Neighborhood quality can have just as much of an impact on your enjoyment of your new Central New Jersey home as its floor plan. Although you certainly won’t want to buy a home next to an airport or in a high-crime area, other neighborhood quality indicators aren’t always as obvious. Before you add your signature to the contract, consider these factors.
The Convenience Factor
The last house you saw was perfect. It has the ideal number of bedrooms and bathrooms and features a large kitchen and an equally spacious family room. Sure, you have to wind through miles of back roads to reach it, but that shouldn’t be a problem, right? A longer commute is a small price to pay for such a wonderful house.
If you’ve ever tried to justify buying a home in a less-than-ideal location, the same thoughts have probably run through your head. Although the drive may have seemed relaxing when you viewed the house on a Saturday, making the trip to work every day may be a completely different experience.
Before you select a house, drive the route you would take to work during the morning and afternoon rush hours. You may find that the drive takes two or three times longer than you anticipated or you might discover that you’ll be able to reach your office in just 20 minutes.
You’ll also want to consider proximity to schools, stores, gas stations, public transportation, hospitals, major highways, services, and medical offices.
School district quality is one of the key determining factors in home value. Not surprisingly, houses in unsafe or poorly performing districts sell for less compared to similar homes in better school districts. Thanks to the Internet, finding information on Central New Jersey school districts is simple. Take a look at U.S. News and World Report, The State of New Jersey Department of Education or Niche, or visit each district’s website and social media pages. The websites usually contain information on standardized test results and the graduation rate.
A school can be highly rated but still not the best choice for your child. Before you buy a house, visit the school and talk to parents whose children are enrolled in the local district. Ask about teacher quality, extracurricular activities, sports teams, special education services, teacher-to-student ratios, gifted and honors programs, transportation and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education.
The Street and Community
Obnoxious neighbors, poorly maintained streets or junk cars in the driveway can make a new house seem much less attractive. A stroll around the neighborhood can help you identify potential problems and also give you the opportunity to meet your neighbors. You’ll be more likely to spot a few neighbors if you visit during the weekend or evenings. Find out how long the homeowners have lived in the neighborhood and what they like and don’t like about the community and the area.
If you’ll be one of the first residents in a newly built community, scoping out the neighborhood will be a little more difficult. Ask your builder how many homes will eventually be built in the development and when they expect each phase to begin and end. Check with the local municipality regarding plans for vacant lots adjoining the property. Although you may have a woods view now, will that change if the land is sold?
Check out recreational opportunities in the neighborhood and community. Are there parks, playgrounds and walking trails nearby? Does the community offer recreational programs for adults and kids?
You also want to check out these factors and considerations:
- Aesthetics: Are homes in good condition? Are lawns green and mowed? Does the community have sidewalks and street lights?
- Crime Rates: Check out Neighborhood Scout or SafeWise for information about crimes in the area.
- Childcare Programs: Are there high-quality daycare and afterschool care programs available locally?
- Community Events: Does the area offer many community events during the year?
- Businesses: Is there a vibrant business community in the municipality?
- Public Transportation: Where is the nearest bus stop or train station?
- Major Projects: Does the town or municipality want to build a new high school or begin a multi-year road expansion project? Major projects can raise your taxes and cause significant disruptions.
Have you been looking for a new home but can’t find the perfect location? Hillsborough Township offers highly-rated schools, one of the most convenient locations in New Jersey and plenty of recreational opportunities. Country Classics at Hillsborough’s four-bedroom executive homes are the ideal place to take advantage of Central New Jersey amenities. Contact us to find out how to become a homeowner during our final phase.
U.S. News & World Report: Best High Schools in New Jersey
State of New Jersey Department of Education: New Jersey School Directory
Niche: 2019 Best School Districts in New Jersey
Neighborhood Scout: Crime Rates
SafeWise: New Jersey’s 50 Safest Cities of 2019
BankRate: 7 Things to Consider Before Buying a House in An Unfamiliar Neighborhood