3 Ways to Check Out a Neighborhood Before Buying a House

You wouldn’t buy a car without giving it a test drive, so why would you even think about purchasing a home without first checking out the neighborhood to see what it really would be like to live there? 

Buying a home is a big investment, so you want to be sure the area in which you choose to live meets your standards when it comes to the neighbors, local amenities, safety and more. Here, three ways you can check out a neighborhood before making the big leap.

1. Live like a local

The first thing you should do is spend some time in the area, and a great way to do that is by booking an Airbnb listing near the property you want to buy. While this won’t be free, the peace of mind it can give you about an area will be priceless. Try to book for at least three days—preferably Thursday, Friday and Saturday—to see what the neighborhood is like on both weekdays and weekends. 

Next, you’ll want to get out and explore the neighborhood during the morning, afternoon and evening to gauge the area’s noise level and safety. (You also can obtain unfiltered, real-time crime updates on your area at the Citizen app, which provides crowdsourced crime reports.)

2. Run through your daily routine

The next thing you’ll want to do is get a sense of your daily commute to and from work via car, bike, bus or otherwise to make sure it is something you can deal with on a daily basis. 

Also, consider routine errands such as shopping for groceries by finding out how far you’ll have to travel for those services. And, even if you don’t have any children, research the local schools because it affects the value of your home—sometimes as much as 20 percent. 

3. Sample the nightlife

If happy hours and weekend festivities are part of building your social life, you’ll want to spend at least one night out having dinner with friends or bar-hopping. 

Try and visit as many venues as you can to get a sense of the ambiance and demographics of the local nightlife and social scene. A bonus? Your friends can provide you with valuable, unfiltered feedback about the area.