We all know that when it comes to buying your dream home, finding the perfect house is only half the battle; much of its true worth comes from “location, location, location.” The perfect house in the wrong neighbourhood ceases to be the perfect house. This is one reason why aspiring home owners seek to buy a desirable lot of land and build their home there: it gives them control over those variables. But what exactly is it about location that you should be investigating before pursuing a particular neighbourhood? Which aspects of location deserve a bit of your time and research?
Schools – if you plan on sending your children to publicly funded schools, then their schools will likely be assigned to them on the basis of neighbourhood boundaries. If you're at a loss as to which neighbourhoods to begin looking in, do a bit of digging to learn what schools have good reputations, and programs that will best suit your children's academic and extracurricular needs.
Crime – many municipalities' police forces now post interactive crime maps online, giving you access to information such as the frequency and locations of homicides, robberies, sexual offenses, assaults, break-ins, thefts, drug related issues, and traffic violations. Reviewing these statistics can help you determine if there is truth to long standing reputations; oftentimes, neighbourhoods deemed as unsafe are actually not, and vice versa.
Technological accessibility – many families opt to set up their dream house in a remote, scenic setting like a farm, or a wood, where trees abound and neighbours are far. Oftentimes, the price they pay for this is having limited access to technology. There may only be dial-up internet available. Cell phone reception may be poor. If your family relies heavily upon the use of cell phones and internet, then it may not be favourable for you to forego such amenities.
Future developments – having more or less decided on a neighbourhood of interest, try and learn what plans for future development are in store there. For example: is there a very large tract of land that has just been purchased by the city to use for the creation of roadways that will increase traffic to and from your neighbourhood? This may be an advantage or disadvantage depending on your priorities. If such a development increases the accessibility of your neighbourhood, then it will likely cause an overall increase in the future value of houses in the neighbourhood, which is is definitely in your favour. However, if you are drawn by the peace and quiet, such a development may detract from your desire to be there. Are there plans for the house next door to be demolished and replaced with a multi-family complex? Will the new building block out the sunlight from the bright kitchen you love so much? If your dream home will only be your dream home for one year, do you really want it? Conversely, if your “good enough” home will turn into your dream home as a result of future developments, could you live with “good enough” until that happens?
Surveying these criteria will help you to avoid being swept away by the charm of an attractive home, only to be displeased with it later.