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Choosing a Neighborhood: How to Decide Where to Live

December 22, 2023
Exterior of The Cira Collection by Brookfield Residential at The Landing Community in Tustin, CA

When you are planning to buy a home, how do you decide where to move? “They say ‘location, location, location,’” says Eddy D’Ambrosio, a Remax Elite real estate agent. “Location is such an important thing because where your property determines how you live your life.”

Here, Eddy offers advice on choosing locations and questions you should ask when you are deciding where to move. He also discusses how to choose a home location based on city areas, communities, streets, lots and types of homes.

How new homebuyers decide where to move

Most prospective homebuyers focus their search on a certain area in a city, such as whether they want to live in the north or south quadrant, Eddy says. Then, they often consider the location’s proximity to their work and families.

Perform test drives

“One great piece of advice for choosing a good location is to drive through some different communities and get a feel for how that community feels to you,” he says.

Eddy recommends taking test drives from the prospective home site to the homes of family members and to your work location to learn whether the location will work for you. “Also drive out to places that you would visit the most, such as amenities, parks and so forth to see the driving distance,” he says.

“Location, location, location”

“When it comes to purchasing a home, there is one thing you need to consider above all else: location, location, location, location and location,” says Eddy.

“It seems cliché, yet so few buyers take the time to consider it comprehensively. Like all strategic approaches, consideration of location should be done in stages.”

Those stages, he says, should include the city quadrant, community, street, lot and house, respectively as described in more detail below.

1. Choose a city quadrant 

When you know which city you want to live in, focus on its quadrants — east, west, south or north — to determine which one will best suit your lifestyle, Eddy recommends.

Consider the:

  • Distance to work
  • Availability of schools
  • Access to major roadways
  • Proximity to preferred amenities and friends and family

2. Choose a community or neighborhood

Communities within a quadrant can widely vary, says Eddy, who recommends that prospective homeowners drive through the quadrant or neighborhood when deciding where to move.

  • Pay attention to whether there are:
  • Common home styles
  • Garages that are attached or detached
  • Alleyways
  • Young families or older residents
  • Homes within your budget

3. Choose a street

The street you’ll live on is important and shouldn’t be overlooked, Eddy says, because it can affect how you’ll enjoy your home.

Streets within a community can differ with regard to:

  • Parking availability
  • Street width
  • Cul-de-sac vs busy road
  • Proximity to entrances and exits
  • Streetlights
  • Traffic signage
  • Sidewalks

4. Choose a lot

Pay attention to the direction a house and the majority of its windows face, Eddy says. It can have an effect on utility costs, upkeep, and the ability to enjoy the backyard, particularly during the warm months.

“Where the sun hits the windows, roof and yard will have a dramatic effect on a variety of lifestyle needs. Just ask someone with south-facing windows and no air conditioning,” he says.

Check out the neighbors too

It’s good to check out the neighbors as much as you can, too, he advises. “Good, considerate neighbors are worth their weight in gold and should be considered in the same breath as future development. Both can directly affect a buyer’s long-term peace of mind.”

5. Choose a house

Where the house is located isn’t everything. It's more about the condition of the home you’re interested in buying, Eddy cautions.

“As a rule of thumb, as far as upkeep and maintenance, the best-looking home exteriors protect the most impressive interiors,” he says.

“Without turning it into an official property inspection, check out the home’s roof, the paint job, the lawn and the overall curb appeal. It will always be easier to maintain an existing style and condition than it will be to fix something up or start from scratch.”

What to look for inside a new house

The condition of a home’s interior and its mechanicals is also an important consideration. “Treat each home you tour like it’s your own,” says Eddy. “Get comfortable, open drawers, get in the tub and flush the toilets.”

Embrace the homebuying journey

Once you are satisfied with a location you believe will suit all of your needs, the rest is easy, Eddy says. “Above all else, you should go with your gut because home is where the heart is, and when it’s right, you should feel it.”

If you’re looking for more homebuying insights, design advice, or moving tips and tricks, the Brookfield Residential blog has a great selection of storage and organization tips including tips for maximizing the space in your closet and organizing your mudroom. Also, feel free to contact us directly if you have questions about a blog post or one of our new homes or communities. We'll be expecting you!