Neighbourhood, an extended family

Last Updated 18 February 2016, 18:40 IST

There are certain things you need to consider in order to find an ideal neighbourhood for your family, writes C S Krishnamurthy

So, you have decided that low interest rates and lesser real estate prices make it the perfect time to purchase your dream home or perhaps upgrade to a bigger space. But did you consider the neighbourhood while selecting your house or buying that apartment? Given that a home is a significant investment, its location is imperative.

Deciding where to live isn’t just about the specifications for an apartment. It starts with determining the area in which you want to find that perfect home — the area where you will shop, play, eat and live. How do you know whether the new area will provide the comfort and convenience you are looking for?

Before you embark on your house search, it is essential you take the time to consider where you want to live. How many times have you heard of the importance of location? Well, location couldn’t matter more than when it comes to picking the neighbourhood you’ll call home. There are many factors to consider when picking the right community and neighbourhood.

When you plan, keep in mind you are not just buying a property, you are investing as well. These two are synonymous, so you need to be extra careful in choosing the area you’ll be living in. Ask yourself the important features of a neighbourhood and what it makes special for you? Take time to figure out what locations are best for you and your family. You need to ask yourself and your family a few questions, about your preferences, such as:

Quiet streets or a commercial area? Trees and parks or shopping avenues? Tight-knit community feeling or a sense of anonymity? There are many aspects to keep in mind when choosing the area to live in. From safety to the availability of entertainment centres, you need to look at it all. To help you get started, here are some pointers:

Research well

Google and type “crime statistics by neighbourhood”, which would generate data depending on the size of the city and locality. Next, contact the local police station, which is probably the best source for information on crime and safety in the area. Do drive around the area; look for graffiti or other kinds of vandalism such as broken windows. Such things can give you immense knowledge about the area.

Look and feel

Take a look around. Spend time walking through the area. Take note of the condition of the houses, the front yards, the streets and sidewalks. Observe if people you encounter make eye contact with you. Check for vacant slots or abandoned buildings. Both could be used for commercial developments, which could change the feel of the neighbourhood and impact the property value.

Traffic matters

Note the traffic and speed of vehicles. Is it too noisy for comfort? First impressions are not necessarily the most accurate impressions. Visit the locality at different times of the day and on different days of the week. Listen for traffic intensity, barking dogs, low-flying aircrafts and other noises that could indicate problems.

Ease of transport

Look at the commute involved. How long will it take to work? Will you be going with or against the traffic? Is the route easy to navigate? Is there public transportation available as an alternative to driving? During peak hours, how often does the transit stop? Also, look at the accessibility to the airport — how far is it? Is public transportation an option?

For the young ones

The signs of a good surrounding involve a well-kept school. If you have children, this is probably the first consideration. Ensure the school isn’t situated on a traffic-intensive road. Look at how easy or difficult it is to get to the school. Little kids shouldn’t get intimidated by all the traffic and noise. Check if there are any illegal activities happening around the school area.

Money talk

Find out how the houses in the precincts are currently valued and then ask a couple of local real estate consultants how that compares with the average value, say five and 10 years earlier. Is the consultant aware of any future development? This could change the vicinity, increase taxes and traffic. It is a good idea to investigate the future potential and decide if that outlook will be suitable to you and your family.

Amenities check

If you have decided earlier that the ability to walk to the grocery store and like, or at least have easy access to them is important, then make sure you check with locals if day-to-day needs can be met with ease. How close are you to the milk booth, laundry, pharmacies and hospitals, restaurants and recreational facilities? If there are bars and wine shops close by, how noisy will it be during the weekends?

Health quotient

It is important to highlight how a walking community can enrich your life and your family’s. Obesity rates are on the rise, which leads to an increase in chronic diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Given the sedentary lifestyles we lead, having a walking community creates greater opportunity for incorporating exercise into our daily routines.

Environmental concerns

Check with neighbours and local media about air, water and soil quality. Environmental issues can be detrimental to your health and property values in the housing market. So, ensure you don’t live right next to a sewer or a drain.  Chances are you may not find an area that is perfect — proximity to everything means lot of traffic, and a more secluded location with a low crime rate usually means you’ll be travelling further to get to work, schools and errands.

So, decide what you are willing to give up on. Will you commit to a longer commute if it means living in an area that houses a better school? Can you make peace with the higher crime rate to live closer to your social hubs? Answering such questions will help narrow down your list of possible neighbourhoods.

(Published 18 February 2016, 14:25 IST)

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