How to Find Your Perfect Neighborhood

Where you buy a home is almost as important as the home itself. That’s why we’ve compiled a step-by-step guide to help you find the right neighborhood before you start looking for your dream home.

boy riding bike in neighborhood

Take Advantage of Online Resources

Start your search for the right neighborhood online. A few good places to start include our lists of the top 10 cities for empty nesters, the 10 best cities for raising a family, and the 10 best cities for business graduates

If you already know where you want to move, start at NeighborhoodScout. Although basic information is free, you can subscribe for more detailed reports on crime, schools, and more.

Street Advisor is a similar free service that includes reviews of neighborhoods written by the people who live there. You can also find online neighborhood guides at Airbnb and local real estate agents’ websites.

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Visit at Different Times

The neighborhood you think you’re moving into could be something completely different in the evenings and on weekends. Visit at different times to see what the neighborhood is really like.

You may learn that every weekend, parents park their cars in front of your house while their child’s sports team practices nearby, or you may find that you have to fight traffic to get into your subdivision during rush hour. These are good things to know before you move.

Once you know where you want to live, make sure you can afford it. The Living Wage Calculator can give you an overview of expenses such as food, transportation, and child care based on your location.

To compare your current cost of living to other areas, check out CNN’s Cost of Living Calculator. The calculator shows how much money it takes to live a comparable lifestyle in another city and the difference in prices for groceries, utilities, and more.

Keep in mind that state taxes can also take a big bite out of your income. Find out what the sales tax and income tax rates are before you move to a different state.

Research the Schools

Good schools are a priority if you have children. For general information, including student/teacher ratios and enrollment statistics, go to the National Center for Education Statistics website. You can get a more detailed look at local schools at, where you’ll find parent and student reviews. The website also “grades” schools based on how well students perform.

After you’ve done your online research, schedule a tour of the schools you’re considering. Some schools will put you in contact with other parents who can answer any additional questions you may have.

Consider Your Commute

It doesn’t matter how much you love your new home if you can’t get to where you need to go without pulling your hair out. Before you commit to an area, use an online map, like Google Maps, to check real-time traffic flow along your commute during peak hours. Most online maps will also have an option that shows public transit routes, including stops.

If you’d rather walk where you’re going, visit The website rates communities’ walkability based on a score up to 100. You’ll also find a bike score there as well as information on public transportation.

Get the Lowdown on Crime Statistics

Nobody wants to live in an area where there’s rampant crime. The easiest way to learn about crime in your area is to visit, where you’ll see the number and types of crimes committed, as well as the locations of registered sex offenders. You can also use Safewise’s Safest Cities in America report to narrow down your neighborhood.

When you know where you’re moving, you can stop by the local police station to discuss any specific concerns you have.

Although it seems like a lot of work, taking the time to find the right neighborhood is definitely worth the effort. Invest the time up front to learn about the surrounding area, schools, cost of living, traffic, and crime to make sure you love your new location.

About Christa Baxter

Christa Baxter
Christa Baxter has worked as an editor for more than seven years. She leads the content team in producing whip-smart moving tips and recs. After relocating four times in the last calendar year, she’s got strong opinions about moving best practices. (Just don’t ever pull a Marie Kondo and suggest she whittle down her personal library.)
  • Amy Winters

    Thanks for suggesting that we visit potential neighborhood on evenings and weekends to see what they’re really like. My husband and I are thinking about moving now that all of our kids have graduated from high school. We’re considering a few different neighborhoods at the moment, so we’ll definitely follow your suggestions and pay them a few visits at different times!

  • Sam Mason

    Great article! Agree with your ideas on finding a good neighborhood. Once you find the right place make your backyard beautiful to entertain your neighbors with expert masonry contractors at Masonry Contractors of South Shore MA.

  • Eileen Benson

    Thanks for the tip to research the schools in the area. My brother told me he wants to start looking at real estate for sale. I’ll show him your article to help him evaluate potential homes and communities!