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A place to roost: Choosing the right neighborhood

Does this neighborhood in Tenafly tick the boxes on your checklist? To find out, view property details here.

Finding the right neighborhood is just as important as picking your dream house. But what factors should you look into when choosing the right area to set down roots? What questions should you ask before moving in? Let us break it down for you.

  • Consider your current lifestyle
    Take a look at your life, how you’re living it, and what you’re aspiring for. What is your job? What are your hobbies? What are your goals? Would you rather have a backyard even if it means living away from the city center or would you rather be surrounded by urban amenities?

    Your daily routine and schedule, your lifestyle, and your negotiables and non-negotiables will come into play. It’s also crucial for you to think about whether your income will be enough to sustain living in your preferred neighborhood.

  • Proximity to work, school, and amenities
    Commute times are important in choosing a neighborhood. If you don’t mind the longer drive, you may choose to live in an area that’s a bit removed but offers more privacy. Or, you may prefer a neighborhood that’s walkable or has a reliable public transportation system.
  • Gauge yourself
    How much time are you willing to spend commuting to and from work each day? How important is having amenities close by? If you have school-aged children, are you comfortable with the school district your neighborhood falls under?
  • Dig deeper into the neighborhoods you like
    Take a closer look at the neighborhoods you may want to move into. Beyond the awesome granite kitchen counters and the smart home features of the home you’re eyeing, check out the crime rate in the area. Are you comfortable with the current statistics? Are there planned developments that might compromise your privacy or obstruct your view in the near future? Do your due diligence on things that matter to you so you don’t end up in a pretty house stuck in a pretty dismal neighborhood.

    Other things people ask the most about a neighborhood are the school districts and daycare programs, the proximity of parks and community centers, homeowners’ associations (especially if there are strict rules about construction and home design), transportation systems, and attractions.

  • What are your no-nos?
    The perfect neighborhood is often a rarity so you’ll need to be flexible when it comes to your wants and needs. Pick out your non-negotiables. For instance, if peace and quiet is important to you, don’t even look at homes in an area with late-night bars and clubs. If you or a family member needs to be close to a medical facility, scratch out isolated neighborhoods. For an active growing family, find a neighborhood near the beach, hiking trails, or whatever outdoor recreational activity you prefer.
  • Visit and observe the place
    What’s outside your dream home is just as important as what’s within. Drive around the neighborhood and observe. Get a feel of the place. Time your visit during rush hour to see how bad the traffic gets.

    You can also stroll around the neighborhood and make casual chitchat with the homeowners you come across to gauge their friendliness. Or hang around the local coffee shop and let the locals know you intend to buy a house in the neighborhood. The main thing is to be observant; listen to what people have to say but also what they convey in their expressions and body language.

    Smell the air – is it fresh? Listen to the sounds in the streets – is the ambient noise to your liking? Remember, after you’ve signed the contract, it will be a little too late to find out that you can’t bear noise of the traffic outside your window.

Picking a neighborhood to live in isn’t going to be straightforward, but if you know what to look for, it will make your search a lot easier. The goal is to find something within your budget that’s comfortable and safe and supports the lifestyle you can afford.

If you’re thinking of moving to New Jersey, contact the Top 1% of agents ranked among New Jersey Multiple Listing Service (NJMLS). Call Stacy Esser and her associates at 917.621.6794. Or email