Figuring out which neighborhood you want to live in is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make as a home-buyer. We’ve got a few real estate tips to get you started.
Your Neighborhood Checklist
You’re not just buying a home - you’re investing in a neighborhood. Like any smart investment, you need to know what you’re investing into before committing. If not, you risk moving into a neighborhood that doesn’t fit your needs. Keep in mind that the average amount of time someone lives in a Seattle home is 11.4 years, so you could be living there for a long time.
A PDF of this checklist is available at the end of this post.
Keep this checklist handy and show it to your agent if you have one. This will help you narrow down your search (if you haven’t already).
MG Real Estate Tip: “Put these attributes in order of most to least importance to more easily identify your needs.”
Spend Time in Each Neighborhood
You probably already have a few neighborhoods in mind, or at least a general area. If you’re able, spend some time in each area - both during the day and at night. Think of yourself as already living there. How does it feel? Many of us usually know right away if a neighborhood fits our vibe. However, you shouldn’t depend on the “feel” of the neighborhood alone.
Walk or drive around and look for things that you’ve deemed important on your checklist. If being close to work is important to you, turn on a navigation app and see how far away you are. If you have or are planning to have kids, check out the local schools. Are you a foodie or love a good dive bar? Check out those, too.
While you’re exploring, inspect your surroundings. Are there new developments coming in everywhere you look? If so, then this might be an up-and-coming neighborhood and home prices and values are likely to increase. If half the buildings are barred up or falling apart and there’s trash everywhere, there’s probably a reason for it.
MG Real Estate Tip: “Ask the locals to get more information. Interact with the local baristas, bartenders, or servers. They likely live in the area and can give you the inside scoop.”
Local Newspapers and Chambers of Commerce
Most neighborhoods usually have a local newspaper, a chamber of commerce, or both. These will give you insight into your neighborhood if you’re unable to visit or if you are looking for more information.
Local newspapers are easy to find online and most neighborhoods have them. Queen Anne has the Queen Anne News, Capitol Hill has the Capitol Hill Times, Beacon Hill has the Beacon Hill Times, etc. These papers are often great sources of information about the ongoings of their neighborhoods. They’re also provide insight into their neighborhoods in comparison to their greater region as a whole (for example, Seattle or the Greater Seattle area).
A chamber of commerce is an association or group of business owners that share a locale or interests. These chambers are often in charge of local events, such as farmers' markets or festivals, and have a finger on the pulse of the communities they serve. Most neighborhoods have a chamber of commerce (and, by extension, a website). Check them out and see what you think, or contact a chamber president and ask to sit in at a meeting.
MG Real Estate Tip: “With everyone meeting virtually, attending a meeting like this is easier than ever before.”
Look Up Crime Rates
There are two ways to get easy access to a neighborhood’s crime rate. The first is will a simple Google search. Type in “crime statistics in [neighborhood]” and you’ll get a full list of (somewhat) recent crime statistics.
When you type in Queen Anne, here’s what you get:
Keep in mind the crime rate covers the whole area - the safer and more dangerous portions of the neighborhood. The neighborhood newspapers and conversations with locals will help you discern what parts of the neighborhood you may want to avoid.
If a Google search doesn’t provide you with the information you’re looking for, contact the neighborhood’s police department. They can provide you with additional details about the area. They can also give you information about community involvement in crime prevention or community policing.
Final Neighborhood Real Estate Tips
When you’re buying a home you’re buying into a community. Determining which neighborhood you want to live in is one of the first - and most important - steps you’ll take on your home-buying journey. Make sure you’re picking the right one.
And if you need more advice, we can give you a few real estate tips. We've been living and serving the Greater Seattle area for years.
By Anthony Greer
Anthony Greer specializes in content writing and brand messaging development.