4 Quick Tips for Your New Neighborhood Search
With orders in hand for our next military assignment, our first item of business is to sit down and discuss where we’d like to live. My husband and I have yet to return to a place we've previously been assigned, so each move is a fresh start in a fresh new city. We chat about what we are looking for in an ideal neighborhood, as our needs seem to change from move to move.
For example, when living in the middle of nowhere California, I craved trips to browse around a Target store. I know it sounds cheesy (and is not always kind to my wallet!) but finding a neighborhood with a Target nearby offers options for my bargain shopping habits and Archer Farms addiction.
Our last two assignments were in places without military housing available so we immediately began browsing MilitaryByOwner for listings. We also ask for opinions of neighborhoods from friends who've lived there, as well as using neighborhood reviews from Military Town Advisor.
When planning for an upcoming military move and looking for a new neighborhood, here are a few points to keep in mind!
When looking for our next neighborhood, we consider what will comfortably fit within our budget. For example, when assigned to Washington, D.C, as cool as it would be to live in a trendy condo within walking distance of the Pentagon, our family is not financially prepared for the high D.C. price tag of that convenience. For the optimum cost of living, we may have to live a bit further away from work. Most likely, the affordability (and peace and quiet!) of the suburbs will make up for any time spent on the commute.
Although it’s never fun to think about the creepers out there, it is important to research statistics in different neighborhoods in the quest for a safe area to live. To avoid unpleasant experiences, we take a gander at municipal crime rate statistics, such as those from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the United States Justice Department, or local law enforcement agencies. When hunting for low crime rates, we focus on the actual number of crimes that occurred in certain communities to help define safe neighborhoods.
Finding a top-notch school is always a priority for a busy military family. Resources such as the Military Child Education Coalition share school reviews and helpful tips for the transition. While narrowing down a neighborhood search, check out websites for individual school districts. If you have specific education concerns, consider contacting a member of the school board or faculty or the military's School Liaison Officer.
Thinking of where we would prefer to live helps shape our neighborhood choices. For example, when assigned to a metropolitan area, my husband and I frequent train and bus lines. In that setting, finding a place to live with handy public transportation is ideal. Take into account neighborhood amenities such as a golf course, private pool, neighborhood tennis courts, or athletic fields, if those items appeal to you.
Factor in the convenience of living near grocery stores, retail shops, and local café’s when making your decision. Be thinking ahead of how the current neighborhood amenities may stir interest in new housing developments, as this may potentially change the property values of the area. Amenities are also an important point to consider if you plan to list your home when you PCS.
As you do your “homework” on the area, researching details and browsing home listings, picture yourself in that location. When possible, we try to visit the new area ahead of our move. By driving around (and usually getting lost!), we gain a sense of what the new place may be like. With anticipation of the transition ahead, your potential new address may become your new favorite spot!