There are two ways to think about the purchase of a home. First, and foremost, if you plan to live there, you should be thinking about where you will be happy living. A home can also be an investment, though, especially in stable housing markets like Boston, New York, or Chicago. It’s a good idea to research which neighborhoods have homes that are increasing in value fastest compared to other neighborhoods. While it’s not the only factor to take into account, it may help you make a smart investment that will pay off down the road. One good source for real estate intelligence and trends is Curbed.
Now, it’s time to figure out where you want to live. One of the best ways to learn about a neighborhood, if you don’t already live there or haven’t spent a ton of time there, but think it might be a good fit for you—is to talk to or learn from locals. MassRealty is building an entire library of resources that include videos and home-buying guides from real people who live in neighborhoods around the country. These can give you a direct, authentic perspective on what it’s like to live there and whether it might be a good fit for you.
Next, start spending time in target neighborhoods yourself (if you can). Go to restaurants and bars, walk around, visit schools if you have kids or may have kids soon, and talk to as many people as you can who live there. Ask them what they like most and least about the neighborhood, and try to get a feel for what daily life is like there.
Keep a list of your favorite or ideal neighborhoods—places you’d like to live that are accessible for your work if you have a commute, and that have homes that appeal to you in your target price range. Once you’ve triangulated on the right neighborhoods, you can start searching in earnest for homes in those neighborhoods. We recommend using a site like MassRealty that pulls in all MLS listings so you won’t miss a single promising home. Remember, if you live in a hot market, you may need to move fast when new listings pop up.