Get To Know a Neighborhood Without Living In It
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Have you ever wanted to really experience a neighborhood before buying a house? Now you can see for yourself, even from afar, what it’s like to live in a neighborhood.
General Demographics The easily accessible U.S Census, conducted every year by the Census Bureau, is your best and most reliable source for detailed information about a particular area’s demographics. The latest Census, from 2010, provides an in-depth breakdown of age, race, population density, and even average commute times to work by neighborhood. You can also use the bureau’s map feature to see a graphic overview of select demographics for surrounding neighborhoods.
NeighborhoodScout is a great source for finding data, including median home price, crime rates, and ease of commute, in one brief snapshot. The site can also tell you what makes a neighborhood unique or notable. For example, on NeighborhoodScout you can find which neighborhoods have a high percentage of brownstones, gay/lesbian families, or homeowners without cars.
Walk Score is another great web source for neighborhood scouting. Lately, walkability has become a highly coveted neighborhood feature, especially for millennials. Walk Score will provide you with an overall rating of an area’s proximity to local attractions and businesses, like coffee shops, grocery stores, and parks. For those who’d rather spend time on a bicycle, Bike Score can give you an overall sense of how bike-friendly a neighborhood is.
The Scenic Route
A free walking app called Walc can show you exactly what you’ll see on a walk around a neighborhood. Unlike typical compass or directional apps, Walc allows you to input a specific start and end address, and then outputs a display of the route, so you can get an idea of what sights you’d see on a real walk around the neighborhood.
Public Transportation Access
For more than 35 million Americans, public transportation is an everyday necessity. Much like an area’s Walk Score or Bike Score, a Transit Score will help you get a sense for a neighborhood’s accessibility to trains, buses, and light rail. “These scores are great, really giving you a sense of how important it is to have a car in a particular community,” David Reiss, a professor at Brooklyn Law School’s Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship.
While your real estate agent or previous homeowner can be helpful, their opinions may also be biased. Try the nonprofit website Greatschools,org for access to school reports, including reviews from teachers, parents, and students. You can also search for homes by school district, if you have a particular school in mind, using realtor.com’s mobile app.
My Local Crime is a web resource that will show any recent crimes in a given area, from vandalism to shootings. An interactive map will display the exact location of a crime, giving you an idea of what neighborhood spots may be unsafe.
The Lay of the Land
Topological maps are a great tool for learning about the actual land in an area. Unlike two dimensional maps, topological maps show elevation and surface features, which can be helpful in considering weather events, like floods and storms.
Use sights like Yelp, Moviefone, and Gravy to find local restaurants, move theatres, events, concerts, and other attractions.
To find a neighborhood like the one you already live in, head to NeighborhoodScout. You can select filters that suit your lifestyle or even enter you current address to find comparable towns across the country.
For more information regarding researching neighborhoods, [Click Here].