How to Choose the Right Neighborhood (For You)

July 25, 2016 | Buying a Home | By: Sara

How to Choose the Right Neighborhood

Before really launching your home search, think about what you are really looking for in a new neighborhood.  

You’ll likely have to make compromises!

So, put the ‘must-haves’ at the top and the ‘like-to-haves’ at the bottom.  Here’s how to choose the right neighborhood:


What type of home do you want?  Are you interested in a single-family home, townhouse, condo or co-op?  Any particular style?

How far are you willing to commute?   Up to 10 miles or no more than one hour?  Be sure to factor in traffic!  In the DC Metro area, a 20 mile commute can easily mean an hour in the car during rush hour so don’t forget to test your commute.

How do you plan to get around?  Will you walk, bike, drive, take the bus or metro?

Lifestyle/Walkability? Is it important to you to be able to walk to restaurants and shops or are you okay with relying on driving, Uber or the metro? Does walkable mean restaurants at your doorstep or within a mile? Do you prefer quiet, tree-lined streets or the hustle and bustle of a city? Are sidewalks or a place to teach your kid to ride a bike or drive something that is important? How about walking to parks?

Do you want to be in a historic neighborhood or a new development?  Historic neighborhoods have character but often require work and sometimes have strict guidelines for what you can and cannot do in regards to updating the home.  Newer developments offer modern features, tend to be “cookie cutter,” but offer the option to customize your home if you get in early enough in the process.

Do you have children or are you planning on having children? You’ll want to do your research on schools as you are narrowing down areas.  Even if you aren’t planning to take advantage of the public school system, schools are still something to consider. Living in an area with a sought-after school system raises your property value.  


Talk to your friends, family, and your Realtor about which neighborhoods fit the needs you identified above.  While Realtors can’t talk to you about some of these things, they can let you know which  neighborhoods fit your needs once you’ve narrowed down the priorities.  We often connect our clients with other clients and friends in the neighborhoods they’re considering so they can get the local flavor.


Once you’ve identified some neighborhoods that could be a fit, research the criteria that are most important to you to make sure it’s a match.

  • Drive through the neighborhood at different times of day. It’s not enough seeing the home on a Wednesday afternoon at 12pm.  See what the neighborhood is like once school gets out, once people are home from work and once it gets dark. Visiting on the weekends usually gives you a good sense of the neighborhood vibe. When you drive through, consider:
    • Are the homes in the neighborhood well maintained?
    • Can you visualize yourself there?
    • Go for a walk and talk to neighbors; see what they have to say
    • Visit local restaurants and shops and envision yourself as part of the community
  • You’ll want to be sure you test your commute (work, after school activities or any other places you might find yourself going on a daily basis).  
    • You can do this by tracking traffic during different times throughout the day. The easy way is to pull up Google Maps or Waze at different times and see how long it shows your commute.
    • Or, you can physically get in the car, hop on the Metro or your bike.
  • Check out the school & crime information

Loving where you live is so much more than loving your home.

It’s about loving the community and becoming a part of its fabric. Choosing your neighborhood is one of the most important parts of the buying process and will affect how you live your life day to day.

When you love where you live, we’ve done our job.

If you need help determining which neighborhoods are right for you, let us knowWe also offer custom neighborhood orientation tours, which you can read more about here.

We would be happy to talk you through the tricks of the trade to finding the perfect match at a buyer consultation. Just give us a shout below! We’ll get right back to you. 

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