We all love finding our dream home—a house that fits perfectly with what we wanted—but is that enough? There’s another factor to consider as well: Is this particular neighborhood a good fit?
When you buy a home for yourself or your family, that’s not all you’re doing. You are also buying a neighborhood. The neighoborhood is actually one of the chief determinants of your home’s value. You want to do your due-diligence and make sure you love the neighborhood as well as the home.
Be careful. The real estate agents don’t post neighborhood pictures or stats very often. Sometimes, buyers who over look this may end up with a home they love in a neighborhood they don’t really like. This is unfortunate since most people live in their home for 7-10 years.
The trick is to find a home that checks off all the most important items on your list and that is located in a neighborhood you like (or is at least compatible with your needs and lifestyle. )
With that in mind, we offer these 5 important things to consider when choosing a neighborhood in Seattle.
If you want answers to all these questions to help you determine which location is right for you, click on our Neighborhood Reviews Page to learn more about each neighborhood that you’re interested in, or click here to skip straight to the Shoreline, WA Neighborhood Review or Richmond Beach neighborhood profile.
1. Safety – Is Shoreline, WA a Safe Neighborhood?
Safety comes first for you and your family. You want to make sure you live in an area where you have peace of mind. Safety should always be an important consideration when choosing a neighborhood in Seattle or anywhere else, especially if you have children.
Here are a few of the most important safety-related concerns:
- Crime rate – Any neighborhood will have some level of criminal activity, but you want the neighborhood you choose to be as crime-free as possible. So “if you check criminal reports through the city website or contact local law enforcement and notice a high level of activity, it may be a red flag.”
- A neighborhood watch – “Is there a neighborhood watch group established in the area? This may not be a deal-breaker, but it’s something some families value. Ask local law enforcement or one of the residents. You might also see a street sign indicating it is a neighborhood watch area.”
- Good street lighting – Plenty of street lighting is a great deterrent of criminal activity and can help you feel safer. So before choosing a neighborhood in Seattle, be sure to check out the street lighting.
You can, of course, do your own research to find out about the safety of a particular neighborhood. A better course, though, is to consult a local Seattle agent who will know the neighborhood well. Just call (206) 578-3438 to find out more.
2. Quality of The Shoreline School District’s Schools
The quality of the local schools is also an important consideration in choosing a neighborhood – even if you don’t have children. Quality, highly ranked schools are an excellent indicator of a good neighborhood. Neighborhoods with good schools typically have good potential for property appreciation, which also means a good return on your investment and much better resale value.
To find out about schools, you can contact a Seattle agent at (206) 578-3438, or you can “[g]o to the local school district’s website and download the report card of nearby schools. This will include information about the school’s demographics, test scores, and graduation rates. Another resource is GreatShools.org, which allows you to easily compare data between schools and read parents’ reviews.”
3. Amenities and Conveniences in Shoreline, WA
Getting to know the neighborhood and neighbors might be difficult since you aren’t living there, but you can take some proactive steps to better acquaint yourself with the area. Drive through the neighborhood at different times of the day and week. Also, be sure to look into local amenities and conveniences when choosing a neighborhood in Seattle. For example . . .
“Take time to explore each neighborhood you’re considering and identify the nearby amenities and conveniences. If the neighborhood is more suburban or rural, you’ll have to determine how far you are willing to travel for everyday conveniences such as grocery or convenience stores, dry cleaners, gas stations, health services, and more.”
BE sure to “[i]dentify or research some of the other local amenities such as parks, community centers, recreational activities, museums, and other attractions.” Some neighborhood features/amenities that can make one neighborhood stand out above others are sidewalks, nearby parks, and easily accessible walking trails.
4. Commute Times From Shoreline, WA Into Bellevue and Seattle, WA
And then, when choosing a neighborhood, there is the practical matter of commute time to consider. How much driving are you willing to do, or do you even want to drive at all.
“Ask yourself how you plan to get around. Will you be driving, walking, or taking public transportation to get to and from work and other activities? For most buyers, especially those who live in an urban area with major traffic concerns, the time it takes to commute to and from work and schools is a major consideration. How long are you willing to spend in the car or commuting each day?”
You really need to consider how your commute times will impact your (and your family’s) quality of life. So be sure to weigh the benefits of living in a neighborhood necessitating longer commutes against the decrease in time you can spend with family and friends and doing the things you enjoy.
5. Lifestyle Compatibility – Do You Like the “Feel” of Living in Shoreline?
When contemplating living in a new place, it’s important to think about nearby features that will affect your level of contentment. You’ll want a space that feels relaxing and convenient. If you like to entertain, think about what that would look like in this neighborhood.
Ultimately, a large part of choosing a neighborhood has to do with how well the neighborhood suits your particular lifestyle. Young couples just starting out will need a much different kind of neighborhood than, say, retirees.
“A couple starting a family, for example,” will want different amenities in their ideal neighborhood than empty-nesters looking for a slower pace of life. Pay attention to things like parks, open spaces, trails, proximity to shopping, dining, and local attractions. If the community is a homeowners association, or HOA, find out what amenities are included in your dues, such as a pool, clubhouse, or gym.”
Talking to your agent is a good way to find out about a neighborhood’s compatibility with your lifestyle. You can also do your own online research using such tools as WalkScore.com and neighborhood Facebook groups.
Lean on Your Seattle Agent When Choosing a Neighborhood
Whether you are thinking of moving to Shoreline, WA or are considering another area, it should be apparent that selecting the right neighborhood is a big part of buying the right home.
Still, for most buyers, affordability remains an overriding concern, which usually means some compromise. You can’t always get the BEST house in the BEST neighborhood at the BEST price. We’d all love that, but it’s not completely realistic. If you can get a house/neighborhood combo that ranks an 8 out of 10 on your scale of preference, you should go ahead and move forward with it.
Remember, you can increase your chance of getting the home you want in a neighborhood you like by working closely with an experienced, local Seattle agent like Emily Cressey’s team here at HomeProAssociates.com with HomeSmart in Seattle, WA. When you’re in the market for a new home and are concerned about choosing a neighborhood that suits you, be sure to contact us at (206) 578-3438.