When you’re looking to buy or build a new home in Northern Virginia, the well-known mantra of location, location, location is good advice. But even the best location can turn out to be the wrong one for your family if you don’t love your neighborhood. So, how do you choose the right community to put down roots? Experts suggest you become a neighborhood detective and put together all the clues that lead you to the scene of the perfect buy.
Whether you’re investing in a custom built home or buying an existing one, take the factors listed below into consideration as you decide which community best meets your family’s needs.
Whether you have school-age children or not, the quality of the local school system should be a high priority. Homes located in good school districts typically hold onto their value much better than those in less highly-regarded ones. In fact, real estate company Redfin conducted a study that showed American homebuyers pay $50 per square foot more for homes located in top-ranked school districts.
Transportation and Traffic
Northern Virginia is famous (or infamous) for its daily traffic and rush hour commutes. Drive through your top neighborhood choices at various times of the day, week, and weekend to see what the local traffic is like. Consider doing a couple rush hour trips from your potential neighborhood to your place of work. If you prefer to avoid traffic issues altogether, many communities are now being designed around the “town center” concept where residents can easily walk to restaurants, retail and entertainment areas and sometimes even to work.
Property Values and Neighborhood Appearance
Are parks and public spaces well-maintained? Is there a local library? Are the streets well-lit and safe to walk? If so, odds are good that the neighborhood takes great pride in caring for its residents. For individual properties, investigate the neighborhood statistics and recent sales data to make sure you’re not overpaying or buying in an area where home values are declining.
Peace and Quiet
Everyone define noise – and their tolerance for it – their own way. Look at how close major freeways and highways are to neighborhoods you’re considering and don’t forget about airports and flight patterns. Are there police or fire stations in the vicinity? Some people prefer absolute peace and quiet, while others like a lively vibe. Even if you’re somewhere in the middle, make this one of your top priorities when comparing neighborhoods.
Consider the Extras
As you go about comparing neighborhoods in Northern Virginia, keep a checklist of the personal considerations that matter to you most. These might include:
- Proximity of medical facilities
- Architectural styles of homes
- Lot size and privacy issues
- Proximity to place of employment, friends and family
- Number and quality of local activities and attractions
- Crime rates
If you’re the neighborhood Sherlock Holmes, consider the internet your Watson. There’s a plethora of sites that will help you compare neighborhoods:
- For overall comparison, use Sperling’s Best Places or Neighborhood Scout
- City-Data and Area Vibes give you statistic and facts on everything from schools to demographics
- To check and compare crime rates, use AreaConnect
- Learn your neighborhood’s walkability score at Walk Score
Finding your perfect neighborhood takes some legwork, but your family’s happiness depends on making the effort. For some more suggestions, check out our previous post on what to look for when relocating to our area. And don’t hesitate to let us know if we can help answer any other questions you have about comparing neighborhoods in Northern Virginia.