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What to Look For When Comparing Neighborhoods

Before you even begin the process of finding a new home, you’ll need to consider location. Location, location, location! Make a list of must have and wishes – You must be in a specific school district or must stay within a strict budget. You wish you could have a shorter commute to work or be closer to restaurants.

To help you narrow down which neighborhoods will best suit you and/or your family’s lifestyle, we’ve listed some factors you may want to take into consideration. Also check out our quick guide Finding the Right Lot.


Do you want to be closer to your children’s school, shorter commute to work or closer to family? All three may even be important when factoring where your family is going to live.

Being closer to your children’s school gives you the ability to walk them to and from school. You’ll have the comfort of being close to school playgrounds and the safety of a school neighborhood. Purchasing a home near a school may help your home retain its value, but may also mean the median home value could be higher. You may not need to be exceptionally close to a school, but you may want or need to be in a specific school district.

You’re moving because you want to cut down on your commute time to and from work. Your goal is to spend more time with family, or just less time out of the car or bus. Eliminate the daily stress of leaving on time and hours early or the need for public transportation. Your goal could be to use public transportation more to remove the stress of driving; you’ll want to be near a bus station.

Many people move back to their hometown to raise their new family, be closer to grandkids or they may miss the comfort and comradery of being close to family and friends. Consider if you want to be within walking distance, a short drive or in the same city.

The countryside offers pretty sights and privacy. The suburbs offer a quite family and community feel. However, you may feel bored if you can’t easily get to the theater, your favorite restaurants or have easy access to the grocery store. Convenience and proximity to entertainment and business could be what is most important to you.

Parks and recreational facilities are an important part of your lifestyle. This could be on your wish list regardless if you chose to live in the city or the suburbs. You and your dog love being able to hit the trail in the afternoon. Your family would like to be able to walk your kids to the park to play in the fresh air and have a place to ride their bikes. If a major park or trail is not close by, keep in mind, many neighborhoods today have trails, wide sidewalks and access to neighborhood parks. Some neighborhood trails even link to other neighborhoods or larger trail systems.

Budget and Taxes

Proximity is usually a homebuyer’s first consideration when moving, but taxes and your budget are other important factors in choosing the right neighborhood for you and/or your family’s lifestyle. Consider the average cost of the neighborhood and the cost of property taxes. It’s great to see a community grow and thrive, adding entertainment and necessities for its residents. Growing communities that require added infrastructure and schools usually have increased property taxes.

Keep an open mind about why homes or taxes in a certain area maybe more and if the benefits are worth the cost. You may need to reconsider a neighborhood that is close to where you originally planned on moving to. What is on your list as most important? What are must haves and wishes? If you know you cannot stretch your budget any further, or if property taxes will take away from your family’s annual trip, reassess. You may be more happy and comfortable living in a neighborhood a little further from where you originally thought your family needed to be.

Your Mortgage Lender, Real Estate Agent or even your local county website can help you determine estimate cost and taxes.


If your concerned about the environment of the community you are moving to, you can check out your local police precincts for stats on neighborhood crime rates. This could be especially helpful if your moving to a new city or if your goal is move from a less safe environment and live in a more secure neighborhood.

Aesthetics and Covenants

Pay close attention to the surrounding homes. Are they good condition? Are yards well kept? Having good neighbors means having a pleasant neighborhood environment and maintaining the value of your newly purchased home.

Some neighborhoods have guidelines, known as covenants. If you’re building in a new development you’ll have an opportunity to review and consider the covenants that the newly developed neighborhood must legally follow. These guidelines lay out criteria for homebuilders and new residents to ensure the neighborhood is taken care of and holds its value. Some neighborhoods will have an association due as well. This annual or monthly fee will be laid out in the covenants. Be sure to read and ask questions about these guidelines.

Considering these factors will help you narrow down your search on where to live and focus on which house to make your new home in. The process is fun and exciting! Make your list, have an open mind, be observant and ask questions.

Be sure to check out a list of available Lots in Des Moines that we have available.

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