Shop the neighborhood before you shop for a new home

Shopping for a new home is a huge endeavor. There are so many things to consider, so many steps to take, and so many choices.

Thinking about how your family’s future happiness is the ultimate goal, there’s an essential step to take before you start actually touring homes for sale. It helps to make sure you are looking in the perfect neighborhood for your family. After you have narrowed down your ZIP codes, go and pretend like you live there.

You don’t need a camper or a tent to take on this home shopping step. But it does take time, time that is well invested in one of the largest investments that you’ll make in your lifetime.

How to try-on a neighborhood before falling in love with a home for sale.

Take the commute

Go to the neighborhood on a weekday morning, when you would be leaving for work, and drive the route. Repeat the process for the evening commute. Along the way, note where grocery stores, gas stations, and other on-the-way-home essential shops are located. If you prefer public transportation (or imagine you will), try it out to see if it’s a fit.

Spy the schools

Happy, educated kids need more than just a school district’s rank. Find out the location and times of bus stops and check them out at the pick-up and drop-off times. You’ll learn a lot about the neighbors when you see them standing on a corner at 7 a.m. with a crowd of children. Then actually go by the schools in real life, and then read their blogs and social media feeds to find out more about their priorities. If you prefer interactive education, look for clues like hands-on gardening.

Shop the shops

What are the errands that make you dash out at a moment’s notice? Is it milk? Is it school supplies? Is it diapers? Go on those random errands to the local shops at night and on the weekend. Find out if it’s easy to walk there or park your car in the parking lot. Are the shops well-stocked and are the people helpful and friendly? Then use that local market for your regular grocery store errand, and find out if the store has your family’s favorites.

Play time

A happy life is more than just the necessities. Fun is a major factor in happiness at home. The area you are looking at may have tons of obvious activities available, but are the residents using them and are the activities fun for your family? Take the family to the local parks on the weekend. Try out the local community events. Find out what locals do for fun with their families, and try a few. It’s always a fun family adventure to try new things together.

Shopping for a new home and new neighborhood is more than just looking for a functional building to service the basics of life, keeping us sheltered and storing our things. A home is interconnected to the people in the neighborhood and to the world.

By taking some time to invest in trying-out the neighborhood, you’ll be much more likely to feel at home on moving day.