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Home Sense

6 Things to Look for in a Neighborhood

So you’re in the home buying market. Congratulations! You’re probably already overwhelmed by decisions: Colonial or ranch style? Stucco or stone? One or two story? Carpet or parquet flooring?

And that’s not even including one of the most important factors in any new home purchase: location, location, location.

It might not be everything, but it’s almost everything. It will determine your commute, impact your social life, shape your children’s education and affect a host of other aspects in your life.

Depending on your city, you probably have your own dream neighborhoods and avoidable boroughs. But in case you don’t—or if you want a bit more guidance as you do research—the folks at ABODO put together a handy checklist of things to look for (and avoid) as you examine possible locations for your new house. Every day, they help thousands of people find the perfect place—in the perfect spot—for their needs. Here is what they recommend considering.

1. The school district

If you don’t have children and don’t plan on having them, skip to the next item. But if you have a family—or think you might have one within the next few years—school districts should be a major component in your neighborhood choices. Sites like niche k12 offer testing statistics, user reviews and contact information for hundreds of thousands of public, private and charter schools nationwide. In some cases, it might be a good idea to schedule a tour or attend an open house, so you can get an idea of how your child (or potential child) might fit in with the culture and educational philosophy.

2. Property taxes

You’ll be paying taxes on your house and the land it sits on, so it’s a good idea to know the general tax rate in the neighborhood you’re investigating. If you’re in the market for a particular property, it shouldn’t be hard to find the value of the house and attendant land up for purchase. If you’re unclear on that, you can always contact the county assessor for an up to date valuation. As for tax rates, the local government typically keeps those figures easily accessible online. You’ll also want to look at other local entities requiring tax money such as public schools and town administration.

And depending on your area, tax rates may be affected by a range of services. For example, in some cities tax rates are higher but include services like trash pickup and sewer, while smaller towns treat such services “a la carte’” for a lower property tax rate. It’s good to know not only how much money you’ll be paying, but where it’s going.

3. Neighborhood parks

Local parks provide health benefits and recreational opportunities beyond your backyard. Sometimes your lawn just doesn’t have enough space to toss a football around. Or you want to venture out for a picnic, go for a scenic jog or ride your bike. Studies show that nature sojourns are linked to lower blood pressure, reduced obesity rates and mitigated pollution effects. If getting outside often is important to you, see what the local parks have to offer in terms of tennis courts, basketball courts or grills. Take note of how they’re maintained. Also consider the distance between you and the parks or trails. Do you want to load up your bike and drive across town for every ride? If not, try to find a home with easy access to a bike ped trail. Finally, do a little research into which local parks host festivals or concerts throughout the year. Armed with that information, you can decide how close—or far—you want to live to these events.

4. Crime rate

Few neighborhood characteristics are as universally desirable as safety. Everyone wants the freedom to go for an evening walk without worry. To check up on the crime rate in a potential neighborhood, you could peruse the local police blogs or go on for a map of offenses as well as trends. On, you can access a map and details of nearby sex offenders. As little as a few streets can separate a safer neighborhood from a more dangerous one, so be sure to center your research around your potential home’s street address. 

5. Natural phenomena

We’re not talking about snowstorms or hurricanes here — you already know what region of the country you’re in. The big nature flag to watch for in your new neighborhood is whether you’re located in a floodplain. Flooding is huge for homeowners for many reasons: It lowers the property’s value, destroys belongings and is not typically covered by homeowner’s insurance. Flood protection is usually a separate policy that adds another expense to your budget. To see if a potential property is prone to flooding, visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center or

6. Eye test

This neighborhood measure is probably the easiest to research. Simply take a look around and see how you feel. Do the yards look maintained? Are there people outside enjoying themselves? Are the streets clean? How are the noise and traffic levels? Also stop by the neighborhood at night to see if anything changes. It’s a simple test, but it shouldn’t be underestimated.

One final thing to keep in mind is getting homeowners insurance or renters insurance for your new abode. And Erie Insurance agent in your community can tell you more about your options and get you a free quote.

Founded in 2012, ABODO is the country’s leading hyper-local apartment search service. The company is driving the rental search experience by combining the largest inventory of available apartments with a simple and intuitive user experience. For more information, visit


Location, location, location-we've all heard how important it is when choosing a place to live. Let the experts teach you how to find the right fit. /blog/look-for-in-a-neighborhood Erie Insurance

ERIE® insurance products and services are provided by one or more of the following insurers: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Company, Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company, Flagship City Insurance Company and Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home offices: Erie, Pennsylvania) or Erie Insurance Company of New York (home office: Rochester, New York).  The companies within the Erie Insurance Group are not licensed to operate in all states. Refer to the company licensure and states of operation information.

The insurance products and rates, if applicable, described in this blog are in effect as of October 2016 and may be changed at any time. 

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The insurance products and services described in this blog are not offered in all states.  ERIE life insurance and annuity products are not available in New York.  ERIE Medicare supplement products are not available in the District of Columbia, New York and Wisconsin.  ERIE long term care products are not available in the District of Columbia and New York. 

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Your ERIE agent can offer you practical guidance and answer questions you may have before you buy.