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Why Your Whidbey Island Home Search Needs to Include a Neighborhood Search

 

Deciding which neighborhood you want to live in is a decision not to be taken lightly. What makes a neighborhood special or livable varies depending on personal needs and lifestyles. However, searching for a home involves more than finding the right house. While that’s definitely a huge part of the equation, you also want to make sure your new neighborhood has the amenities, local conveniences, schools, and quality of life you require. Neighborhood searches are vital to finding the perfect home for you, and fortunately, there are plenty of ways to conduct some research on a particular area before you commit to living there.

Walkability



How walkable a neighborhood impacts the resulting quality of life. Highly-walkable neighborhoods promote healthy lifestyles, create a sense of community, help with the environment by cutting down on vehicle emissions, and can save on household expenses such as the upkeep of a car or fuel costs. One website where you can research the walkability of an area is Walk Score. Walk Score uses Google Maps to determine a neighborhood's walkability based on factors such as proximity to nearby restaurants, stores, schools, parks, and more.
 
On WalkScore.com, you can search a neighborhood by using an exact address or by searching for specific neighborhoods by name. According to Walk Score, a score of zero to 24 is a "Car-Dependent" neighborhood, while one with a score of 90 to 100 is considered a “Walker's Paradise,” which means you're able to run most of your daily errands without the need for a car. Walk Score also offers searchers the ability to find out a neighborhood's public transit score as well as its bike score.

Things to do



If you enjoy living in areas with amenities, recreational activities, and community events, you’ll likely want to research what there is to do in a neighborhood before you decide to purchase a home there. Fortunately, you can search the Internet for fun things to do in an area before moving. Websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor can assist you in finding restaurants as well as local businesses. You can also find things to do like cultural events, parks, and more. Knowing local things to do before you move to a neighborhood can come in handy when you’re choosing between two different Whidbey Island homes and need a little help making up your mind.

Schools


Parents of school-age children want to know about the schools in a prospective area before committing to moving there. Having schools that are in close proximity to your home means your children won’t have to be bussed out of the area. Additionally, having a good school nearby is easier on parents and caregivers who help get kids back and forth from school and after-school activities.
 
There are plenty of sites where you’re able to check a school’s testing scores, ratings, and even reviews from teachers, students, and parents. GreatSchools is one of the most popular sites to research schools. GreatSchools is a nonprofit organization that offers information on school quality as well as parental guidance and resources. You can search GreatSchools.org by city, zip code, address, or exact school name.

Topography


When weighing options for different neighborhoods, you're probably not thinking about the lay of the land. However, topographic maps give you a wealth of important information which could help you in determining which home to purchase. Topological maps include elevations so you can find out if the prospective neighborhood is hilly or flat. You can also see if your potential new home is subject to certain issues, such as being located on a flood plain.
 
The United States Geological Survey has current and historical topographic maps, which will give you a different perspective of an area. You can also search TopoZone, where you can look up United States Geological Survey topographic maps, find resources on how to read the maps, as well as interesting feature articles. You're free to print the maps directly from the website, or you can access TopoZone's mobile-friendly site with your Apple or Android device.

Public transportation


Just like a neighborhood’s walkability, how well connected an area is to public transportation is important to many homebuyers. Each day, throngs of Americans use public transportation to go about their daily lives. As well, living in a neighborhood without solid public transportation can be a real hindrance to running daily errands, commuting to work, and socializing or recreating. WalkScore.com also offers its users the ability to research an area’s Transit Score. According to the website, Walk Score's Transit Score "is a patented measure of how well a location is served by public transit on a scale from 0 to 100". Using algorithmic calculations, a score is determined using the sum value of nearby public transit routes, including how useful these routes are, the frequency of the route, and the type of route.

Livability


An area’s livability score is much like its walkability or public transportation scores. The livability of a neighborhood is generally ranked on the proximity of services, businesses, and a host of other factors depending on the source. While these livability scores may vary from organization to organization, you can quickly get a consensus on the general atmosphere of an area. AreaVibes.com has a Livability Score that uses seven categories and dozens of data points that span multiple data sets. You can find out which amenities would be available to you in a particular neighborhood, the cost of living there, local employment data, how the schools rank, as well as ratings from users who live in the area.
 
The American Association of Retired Persons, commonly known as AARP, also has its own Livability Index. Although this data is put out by AARP, its Livability Index is touted as "Great Neighborhoods for All Ages." You can search AARP's Livability Index by address, city, state, or zip code. Communities are broken up into categories, including large cities, mid-sized cities, small cities, and small towns.

Finding similar areas


If you love the area you currently live in and would like to find a similar neighborhood to live in, you may have your work cut out for you. Without knowing which amenities or local conveniences a new neighborhood has, you’ll have to rely on suggestions from family or friends and may have to do a bit of Internet sleuthing. Fortunately, there are websites that can help you narrow down prospective places to live based on the criteria important to you. One such website is Teleport. Teleport lets you find great communities based on the cost of living, the quality of life you expect from your new neighborhood, as well as jobs and careers in the area.

Property taxes



Before you decide on a particular neighborhood or house, it’s wise to look into the property taxes you'll have to pay if you choose to move there. Property taxes heavily influence your housing costs and need to be factored into your cost of living in a particular area. Depending on the neighborhood, property taxes are a huge source of revenue for city and county governments. Property taxes are typically based on the value of the property and are used to fund services for the community, including water and sewer systems, first responders like law enforcement and fire departments, public educational institutions, and road and highway construction.
 
To figure out the amount of property tax you’ll have to pay, you can use a property tax calculator such as the one on the Tax Foundation website or consult with your real estate agent to get a better idea.

Neighborhood amenities


When you first start your home search, you likely have an area in mind based on features you’d like it to have. Are a variety of amenities within walking distance important to you? Perhaps top-ranking schools, good public transportation, and green spaces are a huge priority. Regardless of what draws you to a neighborhood, your real estate agent will be able to point out some notable neighborhood features and amenities.
 
A real estate agent can take your input and find you the ideal home in the perfect neighborhood based on your wants and needs. Few people know an area’s amenities better than real estate professionals who work in and are familiar with a particular neighborhood.

Find Whidbey Island homes for sale


If you want to learn more about why your home search needs to include a neighborhood search or about Whidbey Island homes for sale, reach out to Mike Konopik for expert guidance every step of the way. He and his team would love to show you Whidbey Island real estate for sale.



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