West Michigan Real Estate: How To Choose a Neighborhood 101
There are many wonderful places to live in West Michigan, but finding the neighborhood that suits you best is important. When buying a house, essential elements are school districts, price range, proximity to your workplace, and more. We'll go into more detail in this blog and help you figure out how to choose a neighborhood in West Michigan that's right for you.
How To Choose a Neighborhood in West Michigan
Here at BlueWest Properties, we know that finding a new home can be overwhelming. When you’re also trying to decide what’s a good neighborhood to purchase property in, that’s a whole other task!
Read on to learn more about important factors when deciding what area to settle in. Is living in a new development important to you? Are you searching for a home that’s closer to the beach? Do you have children that will be attending school in the district? These are all crucial things to think about!
How To Choose a Neighborhood: 7 Deciding Factors
1. Your Budget
Anytime you're making a significant investment, you must keep your budget at the front of your mind. Work with a broker and a trusted local lender to examine your income and decide exactly how much you can afford. After establishing a down payment amount and purchase price you're comfortable with, only look at homes in neighborhoods within your budget. Don't tempt yourself by looking in a community outside your price range.
Another cost to factor into your budget is taxes. Always take note of a city's property tax rate and how much it’s increased in the last five years. It’s also helpful to find out if there is another expected increase.
2. School District
Whether you plan to have children in the future or are a parent, finding a place to live within a well-performing school district is something you might want to prioritize. So how do you determine a “good” school district from a bad one?
State test scores and data can indicate if a school is performing well. If extracurricular activities and sports are important to you or your child, consider what is offered. Also, find out the district's transportation to and from school and consider how that will affect your kids.
According to Niche.com, the best school districts in West Michigan are East Grand Rapids Public Schools, Forest Hills Public Schools, and Spring Lake Public Schools.
3. Crime Statistics
No one wants to live in an area where they can't feel safe in their own home. Before investing in property, do an online search to find neighborhood crime rates and statistics. Some towns may only have general information, but most larger urban areas should have detailed crime reports. You can also contact the local police station; they should be more than happy to help you with the info.
4. Nearby Activities and Businesses
How do you like to spend your free time? The neighborhood you choose to live in will differ if you prefer spending time outdoors and going on hikes versus exploring new shops, restaurants, and bars. When you're house shopping, look into how close you'll be to the activities and attractions that make you happy.
In addition to businesses you appreciate for leisure, you'll also want to be close to places you need for everyday life – grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, and more. If convenience is important to you, you might want to choose a neighborhood that's close to where you'll be running the majority of your errands.
5. Proximity to Work
In today's world, more people are starting to work from home. Are you someone that still goes to work in person? If so, where you work in relation to where you live is a factor to consider. Some folks don't mind a lengthy commute; others prefer a short drive. That is something you will have to think about. If you need public transportation to get to work, look into that as well.
6. Distance to the Beach
In West Michigan, you have the option to live close to the beach. Some popular areas near the lakeshore include Muskegon, Grand Haven, Holland, and more. If being by the beach is something you’ve always wanted, one of these coastal towns would be perfect for you.
If you’d prefer to avoid beach traffic and stay closer inland, that works too. There are many exciting West Michigan neighborhoods to live in that are more inland, like Grand Rapids!
7. Historic Neighborhood vs. New Development
Historic neighborhoods are cherished for their character and beauty, but their homes often require lots of repairs and maintenance and can be governed by strict standards from community associations.
New developments have modern features, home upgrades, and are usually move-in ready. They might be further away from the center of town, though. Weigh the pros and cons of historic versus new development and decide your preference.
Find Your Perfect West Michigan Home
West Michigan is a fantastic place to live for people from all walks of life. If you're looking to buy a home here, contact one of our real estate agents at BlueWest Properties. We know the area and can recommend a place or neighborhood that best suits the kind of home and lifestyle you're looking for.