During a simpler time, moving into a new neighborhood meant leaning on your neighbors to learn about your new home’s surroundings. Now, it’s more crucial than ever to do proper research on neighborhoods you’re considering before you move. Times have changed, and factors like property value, crime rate, and nearby schools play a bigger part in selecting the perfect home. Thanks to technology, researching your new neighborhood (or many prospective neighborhoods) is now easier than ever, and likely to produce a treasure trove of information that may color your decisions.
We’ve compiled a handy list for the house hunter to use in their search for a new home. These tools may range in features, but they’re designed to tell you what your realtors won’t!
Cosigned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Great Schools is a non-profit service that collects data on elementary, middle, and high schools in any neighborhood across the country. Data is accessible via zip code, city, and even by entering your address. Concerned parents can find a school or review their own school for other parents. Great Schools just launched its own parenting site, Great Kids, for parents to discuss parenting techniques like building emotional intelligence, tips for dealing with bullies, and how to care for children with disabilities.
Spot Crime is a simplified “crime tracker” that collects data on virtually every neighborhood. Just type in your address to view reported incidents categorized by type (theft, robbery, burglary, etc). Each listing details the time, location, and and case number of the incident, as well as the police department responsible for its investigation. The site even allows you to receive crime alerts for your neighborhood via email.
Crime Reports is essentially a more in-depth version of Spot Crime – perhaps this is why its map seems so overwhelming! In addition to reporting petty crimes, Crime Reports also indicates the proximity of sexual predators, and identifies them by name, location, age and similar factors. If you’re looking for a safe neighborhood for your children, this feature will definitely benefit you. You can search for crimes according to type and proximity to your address for the past six months.
Neighborhood Scout provides a comprehensive look at any neighborhood: its crime rates, race/age/gender demographics, median price range, specific characteristics and much more. Those looking for a detailed report on their prospective neighborhoods will surely enjoy Neighborhood Scout’s data-driven database. It even breaks down the common occupations of your neighbors, languages spoken, transportation and commute options, and real estate pricing!
Street Advisor isn’t as detailed as Neighborhood Scout, but its strength comes from its review system based on thousands of locals. Locals use Street Advisor to review popular and not-so-popular neighborhoods and the streets within them. Streets are ranked on a 10 point system, and graded on factors like safety, peace and quiet, nightlife, demographics, and income. Rating systems make it easier to qualify a neighborhood strengths and weaknesses, and reviews from the locals add a relevant, accurate feel to the website’s information.
By far, Yelp is one of the most accessible and popular tools used to review establishments and neighborhoods. You can use it locate the nearest nightlife, schools, stores, and more in your neighborhood as well as read reviews on them from the locals. For apartment hunters, you can review any potential communities via Yelp as well. Yelp’s popularity makes it very commonplace, and it can be easy to overlook its quality features – but once you’re on the house hunt, it can produce valuable results!