You may know exactly what you’re looking for inside a rental home, but have you thought about what makes an ideal neighborhood for you? Before you decide to sign a lease, audition the neighborhood, as well, with these tried-and-true testing tips.
Try the route
Getting to and from where you live is a big part of the day for many people. Before you make the leap to your new home, travel it the way you plan to regularly—on foot, bike, bus or car—and see how you like the trip. Is it long, stressful, difficult in bad weather or after dark? Consider how you would feel making the journey every day. Then try the trip to buy groceries, hit a restaurant or visit a park. Make sure the things you care about can be reached without too much hassle.
Just as every cop show includes a stake-out, every good neighborhood audition could use one, too. In your case, visit your future home at different times of day and different days of the week. Note the traffic patterns of pedestrians and cars. Notice foot traffic, as well: are nearby sidewalks crowded? Let your eyes inform you and follow your instincts in making an assessment about how comfortable you would feel here.
Get the crime scoop
Sometimes the look of a neighborhood can be deceiving. While you should not make a snap judgment, it also doesn’t hurt to check on past or recent crime activity in your prospective future neighborhood. Crime stats are well-kept and can be easily found online. Consult local government websites or a site dedicated to the subject, like CrimeReports.com.
If you can get access to a neighborhood page for the area you’re interested in, you can get a lot of good information there. Ask your realtor, property manager or prospective landlord if there are community resources he or she would recommend to give you a well-rounded picture of the neighborhood.
If you have the opportunity to converse with other residents, ask for their assessments of the neighborhood. Most people are pretty candid when it comes to assessing the area in which they live, though they may have blind spots and pet peeves that come from longtime exposure to a neighborhood’s intricacies.
You don’t have to wait to be a full-fledged resident to make a balanced assessment of a neighborhood. Play detective, reporter and spy to get the skinny on your potential new community before you commit to living there.