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No matter if it’s a cross-country move or a relocation to a nearby area, moving to a new place brings excitement to unchartered territory.

As families plant roots in new cities and move into new homes, these transitions tend to promise budding friendships and experiences for all family members. But before you pack up and get settled in, you’ll want to make sure you’re moving into the right neighborhood that’s best for your family.

Here are four tips for choosing the best neighborhood for you and your loved ones.

1. Hire a Real Estate Agent

Planning a move to a city in which you’ve never lived or visited? Then consider consulting a real estate agent who lives and works in the immediate area. Of course, you’ll be hiring a professional who already knows the ins and outs of a particular city or town, especially as it relates to schools, jobs, freeway access, parks, restaurants, entertainment, and so much more.

Moreover, hiring a Realtor also eliminates a load of stress when shopping for a new home. Think of Realtors as trained house hunters, and you’ll get the gist of what they do when they’re shopping the market for their clients. Top Realtors have their clients’ best interests in mind and will work hard to find exactly what their clients need.

2. Consider Your Options

Say you haven’t already decided where to move. In that case, do some preliminary research on cities in which you and your family are interested. Do you long for the scenic landscape of the Ozarks in Arkansas, or are you chomping at the bit for a livelier setting where the music never stops in a place called Austin, Texas? Make a list and narrow down your choices. You’ll want to take several things into consideration when conducting research.

For starters, learn more about area demographics, crime statistics, school ratings, and taxes in each place where you’re contemplating a move. If you’ve narrowed your search to a specific neighborhood, contact the local police department and ask questions about the area. The police department should be able to provide you with information about community policing and crime prevention as well.

3. Visit the Area with Your Family

If you aren’t moving cross country, take the family on a weekend road trip and explore the area. Take a couple of days to drive around the town or city that you’re considering for a new home. You and your family will most likely enjoy a leisurely ride through the neighborhoods; plus, it will provide the perfect environment for discussing important issues related to the move. Now, make sure someone is keeping good notes during the trip and writing down questions or concerns that you may want to ask a local Realtor. Additionally, visit neighborhood parks and make note of each neighborhood’s accessibility to area schools, shopping, the pharmacy, your new job, and dining.

4. Ask the Right Questions

Undoubtedly the most important tip of all: Asking the right questions will head off unnecessary disaster or disappointment after you’ve settled into your new neighborhood. You and your family will need to review your list of important items several times before signing any contracts. Things you’ll need to consider include:

  • The size of the home
  • Proximity to schools and workplaces
  • Whether the neighborhood has a dog park
  • Adequate parking for a condo or townhome

If you’re visiting the area prior to signing your contract, take the opportunity to talk with your future neighbors. Indeed, you’ll get a better feel for the area and will likely find out interesting tidbits about the neighborhood.

Think Smart and Listen to Your Heart

Settling into a new neighborhood is a major transition that requires careful planning and thoughtful consideration. You’ll want a house that fits your family’s needs, but most of all, you’ll want a place that feels like home. Consider all the logical points on your must-have list, but also pay special attention to the way a place feels. Does the neighborhood feel safe and homey? Can you see yourself living there for the long haul? Consider these tips when choosing the best neighborhood for your family and you’ll rest easy in your new home.