitions of these characteristics, or may even have different priorities altogether. Either way, before researching new neighbourhoods, it's worth thinking about what you want to get from your new location, and then making a list in order of importance, to define your personal preferences. Parents are likely to prioritise catchment areas for prestigious schools, while retired couples may be seeking an accessible, walkable community.
Spend time with your new neighbourhood
Katherine Loflin, author of Place Match: The City Doctor's Guide to Finding Where You Belong, suggests that finding the right neighbourhood is comparable to finding a romantic partner, and that you should effectively 'date' a place before making the decision to live there. Do your research and try not to look at the neighbourhood through the rose-tinted spectacles of a holiday-maker. It's also a good idea to experience the location at different times of the day, including during the evening and rush hour. Chatting to local residents can be a useful way to find out a little more about a place, whilst also judging how friendly and welcoming the community is.
Pay attention to sounds
It's easy to overlook the aural landscape when you're busy ticking off tasks on your to-do list, or getting acquainted with prospective neighbours, but try to take note of how noisy the neighbourhood is at different times of the day. With a recent study suggesting a link between noise pollution and unhappiness, this could be a crucial factor. It may also be problematic at night, depending on whether anyone in your family is a light sleeper.
Use the internet to research crime statistics in your prospective neighbourhood, or contact the local police department for information. The police should also be able to tell you how active the community is in terms of crime prevention and whether there are any community policing measures in place. Aside from this, simply walking around and exploring the area can be an excellent way to judge how safe it is. What you don't see is just as important as what you do, so consider whether there is a lack of graffiti and vandalism, as well as how well-maintained the local amenities are.
Whether you're considering permanent relocation or have set your sights on a second home, Engel & Völkers can help. Our experts are on-hand to offer advice and guidance on finding the perfect place and property for you. Explore our website or speak to an expert at one of our offices, located worldwide, to find out more.