Community and Lifestyle – Key Elements in Choosing a Great Neighborhood

When searching for a place to call home, consider that choosing the “right” neighborhood can be just as important as finding the “right” home. Many elements that will distinguish what is a good neighborhood for you, will of course, be personal. But, there are some general characteristics to look for, and also some particular trends that may help you be successful in scouting out and investing in a “hot” neighborhood.

Lifestyle and community benefits are part of a greater trend towards neighborhoods that are convenient, healthy and livable. A large part of “lifestyle” these days involves cultivating and encouraging a relationship with the outdoors. Many communities are moving towards protecting and creating more greenspace for residences to enjoy. These spaces offer recreational opportunities, privacy and tranquility by offering public space, screening out busy street noises and reducing glare from headlights.

Studies have show that over a 30-year period, in neighborhoods where landscaping projects are promoted, there has been a definite increase in resident’s self esteem and a decrease in vandalism. Parks and street trees have been found to be second only to education in residents’ perceived value of municipal services offered. Trees, well-landscaped grounds and places for taking walks, tend to be among the most important factors considered when individuals chose a place to live.

Along this line, there is a growing trend towards communities and neighborhoods that are designed and planned to be walkable. Walking is beneficial to people’s health, and is positive for the environment as residents are choosing to walk to destinations rather than drive. Also, walking benefits a neighborhood in terms of community vitality.

Walkable communities generally thrive on land use patterns similar to the towns of the early industrial years where true city centers were at the heart of urban planning. These walk friendly downtowns often offer a mix of restaurants, offices and housing, and all these elements promote interaction.

Communities with neighborhoods and downtowns that are walkable are capturing a greater share of tourist dollars, as visitors are interested in experiencing authentic community life. This attraction results in greater potential for economic well being as these areas tend to boast a strong tourism economy.

Neighborhoods that take advantage of walk ability are becoming highly favored by potential buyers. Look for walkable neighborhood shopping centers that offer “a sense of place”. Lifestyle centers and New Town Centers are being developed to replicate the community and shopping experiences available in the traditional downtown centers. If you can find a neighborhood that offers such smart planning and development, you’ll benefit as a homeowner and in terms of resale down the line.

Some other general considerations that will usually inform the value of a neighborhood include, its proximity to quality amenities and institutions such as schools, hospitals, libraries and public transport.

Try to get a sense of what the neighborhood might look like in ten years. Are there signs of new construction in the area? What kinds of homes and zoning are present in the area, and in what direction do developments seem to be heading? You’ll want a clear sense of the town’s vision and how your particular neighborhood fits in to it.

Choosing a neighborhood the has been designed with a strong sense community will benefit your lifestyle as a homeowner, and ensure a solid investment in an area that is great today, and has all the intention to become even better in the years to come.