If you are looking for a new home in Northern Virginia, as they say, "location is everything." But, the very best location can quickly turn out to be the wrong neighborhood for you and your family.
So, how can you be sure you choose the right neighborhood?
the right neighborhood includes more than location
To find the best Northern Virginia community, you must look at the many moving parts that can make a neighborhood either a good or a bad move.
. Source: tgh.org
Do you commute each day to work? If you are a regular commuter, distance matters when deciding where to live. The best course of action is to make sure the commute is feasible during rush hour.
When considering a particular neighborhood, take your morning commute from the community. After work, drive back to the area to get an idea of how long you will be in traffic to and from work.
After your test-run commute, you will quickly know if driving that commute each day works for you.
Walkability and Walk Score
A neighborhood's walkability may not be the first thing you think about when deciding on your Northern Virginia neighborhood.
A neighborhood's Walk Score is indicative of how active the community is as a whole.
Neighborhoods in Northern Virginia with the highest Walk Scores tend to be where the population is most dense. With a Walk Score of 69, Arlington and the City of Fairfax with 53 are the two most walkable cities in Northern Virginia.
Depending on your interests, the walkability of your neighborhood may be a top priority when deciding on a Northern Virginia neighborhood. Do you have children? The higher the Walk Score, the more parks you will see in a community. Walkability is also relevant for families with young children when considering how often they may be walking to a friend's house or school.
Schools Make a Difference
School ratings have a substantial impact on the value of a home. Even for homebuyers without children, having a top-rated school in your neighborhood can make all the difference in the resale of your home and the general environment of the community.
According to a study by Redfin, people across the nation pay $50 more per square foot for homes in highly-rated school districts compared to homes in average-ranked districts.
Many home buyers may consider the property taxes used to fund schools as a deterrent if they don't have children attending those schools. However, the National Bureau of Economic Research found that each dollar spent on school funding increases property values by $20.
Of course, if you have a young family, a highly-rated school in your neighborhood is most likely at the top of your list of non-negotiables.
Homeowners generally choose to roll the cost of property taxes into their monthly mortgage payments. Taxes, however, can increase over time, and this is a factor that should be considered when deciding on a neighborhood.
When choosing your Northern Virginia neighborhood, study the average property taxes and the amount of fluctuation in the past several years.
If you are moving to a newly built development, be aware that as homes are built, and more services become available, your property value will likely increase, and your property taxes will probably go up as well.
Crime statistics are crucial when deciding on a Northern Virginia neighborhood. Before deciding on a home, hop on the internet and use valuable online tools to vet the neighborhood.
Cityprotect.com is a map-based site that shows current data on crimes for any area across the nation. Type in the zip code, and anything from property theft to drug use will pop up on the map.
AreaVibes supplies a livability score for all US zip codes using seven factors, including crime. AreaVibes gives you a complete breakdown of any neighborhood you are considering. It includes crime trends and how your community compares to national crime statistics. You can also read reviews about areas you are considering and any possible safety concerns from current and past residents.
Family Watchdog helps home buyers decide on the right neighborhood by pinpointing addresses of any registered sex offenders. An easy-to-use map uses color-coded pins to help identify specific sex crimes such as rape or crimes against children.
NeighborhoodScout helps match you with your best neighborhood by using the largest database of neighborhood characteristics and creating an accurate neighborhood profile. NeighborhoodScout gives you an approximate chance of the likelihood of you becoming a victim of crime.
Deciding on a Northern Virginia Neighborhood
Choosing the neighborhood you and your family will lay down roots in is more than location. It is more than loving the view. Considering commute time, walkability, schools, property taxes, and crime will help ensure you pick a Northern Virginia neighborhood where you will be happy for many years.
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