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5 Things to Consider When Choosing a New Location for Your Family

By Guest
November 14th, 2012 - 10:40 AM

Whether you're going just a few blocks away or starting fresh in an entirely new town, moving is exciting. You and your family will get to explore new surroundings, discovering the details that make your new neighborhood feel like home. If you're staying in your home town, you may already be familiar with other neighborhoods, but seeing them from the outside isn't the same as experiencing them as a resident. Take the time to get to know an area, and you'll find the ideal neighborhood for your family. 

To find your dream neighborhood, you must first know what you want from the move. Do you long for quiet surroundings and spacious yards? Are you hoping for a stimulating cultural and educational climate? Do you place a premium on walking or biking to work? Knowing what you want in a perfect home is the first step to finding it. For most families, five crucial questions can help narrow down the choices and find a great place to live.

Are Kid-Friendly Neighborhoods Important?
For families with children, finding a home in an area with good schools and plenty of other parents is vital. The U.S. Department of Education offers resources to parents looking for information on a region's school system. Internet searches are another useful tool for finding out more about the school system in a region. Finding a new home with solid educational opportunities can have lifelong benefits for your kids, so it's worth doing some research before you make the move. 

For the hours not spent in school, look for neighborhoods that offer other child-friendly destinations such as parks, playgrounds and libraries. A city with a network of natural history museums, zoos or other fun and educational places for kids can hold powerful appeal for parents. 

How Is the Job Market?
Unless you already have a job waiting for you when you're planning a move, you'll want to take a close look at a prospective city's employment picture. The Bureau of Labor Statistics can provide you with mountains of data on job opportunities and employment rates throughout the country. Use the comprehensive reports at the site to narrow your options to your most promising choices, then dig deeper to find more current information by scanning local newspapers' classified sections. Online job listings also provide a clearer view of an area's employment opportunities. 

How Much Will It Cost?
The same newspapers that give you cues about the job market in a region are also valuable tools for learning about housing costs. However, they tell only part of the story; research tax rates, insurance costs and utility prices by reading online or contacting utility service providers in the area. The cost of living can vary even within the same metropolitan area, so investigate neighborhoods that are across a county line to see if you can secure a lower property tax rate or pay less in sales taxes. It may be worth a slightly longer commute into town if you'll save significantly on taxes or insurance. 

What Are the Neighbors Like?
Neighborhoods develop their own personalities over time, and a big part of that personality comes from the demographics of its residents. A community of college students will have a distinctly different atmosphere than a neighborhood composed of young families or retirees. While you don't have to have everything in common with your neighbors, living near other families whose kids go to the same school or who share your office hours will give you a greater chance to forge new friendships. 

What Makes the Neighborhood Special?
Almost every city is known for something, and every region within that city is likewise special in some way. Your job is to find the one that's special in the ways that matter most to you. If you love the idea of being close to open spaces, choose a community that borders a lake or nature preserve. If providing your child with playmates is a priority, select a community brimming with young families.

Online neighborhood reviews can be a great help, but whenever possible, visit the sites you're most carefully considering personally and spend some time getting to know the locals there. People who love their neighborhood enjoy being asked about it, so don't feel shy about looking for local insight. You may soon get to return the favor by welcoming a prospective new neighbor yourself.

Written by guest blogger Philip J Reed on behalf of Richmond American Homes, building new homes in Denver.