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Location, Location, Location
No matter where you are along the home-buying journey, a gentle reminder: there are plenty of fish in the sea. While it may be easier said than done, there is not just one area, neighborhood, or home that will make you happy. To continue this stream of banality…be wary of putting all your eggs in one basket.
Now that we have that straight, let’s talk more about your home’s location. Defining the types of and even specific locations you’re interested in living should be at the top of your home-buying to-do list. There’s a lot to consider before finding, as the great Dr. Seuss said, your “best nest.”
Here are some basics to consider. After you’ve checked it out, be sure to check out our summaries of middle Tennessee counties, cities, and neighborhoods.
What kind of neighbors would you like – or not?
Maybe you don’t want to know, or even see, your neighbors. You have enough friends, love nature, and want no signs of civilization within walking distance; the more acreage, the better. Plus, you want to be able to walk to the mailbox in a ratty old robe and curlers in your hair (if those are still a thing).
Or maybe you think peace and nature are for the birds (literally). You’re an extrovert and want to be surrounded by life, in the human form. You want monthly progressive dinners, a cocoon of friends of all ages, and playmates for the kids. Neighborhoods are the way to go. But not all neighborhoods are created equal, so there are still decisions to be made.
Do you prefer a small lot that is easily maintained and allows you to borrow toilet paper by reaching out your window and into your neighbor’s? Or, are you looking for something in between – space for an active front yard, a swing set, and a flower or vegetable garden. If children are your priority, what about a child-friendly cul-de-sac lot? Don’t forget sidewalks and streetlights, some ‘hoods have them and some don’t. What do you prefer?
New vs established neighborhoods
Do you want a newly constructed house, most likely found in a newly constructed neighborhood, where all the neighbors are newbies? Or, do you prefer an established neighborhood, lined with big oak trees that weren’t planted last month? You may have heard, “They don’t make ‘em like they used to,” in reference to new homes. Older homes tend to have more “character,” with details like built-in nooks and uniquely shaped windows and rooms. Some materials that used to be standard in older homes such as solid wood doors are now upgrades that you’ll pay more for, of course. Homes in established neighborhoods usually have larger lots than those in new ones. Plus, in established neighborhoods, there’s less chance of a surprise gas station popping up nearby.
A neighborhood’s homeowners association can make a significant impact on your living experience. If you’ve lived in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association, you probably have an opinion on them. If not, a quick search will help you understand their value and their hangups. Are you willing to give up the tasteful (in your opinion) bench at the end of your driveway, so the neighbors won’t have old, rusty cars and free-ranging chickens in their yards?
A clubhouse where you can meet neighbors for weekly Bunco games or ballgame watch parties may be your style. Some parents absolutely require a neighborhood pool that will keep their children entertained all summer. If your kid is the star of the local “pee wee” basketball league, then basketball courts are mandatory to prepare for his future in the NBA. Or maybe you’d like a full club with swim, golf, tennis, and more.
School quality is top parent concern, and even non-parent concern, as the district in which a home resides often influences property values. Be sure to visit sources like greatschools.org to see school and district ratings, reviews, student population, and other important information.
Or maybe you’ve been there, done that, and want a mandatory 55+ neighborhood with some serious bingo action and without the resounding voices of happy little people. And don’t forget the landscape company that maintains your tiny yard – that homeowners association fee will likely take care of that worry.
Narrowing your list
You’ve whittled down your list of locations, and your first choice is definitely “Passing Wind Glens.” Drive or walk through the neighborhood at different times of the day and night, during “rush hours” and school dropoff and pickup times. Talk with a few adults (let’s not frighten the children) you see while passing through. If they look approachable, mention you’re considering a home in the neighborhood, ask what they like or don’t like, and note the nuggets of information they share. Does the neighborhood have a tennis team you can join? Is there an entertainment committee that plans special events like movie nights and Independence Day bike parades?
Drive to and from your job at the times you will be going to and returning from work. Research local schools beyond basic numbers. Consider visiting a school in your district to get a feel for the vibe. Be on the lookout for mean kids. (That’s a joke. All the kids if your new ‘hood will be friendly and welcoming, of course!)
Take a closer look at the amenities (like, get out of the car). Is the pool packed and too small for the number of homes in the neighborhood? Are the bathrooms gross? Does everything appear to be well maintained, or are there weeds galore?
Ask about homeowners’ dues – they vary drastically across neighborhoods. Are the dues on par with comparable neighborhoods in the area? If dues are high, are the amenities worth it? If you don’t have kids, don’t play tennis or basketball, and would wear a ball gown to run errands before you would be seen in a bathing suit, you might not get your money’s worth, ya know?
You are on the often stressful journey of selecting a new home, and after reading this, your decision load may feel even heavier. So get started with our county, city, and neighborhood summaries, and when you’re living in your glorious new home, in your perfect new neighborhood – thank your Realtor!