Five things to consider when picking a neighborhood
1. The time of day when you first lay eyes on a prospective house can affect your impression of the neighborhood, so visit at various hours. The same can be said for neighborhood traffic congestion, which can change dramatically at rush hour -- or traffic on a Saturday can be a different story than on a Tuesday, he said.
2. Neighborhood choice can be a pocketbook issue, and not just because of house prices and property taxes. Commuting costs -- of both time and money -- are critical.
3. Ask questions of people who already live there. The locals usually freely offer their opinions of neighborhood safety, noise, school performance, commuting times, etc., he said.
4. The Internet can be a boon for researching the nitty-gritty. NeighborhoodScout.com, for example, is a subscription service that offers in-depth looks at such considerations as crime statistics (for 17,000 law-enforcement jurisdictions), school-performance data, and quarterly price-appreciation records of area homes. It's customizable: The site can do such things as take the characteristics of a neighborhood that's familiar to you and approximate similar neighborhoods in other cities. For retirees, it can narrow down neighborhoods that have, say, a large population of educated seniors.
5. Some neighborhood characteristics can be hard to cram into numerical categories or scores. NabeWise.com has taken 65 "quality of life" characteristics and set them up as criteria for neighborhood-hunters.